Bret Bielema hit the podium Monday afternoon to address Saturday’s brutal loss to Oregon State. Most of the questions were of course about the news that Mike Markuson has been relieved of his duties as offensive line coach just two games into his Wisconsin tenure. Bielema explained the decision in vague terms, telling the media it was not “a knee-jerk move” and saying that “there were a lot of weighing factors” behind the firing. The main one I guess being the fact that, under Markuson, the Badgers totally forgot how to run and pass block. Weighing factors? How about “soul-crushing” factors.
As to reports that there may have been some personality conflict between Markuson and Bielema or perhaps Markuson and his players, Bielema assured this was not the case, saying “Personality is what made me attracted to [Markuson] early on.” But, said Bielema, “It didn’t work out the way I would like. I hired six guys and I feel very good about the five that are remaining.” Ouch. Bielema then addressed those who have called this a panic move by the Badgers. “Panic is for the outside world,” the coach said. “Reality is what I live with.”
That reality now includes quality control assistant Bart Miller being promoted to offensive line coach. Miller is expected to re-establish the blocking scheme used by the Badgers under Bob Bostad, or in Bielema’s words, provide a “bridge” to the Badgers’ previous success. Bielema admits this will not be an easy task. “We’re not going to be able to turn into what we’ve been able to accomplish in the past overnight,” the coach said. That’s okay though. They’ve got several nights and days to get back to the old Badger way before facing Utah State.
The fanbase is understandably nervous about the sudden promotion of a graduate assistant to a prominent role on the coaching staff, but Bielema expressed total faith in Miller, saying that Miller was actually a candidate for O-line coach before Markuson was hired. But instead of going with Miller they decided to bring a guy in from the outside who ran a totally different scheme? Sounds like they didn’t have much faith in Miller before, but somehow they do now? It’s okay though because Miller works hard. “Nobody is going to log more hours in that office than Bart Miller.”
Good to know, Bret. Good to know.