Connect with us


Wisconsin Football Coaching Staff Changes: No Big Deal, Just Business

The Badgers have seen a few changes along the coaching staff.



Wisconsin football; Badgers head coach Luke Fickell
Oct 14, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve heard a vocal faction of the Wisconsin Badgers fanbase expressing concern about Luke Fickell and the football program losing a number of assistant coaches this off-season. 

While continuity is undoubtedly preferred for any program, assistant coaches will inevitably come and go and pursue options that advance their respective careers, and rightfully so. 

That’s not to say that the Badgers are absolved from criticism. There are plenty of scenarios where poor relationship management and bad hiring track records by a head coach lead to the downfall of football programs, but there’s no reason to believe that’s the case here. 

Wisconsin Football Coaching Changes to Be Expected Each Season

Wisconsin Badgers football head coach Luke Fickell

Sep 9, 2023; Pullman, Washington, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell looks on before a game against the Washington State Cougars at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Fickell is one year into his tenure as the head coach of the Wisconsin football program. Still, a few notable changes have been made to the Badgers’ coaching staff—some by choice, others not.

In my opinion, we must infer from the details surrounding the coaching departures and take into context their subsequent landing spot before declaring that the sky is falling in Madison.

In the case of Wisconsin Badgers’ safety coach Colin Hitschler, who departed for the same position at Alabama, that move was a no-brainer. It’s not the “lateral move” some tried to call it—far from it.

Hitschler is a terrific recruiter and a talented young up-and-coming position coach, and he was in a spot to add one of the most prestigious programs in college football to his resume. As a recruiter, you’re a salesman, and selling a product like Alabama is objectively easier than selling the Wisconsin football program.

It could be a move that helps Hitschler garner more attention and vaults him into a more significant role in the future. Losing assistants is part of the business; when Alabama comes knocking, all you can do is tip your cap, knowing you did something right.

However, the Badgers losing their best recruiter is still a tough pill to swallow.

Then, you have former Wisconsin football associate head coach and wide receivers coach Mike Brown. He left for the same position at Notre Dame in large part because Brown had an outstanding working relationship with head coach Markus Freeman from their time at Cincinnati.

Badgers fans might not agree with my take, but I don’t view that as a lateral move, either. The Fighting Irish are a clear tier above Wisconsin in terms of brand recognition and program cachet.

I cannot confirm whether Hitschler and Brown received pay raises with their new assistant coaching positions. However, such moves usually come with increased salaries while gaining exposure to diverse coaching philosophies, ultimately enhancing their appeal as candidates for future coaching gigs.

If the Wisconsin football program wasn’t willing to pay its top assistants or they were dipping for (actual) lateral coaching moves, then there might be an issue worth discussing, but that doesn’t appear to be the case from where I’m sitting, but that’s just my two cents.

Finally, in the case of offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr., he was re-assigned to a different role this offseason. By all accounts, the Badgers felt a more detail-oriented coach would better fit the offense’s direction moving forward after underperforming in the first year of the air raid.

Coach Fickell didn’t feel the position group was performing up to the standard and decided to rip off the proverbial band aide rather than wait another season and see if things improved.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned, losing quality assistants who have done a good job sucks, but that happens every year, and it’ll happen again next year too. 

Luke Fickell has a solid track record of hiring assistants dating back to his time with the Bearcats, so there’s no reason to believe the Wisconsin Badgers new hires Alex Grinch, AJ Blazek, and Kenny Guiton won’t be able to step into their spots and deliver. 

If you feel like I’m off base, let’s talk about it. I tend to be a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I may be overlooking something. It’s understandable if you’re disappointed about losing a few assistant coaches, but I don’t think their departures from the Wisconsin football program are necessarily indicative of something bigger. 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read our work at For more Wisconsin Badgers Athletics and Big Ten content, follow us on Twitter & Facebook. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Publisher @DillonGraff at 

Also, be sure to check out our shop, subscribe to our newsletter, and the BadgerNotes After Dark podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other streaming platforms. Because of your support, we have become one of the fastest-growing independent media outlets focused on giving a voice to the fans!

Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author and the Owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.