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What coaching staff shuffle means for Paul Chryst, Badgers football

What coaching staff shuffle means for Paul Chryst, Badgers football

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Paul Chryst, qb coach and calling plays

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said Friday that after multiple changes to his coaching staff, he'll be coaching quarterbacks and calling plays going forward. 

Paul Chryst saw an opportunity this offseason to bring to fruition an idea he’s had for years.

The University of Wisconsin football coach has needed to shuffle his staff due to a pair of departures, but those moves allowed him to reconfigure how each position group will be coached.

The result of these moves is Chryst coaching quarterbacks and calling plays this fall, a dual role he’s filled often in the past for UW.

“I thought I was an important part of finishing off all these pieces,” Chryst told the State Journal on Friday. “And that we could really kind of do more, we can cover more, we have one more position group covered. And that was the best way (answer) who do we have and how can we best use everyone and their abilities?

“I've always loved coaching, the very hands-on coaching part, but that's not what drove any of this was to get back to that.”

UW’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph called played for the Badgers last season with the assistance of quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr, who left the program. The Badgers went 4-3 and the offense struggled as injuries and COVID-19 absences at skill positions made creating explosive plays a challenge all season.

Chryst has been the QB coach and play-caller numerous times for UW, including his run as offensive coordinator for the program from 2006 to 2011. He called plays for UW over his first five seasons as coach as well. But Chryst was adamant his taking over play-calling was not in response to anything that occurred in 2020.

“Over the years, Joe and I have talked through a lot of things,” Chryst said. “It kind of came down to … on the offensive staff, what’s the best allocation, use of our resources and the guys that we have? It’s not reactionary to what’s happened as much as how do we want to be proactive and say, ‘Here’s an opportunity, what do we want to do?’

“I’ve always appreciated with Joe being able to have really good conversations, led by what’s best for this program. What’s best for this team and these position groups?”

Rudolph now is designated as the associate head coach, running game coordinator and offensive line coach. Outside linebackers coach Bobby April added defensive run game coordinator to his title.

Chryst’s new role is the latest and presumably last in an offseason that has seen a handful of changes to the Badgers’ coaching staff.

UW announced Thursday the hiring of Hank Poteat to coach cornerbacks, a position that previously had not had its own coach. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard coached the full secondary before Poteat’s hire.

Budmayr left the Badgers to become the offensive coordinator at Colorado State, and former defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield left for the same role at Vanderbilt. Chryst shifted strength coach Ross Kolodziej into the defensive line role and promoted strength and conditioning assistant Shaun Snee into the lead position.

That left one opening on the staff and allowed Chryst to pursue a cornerbacks coach, something he says he’s thought about for years. When Chryst was hired as UW’s coach, Poteat interviewed with then-defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to be a cornerback coach, but the timing wasn’t right, Chryst said.

Leonhard joined the staff as the DBs coach in 2016 and kept that role when he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. Chryst said splitting the defensive backs — the largest position group on the roster with 21 players — allows both corners and safeties to get more position-specific instruction.

“What you cover in a meeting or what techniques, skills and drills you’re working on in practice can be very different for a corner or for safety,” Chryst said.

Leonhard almost left this offseason as well after being offered the defensive coordinator position with the Green Bay Packers. He turned down the offer late last week.

The addition of Poteat allows Leonhard to hone in on coaching the safeties, the position at which he was a three-time All-American for the Badgers and played 10 years in the NFL. However, Chryst said making Leonhard’s job a bit easier wasn’t the impetus for bringing on board Poteat.

“I can't disagree with that statement, it does lighten his load a bit, but I don't think that really accurately describes what was kind of behind it,” Chryst said.

“It’s a residual, a side benefit to it. I think it's more what’s best for the program, and oftentimes that’s driven by what's best for our players. The more I’m thinking about it, the more excited I am for our corners and I get excited for our safeties. Jimmy will still spend the same amount of time in meetings and getting ready for meetings and coordinating responsibilities.”

Chryst believes UW is heading in the right direction, with a revamped coaching staff and riding a wave of strong recruiting the past two classes.

“I get energized by the whole program, all the moves tied in. I think in the end, I do believe that we’re in a great spot with it and (have) really impacted everything.”


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