Athletic Director Barry Alvarez has been a very busy man over the last 18 months. On the men’s side alone of the Wisconsin Athletic Department, Alvarez, has hired new head coaches for the football, basketball and hockey programs. With those new hires comes the task of completing staffing for the new coaches.
Alvarez and Co. have looked from within to fill these positions. Former Badger athletes and coaches now hold a large number of those vacancies on the Wisconsin coaching staffs.
It all started in December of 2014 when Alvarez hired former Badger player and coordinator Paul Chryst as head football coach. Chryst in turn hired several Badger standout athletes and former coaches to new coaching positions. He named Joe Rudolph as offensive coordinator and associate head coach. Rudolph played on the Badgers first Rose Bowl championship team in 1994. Rudolph in turned spent four years as Wisconsin’s tight end coach before joining Chryst at Pitt. He also brought John Settle back after Settle coached Chryst’s running backs at Pitt. As far as former players, Chryst added Jim Leonard, Micky Turner, Taylor Mehlhaff, Ross Kolodziej, Antonio Fenelus, Bradie Ewing, Jon Budmayr and Kyle Costigan. What better way to teach new players the “Badger way” than having former players show them the ropes?
That sentiment continued with the hiring of Greg Gard as the head basketball coach this March. Gard was a Badger assistant for the entirety of Bo Ryan’s time as head coach. Gard’s first two hirings have been former Badger player and coach Howard Moore and former player Joe Krabbenhoft.
The men’s hockey program culminated this thought process when Alvarez hired Tony and Don Granato and Mark Osiecki as the new heads of the illustrious program. Tony was named the head coach and Don and Osiecki were named associate head coaches. Tony, Don and Osiecki all played major rolls in some of the most successful Badger teams, with the latter two winning a national championship together in 1990. The Wisconsin hockey program, once one of the most feared in all of college hockey, has struggled over the last several years earning only 12 victories in the last two years. These three men have the knowledge, experience and passion to return the Badgers to the heights Badger fans and alumni expect.
With the athletic department experiencing so much turnover, Alvarez looked for homey familiar choices to achieve the excellence that Wisconsin Athletics demands. With the initial results in from the football, and basketball seasons, both programs seem be moving in the right, Badger, direction. The hiring of the hockey trio has reinvigorated excitement surrounding the hockey program that hasn’t been seen in many years. It would appear so far so good.
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