Coaching Stability Index

by Richard Branch 

Assistant turnover was a lament of Bret Bielema and has already become an issue for Gary Andersen in his first months as head coach.  The abrupt departure of Jay Boulware to Oklahoma and Chris Beatty's flirtation with the head coaching job at his alma mater reinforced the reality of coaching staff fluidity in high level college football.  

With any departure there is the inevitable scramble to find a suitable replacement and integrate them into the staff as fast as possible.  It complicates the management of a football team. Stability on the coaching staff means the players receive consistent messages and teaching technique.  At least part of the disappointment of the Badgers' 2012 season could be attributed to staff turnover the previous off season.  

Working off that assumption, it's worth examining the likelihood that coordinators and position coaches remain on the staff over the next 3-4 years.  With two exceptions, Wisconsin is breaking in an entirely new staff; outside of the immediate desire to see 2013 end on a successful note it's critical for Andersen to limit the turnover amongst his coaches as he breaks in new schemes on both sides of the ball.  

His coaching staff is examined with that idea in mind.  Each coach is given a 1-5 Stability Rating.  1 means they are a near certainty to leave - and quickly -  while 5 denotes a staff member with the makings of a 'lifer'.  Admittedly this is an inexact exercise; it's impossible to know the wants, needs, and ambitions of the staff.  That said, it's still worth attempting; a semi-educated guess can be made based on their histories and patterns of behavior.

 

Andy Ludwig Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach
Career SDSU OC '11-'12 ; Cal OC' 09-'10 ; Utah OC '05-'08 ; Oregon OC '02-'04 ; Fresno St. OC '98-'01
Alma Mater Portland St. '86
Salary $480,000
Coaching Stability Index 4
Andy Ludwig.jpg

As one of the most senior members of the staff, Andy Ludwig has extensive coaching experience going back well into the early 90's.  Despite success at Fresno St. and Utah (masterminding the offense during 2008's undefeated season) disappointing seasons at Oregon and mixed results at Cal make a high profile head coaching job unlikely in the near future.  

While Ludwig has done some program jumping in the past - he agreed to join Bill Synder's staff as offensive coordinator at Kansas St. in 2009 only to jump ship for the same position at Cal a few weeks later - he has for the most part spent 2 or more seasons at each stop he makes. 

As offensive coordinators go Ludwig is well compensated (Matt Canada made $265,000 last year, Paul Chryst topped out at $405,000) making a lateral move expensive for the team hiring him away.  Several years of sustained success at Wisconsin is needed before a head coaching or offensive coordinator opportunity presents itself attractive enough to pull him out of Madison.

Dave Aranda Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach
Career Utah St. '12 DC; Hawaii '10-'11 DC, '08-'09 DL
Alma Mater California Lutheran '99
Salary $480,000
Coaching Stability Index 3
Dave Aranda.jpg

Dave Aranda has only worked with Gary Andersen for a single season but was amongst the first staff members Andersen reached out to when he made the move to Madison. Had Andersen not taken the Wisconsin job when he did, it's probable Aranda would have left to run the defense at either Cal or Texas Tech.  Aranda was a finalist and favorite for the position at both schools before Andersen accepted the Badger job and quickly enticed him to tag along.   

If Aranda can bring his past defensive success to the Badgers, he will start to work his way up the list of coordinators likely to get head coaching offers.  The Pat Narduzzis and Kirby Smarts of the world will always be interviewed before him, and until those types either take a head coaching job or declare they aren't leaving their programs,  Aranda won't top any coaching candidates list.    

Much like Ludwig his salary helps protect against him taking head coaching jobs at non-BCS schools, but he has climbed the coaching ranks quickly and is unlikely to be in Madison much beyond 2-3 years if successful. He's young, clearly ambitious, and a name on the rise in college coaching.

Thomas Hammock Assistant Head Coach/RB Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
Career Wisconsin RBs '11-Present; Minnesota Co-O.C./RBs, '10 RBs '07-'09; N. Illinois RBs '05-'06
Alma Mater Northern Illinois '02
Salary $300,000
Coaching Stability Index 2
Thomas Hammock.jpeg

Tom Hammock has built a reputation as a valuable recruiter on the East Coast and is spoken highly of by his players.  His role on the Wisconsin staff has expanded greatly in a short time, taking over recruiting coordinator duties after the departure of Joe Rudolph and becoming Assistant Head Coach after the 2011 season.  

