Dave Aranda – Defensive coordinator
Why he’s important: Aranda was the brain child for Wisconsin switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4 two years ago, a move that has yielded immediate results. After being a top 30 defense last year, despite a number of players playing out of position, Wisconsin’s young squad this year finished the regular season second in overall defense and fourth in points allowed per game.
Aranda has also been a dynamite recruiter for Wisconsin and been responsible for Wisconsin landing three stud linebackers in the state of Florida this year – Jordan Griffin, Dominic Sheppard and Nick Thomas. Not surprisingly, all three are up in the air about their decision since Gary Andersen’s departure and Aranda’s unknown status.
The latest: Athletic director Barry Alvarez gave Aranda a ringing endorsement on Friday, a sign that he wants to keep him on staff and working with the defense. It’s similar to the endorsement Alvarez gave Paul Chryst when Bret Bielema was filling out his first staff. As we’ve reported previously, Aranda does not seem interested in becoming a head coach at this stage and appears comfortable with his role in Madison.
If Aranda takes another job, it’ll be his fourth in five years, another reason we believe he will stay if given an opportunity to do so. There’s no doubt, however, that he’ll have a lot of options on his table to consider.
Chris Beatty – Wide receivers
Why he’s important: The second year receivers coach has done his best to milk every ounce of ability of his group, which for the most part lacks elite ability, speed and a downfield presence. Inheriting a pretty bare cupboard, Beatty helped Wisconsin sign five receivers last year and another two this year. He’s also starting to make an impact recruiting the talent-rich state of Virginia, landing three-star cornerback T.J. Griffin last month.
The latest: Andersen’s decision to retain Oregon State receivers coach Brett Brennan takes a potential job away from Beatty. A tremendous recruiter, we’re hearing Beatty would like to stay if given the opportunity.
Thomas Brown – Running backs
Why he’s important: The jury is still out on Brown as a position coach, who is just wrapping up his third season as an assistant. Brown did have a hand in helping Melvin Gordon during the junior’s career year, but how the younger backs behind him will tell the story. What we do know is Brown is a solid recruiter, as his age (he graduated from Georgia in 2007) relates to a lot of recruits. New London (NC) North Stanly junior four-star running back Antonio Williams lists Brown as one of the main reasons he committed earlier this month.
The latest: If Chryst is hired, this job will be interesting to watch because Pitt’s running back coach is John Settle. Settle worked for five seasons under Chryst at Wisconsin until he made a jump to the NFL. Settle is in his first season with Pitt, so it’ll be interesting if he’ll follow Chryst or try to jump back to the NFL. Losing Williams could be a big blow considering his talent level.
Bill Busch - Safeties
Why he’s important: In charge of the safeties, Busch has done a tremendous job preparing players. He turned quarterback Tanner McEvoy into the team’s best safety last season, turned Peniel Jean from a below-average cornerback to an above-average safety and also got true freshman Lubern Figaro into a position where he could contribute early this season. Busch also has been an asset on special teams and a tremendous recruiter, landing five prospects in the recruiting-rich state of Texas.
The latest: It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Busch would go with Andersen, especially since the two have coached at four stops together. However, Busch has tremendous ties to the Midwest (being born in Nebraska and having been a graduate assistant and coach in Lincoln) and to Wisconsin, where he was a graduate assistant in 1994. Busch also secured a four-star commit from Dallas South Oak Cliff high school tailback Jordan Stevenson a day after Andersen left, another positive sign that Busch would like to stay if given the chance.
Jeff Genyk – Tight ends/special teams
Why he’s important: In charge of the tight ends and special teams, Genyk has helped UW’s tight ends overcome the loss of three seniors by developing Sam Arneson into an all-purpose tight end and redshirt freshman Troy Fumagalli into UW’s likely No.1 tight end. Genyk’s special teams knowledge (he was a former punter) has helped the Badgers’ unit be very productive throughout the season. Genyk hasn’t yielded a lot of recruits, but was the lead for both four-star offensive lineman David Moorman and three-star tight end Kyle Penniston, two key pieces of this recruiting class.
The latest: If Chryst gets hired, there’s a good chance former Wisconsin assistant Joe Rudolph comes with him. Rudolph was the tight end coach at UW for four years and has maintained that role at Pitt along with being assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, although Chryst is in charge of calling the plays. That doesn’t necessarily mean Genyk would leave, as UW easily could put him solely in charge of special teams or relieve Rudolph of one of his titles. A former coach at Eastern Michigan and assistant at Northwestern, Genyk has stated previously he wants to stay at Wisconsin for a long time.
Chad Kauha’aha’a – Defensive line
Why he’s important: Kauha’aha’a was one of the key factors in helping Wisconsin’s defense transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense last season and not see a drop off in production. Despite a handful of players playing brand new positions, Wisconsin finished sixth in scoring defense (16.3 ppg) and No. 7 in total defense (305.1 ypg). Not having All-Big Ten selections this season, Wisconsin’s defensive line ranks 17th in the country against the run, allowing only 118.9 yards per game.
Kauaha’aha’a is also responsible for UW getting verbal commitments from two solid nose tackle prospects with Polynesian backgrounds, something UW was hoping to tap into in Andersen’s tenure.
The latest: As we’ve been reporting and was reported today by the Wisconsin State Journal, Kauaha’aha’a is expected to go with Andersen to Oregon State. Kauha’aha’a’s style of recruiting is a perfect fit for the West Coast with the amount of Polynesian players in the region and he has strong coaching ties to the area as well.
Andy Ludwig – Offensive coordinator
Why he’s important: Despite dealing with tremendous problems under center and transition at wide receiver at the beginning of the year, Ludwig has Wisconsin’s offense ranked in the top 25 in total offense (23rd at 464.8 points per game) and top 30 in points (29th at 34.6). Like Chryst and offensive coordinator Matt Canada before him, Ludwig just focuses on recruiting quarterbacks and found a nice potential prospect in D.J. Gillins last season.
The latest: If Chryst comes to Wisconsin, as expected, there’s little to no chance that Ludwig would stay.
Ben Strickland -Cornerbacks
Why he’s important: The only remaining holdover from the Bielema tenure, Strickland helped Sojourn Shelton have a standout freshman season and developed Darius Hillary into an All-Big Ten player this season. Without Andersen having any ties to the state, Strickland’s ability to relate to the state’s high school coaches as a former in-state player and UW walk-on helped the Badgers keep a lot of the state’s top talent in state the last two years.
The latest: It would be a shock if Strickland wasn’t retained by Chryst, as Strickland embodies all the good things about the program.
Why he’s important:
Despite working with a lack of numbers throughout two seasons, Woods pieced together an offensive line that helped junior Melvin Gordon rush for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns, stats that earned the tailback to Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top tailback, and a runner-up finish for the Heisman Trophy.
As a team Wisconsin is rushing for 314.0 yards per game, third best in the country, and all five linemen were recognized on All-Big Ten teams. Woods was a little out of his element recruiting the Midwest, but did a nice job helping the Badgers reel in Moorman, tight end David Edwards and four-star defensive back Titus Booker, the latter two from the Chicago area.
The latest: Just like with Kauaha’aha’a, we expect Woods to join Andersen in Corvallis. Woods has been with Andersen since 2009 and would appear to be better in his recruiting element out West.