Broncos turn to former Whitewater Warhawk
Eric Studesville, an all-conference defensive back for the Warhawks in the late 1980s, was promoted to interim coach of the Denver Broncos on Monday after the AFC franchise announced the firing of 34-year-old Josh McDaniels.
Studesville, 43, is in his 14th season as an NFL assistant. This is his first year in Denver, where he has been the running backs coach.
He spent four years (1997-2000) as a quality control coach with the Chicago Bears under Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron, three (2001-03) as the New York Giants’ running backs coach under Jim Fassel and six with the Buffalo Bills (2004-09) under Mike Mularkey, Jauron and interim coach Perry Fewell last year.
“I am very appreciative of the trust that Mr. (Pat) Bowlen and the entire Denver Broncos organization have shown in me,” Studesville, a Verona High School graduate, said in a statement. “Although the circumstances that this opportunity resulted from are unfortunate, I am excited to lead this football team.
“We have a great group of players and coaches who are committed to finishing the season on a promising note and making our fans proud of this team.”
Meanwhile, the prestige of Studesville’s appointment is felt back in Whitewater.
“It’s a great day for Eric and a great day for UW-Whitewater,” said Bob Berezowitz, Studesville’s college coach in 1986-88.
Studesville inherits a difficult situation with the Broncos (3-9), who are mired in their worst stretch since 1971-72 with seven losses in the last eight games.
“My decision to relieve Josh McDaniels as head coach was not taken lightly. I will always be appreciative of his passion, enthusiasm and hard work, and I thank him for his efforts,” Bowlen said in a statement after firing McDaniels with two years left on his contract.
“In the end, I was not satisfied with the results and the direction this team was headed. The decision to make a change was extremely difficult but one that needed to be made for this organization and our fans.’’
Players didn’t know of McDaniels’ firing when they left team headquarters after a conditioning run in mid-afternoon. Shortly after that, McDaniels was called into Bowlen’s office and fired.
The rest of his staff, including McDaniels’ brother, Ben, who coaches the quarterbacks, will stay on for the final four games.
McDaniels becomes the third coach NFL fired during this season, all in the past month. The Dallas Cowboys fired Wade Phillips on Nov. 8 and promoted Jason Garrett to interim coach, and two weeks later, the Minnesota Vikings fired Brad Childress and promoted Leslie Frazier to replace him.
The two new coaches have a combined 5-1 record since taking over, and the Broncos are hoping Studesville can inject some life into the team to close out this lost season.
Studesville is the second southern Wisconsin native and former standout athlete to join the current NFL coaching ranks. Jim Caldwell, a Beloit Memorial High School graduate, is the head coach of the