Coaching Big Board 1.0

With Bret Bielema bolting for the Natural State, BadgerNation looks at some of the candidates to become just the third head coach at Wisconsin since 1990.

Chris Ash


Alvarez has always been a fan of promoting from within the program, so it makes sense that UW's co-defensive coordinator gets an opportunity.

Ash's unit was the main reason Wisconsin is heading back to Pasadena for a third straight season. Although some late scores against the second-team defense skewed the average, Wisconsin's defense gave up more than 21 points in regulation only three times this past season (twice coming against Nebraska and the Huskers' conference-best rushing attack). Wisconsin held eight opponents to 14 points or fewer in four quarters, including six straight.

Last season in his first as co-defensive coordinator, the Badgers ranked 13th in the country in scoring defense (19.0 points per game) and 15th in the nation in total defense. It was the first time since 2006 that Wisconsin had allowed fewer than 20.0 points per game. Ten of the Badgers' 14 opponents failed to score more than 17 points.

UW allowed just 163.6 yards per game through the air in 2011 to rank fourth in the NCAA in pass defense. That was the second-best mark for Wisconsin's defense in the last 20 years. Oregon State, Michigan State (twice) and Oregon were the only teams to pass for more than 180 yards against the Badgers.

Five UW defenders earned All-Big Ten honors, including four first-team selections. Linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland finished 1-2 in the conference in total tackles, with both finishing in the top 10 in the country. Taylor's 150 tackles were the most by a Badger since 2001. Defensive backs Aaron Henry and Antonio Fenelus tied for second in the conference with four interceptions apiece as UW ranked second in the Big Ten with 16 INTs.

Before those criticize UW hiring a coach without head coaching experience, look how Alvarez's last head coaching hire turned out.

Darrell Bevell


A long-time assistant in the state of Wisconsin, Bevell has expressed interest in the past of returning to Wisconsin where he led UW to Rose Bowls and worked with Green Bay for six years, serving three as quarterbacks coach. Bevell helped turn the University of Wisconsin program into a national power. A four-year starter for the Badgers, Bevell helped guide the team to a 10-1-1 mark as a sophomore in 1993. The squad claimed a share of the Big Ten championship for the first time since 1962 and defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Bevell helped UW go 18-4-2. He left Madison as the school's all-time leading passer with 19 team records and a pair of Big Ten marks. His 67.8% completion mark set in 1993 stood as the conference record until 2010, and he was a 61.4% passer for his career.

Bevell is in his second season leading Seattle Seahawks' offense after spending five seasons (2006-10) as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator.

Paul Chryst


Chryst was the quarterback of the Badgers in the late '80s, was the tight ends coach of the Badgers in 2002 and was the offensive coordinator from 2005-11 before becoming the head coach at Pitt last season. He led the Panthers to back-to-back wins to end the season to finish with a 6-6 record.

Chryst earned acclaim as one of college football's finest teachers and strategists, as UW compiled a 60-19 record (.759) during his six seasons overseeing the offense, which annually ranked among the best in the country.

In 2011, Chryst helped Wisconsin to an 11-3 record and its second consecutive Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth. The Badgers featured a prolific offense that set no fewer than a dozen school records, including points per game (44.1 avg.), total offense per game (469.9 avg.), total rushing yards (3,298) and total passing yards (3,280).

Over the past three seasons (2009-11), Wisconsin achieved the Big Ten's best record (32-8, .800) while averaging 39.2 points per game during that span. Chryst also coached the UW quarterbacks and was named a finalist for the prestigious Broyles Award, annually presented to college football's top assistant, each of the past two seasons.

"My vision is making it fit the guys," Chryst told Pittsburgh's athletics website after he was hired. "One thing that you have to be careful of is that your system has to fit the players. Football is a tough, physical game and I like that part of it, but I think you accommodate your players. You are a better coach with better players, and better coaches give their players a chance to be successful. So you have to be careful trying to put a square peg in a round hole. We're not just going to say we're going to be a `pound it' type of team. We want to be balanced."

UW athletic director Barry Alvarez has spoken openly about the disappointment he had that he couldn't retain Chryst after the 2002 season. Chryst had come to UW after three years with the San Diego Chargers and left to go to Oregon State.

Since Dave Wannstedt left in Dec. 2010, the Panthers have had five head coaches. Chryst is the overwhelming fan favorite to bring back his offensive flair back into Camp Randall, but has a high buyout in his contract instituted by Pittsburgh to prevent another coaching search.

Dave Doeren


It wouldn't be the first time Wisconsin swooped in to take somebody away from N.C. State. After going 11-3 in 2011, Doeren won a program-record 12 games this fall at Northern Illinois – winning 12 in a row after losing the season opener to Iowa. The 12-game winning streak ties NIU's school record; it's the school's longest such streak since NIU joined the FBS in 1969.