Hammock is well compensated - no B1G position coach earns more than he does - but opportunities for growth within the program appear limited in the near term.  Having served as an offensive coordinator in the past, and his past consideration of NFL coaching jobs, it's clear he has professional ambitions.  Growth opportunities are limited in Madison as his next likely step - becoming an offensive coordinator - is blocked.  Andy Ludwig will be around for several seasons.    

The 'X Factor' keeping him from being a "1" on the index is a mixture of geography and family.  While he grew up in New Jersey, Hammock has spent more than a dozen years living between Chicago (well, DeKalb technically) and Minneapolis. His first foray into coaching was as a graduate assistant on Barry Alvarez's staff. He has developed personal ties to the Midwest in general and Madison specifically.

Speaking as someone at identical life stage, Hammock is at a point where stability and the ability to put down permanent roots becomes increasingly attractive.  He has two kids under the age of 4 which complicates any decision to move.  In the world of football coaching, there are few jobs more stable than running backs coach at Wisconsin.  Avoiding the coaching carousel every 2-3 seasons may hold some appeal.  The most critical detail - how appealing that in fact is to him - is known only by him and those close to him.  

With that said, given his track record the past few years it's unlikely Hammock will remain on the staff more than another year, maybe two.  He's an accomplished coach who should be in line for coordinator jobs in the near future.

Chad Kauha'aha'a Defensive Line
Career Utah DL '11-12; Utah St. DL '09-10; Weber St. DL '05-'09
Alma Mater Utah '97
Salary $205,000
Coaching Stability Index 3
Chad Kauha'aha'a.jpeg

Chad Kauha'aha'a's entire collegiate coaching career has been as a defensive line coach.  His stock is on the rise due to the success he had developing Star Lotulelei and Joe Kruger at Utah as well as his abilities as a recruiter.  While is effectiveness with the Badger defensive line has yet to be seen, he's already demonstrated his recruiting chops with the commitment of Ula Tolutau as well as the inroads he's making in California. 

Coach K had a strong desire to work with Gary Andersen again, as the opportunity (and no doubt the significant pay raise) was enough to pull him away from his Alma Mater. The primary threat to Coach K remaining as a long term member of the staff is opportunity.  It's not likely Madison or Gary Andersen - a coach he's left once already - would be enough of a draw to keep him around should the right opportunity present itself. 

Working in Wisconsin's favor is that plum coordinator positions likely won't be available to him for at least another season or two.  In the near term Coach K should provide some stability to the staff. 

 

Jeff Genyk Tight Ends/Special Teams
Career Cal TE/ST '10-'12; E. Michigan HC '04-'08; Northwestern LB,RB,DB,ST '94-'03
Alma Mater Bowling Green '81
Salary $220,000
Coaching Stability Index 4
Jeff Genyk.jpeg

The 11th hour replacement for Jay Boulware, Jeff Genyk is a good candidate for stability at tight end and on special teams.  Genyk's track record points to a coach adverse to moving around much.  He left Cal when Jeff Tedford was fired and his staff dispersed.  He went from Eastern Michigan to Cal only after he was dismissed as head coach.  Before that he spent a decade on the staff at Northwestern.   

Genyk's past includes coaching on the defensive side of the ball, so he may be a football coach's version of a utility infielder: as coaches come and go he can likely slot in were needed to best fit the staff available. His versatility on the staff makes him attractive to keep around.

Some no doubt will point to Genyk's abrupt departure from Nevada to take this job with the Badgers, but given his track record the decision was probably made based on Wisconsin offering better stability long term and the ability to get back to the region he's from.  All signs point to Genyk being on staff for years to come.  

Bill Busch Safeties
Career Utah St. Associate HC/ST '11-'12, DC/S '09-'11; Nebraska '04-07' OLB/S; Utah '01-'03 S/DBs
Alma Mater Nebraska-Wesleyan '88
Salary $220,000
Coaching Stability Index 5
Bill Busch.jpg

Bill Busch has the longest and most extensive ties to Gary Andersen going back almost 20 years.  Andersen discussed the opportunity in Madison with Busch before taking the job implying a level of trust and understanding that runs deep.  Andersen describes his safeties coach as his sounding board, and someone he can count on to tell him when he may need to rethink a decision.  

