By TOM LEA
MADISON – The hiring of Eddie Faulkner, a former Badgers running back, seems to fit the mold of coaches Bret Bielema has targeted throughout this entirely harrowing offseason that required the filling of six coaching vacancies.
Faulkner seems to be a model recruiter (although maybe not to the standard of the recently departed Joe Rudolph) and should be serviceable in that regard. His career-coaching resume also suggests that he is a capable coach, especially if you use the rise to offensive coordinator during his eight-year stretch at Ball State or the stable of All-MAC running backs he guided as a prime example of his quest to become upwardly mobile.
On top of that he’s young and excited to be back at his alma mater, a place where he rushed for better than 1,000 yards during his five-year career. I think that’s all well and good and I think that’s why he deserves a chance to see how he does coaching a position he’s never coached before, that being tight ends.
But here’s the kicker:
Just a month ago Faulkner accepted the running backs job at Pittsburgh. Yes, the same Pitt that former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst accepted the head coaching position at shortly before UW’s Rose Bowl game against Oregon.
And yes, that’s the same Chryst that took three other former UW assistants — Dave Huxtable, Bob Bostad and Joe Rudolph — from Bielema just a matter of weeks before 2012 signing day, leaving UW’s head coach and his four other full-time assistants scrambling to keep the recruiting class together.
So there’s probably some jockeying for position going on with this hire. And there’s definitely some ego at stake, too.
Remember, these are two coaches that grappled over a handful of recruits — including Leo Musso and Jack Russell, two recruits that wound up at UW — down the stretch. If Chryst offered so to did Bielema. There was some cat and mouse going on over the past month.
So if you want to call this Bielema’s revenge or anything else along those lines go for it. That’s kind of the way I’m looking at this thing. It seems as though Bielema saw a guy in Faulkner that had connections to UW and to his new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. The fact that he was on the coaching staff at Pitt was purely trivial.
Both Faulkner and Canada coached under Dave Doeren last season at Northern Illinois. Bielema probably looked at the Faulkner hiring as the perfect fit and one that is rather low risk simply because he’s returning to the school he played and athletic director that coached him. The motivation should be there.
Based on his comments in the UW press release, Faulkner seems to be excited to join the program and the school he got his degree from.
He also seems to get along with Canada pretty well. So it all makes perfect sense.
I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall to hear what both Bret Bielema and Paul Chryst said when they found out this news.
That would have been something to talk about.
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