Pitt reportedly offered Joe Rudolph an assistant head coach/offensive coordinator position with a raise. Who can blame him for maybe feeling burned by not getting the Pitt head coaching job? Who can blame him for coming home to Wisconsin? Regardless, he's back in Madison, and there's a lot to like about that if you're a Badger fan.
As a coordinator, Rudolph had the task of working with three starting quarterbacks in three years, and he made an impact on all three. He was instrumental in the development in first-year starter Chad Voytik this year, and has adapted to three different types of abilities in the quarterbacks he's had--getting them to be efficient and productive in different ways.
Take for example the Virginia Tech game, where the Hokies planned to keep eight in the box. Rudolph unleashed Voytik as an extra running threat alongside James Conner. Voytik rushed for 118 yards in that win, and it was the turning point of his development. Voytik was arguably Rudolph’s toughest task this year and Voytik was probably Pitt's breakthrough player of the year on offense.
During Rudolph's three seasons, Pitt’s quarterbacks averaged 8.0 yards per pass attempt, the 19th-best mark among power five programs in that span. Panthers QBs also posted a combined pass efficiency mark of 143.9 in that time frame, the 16th-best mark among power five schools.
In addition to being a recruiter and coordinator, Rudolph has been position coach for three different positions in three seasons (tight ends, quarterbacks, running backs) with a seamless transition in each year.
He developed depth at tight ends - both recruiting and coaching up the tight ends at that position. He developed two of Pitt’s best players - Tyler Boyd and Conner – statistically and saw both of them have tremendous individual seasons.
While the Pitt job didn't pan out for him, he's probably not too far off from his first head coaching job, as he is one of the up-and-comers in this profession and has been a rising star for quite some time.
Even when he was at Wisconsin the first time, Rudolph was one of the best at getting a Western Pennsylvania talent to Madison, including current safety Mike Caputo. While it worked for Pitt while he was here, he should be able to pick up where he's left off for the Badgers.
Furthermore, Rudolph has developed strong relationships throughout the entire state of Ohio, including Columbus and Archbishop Alter (Kettering, OH), home of former Badgers All-American Chris Borland. He used that connection to land defensive tackle Kraig Howe. He was definitely the closer of Pitt's staff. He should be able to do the same at Wisconsin, as he was doing before.
“I’ve worked with Joe for a number of years and have witnessed first-hand how good of a coach he is. He is very detailed oriented and has a terrific offensive mind. He preaches a tough, physical, smart brand of football that I believe is the foundation of the Wisconsin program. Being a graduate and having played and coached at UW, he truly knows what it means to be a Badger.” – Chryst
What should be good and bad for Wisconsin fans is that Rudolph's track record--whether it be position coach or as a coordinator--seems to get stronger every year. While that should bode well for the start of the Chryst era, it might also signify a short tenure, meaning a head coaching opportunity is not too far off for Rudolph. Of anyone that Chryst is bringing to Wisconsin, there's no coach who is equally proven in recruiting and X's and O's the way Rudolph is.