It's not surprising the focus of Bielema's press conference (full transcript here) centered around the firing of offensive line coach Mike Markuson. But while fans and media members hoped for an answer to why the coach was let go so suddenly, Bielema's responses only left more ambiguity.
Despite multiple questions on the lackluster play of the offensive line and how Markuson's technique may not have fit very well, Bielema strayed away from directly answering those questions. He alluded to the fact that personal issues in Markuson's life played a role in the decision.
"But for some personal matters, Mike is an a guy that really cares about his family," Bielema said. "And I think there's a lot of weighing factors. Mike has a son in high school that I know was pulling on him quite a bit."
"His daughter is a freshman in college back in Mississippi and a wife that's back there. I think he's going to make a transition to get back with them and see where the next step takes him. But wish him the best of luck."
Something doesn't quite add up here.
Markuson went on SiriusXM College Sports Nation Monday night to discuss his removal. As Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, Markuson talked about how his style didn't quite fit with Wisconsin's. While he thought the transition was bumpy at first, he believed the offensive line had made great strides and was headed in the right direction. He surely didn't expect to be fired Sunday night.
"[Bret] brought me into his office Sunday afternoon after a staff meeting and basically told me he was making a change," Markuson said. "We had talked a few times before about certain things (but) it was a surprise for me...
"I really thought we were making good progress. In light of what has transpired I still believe what I was teaching is the right thing to do. Obviously it didn’t fit into what they wanted at Wisconsin."
It appears Bielema tried to downplay the move, and while there may have been personal issues Markuson was dealing with, I think this move is primarily based on the offensive line's poor performances and how Markuson's style didn't fit the way Bielema had hoped. Lets remember Bielema fired Markuson. He didn't step down. I can't envision Bielema firing Markuson over personal issues, so based off Markuson's comments and the replacement hire of Bart Miller, it certainly seems this was a performance-based decision and move of desperation to correct the offensive line in a hurry.
College Football Live discusses the state of the Badgers and the firing of Mike Markuson.
Want to know the background of new offensive line coach Bart Miller? Check it out on here.
Injury update: safety Shelton Johnson had surgery on his broken arm and should be back in six weeks or slightly less, according to Bielema. Redshirt sophomore Michael Trotter will remain Johnson's replacement during his absence. Jared Abbrederis suffered a concussion and is day-to-day at this point.
Tom Oates says Bielema is to blame for the failing of Mike Markuson. I couldn't agree more.
Paul Chryst isn't exactly loving life in Pittsburgh right now either, as his Panthers stumbled to an 0-2 start. The Badgers are sure missing Chryst and former offensive line coach Bob Bostad right now...
The firing of Markuson has major implications for the Badgers and Bielema.
With Wisconsin's flat performances (at least on offense), Tom Dienhart now forecasts the Badgers in the Outback Bowl.
What're the biggest surprises in the B1G? It starts with your Badgers' offense.