Last week’s news of Wisconsin Badgers outside linebackers coach Tim Tibesar departing Madison to become Oregon State’s new defensive coordinator was not surprising, especially given the results he helped produce the past three seasons.
From his first season in 2015 until now, Tibesar mentored the likes of current NFL linebackers Joe Schobert, T.J. Watt, and Vince Biegel—all drafted no later than the fourth round, with Watt selected No. 30 overall in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers this spring—and continued to develop potential professional prospects in redshirt seniors Garret Dooley and Leon Jacobs this season.
The latter duo combined for 11 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss during the 2017 season, with junior college transfer Andrew Van Ginkel registering nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in rotation with the two seniors.
According to Dooley, Tibesar spoke to his players before the news began to break.
“He brought the outside linebackers together this past weekend before it got all out,” Dooley said on Dec. 19, “and he wanted us all to know, and he wanted us to know that he was going to be staying through the bowl game because he wanted to be a part of this season and finish it up strong.
“So that’s something where you can definitely respect it and we know it’s a great opportunity for coach Tibs to go out to Oregon State, so that’s just something where we wish him the best of luck and I thank him for everything he’s done for me here.”
Tibesar’s first year coincided with Dooley’s transition to outside linebacker from defensive end. The redshirt senior, who accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl in January, recorded a team-high 7.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss this season for Wisconsin as the Badgers head toward a showdown with the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl.
“That was the year that I switched to outside linebackers is when he got here, and I owe everything to him basically,” Dooley said.
“He was the one who trusted me last season when Vince [Biegel] got hurt to get my first start, and I haven’t looked back since. I think he is just someone who no matter is always going to be pushing you to get better. No matter how good of a play you have, there is always something that he says that you can work on, and I just think that is something that kind of drives into us because we know never not to be complacent and we just know that we need to always try to achieve perfection knowing we won’t get there.
“I just think that he’s a technician coach and he loves to coach us up, and it’s definitely been a blessing having him here.”
Praise and messages of congratulations did not just come from one of his position players. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard spoke very highly of Tibesar, who in addition to being outside linebackers coach was also given a defensive run game coordinator title for the 2017 season.
“Very excited for him. Obviously a very great coach. he’s helped this program tremendously and he’s earned the right to be a coordinator,” Leonhard said on Dec. 19. “He should be a coordinator in college football, and to have that opportunity is pretty special. I know it means a lot to him.
“What he’s done for me in year one has been incredible, just the communication we’ve had and how he’s helped in the game planning and even on game day, just kind of keeping me focused and on track. A guy you don’t want to see go, no question about it, but at the same time it’s an opportunity he’s earned and deserves, so very excited for him.
“Now we start the process of trying to replace a really good coach.”
Dooley working with club on right hand
Dooley will play in his final collegiate game on Dec. 30 against the Hurricanes, and it will bear watching what he wears on his right hand.
The ‘backer noted he suffered a hand/finger injury toward the end of the fourth quarter of Wisconsin’s 27–21 loss to the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 2.
Now, Dooley said he is getting used to a club on that hand.
“It’s gotten a lot better. I had surgery a couple of weeks ago and I just had a break in it, just something I had to fix,” Dooley said. “It’s not going to be completely healed by the bowl game, obviously, but we’re going to be cautious about it. I think it usually takes about six weeks to heal so it’s nothing that’s going to be long-term.
“If I have to, I’ll play in a club and I’ll still play well. If I don’t have to, then great, but things are going well.”
Dooley also said he spoke with trainers and should be 100 percent before the Senior Bowl on Jan. 27.