UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Huxtable happy to be back in Madison

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The last time Dave Huxtable was in Madison, he couldn't go home because of Hurricane Frances. This time around, Huxtable plans on unpacking his bags and making himself at home.

Bret Bielema's first game as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator and linebacker coach coincided with Huxtable's only game as Central Florida's acting head coach and linebacker assistant.

That was during the 2004 season opener at Camp Randall Stadium.

Bielema was taking over the UW defense from Kevin Cosgrove, while Huxtable was subbing for George O'Leary, who left the Knights to attend the funeral of his mother in Central Islip, N.Y.

UCF put up a pretty competitive fight - it was a 10-3 game until the closing minutes of the first half - before succumbing to the Badgers, 34-6; marking Barry Alvarez's 100th career victory.

Bielema's defense controlled the line of scrimmage with 10 TFLs and four quarterback sacks, while limiting the Knights to a couple of field goals and just 230 yards of total offense.

Huxtable remembered chatting with Alvarez on the field during the warm-ups. And he remembered the game-day atmosphere and the "enthusiasm'' and "energy'' in Camp Randall.

He also remembered the team's visit was extended because of the dangerous storms in Florida.

Bielema must have remembered Huxtable, because their paths have crossed again.

Huxtable will be the new linebackers coach on Bielema's staff as part of a realignment that is punctuated by the promotion of Charlie Partridge and Chris Ash to co-defensive coordinators.

The 54-year-old Huxtable already has a vision for his position group.

"My goal and my passion is going to be to make the University of Wisconsin linebackers the best linebacker group in the nation,'' said Huxtable, an Elgin, Ill., native, who spent the past seven seasons working for O'Leary at UCF, including the last three as the defensive coordinator.

Huxtable added that his linebackers are going to be "guys who play hard, who play physical and who play with great effort. They're going to do their job and be where they're supposed to be. And they're going to be a fun group to watch because they're going to be around the football.''

Describing his defensive philosophy at UCF, Huxtable said, "Aggressive. I want a tough defense, an assignment defense, a defense where the players are going to be held accountable for doing their jobs. I want a defense that is going to outhit our opponent every time we step on the field.''

Huxtable has nearly three decades of college coaching experience. He has mentored linebackers at just about every stop. And he has an extensive background as a defensive coordinator and special teams coach. Huxtable also worked with O'Leary at Georgia Tech and John Bunting at North Carolina.

In fact, he got his first taste of a game day at Camp Randall Stadium in 2003 with the Tar Heels, who gave the Badgers a major scare -- thanks to their special teams -- before falling, 38-27.

While Huxtable was cleaning out his office Tuesday at UCF --"It's been a good run, a lot of good people, a lot of good players, a lot of good memories'' -- he explained why he would leave a coordinator's job to coach linebackers and why he was "looking forward to the next adventure."

You could tell he was getting sentimental. Understandable so when he spoke of his players.

"I've had a lot of people ask me that same question, 'Why?''' Huxtable said. "Wisconsin is such a tradition-rich program. Coach Alvarez got that thing going, and Coach Bielema has done a great job.

"I loved being a coordinator and I've done the job at a few places and, hopefully, I will have that opportunity again. But I just felt like this was the right move for me and my family right now.

"The hardest thing for me when I make a decision to leave -- every place where I've been --has been leaving the players. It's all about them. I loved the players (at UCF), tremendous kids.

"Since I've been the coordinator, we've had great success and it's because of them and their passion and love of football. They've done everything I asked them to do.

"That makes it hard. I'm leaving behind a good group of defensive players that have given themselves to me and, when I asked them to be 'magic out on the grass,' they've done that.''

But now he's excited to be taking his "magic show'' to Madison, where he will be inheriting a new group of kids. "I want to help continue the success that they've had,'' Huxtable said.

1 Comment

badgers u are getting one hell of a coach, and a fantastic person. Damn i hateto se Hux go!!!
Good luck coach.