Busch was offered a position at another university that he dismissed without consideration based solely on his loyalty to Andersen.  His actions suggest he's a team player; while at Utah State he relinquished the role of defensive coordinator with the arrival of Dave Aranda and gave up his Associate Head Coaching position - one he held at Utah State - here in Madison.

Assuming there is some shakeup on the staff in the next few years, Busch is a strong candidate to take over the defense, special teams, or recruiting coordinator role.  There are opportunities present to pair with his loyalty to the head coach. 

Given his relationship to Andersen and his "team first" actions, it's hard not to envision him staying in Madison as long as Andersen does.   Busch doesn't appear to have a strong desire to run a program himself and as such the opportunities afforded at Wisconsin should be enough to keep him around.

Chris Beatty Wide Receivers
Career Illinois Co-OC '12; Vanderbilt WR '11; West Virginia RB '08-'10; N. Illinois RB '07; Hampton '06 OC
Alma Mater East Tennessee State '94
Salary $200,000
Coaching Stability Index 2
Chris Beatty.JPG

Beatty's dalliance with the head coaching job at East Tennessee State was the impetus behind this article.  That, combined with the fact that Wisconsin is his 4th stop in as many seasons had him heading straight for a "1" on the stability index.  Digging deeper paints a more complex picture.  Beatty lost his job twice due to turnover at head coach. He was not retained after Joe Novak retired from NIU in 2007 nor when Dana Holgorsen took over in Morgantown in 2011.  

That has to be balanced against the fact Beatty left the same position at Vanderbilt that he holds with the Badgers after a single season to become offensive coordinator at Illinois.  

The value of his time at Wisconsin will be measured largely by his ability to develop a wide receiver corps with a ton of questions and build a pipeline in Virginia, Georgia and Florida.  The more successful he is at both, the quicker bigger opportunities will open up for him.  

Beatty appears to be making contributions on the recruiting trail already, and if a receiver develops outside of Jared Abbrederis this year Beatty is well on his way to building a strong resume from his time in Madison.  Beatty needs to make strong contributions on both fronts for him to get another opportunity as an offensive coordinator. 

Ben Strickland Cornerbacks
Career Wisconsin DBs '12
Alma Mater Wisconsin '07
Salary $140,000
Coaching Stability Index 5
Ben Strickland.jpg

 Of anyone on staff, Ben Strickland is most closely tied to the University of Wisconsin.  There isn't a whole lot of anything in that table above that doesn't say Wisconsin.  As a former Badger player and graduate assistant, his entire collegiate football experience has been shaped by his time in Madison.  

During the period of uncertainty after Bielema's departure and before Gary Andersen's hiring, reports never surfaced of Strickland looking to move on.  While most of the staff scrambled, piecing together a Plan B, he seemed content to let the transition play out and hoping for the best.

Strickland's success as an in-state recruiter secured his role on the new staff.  His heavy focus on Wisconsin made him valuable to his new boss but is of limited use to teams outside the state.  The Badgers do not play in a talent-rich football state and what talent there is Wisconsin does an excellent job of keeping at home.  The return is not worth the investment for most programs.

Strickland has only one season as a full time coach and needs to build his resume before he can look at opportunities outside Madison.  Eventually he may need to move on to broaden his responsibilities as a coach, but in the near term opportunities abound for Strickland within Camp Randall.

 

T.J. Woods Offensive Line
Career Utah St. OL '11-'12, TE/ST '09-'10
Alma Mater Azuza Pacific '02
Salary $250,000
Coaching Stability Index 3
TJ Woods.jpeg

 T.J Woods has risen rapidly through the coaching ranks; 2013 will only be his 5th season as a full-time position coach, all working for Gary Andersen.  Since arriving in Madison, Woods has repeatedly referred to his position as a "dream job" given the offensive line tradition at Wisconsin

Woods has no ties to Wisconsin - other than what loyalty he has to Gary Andersen - or any other FBS program.  Having already spent two seasons as an offensive line coach, there is a risk he could look for bigger opportunities elsewhere but of all offensive coaches those on the offensive line seem to move up the ladder least often (there are exceptions to the rule of course).  

With his salary nearly tripling over what he was paid at Utah State, the likelihood of Woods leaving in the next several seasons is reasonably low.  If he's able to regain the swagger lost in the chaos of last season a lot will be done to keep him in town for a while.