Candidates emerge for UW job

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Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, January 12, 2012
— When Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema initially talked about finding an offensive coordinator to replace Paul Chryst, his No. 1 goal was non-negotiable:

“We’re not going to change what we’re doing,” he said as UW prepared for the 2012 Rose Bowl. “We’re going to be a pro-style offense and continue to do the things we’ve been doing.”

Bielema, in San Antonio at the national coaches’ convention, must hire four offensive coaches and five overall.

According to two college football sources, two names that have emerged as legitimate options reflect Bielema’s desire to continue to feature a pro-style offense:

San Diego State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Andy Ludwig and Western Kentucky offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni.

Ludwig is a candidate because of his play-calling experience. He has served as an offensive coordinator at six schools since the 1997 season, including last season with the Aztecs. Those stops included Fresno State (1998-2001), Oregon (2002-’04), Utah (2005-’08) and California (2009-’10).

The 2001 Fresno State team defeated UW at Camp Randall Stadium, 32-20. That team featured David Carr at quarterback and became the first team in NCAA history to feature a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher.

The Bulldogs finished fourth nationally in scoring (40.0 points per game) and total offense (501.6 yards per game).

The 2008 Utah team beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to finish 13-0 and No. 2 in the polls. The Utes finished 35th nationally in total offense (401.0)— 244.5 passing, 156.5 rushing — and 15th in scoring offense (37.0).

Ludwig has worked under several well-known coaches: Pat Hill at Fresno State, Mike Bellotti at Oregon, Kyle Wittingham at Utah and Jeff Tedford at California.

Azzanni played wide receiver at Central Michigan (1994-’98) and has coached wide receivers since he took his first job at Valparaiso in 1999.

Under his guidance last season, Western Kentucky rushed for 2,179 yards and passed for 2,008.

As a graduate assistant at Bowling Green in 2001 and ‘02, Azzanni worked under Urban Meyer, who will coach Ohio State next season.

Poll position

UW finished No. 10 in The Associated Press and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

The polls were released after the BCS title game Monday.

UW (11-3) dropped one spot in the AP poll and three spots in the ESPN/USA Today poll after its 45-38 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

UW’s final poll rankings under Bielema:

2006: No. 7 and No. 5; 2007: No. 24 and No. 21; 2008: unranked; 2009: No. 16 in both; 2010: No. 7 and tied for No. 8.

Recruiting battle

UW and Northwestern are locked in a recruiting battle for wide receiver Kyle Prater, who is transferring from USC.

Prater, a high school All-American at Proviso West in Hillside, Ill., redshirted in 2010 because of thumb and hamstring injuries. He battled foot/hip injuries in 2011 and had just one reception for 6 yards.

Prater, 6 feet 5 inches and 215 pounds, will have to sit out 2012 after transferring but will be a redshirt junior in 2013.

Last updated: 7:20 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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