Notes: An In-House Fix

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema knows new Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst would like to take some of his current colleagues with him, and the UW coach has a plan in place to make sure the success of program continues to thrive.

MADISON - When Barry Alvarez handed over the keys to his program to Bret Bielema, Wisconsin's current athletic director said change can be good for a program and for a staff. After already losing one coach and with the possibility of losing more, the fact that Paul Chryst is leaving his post as Wisconsin's offensive coordinator to take the head job at Pittsburgh isn't overly concerned to Bielema.

"(His hire is) probably coming a little bit later than most people thought," Bielema said Friday. "I knew when Paul got a job that he would be interested in some of my guys because they've worked so well for so long."

That fact alone suggests that Bielema has the same plan in place to replace members of his staff. Including hiring his first staff, Bielema has hired 17 assistants in his six-year tenure (7 on offense, 10 on defense), jobs Bielema had to fill because his assistants left for better opportunities after proving themselves on his staff.

Whoever steps in, whether it is offensive line coach Bob Bostad or tight end coach Joe Rudolph, will have some big shoes to fill. After calling an offense that finished fifth in scoring nationally last season at 41.5 points per game, breaking the school record of 34.3 points per game that was set in 2005, Chryst was the mastermind behind an offense that enters the Rose Bowl averaging 44.2 points per game and has a senior quarterback in Russell Wilson who is on pace to break UW records with his passing efficiency (191.6 rating) and completion rate (72.5 percent).

"He's had a tremendous impact," Bielema said of Chryst. "Paul is a good football coach. He's a guy that believes in this program. There are a lot of family ties here at the University of Wisconsin. Not just himself, but his brothers and sisters and mother and father. Those things are special that you'll never be able to replace those types of things."

Like he has done previously with his past two defensive coordinator vacancies, Bielema wishes to hire his next offensive coordinator from his own staff, but was adamant that nobody on his current staff can coach quarterbacks. That process of a hiring a QB coach, according to Bielema, has multiple lists: one with guys that just coach quarterbacks, one with guys that are coordinator-type coaches and a group that have coordinated in the past but might not be needed to call plays next year.

It's a wide mix, and Bielema has been getting all sorts of feelers about the openings.

"In the last 48 hours, it's made a huge statement to me," Bielema said. "The phone calls I have received and the people I have reached out that have interest in the job speak volumes to me. I spoke at the national coaches' convention last year in front of 12,000 people and said my last four hires came from within. I think that says a lot about assistant coaches that want to come in and try to earn their stripes."

In order for Bielema to fill the one current open position on his staff, he must post the job opening through the university and wait a certain number of days. Whatever the case, Bielema hopes to get that job filled prior to the open contact recruiting period that starts January 4 in order to get that coach on the road.

"This is an area of the business that I really enjoy," said Bielema. "I embrace reaching out to new people, having new people contact me, getting to know them. I am very thorough, very detailed in the process. I think every time I go through it and get better at. Obviously, the proof is in the pudding.

"Bottom line, this is my program and I've got to do what I have to do."

One thing is for sure, Bielema doesn't expect any hard feelings between his staff because he doesn't ‘see that culture' at Wisconsin and that the coaching questions won't be a distraction leading up to the Rose Bowl.

"I don't think Dave's situation was a distraction last year and I don't see this one being one," said Bielema, referring to former defensive coordinator Dave Doeren taking the Northern Illinois coaching job prior to the Rose Bowl. "I think Paul said some good things today to the group that it meant a lot to them and the kids acted very, very favorably. If anything, it might be a bonus because they know it's the last time he'll be with them.

"He gave all the credit to the room. One line that really stood out to me was, ‘I didn't get into coaching to become a head coach. I got into coaching to coach players like you.' That's what we all do. Our players, honestly, respect Paul a lot. It was the whole room, offense, defense and specialists, and all very meaningful."

Konz Cleared

Returning from his doctor's appointment in North Carolina Thursday, junior center Peter Konz has been medically cleared for practice and will play in the Rose Bowl, barring any late injuries. Konz did not practice Friday but will practice on Tuesday on the team's first practice in Los Angeles.

"I think probably those first two days, because we have an extended work week down there, we'll start him off with the twos and see exactly where he is at," Bielema said.

Everybody else, according to Bielema, will be 100 percent.

A Solid Year for Jean

Originally thought to be a reserve cornerback heading into the season, redshirt freshman Peniel Jean was thrust into the rotation when senior Devin Smith was lost for the season in week 2. Since then, Jean has gotten better each week.

Playing in all 13 games, Jean enters the Rose Bowl having made 23 tackles on the season and is coming off a career-high five tackle performance against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game, making a number of open field tackles in key situations for the UW defense.

"When I watch P.J. on film, he was probably the most aggressive and consistent tackler I've really seen on film of a high school kid at that age," Bielema said. "He's done a nice job in here and done his job quietly."

Extra Points: Bielema called the month of December a ‘whirlwind' month, but said Friday's practice was the best of the month of December … Wisconsin will take the next two days off before practicing and heading out to Pasadena Monday.

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