With the recent news that Jon Budmayr would be leaving Wisconsin to become the Colorado State offensive coordinator, the Wisconsin Badgers are once again dipping their toes in the coaching carousel, this time in search of a new quarterbacks coach.
This hire will represent the second shuffle of the off-season, as former strength coach Ross Kolodziej is the newly minted defensive line coach after Inoke Breckterfield moved on to Vanderbilt earlier in the month.
Much like the hiring process for defensive line, the void at quarterbacks coach should receive plenty of interest, and the role will be very important in the development of both Graham Mertz and Deacon Hill moving forward.
While the exact direction that the Badgers will go is to be determined, here are a list of potential candidates that could make sense as the new quarterbacks coach in 2021:
The person that instantly popped up as a viable candidate to replace Jon Budmayr is Scott Tolzien. The former Wisconsin quarterback played while Paul Chryst was offensive coordinator, and he is one of the more cerebral quarterbacks in program history. As a senior he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award given to the nations best upperclassmen quarterback in the country for his role leading one of the best offenses in the program’s history back in 2010.
Tolzien followed his time as a multi-year starter in Madison with a six year career in the NFL. After a brief one-year stint in San Francisco, he spent the next five seasons in Green Bay and Indianapolis as a backup to Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. Tolzien earned four starts between his time with the Packers and Colts.
After finishing up his playing career, Tolzien came back to Madison and worked as a team analyst to scout opponents during the 2019 season. Following that single season working as an assistant for the Badgers he was hired by Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys as an offensive assistant, where he specifically worked with the quarterbacks in 2020.
Given the fact that the Cowboys have a veteran full-time quarterbacks coach in Doug Nussmeier, and former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator, Tolzien (33 years old) should have gained a tremendous amount of experience this past season. However, if he indeed wants to pursue a career as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, a few seasons back in Madison might make a ton of sense for him.
Given Tolzien’s ties to the Midwest (he is from Illinois), and the fact that he would have the opportunity to coach at his alma mater, he would be a strong fit for the role if he is interested.
While Scott Tolzien will undoubtedly be on Paul Chryst’s list of potential candidates to speak with, his brother is another possibility.
Geep Chryst would bring a tremendous amount of experience to the coaching staff given his 25 years between college and the NFL primary as an offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and tight ends coach during his many stops.
Chryst would represent the oldest option at 58 years old, but its hard to argue with a guy who has been in the NFL in various capacities since 1991. Geep last coached in the league back in 2018, and maybe he has an itch to get back into coaching. A final hurrah in Madison to team up with his brother seems like a logical place to do that, especially when it opens up the possibility to returning home now that his kids have all moved on to college or beyond.
Geep Chryst might be perfectly content outside of the coaching sphere, but if not, Paul should check in on his brother and see if he would be interested in joining him. All of that NFL experience, including multiple seasons as an offensive coordinator, could add a nice element to an offense that struggled last season at times.
I would imagine that the top two coaches listed above are the most likely candidates, but there is still a chance that neither accepts the job. If that occurs, I think that’s when things get pretty unpredictable. Because of that the following possibilities are longshots and complete guesses.
After completing his third year as a graduate assistant with the Badgers, maybe Bobby Dunn gets a shot? He would be following a somewhat similar path of Jon Budmayr, who took over the position after he spent time as a graduate assistant and quality control coach under Chryst.
It is not completely known how much trust and experience Dunn has with the staff, but as a former high school quarterback at Edgewood High School and having spent some brief time on the roster as a practice player, he has definite ties to the team.
Interestingly enough he is no longer listed on the Wisconsin football coaches roster as of Friday (seemingly out of nowhere I might add), and the link to his profile takes you to the end of the internet, which is unusual. Maybe there is something brewing here?
Or, he may have moved on. However, even after Warren Herring left the recruiting department his profile still works to this day...
Holding a very similar assistant role to Scott Tolzien, but on the Houston Texans staff, maybe the former NFL quarterback and North Carolina Tarheel great TJ Yates wants to get into the college game and earn a full title as quarterbacks coach. This is a longshot, and there aren’t necessarily obvious ties, but with a new head coach joining the Texans staff and uncertainty within the organization he would be an interesting option.
Another longshot here, but Senger has experience as a quarterbacks coach and familiarity with the University of Wisconsin after beginning his career there. He went on to have a great career at the DIII level before getting into coaching, and he was a offensive quality control coach with North Dakota State last season. Seems like a huge jump in responsibility and title, but there are ties.