Paul Chryst and the University of Wisconsin football program have taken steps to fill the void left by the resignation of inside linebackers coach Bill Sheridan earlier this month.
Sheridan’s departure leaves the Badgers with one of their 10 available assistant positions unfilled. He spent less than three months on the coaching staff, where he brought decades of experience from both the college and NFL ranks. The inside linebacker room will see its third coach since the end of the 2021 season.
UW reopened an assistant football coach position on the university’s job portal, and the posting says it is for an assistant defensive coach. The applications open date says Feb. 7, with it closing at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Job posting requirements allow us to use the previous posting and applicant pool for the same position for approximately six months,” a UW spokesperson said in an email.
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New candidates can apply in the short window the posting is active again.
The reposting of the original advertisement for the defensive assistant would seem to indicate Chryst is open to candidates not already involved with the program.
The Badgers went outside the program for three new assistants, which included Sheridan, during this offseason. UW announced the hire of new offensive coordinator Bobby Engram in late January, and Chryst noted in March the former college and NFL standout receiver would coach the quarterbacks. Sheridan’s hire came in February, and the program welcomed back Al Johnson to guide its running backs room just before spring practices began in March.
UW hired two new assistants from outside the coaching staff before the 2021 season in cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat and running backs coach Gary Brown.
Some of the recent outside hires held direct connections with Chryst. Engram worked alongside Chryst at Pittsburgh as wide receivers coach from 2012-13. Johnson, a former standout center at UW, stayed in Madison for two seasons as a graduate assistant for the Badgers from 2016-17. Poteat also started his FBS coaching journey as a graduate assistant under Chryst at Pittsburgh for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Brown, Engram, Johnson and Poteat all played in the NFL as well.
Chryst can reassign duties with full-time assistant coaches only, according to UW. That means current graduate assistants and analysts would have to apply for the open assistant coach position.
Chryst could take the internal route and reassign duties for coaches already on his staff, like he has in the last three months. UW introduced Sheridan on Feb. 22, at which time it also announced new responsibilities for two longtime assistants.
Bob Bostad transitioned from inside linebacker to offensive line duties, a room that he coached between 2008-11. Tight ends coach Mickey Turner took on a new off-field role to oversee the football program’s recruiting endeavors.
That said, spring practices have come and gone, and again reshuffling the staff would cause a disruption. Two assistants who have coached linebackers previously besides Bostad are Chris Haering and outside linebackers coach Bobby April III. Haering oversaw the linebackers at Pittsburgh under Chryst from 2012-13 and outside linebackers in 2014 before getting hired in Madison. However, Chryst announced before spring practices that Haering would take over UW’s tight ends room, so he already has been moved once this offseason.
April previously coached linebackers in the NFL for the New York Jets (2014) and Buffalo Bills (2015-16). However, he has mentored and helped guide Zack Baun, Andrew Van Ginkel and Nick Herbig to successful production as Badgers outside linebackers, with the former two now playing in the NFL.
Two former players on staff also have experience within the defense, though their overall coaching resumes are relatively green. Michael Caputo and Jack Cichy returned to the program this spring as defensive and offensive assistants, respectively. Their roles do not count among the 10 assistant coaches allowed, according to a second UW spokesperson.
Caputo, who recently worked for Baylor and former UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as a defensive quality control coach, holds the most experience of the two former Badgers. He spent time as an assistant at the FBS level, coaching the safeties at Utah State in 2019. The former second-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America also saw time as a graduate assistant at LSU from 2017-18.
Cichy, who recently announced his retirement from playing football in February, served in a volunteer role at UW last season. The former walk-on turned NFL draft pick knows Jim Leonhard’s defense from his time as a player, though he did not play during Leonhard’s first season as defensive coordinator in 2017 due to a torn ACL.
Finding replacements from within the program also happened in 2021, when Ross Kolodziej transitioned from the team’s strength and conditioning coach to his current role as defensive line coach.
Whoever replaces Sheridan will need to adapt quickly for a key period ahead. A busy season on the recruiting trail awaits in June, and UW is set to host numerous high school recruits for official visits next month.
The program has not updated the anticipated start date, currently listed as “on or after Feb. 19, 2022.”