Thursday, January 17, 2008

Badger coaching tree

Last week, when Purdue was pursuing Paul Chryst to be its next head coach, one thought that crossed my mind was that it would be a blow to the program, but it would extend the Wisconsin coaching tree. Coaching trees are such a strong indicator of a program's success - a strong coaching staff produces strong coaches, which then go build their own strong staffs elsewhere.

Think about the North Carolina basketball coaching tree. Or the Packers' staff under Mike Holmgren, which at times had Steve Mariucci, Jon Gruden, Dick Jauron, and others.

This also applies to former players. If your program is producing players who go on to become coaches, it is an indicator that you have intelligent athletes with leadership skills. That's why I have a soft spot for Tracy Webster, even if he was coaching at Illinois for four years before moving on to Kentucky.

Yesterday I read that Mel Tucker had been named defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. Tucker will always be remembered as the defensive back who made the hit on a Minnesota tight end to secure Barry Alvarez's first road win as Wisconsin coach. After graduating from UW with an ag journalism major, Tucker coached under Nick Saban at Michigan State, then moved on to Miami (Ohio), LSU, and Ohio State before joining Romeo Crennel's staff. Here's hoping Mel gets the Browns' defense in shape and becomes a head coaching candidate.

This all got me thinking about other prominent coaches who played or coached at UW:

-Jay Norvell, just hired today as Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator. As long as he keeps the Sooners' offense humming, he'll be a head coaching candidate next winter.

-Brad Childress, former UW offensive coordinator, head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

-Darrell Bevell, former UW quarterback, Chilly's offensive coordinator.

-Jim Hueber, Chilly's offensive line coach. All the UW ties on the Vikings make me slightly nauseous.

-Bill Callahan, former UW offensive line coach, recently fired as Nebraska's coach. Led the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl.

-Jay Hayes, defensive line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.

-Rob Ianello, Notre Dame's recruiting coordinator. As he did in Madison, Rob is tearing it up on the recruiting trail, as the Irish currently have the nation's #1 recruiting class.

-Ron McBride, head coach at Weber State.

-Packers special teams coordinator Mike Stock.

-Mike Cassity is Louisville's defensive coordinator.

-Jeff Horton, St. Louis Rams offensive assistant.

-Brian White, recently fired as Syracuse's offensive coordinator.

-Phil Elmassian, who seems to change jobs every year, was recently let go along with Callahan and is now interested in the defensive coordinator position at Louisiana-Monroe.

-Darrell Wilson, Iowa's outside linebackers and special teams coach.

-And last but not least, Bears coach Lovie Smith. Not kidding - he was a UW assistant in 1987. Perhaps the only coaching positive to come out of the Don Morton era.

That's all the energy I have to research tonight after a tough evening of shoveling in 25 mph winds. Please post a comment if you can think of anyone I'm forgetting here. Will try to tackle a Badger basketball coaching tree in the next couple days.


ajs said...

Just a few more-

Dan McCarney- Had a fairly successful stint as the head at Iowa St. -he's now at South Florida as D-line coach or is he a coordinator (?)

Palermo- Miami d-line coach

Ron Lee- MN secondary coach

Bernie Wyatt- Didn't he take another stint down at Iowa?? not sure?

Jim Polzin said...

Wow, I didn't know Rob Ianello subscribed to this blog. How else do you explain how he got a vote as the most accomplished coach among those choices?

Scott Tappa said...

Well, even though Lovie and Cally made it to the Super Bowl, they didn't win it all. Ianello has established himself, arguably, as the top recruiter in the country, the best at his given profession. So while we all know recruiting titles mean absolutely nothing, he's the best at something.

Jim Polzin said...

I call b.s. on that. It's not like Wisconsin was pulling in boatloads of five-star kids when Ianello was in charge of recruiting. So he can reel in blue-chippers to Notre Dame -- big deal. There are certain programs -- USC, Ohio State, Texas -- that are going to land the best of the best regardless of who the recruiting coordinator is.

And he's a one-trick pony. He's a position coach, and a very average one at that apparently because, to my knowledge, he's never been promoted to offensive coordinator.

So, sorry if I offended whoever voted for him (was it you, Taps?), but I'm not drinking the Rob Ianello Kool-aid.

Scott Tappa said...

Actually, I voted for Ianello because I didn't want it to be a unanimous Lovie decision; personally I think Lovie should win this poll hands-down.

But I do think Ianello is a better recruiter than you give him credit for. If he was at UW from 2003-04, he recruited a lot of the excellent upperclassmen of the current team. And Notre Dame wasn't exactly lighting it up recruiting-wise under Tyrone Willingham.

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