Aranda had no intention of leaving Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. — Dave Aranda made it clear, when whatever deluge of job opportunities arose last month, that he had no intention of leaving Wisconsin. Given all he accomplished in two seasons as Badgers defensive coordinator, he had earned the right to make such a decision.
And though it was up to new coach Paul Chryst ultimately to determine Aranda’s fate, Chryst quickly told Aranda he didn’t want him leaving, either. A relationship that worked so well under the previous coaching staff would remain intact. So when Aranda officially was introduced as the team’s defensive coordinator this week, it was a mere formality to what many had known for weeks.
"This is something I wanted to do right from the start," Aranda said. "My family is awfully comfortable here. My wife loves it here. Kids have a great school environment. They have friends over to the house about every other day. I know that I love the kids here, especially the group that’s coming up. I’m excited about their potential and what we can accomplish. So I’m very happy that it worked out."
The feeling, undoubtedly, is mutual.
Aranda’s brilliant football mind and ability to relay confusing defensive concepts in simple terms for players helped the Badgers become one of the top units in the country during his first two years at UW. It also presumably made him a hot commodity on the coaching block.
Wisconsin ranked fourth in total defense (294.1), fourth in pass defense (168.0), 17th in scoring defense (20.8 points) and No. 23 in rushing defense (126.1 yards per game) in 2014. The Badgers also increased their sack total from 26 a year ago to 37, all while starting an entirely different front seven.
There is likely to be a feeling out process between Chryst and Aranda on how their schemes will work. But thus far, Aranda likes what he has heard.
"It’s been great conversation," Aranda said. "I think in the past here when I would have discussions with past coaches or I’m talking with my wife and it would be, ‘Dave, come on, let’s get on with it. What are we trying to get to? What is the point?’ So it’s always good to be able to talk something through and get to all sides of the argument, the good, the bad, the in-between.
"I’ve been able to do that with Paul. I see that in Joe (Rudolph), too. There is a thoroughness there. I’m excited about what can come of that, whether it is in spring ball or Alabama or whatever it is."
Aranda noted the expectations for Wisconsin’s defense in 2015 would be to "improve in all areas" and cited a desire to find balance with his front line between being both stout and quick to create pressure, as well as working for more takeaways. He also said he wanted to do a better job of helping his defense finish late in the season.
In 2013, Wisconsin lost its final two games against Penn State and South Carolina. In 2014, Wisconsin lost the Big Ten championship 59-0 to Ohio State before rallying for a stirring 34-31 overtime victory against Auburn in the Outback Bowl.
"One of the best feelings for me is when you have a bunch of guys, whether it be players, coaches, support staff, you name it, just the community of Wisconsin Badgers football be all in," Aranda said. "When we played Auburn, the offense got to the point where we were struggling there at the end in terms of catching our wind, in terms of we’re losing the edge on the perimeter.
"To go into overtime and to look in Marcus Trotter’s eyes and to look into Warren Herring’s eyes, and to know that they knew we were going to win, that was so cool. You felt that. Sam Arneson’s walking by and he’s going, ‘Look, we’re going to win this.’ You know, that is such a big part of why we do what we do, and there is a lot of work to get to that point."
Coaching update: Chryst has yet to officially announced three of his nine assistant coaches. But at least two appear to be set.
Former Chicago Bears linebackers coach Tim Tibesar reportedly will coach the Badgers’ outside linebackers next season. Tibesar spent the 2012 season as Purdue’s defensive coordinator/linebackers coach and worked three previous seasons under former Bears coach Marc Trestman with the Montreal Alouettes.
Hawaii associate head coach and secondary coach Daronte’ Jones, meanwhile, will take over as Wisconsin’s secondary coach.
"It’s definitely tough," Jones told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser this week. "In this coaching business, it’s not supposed to get emotional. But when you leave a program, it’s a tough time. It gets emotional."
Jones’ arrival means former Badgers cornerbacks coach Ben Strickland is out of an assistant coaching job. The website 24/7 Sports reported Strickland has an offer to serve as director of recruiting. Strickland reportedly was still conducting in-home recruiting visits with Chryst.
The last assistant coaching position for Wisconsin’s wide receivers appears less certain at the moment. Former receivers coach Chris Beatty accepted the same job with Virginia, and reports have noted former Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jay Norvell would take the job. But Norvell also recently spoke with Texas about an assistant coaching position, and no official announcement has been made on his status.
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