MADISON – Wisconsin football is expected to look dramatically different in 2023, both on the coaching staff and perhaps in the locker room.
New head coach Luke Fickell, who was scheduled to meet with the current UW assistants on Wednesday, is expected to make several staff changes.
Fickell likely will bring along Mike Tressel, the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach, and Colin Hitschler, the co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach.
Tressel, the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, was recently named the American Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year. Six members of Cincinnati’s 2021 defense were taken in the 2022 NFL draft.
Hitschler was the team’s safeties coach in 2020 and 2021 and was promoted to co-defensive coordinator before the 2022 season.
Their roles haven’t been determined, however, and it is possible that Jim Leonhard could stay at UW as defensive coordinator.
Leonhard has served as UW’s defensive coordinator since 2017 and was the interim head coach for the final seven games of the regular season this year.
From 2017-21, UW finished in the top five nationally in total defense and scoring defense four times.
During that run, UW’s average rank was third in points allowed (17.3 per game), first in total yards allowed (284.8 per game), first in pass-efficiency defense (110.5 rating) and third in rushing defense (103.4 ypg).
Fickell also could bring over offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli, who was the Bearcats’ quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator in 2020 and 2021 before taking over as offensive coordinator.
However, Guidguli reportedly is in the running to replace Fickell as Cincinnati’s head coach.
Another candidate to come to UW with Fickell is Mike Brown, the Bearcats’ passing-game coordinator/wide receivers coach. He joined the Cincinnati staff in 2019 as the wide receivers coach and added the title of passing-game coordinator this season.
When Gary Andersen left Utah State after the 2012 season, he retained only two members of Bret Bielema’s UW staff: running backs coach Thomas Hammock and secondary coach Ben Strickland.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda came to UW with Andersen and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was hired from San Diego State.
When Paul Chryst replaced Andersen in 2014, he retained only one member of Andersen’s second staff. That was Aranda, who was considered one of the better defensive coordinators in the nation at the time.
Chryst planned to retain running backs coach Thomas Brown but he left for Georgia, his alma mater, and Chryst then pivoted to John Settle.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Luke Fickell beginning to put together Wisconsin coaching staff