Coaching Big Board 4.0

With one target coming off the board and another target jumping to the top of the list, BadgerNation looks at some of the candidates to become just the third head coach at Wisconsin since 1990.

MADISON - As we break out edition three of the big board, we have started to get a little bit of clarity into the head coaching situation at Wisconsin. First, Wisconsin interim head coach Barry Alvarez (how cool does that sound by the way?) has stated that he would prefer to hire somebody with head coaching experience. That doesn't necessary rule out some very qualified assistants, but narrows the focus slightly.

Second, Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones and Louisville head coach Charlie Strong are all off the board, as all have either affirmed their committed to their school, taken another job turned down other offers to remain at their school or will not be interviewed.

We also are taking current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash off the board, as it sounds like the third-year UW assistant will head to N.C. State to lead Doeren's defense. The two are close friends and the move is understandable.

But even though we take four names off, we add some new names based on rumblings and sources we have talked to in the last 24 hours.

Today, we take Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggert off the list, as he has accepted the head coaching job at South Florida (Taggert was reportedly interviewed). More importantly, we bump Boise State head coach Chris Petersen to the top of the list.

We also arrange them in order of importance in our opinion.

The Head Men

Chris Petersen

According to a report by the Big 1070 in Madison, Boise State coach Chris Petersen will interview for Wisconsin's vacant head coaching job on Monday.

Alvarez indicated Thursday afternoon he would reach out to Petersen to gauge his interest, although Alvarez said, ‘Chris seems pretty set at Boise.'

Petersen, 48, avoided questions about Wisconsin and other head coaching vacancies during a press conference for the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. The 20th-ranked Broncos (10-2) will meet Washington (7-5) Dec. 22 game at UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium.

The Broncos have put together a nation's best seven-consecutive 10-win seasons. The Broncos have gone undefeated twice under Petersen – 13-0 in 2006 and 14-0 in 2009 – capping each season with a victory in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Peterson is 83-8 in seven seasons at Boise State. He's won three WAC championships and won a share of his first Mountain West championship this season. His teams finished second in their league the other two seasons.

Following the 2010 season, Petersen was unanimously selected as the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year, awarded annually to a coach who represents the highest ideals both on and off the field. He was also recognized in the offseason as having the best Academic Progress Rate (APR) average the past two reporting years for FBS head coaches.

Al Golden

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.

Also, Golden has worked for three athletic directors in two years, and Alvarez can provide stability and a solid program to build on.

Paul Rhoads

A former defensive coordinator at both Pittsburgh and Auburn, Rhoads' name is starting to gain some steam in some inner Wisconsin circles. He was raised only 20 miles outside Ames, IA, meaning he has those Midwest roots that are essential for Wisconsin.

In his first year at Iowa State, the Cyclones held three conference opponents to 10 points or less for the first time since 1965. Iowa State was 68th nationally in red zone defense in 2008. In 2009, the Cyclones ranked second-best among 120 FBS teams in that category. Iowa State's defenders were ninth nationally in turnovers forced. The Cyclones defeated the Nebraska in Lincoln for the first time since 1977 and Rhoads is the first Iowa State coach to win six games in his initial season since 1915. Iowa State capped its season with a victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.

Iowa State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 North Division, but Rhoades led the Cyclones to the program's first win in Austin over Texas and finished tied for third in the Big 12 North. Last season Rhoads helped lead the program to its first win in Lubbock against Texas Tech and shocked the college football world with a home victory over No.2 Oklahoma State in November.

Rhoads' team, which was an underdog in 11 of its 12 BCS games in 2011, capped off the season in Yankee Stadium in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York. For the second straight year, the Cyclones won six games, narrowly upset Kansas State, did upset then-No.15 TCU and will finish the season playing a bowl game (AutoZone Liberty Bowl Dec. 31).

On December 16, 2011, the school announced a 10-year contract worth $20M for Rhoads, but the passion he brings the table can't be denied. Rhoads is a young head coach (45) that has won big games despite not getting the biggest, best recruits.

Brad Childress

Affectionately called ‘Chilly' by former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, Childress went 39-35 in four-plus seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota won division titles in 2008 and 2009, when the Vikings made it to the NFC title game with Favre, but was fired after a 3-7 start in 2010. Childress was hired this past winter as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator and spent seven seasons (1999-2005) with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to joining the Vikings, where he tutored the quarterbacks for the first three years (1999-2001) and spent the final four as offensive coordinator (2002-05).

Childress has been out of the college game for 14 years, but spent nearly 20 years at the level. Childress began his coaching career at the University of Illinois, spending the 1978 season as a graduate assistant before coaching both the running backs and wide receivers for six seasons (1979-84). He spent three years at Northern Arizona (1986-89), Utah (1990) and Wisconsin (1991-98). As the quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator at the Wisconsin, the Badgers appeared in five bowl games, which included two Rose Bowl victories in 1993 and 1998 under Barry Alvarez.

Childress has head coaching experience (just not college head coaching experience) and the game has changed over the last 14 years. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.

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 this past season. His name has popped up for some coaching opportunities in Florida, as well, so he is definitely in the market for an upgrade.

The Assistants

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.

Bob Diaco

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.

Joe Rudolph

Rudolph doesn't need much of an introduction, especially considering how well he did for Wisconsin coaching tight ends and recruiting the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Spending four seasons at Wisconsin as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, Rudolph had a tight end selected in three consecutive NFL drafts: Travis Beckum in 2009 (New York Giants), Garrett Graham in 2010 (Houston Texans) and Lance Kendricks in 2011 (St. Louis Rams). His efforts played a vital role in one of the best four-year runs in Badgers history. During that span, Wisconsin won two Big Ten titles and advanced to four bowl games, including a pair of Rose Bowls.

A member of Alvarez's first recruiting class, Rudolph twice earned All-Big Ten honors as an offensive lineman and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. In 1993 he helped the Badgers to a 10-1-1 record, the Big Ten title and first Rose Bowl victory in school history with a 21-16 decision over UCLA. As a senior in 1994, Rudolph served as a team captain and helped lead Wisconsin to an 8-3-1 record and 34-20 win over Duke in the Hall of Fame Bowl.

Rudolph was a huge loss for Wisconsin and Alvarez is extremely fond of him. Rudolph working this past season as offensive coordinator is a huge help for him in his quest to one day run his own program. He may not be the most experienced, but he has a lot of supporters still in Madison.

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.

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