MADISON, Wis. — New Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen wasted little time in announcing the hiring of five new assistant coaches to join the Badgers’ staff, which will also include two holdovers from the previous regime.
On Thursday, Andersen officially hired offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Andy Ludwig, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, secondary coach Bill Busch, defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a and offensive line coach T.J. Woods. Andersen also retained Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock and secondary coach Ben Strickland.
“I am excited by the staff we have been able to assemble,” Andersen said in a news release. “They are quality coaches who bring the experience and philosophies that will enable us to continue playing great offense and defense at Wisconsin. They are also individuals who take care of kids first and will coach them in the right way.”
Ludwig spent the past two seasons at San Diego State, guiding the Aztecs’ offense to 32.9 points per game in 2012. The team averaged 220.7 rushing yards per game to rank No. 20 in the country. He also has spent time coaching at California (2009-10), Utah (2005-08), Fresno State (1998-2001, Cal Poly (1997) and Augustana (1993-94).
Aranda follows Andersen to Wisconsin after spending last season as the defensive coordinator at Utah State — where Andersen served as head coach from 2009-12. Last year, the Aggies’ defense ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense, surrendering 15.4 points per game. Utah State also ranked among the top 15 in the country in sacks (eighth), pass efficiency defense (10th), rush defense (12th) and total defense (15th).
Busch spent the past four seasons with Andersen at Utah State, the last two coming as associate head coach and special teams coordinator, as well as safeties coach. He also has ties to Wisconsin. From 1993-94, Busch served as a graduate assistant for the Badgers under then-coach Barry Alvarez. He later became an outside linebackers and safeties coach at Nebraska under Bill Callahan from 2004-07. Callahan was a member of Alvarez’s first coaching staff at Wisconsin and spent five years coaching the Badgers’ offensive line.
“The most exciting thing for me is to get back to Madison,” Busch said. “I was a GA under coach Alvarez, and it’s always been a dream to come back as a full-time coach. This is the happiest day of my life in coaching to get to come back to Wisconsin.”
Kauha’aha’a (pronounced cow-ha-a-ha-a) spent the past two years at Utah and helped the Utes rank in the top 25 nationally in rushing defense both seasons. Before joining Utah, he was a member of Andersen’s first staff at Utah State, spending the 2009-10 seasons as the Aggies’ defensive line coach.
“There was only one person who could get me to leave Utah, and that’s coach Andersen,” Kauha’aha’a said. “I trust him so much and learned a tremendous amount in my time with him, so when he called and gave me an opportunity, it was a no-brainer.”
Woods also was a member of Andersen’s original staff at Utah State and spent the last two seasons coaching the team’s offensive line. Utah State is one of just four teams in the country — joining Wisconsin, Oregon and Western Kentucky — to have a 1,500-yard rusher in each of the past two seasons.
The addition of Woods means former Badgers offensive line coach Bart Miller will either switch to a different position or won’t be retained on Andersen’s staff. Miller led Wisconsin’s line to considerable improvement this season after taking over for fired line coach Mike Markuson during the first month of the season. But Miller is Wisconsin’s only assistant coach from 2012 without a job. Six Badgers assistant left to take positions elsewhere following Wisconsin’s 20-14 loss to Stanford in the Rose Bowl on Tuesday.
Andersen is keeping Hammock and Strickland, who are highly respected coaches already on Wisconsin’s staff. Hammock will become the longest tenured coach at Wisconsin by entering his third year with the team. He coached running back Montee Ball, a two-time consensus All-American and this year’s Doak Walker Award winner for top running back in the nation.
Strickland showed promise with his ability to recruit in-state players. He is so valuable that Andersen mentioned him by name during his introductory news conference as coach in December. Strickland, a former Wisconsin defensive back who spent the past four years on the Badgers’ coaching staff, just completed his first year as the team’s secondary coach.
“I have previously worked with the five coaches we are bringing in, and I have gotten to know Thomas and Ben in the last few weeks, so that familiarity will be beneficial,” Andersen said. “Both on offense and defense, these coaches have shown a lot of flexibility within their systems, and their main goal is to get the best 11 players on the field and build around their strengths. Our style on offense will be very familiar to Wisconsin fans while on defense I am confident that we can continue the great tradition of tough and physical units that has been established here.”
Andersen has yet to announce the hiring of a tight ends and wide receivers coach.