For the first time under head coach Paul Chryst, the Wisconsin Badgers will have a new offensive line coach for the 2022 season.
Joe Rudolph, who coached Chryst in Pittsburgh as well as Madison, heads to Brent Pry’s staff at Virginia Tech as they look to lead the Hokies back into the ACC’s winning direction.
Rudolph, who played at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez in the early 1990s, has been the offensive line coach since being hired at Wisconsin in 2015. He’s also held other titles and had other responsibilities, such as “Run Game Coordinator” and also called games. on and off, and throughout the 2020 season. He was also one of the top scouts on the Wisconsin coaching staff, having recruited some of the best rookies the Badgers have signed over the past two seasons, including OL 5 stars Nolan Rucci.
Simply put… thank you Coach Rudolph! No one has built better men, players and offensive lines than you. I am forever indebted to you for making me the player I am. https://t.co/UPIu5YlGvE
—David Edwards (@dedwards) January 3, 2022
While Wisconsin’s offensive line has been above average in the college football landscape under Rudolph, I don’t think it’s a good idea to admit that the Badgers have been better at different times in recent history. I’m not using this to throw on Rudolph, who I believe is a good offensive line coach, and will be a great benefit to Virginia Tech, but Wisconsin’s offensive line hasn’t been the elite unit that has developed the reputation the band carries today due to past iterations.
That being said, Wisconsin’s offensive line job is one of the most desirable offensive line positions in the country. Not only do you have before you the recruiting force of Badger bloodlines history, but also a closet full of talented young players who have been drafted in recent cycles. 4 and 5 star recruits alone on the last three promotions:
- Logan Brown, Michigan 5-Star OT – thrown starter at left tackle
- Indiana 4-Star OT Joe Tippmann – currently starts at center
- Trey Wedig, 4-star Wisconsin OT – should compete for the right tackle position
- Jack Nelson, 4-star Wisconsin OT – started at right guard as a redshirt freshman
- JP Benzschawel, Wisconsin 4-Star OT – competing as depth at guard
- Pennsylvania 5-star OT Nolan Rucci – should compete for the right tackle position
- Riley Mahlman, 4-star Minnesota OT – took reps with first team in camp, should compete for the right tackle
#Badgers The new OL coach will have a lot of young talent in the room. Will also have a veteran tackler who can play on either side of the line. Tyler Beach returns for its sixth year.
—Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) January 3, 2022
That’s not even including Joe Brunner, a 4-star OL from Whitefish Bay in the state who signed in this latest recruiting class, plus the possibility of adding 4-star Carson Hinzman in the state (St. Croix Central ), which is still hesitating between Wisconsin and ohio state.
However, that makes this next hire crucial, if Wisconsin is to see the fruits of that labor on the track. While there are likely plenty of qualified candidates for the opener, only one seems to make too much sense and has a Wisconsin background that can fulfill the potential of these linemen:
Bostad, currently Wisconsin’s inside linebackers coach, has been back on staff since 2017. Bostad spent time with Wisconsin from 2006 to 2011, when he was the running game coordinator and tight ends coach of 06-07 and coach of the offensive line from 08-11. He then left Wisconsin to coach the offensive line of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012-2013, then the Tennessee Titans from 2014-2015. He was with Northern Illinois for one season in 2016 before joining the Wisconsin staff.
During his time with the offensive line from 2008-2011, the Badgers were arguably at their peak offensively. Offensive lines featuring Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Travis Frederick, Kevin Zeitler, Josh Oglesby, Bill Nagy, Rick Wagner, among others, all had time (or still are) in the NFL and were among the best offensive lines from the country. These units, paired with Scott Tolzien and Russell Wilson, contributed to Wisconsin’s offensive explosion that took them to the Rose Bowls against TOS and Oregon, as well as nationally televised hits from Michigan (28 straight games, scored 56 points), Northwest (76 points), Indiana (83 points), and were legitimate national title contenders (BCS at the time), before coming short (usually in hail mMry situations).
Bostad has the pedigree, knowledge and track record of success to be the new offensive line coach, whether or not that happens remains to be seen.
The next conversation then is – if Bostad returns to the offensive line, who takes over at inside linebacker? While Bostad’s history on the offensive line clearly makes sense, he was also objectively a successful inside linebacker coach, showcasing some of the best linebackers in the program in school history in his day ( TJ Edwards, Ryan Connelly, Chris Orr, Jack Sanborn, Leo Chenal). There are two likely scenarios (one much more than the other) that I could see happening:
- They give all linebackers to Bobby April, the current outside linebackers coach who has done stand-up work with passers since 2018, when he came to Wisconsin after a stint as Rex Ryan’s linebackers coach with the Buffalo Tickets Where
- This is completely me spitting here, but Chris Orr and Jack Cichy currently work for the football program, and may not be in a full-time role, but could have some ability with inside linebackers, under the tutelage of April or another linebacker coach appealed. Cichy and Orr played for Jim Leonhard, have a knowledge of defense and both stood out in that position. Now, it goes without saying that being a great player doesn’t automatically equate to being a good coach or teacher, but both are valuable assets to the program and could be seen as contributing in some way. .
It is important to note that Joe Rudolph was the third highest paid coach (behind only Chryst + Leonhard).
Plenty of $$$ to potentially use for changes in the coaching staff no matter which direction Chryst goes.
Also, does Leonhard now get the ‘associate head coach’ title?
— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) January 3, 2022
Overall, the coaching staff would look like this given this scenario:
Head Coach – Paul Chryst
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback – Chryst
Half-off – Gary Brown
Wide Receivers – Alvis Whitted
Tight Ends – Mickey Turner
Offensive Line – Bob Bostad
Defensive line – Ross Kolodziej
Linebackers – Bobby April III
Cornerback – Hank Poteat
Defensive/Security Coordinator – Jim Leonhard
We’ll see how this situation evolves, but it could be an exciting development for Wisconsin given the amount of talent in the offensive line room right now. It should also go without saying that Joe Rudolph will be missing from the program – he’s hugely popular with the players and is objectively one of the nicest football coaches I’ve dealt with in the media, or otherwise. Being a quality human being and a good coach of the offensive line, Virginia Tech is becoming a good one.
Can Bostad be the guy to bring Wisconsin’s offensive line back to the elite status it had them from 2008-2011? We will have to see!