Charlie Partridge: It's a humbling opportunity to say the least. To be a part of a program, like Wisconsin, and have a chance to be a part of running the defense is an incredible opportunity. You're right. This moment is probably one of the high points of my career.
Badger Nation: When did you know for certain? When did Bret Bielema give you his decision? Did you know before the Rose Bowl? Please take me through that process.
Charlie Partridge: I had a feeling after going through the entire process. We wanted to put all our focus into performing our best we could against TCU, a great team, in the bowl game. As the process went along and as he was evaluating what we've been able to accomplish as a staff and, more specifically, the defensive staff, he felt comfortable that we didn't need to overhaul things and make a wholesale change. The timing of it really progressed throughout. There was really no single date when we knew it was going to come. More recently, we figured out this was definitely the direction he was going to go.
Badger Nation: You said it yourself that there would be no wholesale changes on the defense. What is going to change defensively, schematically or personality wise under you and Chris?
Charlie Partridge: What we'll do is take this spring and I am very excited about the hire of Dave Huxtable for a number of reasons. When he's able to join us and get up with us, we'll go through our normal offseason evaluation of everything we do, schematically and systematically. What we'll do is take a look at the film, study the reports from the entire season, see where things jump out against certain calls that were either successful or not as successful. Things jump out just from reports, so we'll take that as a staff, look at the film and make our choices what to adjust from there.
Badger Nation: You are Mr. Florida, so I assume you know the new linebacker coach pretty well. Talk about this hire and his linebacker knowledge he's bringing to the defense, as he's coaches linebackers at many BCS schools.
Charlie Partridge: I'll tell you, getting to know Dave and having some common people I know that have worked with him, I am so excited about this hire. The wealth of experience he brings, the amount of success UCF had this year combined with the quality human being he is and the fact that philosophically from a schematic standpoint, we believe in the same things, we couldn't have found a better fit. I am really excited to get to work with him because he's a guy that believes in the Wisconsin way. It's been his background all along, as far as how you coach your kids from a fundamental standpoint and you don't need to do things with smoke and mirrors. You need to teach the fundamentals and build your package around that. His structure has been based around the 4-3 base, and been working out from there. It'll be exciting.
Badger Nation: How will the promotion impact you and Chris' ability to recruit?
Charlie Partridge: Me and Chris are going to do everything we can from a recruiting standpoint. We're going to talk to some other guys that have been co-defensive coordinators and find out how they split up their duties and still have an impact in recruiting. Recruiting is important to us. Obviously, we know how vital it is to our program and when you hire a guy like Dave Huxtable on your staff, as well, it allows you to go that much further in terms of allocating duties so you can recruit. I don't how much it will really reduce our recruiting responsibilities. I am sure it will reduce to a degree how much we are involved in special teams. That may be divided out a little bit different as time goes on based on Bret's decisions, but I think we will still continue to recruit as much as we have been.
Badger Nation: The other big news was J.J. Watt going pro. It seemed like, based on his and Bret's comments, that the Rose Bowl was going to be his last game. Did you have any doubts that he was going to go pro and how do you feel about his decision?
Charlie Partridge: Obviously, I want nothing but the best for J.J. He's been a great ambassador for our program, on and off the field. It was a hard decision for and I don't think he had made that decision prior to the Rose Bowl. He was true to his word that he evaluated the choices for a couple weeks, took in the facts and then put his focus on the Rose Bowl and then after the game, sat down and revisited the facts he gathered and made a decision. A lot of things went in to play. All the things happening in the NFL factored in. Where he could go in the draft factored in. I just wanted the best for J.J. He couldn't have made a wrong decision. We wanted him to come back, his heart wanted him to come back, but I think he felt this was the best decision for him and his family. We wish him nothing but the best and hope he continues to come around as much as he can.
Badger Nation: As the new defensive coordinator, can you talk about your unit's performance in the Rose Bowl? You held TCU far below a lot of its offensive averages and statistically, really did a good number on its offense. Would you give the defense a ‘B' grade or something along those lines?
Charlie Partridge: When you factor in what they had done throughout the course of the year, I think that's a fair grade. When you go back and look at the film, there are a number of plays that you want to have back and wish you would have played a little bit better. There was some missed tackles that allowed some plays to go a little bit further than you would have hoped. I'll give TCU all the credit in the world. That's a heck of a football team, and there was some pretty great adjusting that went on during both sides. They showed a number of things that they had not shown much or at all throughout the season, which is common in a bowl game. Coach Doeren did an unbelievable job, in my opinion, in adjusting to their new scheme. We worked well together and thankfully, we have an offensive philosophy and an offensive coordinator in Paul Chryst that gave us time to make those adjustments. That was a big part in us making those adjustments and slowing them down, as well.
Badger Nation: You've been building the last two years since that '08 season. How excited are you to get back to work and take that next step to winning a BCS game or getting to that championship game?
Charlie Partridge: I think we are extremely excited to get back to work and continue to get to build on what Coach Doeren has built and get to know Coach Huxtable. We want to continue to take that ‘1-0' model, focus on one day at a time and our next focus as coaches is evaluating everything in the season. Our focus now is winter workouts and focus on that evaluation to make us better.