Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 11, 2012

All eyes are on Wisconsin as it continues to search for a replacement for Bret Bielema. Athletic director Barry Alvarez said last week he'd prefer to hire someone with head coaching experience, but some in the  industry have suggested that might be because he doesn't have the time and/or energy to devote to grooming a young coach like he did with Bielema. Just something to consider.

Among sitting head coaches, the names that are getting mentioned the most are Boise State?s Chris Petersen, Iowa State?s Paul Rhoads and Miami?s Al Golden. But are they attainable?

An interesting name is Brad Childress, a long-time NFL coach who knows Alvarez from his stint in Madison from 1991-98. Childress was offensive coordinator for Alvarez from 1994-98 and currently is the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. He was head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2006-10.

[ RELATED: Alvarez gets raise for coaching in Rose Bowl | Watch Alvarez's press conference from last week. ]

Pitt offensive coordinator and former Badger assistant and offensive lineman Joe Rudolph has to be kept in the conversation. And keep an eye on Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bobby Diaco and Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator/ex-Badger quarterback Darrell Bevell.

Former Wisconsin assistant and Madison native Jay Norvell is being mentioned. He has extensive experience in the NFL and college, serving as offensive coordinator at places like Nebraska and UCLA. Norvell is now co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.

And Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is getting some mention, too.

Recent reports say Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator and former Badger Mel Tucker isn?t interested in the job.


Many wonder who-if anyone–from the Wisconsin staff will join Bret Bielema in Arkansas. Well, Bielema announced today that Badger defensive coordinator Chris Ash will join him in Fayetteville, but will remain with Wisconsin through the Rose Bowl.

Ash?s move-nor the terms of it–are a shock. From talking to those around the program, Bielema likely wouldn?t take anyone until after the Badgers play Stanford in the Rose Bowl. For what it is worth: Bielema seems closest to those on the defensive staff, with whom he has been with the longest. Again, this all dovetails from the terms of Ash?s move.

This is a talented Wisconsin staff that will have options. In fact, there already are some rumblings. Receivers coach Zach Azzanni could join his former boss at Western Kentucky, Willie Taggart, at South Florida.

Running backs coach Thomas Hammock could land on an NFL staff; he interviewed with the St. Louis Rams last year.

Stay tuned.


There already is speculation on who will be Bielema?s offensive coordinator at Arkansas, and several potential candidates have Big Ten ties.

Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell is being mentioned. He was born in Madison, played at Iowa and was an assistant in Wisconsin and Nebraska. He interviewed for the Purdue job after Joe Tiller left.

Former Purdue offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is another name. He did a great job pushing the buttons on Tennessee?s offense, so he knows the SEC. He also has NFL experience. A source close to Chaney told me he has had preliminary talks with Missouri about its OC job.

Current Wisconsin offensive coordinator Matt Canada is being mentioned, which makes sense since Bielema hired him in Madison. And Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line coach Bob Bostad is another name. He coached under Bielema from 2006-2011 as offensive line coach and run-game coordinator, and he is thought of highly.


Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi did have talks with everyone but the Cincinnati athletic director about the Bearcats? job opening that quickly was filled by Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, a source close to Narduzzi says.

Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock texted Spartans coach Mark Dantonio on Friday, saying he looked forward to talking to Narduzzi on Saturday. Then, Tuberville was hired on Saturday. It all happened quickly.

Narduzzi would have made sense, as he was defensive coordinator at Cincinnati under Dantonio.


It will be interesting to see how new Purdue coach Darrell Hazell builds his staff. Some think it could have a heavy Ohio State influence, since that?s where Hazell coached prior to taking over Kent State in 2011. Some names being mentioned:

  • Taver Johnson: assistant head coach/linebackers coach at Arkansas. He coached at Ohio State with Hazell and has NFL experience.
  • Marcus Freeman: The ex-Buckeye linebacker is linebackers coach at Kent State.
  • Jim Heacock: He was Ohio State defensive coordinator under Jim Tressel. Does he wanna coach again?
  • Jon Heacock: The former Youngstown State coach is the defensive coordinator at Kent State.


Keep an eye on Chuck Long, the former head coach of San Diego State who was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma prior to that. The former Iowa great most recently was offensive coordinator at Kansas under Turner Gill. Long may become a hot commodity for schools looking for a quarterbacks coach or coordinator. He groomed some top passers, like Josh Heupel and 2003 Heisman winner Jason White at Oklahoma and Ryan Lindley at San Diego State.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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