Coaching Big Board 2.0

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

Part One

Bob Diaco

Diaco was in a hotel in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday attending the Broyles Award banquet where he was later named as the nation's top assistant. Wouldn't that be ironic if he came to Wisconsin?

Alvarez likes to makes hires of people that are cut from the same cloth that he is. Diaco certainly fits that bill. Promoted to assistant head coach prior to the season, Diaco has played an integral part in the Irish being ranked No.1 in the country and playing Alabama in the national championship game.

Notre Dame ranks first in the nation in scoring defense and have one of the best front sevens in the college game, led by dynamic linebacker and Heisman finalist Manti Te'o. This isn't a one year blip either, as the Irish's 2011 defense ranked in the top 50 in scoring defense (24th, 20.7), total defense (30th, 344.7), rushing defense (47th, 138.9) and passing defense (38th, 205.8).

It was only the second time since 2003 and fourth time in the last 15 seasons a Notre Dame defense ranked in the top 50 in all four categories.

Diaco's coaching career has spanned a better part of the Midwest and, like Alvarez, is a former Iowa assistant and a disciple of Hayden Fry. Diaco is evidentially ready to be a head coach, as he was a finalist for the Boston College coaching vacancy, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The move makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons if Chryst says no.

Al Golden

TGP tweeted out this name earlier today and the idea makes sense. Miami's president and former athletic director have close ties to Wisconsin, so it makes sense that Golden's hiring a couple years back was because the pair liked his values.

The former Penn State and New England Patriots tight end worked his way through the coaching ranks with stops as a defensive assistant at Boston College (1997-99) and Penn State (2000) before being hired as the defensive coordinator at Virginia in 2001.

He took over the head coaching position at Temple, a program had just two winning seasons over its previous 26 years and had only won 22 percent of its games over the previous 30 years, in 2006 and battled through a 1-11 record in his first season. He went a combined 17-8 in his final two seasons, including a trip to the EagleBank Bowl in 2009 – the school's first bowl appearance since 1990.

Golden was hired as the head coach at the University of Miami before the 2011 season and has guided the Hurricanes to a 13-11 record in two years, including a tie for first place in the ACC's Coastal Division this season. He was hired without knowledge of the ongoing investigation of alleged improper ties to booster Nevin Shapiro, which has caused the Hurricanes to self-impose bowl bans the last two years.

Miami is going to get a lot worse before it's going to get better. Reportedly, Golden turned down a 5-year, $10 million move to coach Boston College. Wisconsin can offer way more than that. Golden also has ties to Pittsburgh and the East Coast in terms of recruiting, which is an important area for the Badgers.

Butch Jones

A Midwest coach for all his years as a head coach, Jones went 27-12 in three years at Central Michigan and guided the Chippewas to their third MAC Championship in four years. That squad went a perfect 8-0 in the MAC for the first time in school history, as he finished with a 20–3 conference record.

Jones replaced Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly at Cincinnati in 2010, and was named the Big East Coach of the Year, as the Bearcats were the most improved NCAA FBS AQ team in 2011,finishing with a 10-3 mark and a Top-25 final ranking. Kelly led Cincinnati to a win over Vanderbilt in the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the program's first bowl win over a BCS opponent. Cincinnati earned a three-way share of the conference title this season with a 9-3 record.

The Bearcats were one of the most improved defenses in the nation in 2011, leading the NCAA FBS in tackles for a loss (8.62), ranking second in sacks (3.46), sixth in rushing defense (96.23) and 20th in scoring defense (20.31). UC led the Big East and ranked ninth nationally in turnover margin (0.92) while the Bearcats' 33 turnovers gained was tied for fourth nationally.

Offensively, UC averaged 385 yards per game, ranking No. 2 in the Big East in rushing offense (178.5 ypg) and scored an average of 33.3 points per game.

According to the Colorado Daily, Jones was offered the head coaching job in Boulder and was supposed to decide yesterday whether to accept the offer at approximately $2.7 million annually. Now with the attractive opening in the Midwest, Jones might take a closer look at Wisconsin.

In 2011, Cincinnati was the only program to win both its conference championship as well as the league's team academic award. That should speak volumes to Wisconsin, who always emphasizes the student in student-athlete.

Willie Taggert

The former Hilltoppers quarterback and Stanford running backs coach under Jim Harbaugh, Taggart has a 16-20 overall record at Western Kentucky in three seasons. Bowl eligible for the second straight season, WKU will play Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl on December 26, the first FBS bowl in school history.

Taggert runs a power offense, which would fit in well at Wisconsin. Taggart also has worked with elite running backs, as Cardinal running back Toby Gerhart won the Doak Walker award and was a Heisman finalist in 2009.

It's been reported that Taggart has already interviewed at Wisconsin for the head coaching job. That seems highly unlikely, but there is a connection, as UW wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni was Taggart's offensive coordinator last season.

Mel Tucker

Tucker is a former Badgers defensive back under Alvarez and coached defensive backs in the Big Ten at Ohio State under former coach Jim Tressel. He also was the Buckeyes co-defensive coordinator in 2004 and coached defensive backs at LSU, so he knows the BCS level and knows how to recruit. Tucker was the Jaguars interim head coach at the end of last season after they fired head coach Jack Del Rio and was interviewed for the vacancy in the offseason. When Jacksonville hired, Mike Mularkey, Mularkey kept Tucker and promoted him to assistant head coach. Tucker was in charge of the defensive play calling last season and the Jaguars' defense finished as the fourth highest rated in the NFL.

Tucker hasn't coached in college since 2004 and might be eyeing a NFL head coaching job, questioning if he will be around for the long haul.

Chris Peterson

If there's an opening at a BCS level college, Petersen's name will certainly come up. Peterson is 83-8 in seven seasons at Boise State, including two seasons in which he's gone undefeated. He's won two BCS bowl games (that's two more than UW's former coach) and with the uncertainty of the Big East, Petersen might listen.

However, Petersen has never been actively looking to take another job and has turned down head coaching overtures in the past. There have been reports that Petersen is in Madison today, but those are unconfirmed.

Petersen coming is doubtful, as he doesn't recruit the Midwest and doesn't have Big Ten ties, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

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