Bret Bielema had an unprecedented amount of staff turnover this offseason with six assistants leaving to take their coaching talents elsewhere. With news of the hire of Eddie Faulkner as tight ends coach coming yesterday, Bielema's new staff is complete.
It's clear coordinating experience was one of the main criteria Bielema was looking for during the hiring process, as five of the six new coaches have at least one season of coordinating experience on their resumes. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada has seven (at Butler, Northern Illinois and Indiana), linebackers coach Andy Buh has four (Stanford, Nevada), offensive line coach Mike Markuson has three (Alabama A&M, Boise State, Ole Miss), Faulkner has two (Ball State) and wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni has one (Western Kentucky). Only safeties coach
With a total of 17 years of coordinating experience entering the fold, Bielema's new staff is full of seasoned coaching veterans. It's tough to argue with his reasoning: when there are a lot of new faces around, it seems prudent that they have the experience and patience to deal with what will undoubtedly be a more-chaotic-than-usual offseason. Bielema also said that he looked for coaches that have a desire to move up in the ranks. Who better to do so than a group of guys that have already tasted what it's like at the second-highest level of coaching in college football?
Bielema was given a real test this offseason. Filling six assistant coaching vacancies is no small task, but he did an admirable job finding guys that matched a smart, specific criteria. We won't be sure how successful the new staff is for at least several months, but the initial results look good.
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