MADISON, Wis. - Most football coaches would wait until the end of the season to make a change to their assistant coaching staff, but apparently Bret Bielema isn't most coaches. After the seventh-year head coach announced that offensive line coach Mike Markuson was no longer with the team, Bielema said he never liked how some head coaches would wait until the end of the season to make a change that could help change the direction of a season.
"Decisions traditionally are made at the end of the year, and it always drove me nuts," Bielema said Monday during his weekly press conference. "My first experience in coaching where there were some guys that really weren't where we needed to be as a staff. And it hurt everybody overall."
Bielema decided that if he got to be a head coach, he'd be sure to act early if necessary. And after back-to-back sluggish performances by the offensive line bogged down Wisconsin's once prolific offense, Bielema decided to go in a different direction.
"So I always kind of said to myself, as I got older, grew into the profession, if I was ever in a position that I knew transition be needed to be made, I wasn't going to be the one that waited until it was comfortable, I was going to make the decision when it needed to be made," Bielema said.
Bielema acknowledged that his decision might be viewed from the outside as a panic move, but he doesn't think that's actually the case.
"Panic is for the outside world- reality is what I live in," Bielema said. "As the head coach I'm the one responsible for everybody, every player, every coach, every family, support staff, and just felt that as head coach I've got to make some decisions once in a while that aren't going to be popular, and from the outside world looking in may not make the most sense."
-- Strong safety Shelton Johnson broke his arm during Saturday's game, and Bielema said the redshirt senior had surgery on Sunday. Bielema said he initially expected Johnson to miss the rest of the season on Saturday, but it looks like he'll miss six weeks, and maybe a little less.
-- Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis took a big hit during the game Saturday, and left the game to go to the hospital for observation. Bielema said Abbrederis didn't suffer any structural damage, but the junior wideout sustained a concussion that could keep him out of Saturday's game against Utah State. Abbrederis is considered day-to-day, but Bielema said there's a good chance he'll be able to play Saturday.
News and notes:
-- It seems as though Bielema sees a little bit of himself in new offensive line coach Bart Miller, who was elevated to his new position after the Badgers fired Markuson Sunday. Bielema also got his first job as a position coach at a relatively young age, and replaced a coach at Iowa who had many more years of experience than he did.
Bielema said he considered hiring Miller during the offseason, but he was unsure about promoting two graduate assistants in the same offseason. Ben Strickland was hired as a the secondary coach after
"But now … I realize I probably could have (hired Miller) and been just as far along or further along if I had because there wouldn't have been as big a transition," Bielema said.
-- It certainly looked like the hit that knocked Abbrederis out of the game could have been flagged, but Bielema said he didn't get a good view of the play in real time.
"People made reference to it after the game to me," Bielema said. "And I believe our trainer, Mike (Moll), sent me a shot or somebody sent me a shot of a pretty apparent sternum shot with the helmet. And I forwarded it on to Big Ten."
-- Offensive guard Dallas Lewallen was cleared to play last week and was warming up on the sideline during the game against Oregon State, and Bielema said the 6-foot-6, 309-pound lineman should be able to work his way into playing time this week against the Aggies.
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