It's always a bit of a silly season when there's a transition between coaching staffs. A lot of reports, a lot of speculation, and more often than not, there's some agita over some forwarded rumor. I mean, remember that whole thing about possibly losing Thomas Brown? That was fun.
It is in this spirit that we can bring you official confirmation of the staff starting to take shape. It's not the most unexpected news, but on Tuesday, the Badgers officially named Dave Aranda and Joe Rudolph as the respective defensive and offensive coordinators for 2015. And not only that, Aranda will be coaching the inside linebackers and Rudolph will be coaching up the offensive line.
The official press release follows.
MADISON, Wis. -- Familiar faces will lead the Badgers on both sides of the ball in 2015, with first-year head coach Paul Chryst announcing Dave Aranda as defensive coordinator and Joe Rudolph as associate head coach and offensive coordinator for the Wisconsin football program.
Aranda will return for a third season after serving as UW's defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for the past two years. A former Badgers player and assistant coach, Rudolph returns to Madison following a three-year stint as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach at Pittsburgh under Chryst.
Aranda will continue handling the Badgers' inside linebackers, while Rudolph will be directly responsible for the offensive line.
"There are a number of similarities with Dave and Joe," Chryst said. "Both are obviously terrific football coaches. They care about our student-athletes not just as players, but also people. As coaches they are committed to helping them become successful and well-rounded adults. The players can sense that and really enjoy playing for them."
Under Aranda's watch, Wisconsin's defense has allowed an average of 299.4 yards per game, ranking third among FBS programs over the last two seasons and trailing only Louisville (280.5) and Michigan State (282.9).
The Badgers have allowed an average of 18.6 points per game over the last two seasons, the sixth-best mark in the FBS during that span.
Wisconsin also ranks No. 5 nationally in passing defense over the past two seasons at 184.6 yards allowed per game and No. 7 in rushing defense at 114.7 yards allowed per contest. The Badgers have allowed just 27 rushing touchdowns in the 27 games Aranda has coached.
Aranda has mentored a pair of first-team All-Big Ten inside linebackers in Chris Borland (2013) and Derek Landisch (2014) among the 12 All-Big Ten honors earned by UW's defensive players over the past two seasons.
Borland was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American as a senior and was a third-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Aranda also saw NG Beau Allen (Philadelphia) and S Dezmen Southward (Atlanta) selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Successfully installing his 3-4 scheme, Aranda's first UW defense ranked among the nation's top 20 in all four major statistical categories in 2013. The Badgers checked in at No. 6 in scoring defense (16.3 points per game), No. 7 in total defense (305.1 yards per game), No. 5 in rushing defense (102.5) and No. 17 in passing defense (202.5 ypg).
Wisconsin again stifled opponents in his second season, ranking fourth in the country in total defense (294.1 ypg), 17th in scoring defense (20.8 ppg), 23rd in rushing defense (126.1 ypg) and fourth in passing defense (168.0 ypg).
The Badgers dialed up the pressure this season, racking up 93.0 tackles for loss and 37.0 sacks to rank among the nation's top 20 in both categories.
Aranda came to UW after directing Utah State's defense to similar success in 2012, with the Aggies ranking No. 8 nationally in scoring defense at 15.4 points allowed per game. He also served as defensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2010 and 2011.
Aranda is a 1999 graduate of California Lutheran.
"Dave is the first person I spoke to when I got the job. I'm very impressed with his knowledge of defense and his ability to put together a game plan," Chryst said. "He has helped build Wisconsin's defense into one of the best in the country over the last two years and the numbers back that up. He is able to identify the strengths of his players and play to those strengths, which I think is the mark of a good coach. When Dave expressed a great interest in staying, I was excited because I believe it is a great fit."
Pittsburgh enjoyed its most productive year offensively under Rudolph in 2014, averaging 31.8 points and 435.4 yards per game. Pitt ranked No. 3 in the ACC in total offense and No. 5 in the league in scoring offense.
Much of that production came from sophomore RB James Conner, who earned 2014 ACC Player of the Year honors by rushing for 1,765 yards and an ACC single-season record 26 touchdowns. Conner's average of 135.8 yards per game ranked third among Power Five conference players, trailing only Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (184.8) and Indiana's Tevin Coleman (169.7).
Over his first two seasons, Conner averaged 102.6 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry, the fifth-best mark among FBS players with at least 400 carries in that time span.
Conner's breakout performance was a 229-yard effort against MAC champion Bowling Green in the 2013 Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl that earned him game MVP honors and handed Pitt its first bowl win since 2010.
In all, Rudolph's offensive players at Pitt earned a total of 12 all-conference honors.
That included two-time All-ACC performer Tyler Boyd, who led all freshman wide receivers in 2013 by grabbing 85 catches for 1,174 yards en route to Freshman All-America honors. Boyd's 2,435 receiving yards over the past two seasons are the sixth-most by an FBS player in that span. He was one of just eight players from Power Five teams to rack up 2,000 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches over the last two seasons.
Rudolph's offense was led by three different starting quarterbacks during his time at Pitt, with all three competing at least 61 percent of their passes during their season at the helm. In 2012, senior QB Tino Sunseri completed 65.1 percent of his throws for 3,288 yards and 21 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
Combined with the 1,042 rushing yards gained by RB Ray Graham, Sunseri's passing total gave the Panthers a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season for the first time in school history.
During Rudolph's three seasons, Pitt's quarterbacks averaged 8.0 yards per pass attempt, the 19th-best mark among Power Five programs in that span. Panthers QBs also posted a combined pass efficiency mark of 143.9 in that time frame, the 16th-best mark among Power Five schools.
Much like the offenses he was involved with at Wisconsin, Rudolph's Pitt units controlled the clock and rarely turned the ball over. The Panthers committed the fifth-fewest turnovers in the FBS over the last three seasons with a total of just 46. They also ranked 14th nationally over that span with an average time of possession of 31:51.
In his first stint with the Badgers, Rudolph spent four seasons as UW's tight ends coach from 2008 to 2011. He contributed to the two highest-scoring offenses in school history, with the Badgers averaging 44.1 points per game in 2011 and 41.5 points per game in 2010.
He coached four UW tight ends that have earned playing time in the NFL in Travis Beckum, Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks and Jake Byrne. Beckum was taken in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, Kendricks was a second-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in the 2011 NFL Draft, and Graham was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.
Prior to Wisconsin, Rudolph coached tight ends at Nebraska (2007) and was a graduate assistant and strength coordinator at Ohio State (2004-06).
Rudolph graduated from UW in 1995 and later earned a master's degree in business administration from Carnegie Mellon University. A native of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, he was a member of Barry Alvarez's first recruiting class at Wisconsin and twice earned All-Big Ten honors as an offensive lineman.
In 1993, he helped the Badgers claim the Big Ten championship with a 10-1-1 record, including a win in the Rose Bowl. As a senior, he captained the UW squad that went 8-3-1 and won the Hall of Fame Bowl. He went on to play two years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers.
"I've worked with Joe for a number of years and have witnessed first-hand how good of a coach he is," Chryst said. "He is very detailed oriented and has a terrific offensive mind. He preaches a tough, physical, smart brand of football that I believe is the foundation of the Wisconsin program. Being a graduate and having played and coached at UW, he truly knows what it means to be a Badger."