Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Bob Bostad returns to Wisconsin to coach inside linebackers

Bob Bostad is returning to a familiar school to coach an unfamiliar position, as the former Wisconsin assistant will coach the Badgers' inside linebackers.

MADISON - One of best offensive line coaches in Wisconsin history is returning to the program, although Bob Bostad’s role will be entirely different this time around.

The former UW tight end coach and offensive line coach will join head coach Paul Chryst’s third staff at Wisconsin, but this time as the Badgers’ inside linebackers coach.

UW confirmed the hire Friday morning after first reported the news Thursday.

He fills the void at that position left by Justin Wilcox, UW's former defensive coordinator who also coached inside linebackers. Wilcox was hired as Cal's head coach in January.

“There will be a learning curve and all that,” Bostad said in a UW video release. “I hope to kind of take the edge off here in the spring and all that stuff. Get to know the base defense and the calls and the fits and the coverages and all those things. But after that, I think it's going to come down to, just like any other position, it's going to come down to the details.”

Since beginning as an offensive line coach at UW-Stevens Point in 1990, Bostad has spent his entire coaching career on the offensive side of the ball, including coaching tight ends at Northern Illinois last season. Bostad did play linebacker for Stevens Point from 1986-89.

A native of Pardeeville, Wis., Bostad was the Badgers' tight ends coach from 2006-07, their offensive line coach from 2008-11 and also served as the program's running game coordinator during that time. Chryst was UW's offensive coordinator from 2006-11.

Bostad coached three tight ends – Owen Daniels, Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham – who were drafted by N.F.L. teams. Beckum was a first-team All-American and finalist for the John Mackey Award in 2007 and set both UW’s single-season and career records for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end.

Eight of the offensive linemen he tutored over his four seasons went on to become N.F.L. draft picks, including three first-round selections in Gabe Carimi, Kevin Zeitler and Travis Frederick. Four of Bostad’s offensive linemen earned first-team All-America recognition: Carimi and John Moffitt in 2010 and Peter Konz and Zeitler in 2011. As a senior, Carimi was a unanimous consensus All-American and winner of the 2010 Outland Trophy.

Eleven different offensive linemen earned All-Big Ten honors during Bostad’s four-year run with that unit, including first-round picks Carimi, Moffitt, Konz, Zeitler and Josh Oglesby.

Wisconsin boasted the Big Ten’s most potent offense over Bostad’s final three seasons on staff, leading the league in scoring each year and posting the two highest scoring averages in school history during its conference championship seasons of 2011 (44.1 points per game) and 2010 (41.5).

The Badgers averaged at least 200.0 rushing yards per game in each of Bostad’s five seasons as run game coordinator, leading the Big Ten in rushing three times.

Since leaving UW following the 2011 season, he coached the offensive lines of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans before joining Northern Illinois. Outside of holding a graduate assistant position with Minnesota from 1992-94, Bostad’s first stint with the Badgers was and still is his only collegiate job at a major-conference school, although he left Wisconsin with Chryst to coach at Pittsburgh before transitioning to the Buccaneers.

"I've had the privilege to work with Bob for a number of years," Chryst said in the release. "I know who he is as a coach, as a person, and I think it's a great fit. He’s been here. He knows the type of kids who have success at Wisconsin. Couldn’t be more excited really to have Bob here.

"Defensively, a lot of the conversations are about how to stop the run game, how to beat protections. As an offensive line coach, he's been looking at defenses, specifically the front seven. I know he can teach, I know he can coach and I think it's a great tool that our players, especially our veteran linebackers, will have to keep expanding their growth. I think they get to see the game maybe through a little bit different lens."

Bostad joins a defense that has finished as a top-five scoring defense each of the past two years under two separate defensive coordinators. Chryst hired defensive backs coach Jim Leonhard earlier this month to replace Wilcox. He’ll go through his coaching transition with a talented unit, as four returning players — senior Jack Cichy, juniors Ryan Connelly and T.J. Edwards and sophomore Chris Orr — have all started games for UW.

"It seems like a really blue-collar group," Bostad said in the release. "Tough guys. Finish guys. I like that mentality and what they're going to bring to the table."

The N.C.A.A. could implement the addition of a 10th assistant coach within the next year, which could free up Chryst to adjust the responsibilities of Bostad and others.


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