Northern Illinois will play in the Orange Bowl, but Doeren won't be there after being hired by the Wolfpack on December 1.

"I am honored and excited to join the Wolfpack. N.C. State has world-class facilities and fans that are second to none," Doeren said in a university release.

That was before he knew Wisconsin was going to be open for business.

Doeren spent five years at Wisconsin, where he served as defensive coordinator along with linebackers coach. During Doeren's time at Wisconsin, the Badgers posted a 49-15 overall record and played in the Champs Sports Bowl (twice), Outback Bowl and Capital One Bowl. In January of 2008, Doeren added defensive coordinator duties to his assignment as linebackers coach after spending his first two seasons in Madison as the Badgers' co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Wisconsin's defenses were consistently ranked in the national top 25 in NCAA defensive categories. The 2010 Wisconsin defense ranked 20th in the country in total defense and in the Top 30 in both rushing and scoring defense. In 2009, Wisconsin led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in the country in rushing defense. The Badgers held each of their last 10 opponents in 2009 to less than 100 yards rushing, the longest streak in school history. Wisconsin led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2006 and was the No. 2 scoring defense in the country.

Doeren has experience at multiple stops in addition to Northern Illinois and Wisconsin, as he served on successful coaching staffs at Kansas (2002-05), Montana (2000-01), USC (1998-99) and Drake (1995-97), his alma mater. In all, he helped take teams to eight bowl games and two national championship contests as an assistant.

Randy Shannon


Shannon's name has been tossed around at Wisconsin before, but as an assistant coach on Bielema's staff. Bielema and Shannon are good friends in the coaching profession and would be worth a call.

Prior to posting a 28-22 record and three bowl appearances as the Hurricanes' head coach, Shannon was Miami's defensive coordinator for six seasons (2001-06). In five of those years, the Hurricanes ranked in the top seven nationally in defense while placing in the top four in scoring defense three times.

Shannon's units were in the top 20 in turnovers gained four times and twice in the top 10 in turnover margin, including topping the nation in 2001 behind an NCAA-best 45 takeaways (nine more than the next-closest school).

Shannon was named the recipient of the 2001 Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. During his time as a player and assistant coach at Miami, Shannon took part in three national championships (1987, 1991, 2001) with the Hurricanes. Miami won the 2001 national title in Shannon's first season as defensive coordinator. The Hurricanes led the nation in scoring defense (9.4 points per game), turnover margin (2.4) and pass efficiency defense (75.6 rating) while ranking second in pass defense (138.2 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (270.9 yards per game).

Shannon worked as an ESPN analyst during the 2011 campaign and was a linebacker coach for TCU last season.

Charlie Strong


A proven track record as an assistant coach for 27 years and winning two national titles, Strong has improved every season in Louisville, including leading his team to a Big East title this season with a win over Rutgers and a berth into the Orange Bowl. Strong has two Big East titles in three seasons and is only the third coach in U of L history to guide his first two teams to bowl games and 14 wins after inheriting a team that won just 15 games in the three seasons before Strong was hired.

Louisville improved from 4-8 in 2009 to identical 7-6 records in 2010 and 2011, including bowl game appearances in the Beef `O'Brady's Bowl in 2010 and the Belk Bowl last season.

After winning a combined two league games in 2008-09, Strong led the Cardinals to three BIG EAST victories in 2010 and five on 2011. Playing with a large number of underclassmen and true freshmen this past season, Strong saw his young team get off to a slow start, but it was understandable with the large number of first-time performers.

Strong has coached in 20 bowl games as an assistant and has won a pair of national titles at Florida. He helped the Gators to national titles in 2009 with a win over Oklahoma and in 2007 with a dominating win over Ohio State.

He has also worked for three different head coaches who have won national championships in former Florida coach Urban Meyer, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier and former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz.

Prior to taking over at Louisville, Strong was considered one of the top defensive coordinators in the nation after coaching the Gators from 2003-2009 and building some of the nation's top defenses. He had four different tenures with the Gators from 2003-09; 1991-94 and 1988-89, and as a graduate assistant in 1983-84.

During his tenure at Florida, he has coached 13 All-Americans, a National Defensive Player of the Year, a Jack Tatum Award winner, two SEC Defensive Freshmen of the Year, two Thorpe Award finalists, two Nagurski Trophy finalists and the 2008 Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year. He has developed seven first-round NFL Draft picks and 18 players that were selected in the third round or higher.

Not surprisingly, Strong is also a top choice for Tennessee, who continues to look for a head coach after firing Derek Dooley.


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