The Best Defense Money Can't Buy

The Best Defense Money Can’t Buy…

When you drill down to the core of Wisconsin’s Football success, there are two absolutes:  a powerful running game, and a stifling defense. 

The recipe for defensive success keeps changing because the Head Chef keeps changing. Wisconsin thrived under Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda in 2014 and 2015, he’s now the DC at LSU.  The Defense didn’t miss a beat with Justin Wilcox in 2016, but he’s now the Head Coach at Cal. 

So when the Badgers open the 2017 season on Labor Day weekend, they’ll do so with their 3rd Defensive Coordinator in as many seasons. 

If you keep changing chefs, can you maintain the quality of the food?   

First, let’s debunk the cause and effect of money.  The Badgers have had “the best defense money that money doesn’t buy.”  Dave Aranda left Wisconsin earning less than half a million dollars for a deal at LSU that started at $1.3 million for the first year.  Now it’s escalated to more than $1.8 million annually. 

Meanwhile, Wisconsin paid his successor—Justin Wilcox, $500k in 2016.  That number was set to jump to $950k in 2017, but Wilcox has taken on the opportunity to be the Head Coach at Cal.  This time, money had nothing to do with the move.

Former Badgers HC Bret Bielema made Assistant Coaches salaries a point of contention when he bolted for Arkansas after the 2013 Big Ten Championship game—“ We are talking money I can’t bring them at Wisconsin. Wisconsin isn’t wired to do that at this point. I just felt for me and for my future and my wife and what I wanted to accomplish in the world of college football I needed to have that ability to do that. And thankfully I found that here at Arkansas.”

Despite Bielema’s assertion, it doesn’t appear that money is a limiting issue at Wisconsin.  Had Wilcox stayed on with the Badgers in 2017, he would have earned $950k, which would have placed him 14th in the nation for Assistant’s compensation based on last 2016 numbers.

Regardless of who is the next Defensive boss at Wisconsin, the nation’s second best scoring defense over the past three seasons will once again be well stocked.  Despite losing TJ Watt who declared early for the NFL draft, and Vince Biegel, Sojourn Shelton and Leo Musso to graduation—the Badgers should be loaded to face a much less intimidating schedule than in 2016.

So the question still hangs in the frigid Wisconsin air…who will be the 3rd Defensive Coordinator in as many years?  First, it likely won’t happen fast.  When Aranda left for the SEC on January 1st of 2016, it took four full weeks for Wisconsin to announce Justin Wilcox.

Second, it likely won’t hinge on money and almost certainly won’t be a big name lured away from another power-five program.

 Here’s a list of names bouncing around for Head Coach Paul Chryst to consider.  At least two on his current staff will get some consideration.  Tim Tibesar (Outside LB’s Coach) interviewed for the position a year ago and has been coaching perhaps the Badgers most impressive position group.  Jim Leonhard (Defensive Backs) has only been a coach for one season, but his star is shining bright.

From outside the program—it’s anyone’s guess.  One familiar name is former Wisconsin Co-Defensive Coordinator, Charlie Partridge.  Partridge was let go as Florida Atlantic’s Head Coach in November.  Interesting enough, the Badgers host FAU and new Head Coach Lane Kiffin on September 9th.

Stay tuned.  One thing is almost certain with the new Defensive Coordinator—the Badgers will get their moneys worth.

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