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Wisconsin Football: A Look at the 2023 Defensive Coaching Staff



Wisconsin Football defensive coordinator Mike Tressel

Wisconsin football is in a new era. With a complete overhaul of the coaching staff, the Badgers will have new leaders come 2023.

With the departure of Jim Leonhard and other defensive assistants, UW needed to revamp its defensive staff. Now that the coaching staff is complete, here’s a look at the coaches on the defensive side.

Defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach: Mike Tressel

Tressel, the former Cincinnati defensive coordinator, will lead Wisconsin’s defense in 2023.

Tressel spent two seasons with the Bearcats and proved an excellent coordinator. In the miracle run to the College Football Playoff in 2021, Tressel led Cincinnati to one of the nation’s best defenses. The Bearcats ranked second in the country in passing yards allowed and third in passer rating.

Tressel coached up strong defensive contributors, with notable NFL players Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Coby Bryant. The new Badgers defense coordinator will look to make a strong impression in year one and carry on the tradition of strong Wisconsin defense.

Co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach: Colin Hitschler

Hitschler is another former Cincy coach who followed Fickell to Madison. After three seasons as a safeties coach for the Bearcats, Hitschler will take on another responsibility as a co-defensive coordinator.

Hitschler is responsible for coaching some excellent safeties in his tenure, with Bryan Cook and James Wiggins among the most notable. The Badgers have a long list of talented safeties, and Hitschler will have the chance to coach up the group.

With the returns of Kamo’i Latu, Hunter Wohler, and Travion Blaylock, Hitschler will have a talented group to oversee in 2023.

Outside linebackers/special teams coach: Matt Mitchell

Mitchell joins Wisconsin football after spending 18 years at Grand Valley State. During his tenure, the Lakers won three GLIAC championships and seven Division II playoff appearances.

Before being named head coach at Grand Valley State in 2010, Mitchell spent time as a linebacker and defensive backs coach. Defensive coordinator Mike Tressel brought Mitchell to Madison due to their connection from their playing days.

With nearly two decades of experience, Mitchell comes in as a seasoned veteran looking to make a strong impression in year one.

Wisconsin football cornerbacks coach: Paul Haynes

Haynes heads to UW after three years with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The 25-year veteran spent time with Mike Tressel at Michigan State, where he also served as the cornerbacks coach.

Under his watch, Minnesota ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense and eighth in pass defense. In 2018 at Michigan State, Tressel and Haynes led a defense that hauled in 12 interceptions and ranked first in scoring defense.

Haynes brings a wealth of experience, making him a perfect fit for the revamped Wisconsin coaching staff.

Defensive line coach: Greg Scruggs

Scruggs will take on the defensive line coaching duties after a year in the NFL with the New York Jets. Before his stint in the NFL, Scruggs spent four years under Luke Fickell at Cincinnati.

Under his tutelage, the Bearcats’ defense finished with 39 sacks in 2021. On top of that, Cincy ranked fifth in scoring defense and tenth in total defense. Scruggs holds experience at the pro and collegiate levels, making him a valuable asset for Wisconsin’s defensive staff.


Wisconsin football is under an entirely new direction on the defensive side of the ball in 2023. With stalwarts like Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton leaving for the draft, the new staff will have work to do to keep up the same production next season.

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Jake Maier is the managing editor and publisher at He has provided coaching and editorial support to numerous writers in his role, contributing significantly to the platform's growth. His expertise extends to Wisconsin Badgers football, basketball, and recruiting coverage. Jake's previous bylines can be found at Fansided and Wisconsin Sports Heroics.