Jan. 21, 2012
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema announced Saturday that Mike Markuson has been hired and will coach the Badgers’ offensive line. Markuson has spent the last 14 years in the SEC, coaching the offensive lines at Arkansas and Ole Miss.
“Mike brings experience of having success at the highest levels of college football,” Bielema said. “The production of his offensive line units and the offenses he has been associated with is very impressive. He has coached a number of players who have earned national honors and gone on to the NFL. Being from Minnesota, he brings the Midwest values that we’re looking for and he’s very excited about the opportunity to be the offensive line coach at the University of Wisconsin.”
Since 2003, six different Markuson disciples have earned All-America honors. The most well-known of those players is Michael Oher, the subject of the movie “Blind Side,” who was a first-team All-American and a first-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. Markuson has also tutored 2007 Rimington Trophy winner Jonathan Luigs and two-time first-team All-American and 2004 first-round NFL draft pick Shawn Andrews.
“I’m very thankful to two people, Coach Bielema and Coach Alvarez,” Markuson said. “I go back with Coach Alvarez to 1989 when I was a graduate assistant at Notre Dame and when I was interested in the job, I had Coach (Houston) Nutt call him and that really got the ball rolling.
“Coach Bielema has taken the reigns from Coach Alvarez and really continued the tradition of success at Wisconsin and I’m just so excited to be a part of it. It’s great to be able to get back home, I’m a Minnesota guy, and my family and I are thrilled to be back in the Midwest and in the Big Ten.”
Both at Ole Miss and Arkansas, Markuson has helped develop potent run games. In Markuson’s decade at Arkansas, no other Southeastern Conference team was more effective at running the ball than the Razorbacks. In 2003, Markuson added the duty of running game coordinator, and the Hogs topped the SEC in rushing in four of the five campaigns under his watch.
The 2006 and 2007 seasons saw the Razorbacks lead the SEC and rank fourth in the nation in rushing offense. Arkansas boasted one of the best rushing duos in the country in that time as Darren McFadden and Felix Jones each rushed for over 1,000 yards in both seasons.
McFadden won the Doak Walker Award both years and was a two-time runner-up in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He and Jones were both first-round picks in the NFL draft.
Not only did Markuson’s offensive line create lanes for the Razorback running game, it also kept defenders away from the Hog quarterbacks. Arkansas finished the season fifth nationally in 2007, allowing only 13 sacks, after ranking second in the country (0.64 per game) in 2006.
That success carried over to Ole Miss. In 2008, the Rebels recorded their most rushing yards since 1990 and ranked second in the conference after ranking 11th just one year prior. The following season, RB Dexter McCluster had a record-breaking year running behind Markuson’s line, posting the second-highest rushing total in school history with 1,169 yards and earning first-team All-America honors.
Also serving as the co-offensive coordinator, Markuson’s most impressive coaching job might have come in 2010. With seven underclassmen earning starts on the offensive line and using six different starting lineups, Ole Miss topped the SEC in fewest sacks allowed and notched eight 100-yard rushing games between four different runners.
Markuson’s line ranked second in the SEC (14th in the nation) in fewest sacks allowed in 2009 (17) and was fourth in the conference in 2008 (20), after Ole Miss finished ninth the previous year.
Markuson tutored a pair of first-team All-Americans at Ole Miss in Oher (2008) and guard John Jerry in 2009. Oher became the fifth Rebel to win the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, as the SEC's best blocker, and was taken with the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Jerry was taken in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.
Under Markuson’s tutelage at Arkansas, Luigs captured the 2007 Rimington Trophy, awarded to the outstanding center in college football, and was named a first-team All-American by The Sporting News and Rivals.com. Luigs also earned a share of the Jacobs Trophy.
Luigs and guard Robert Felton were named to the Coaches All-SEC first team in 2007. Felton also earned second-team All-America honors from Rivals.com.
Arkansas featured three first-team All-SEC performers on the offensive line in 2006 (Luigs, Tony Ugoh and Zac Tubbs). A second-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Ugoh was distinguished as a second-team All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com.
The 2003 Arkansas rushing attack ranked fifth nationally, and Andrews was an All-American tackle and an Outland and Lombardi Trophy finalist. He was chosen 16th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
A native of Farmington, Minn., Markuson began his coaching career at Farmington High School - his prep alma mater - as the school’s defensive line coach in 1983. He began his collegiate coaching career in 1984 with a two-year stint as the defensive line coach at South Dakota State, where he earned his master’s in physical education in 1986.
After spending the 1986 season as the defensive line coach at his collegiate alma mater - Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. - Markuson began a two-year graduate assistantship at Oklahoma State. While in Stillwater, he helped the Cowboys to a 35-33 win over West Virginia in the 1987 Sun Bowl and a 62-14 win over Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl behind five touchdowns and 222 rushing yards by Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders.
In 1989, Markuson served as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame under head coach Lou Holtz. That Fighting Irish team posted a 12-1 record and finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press rankings after toppling Colorado in the Orange Bowl. Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez was the defensive coordinator on that team.
Markuson landed his first full-time collegiate coaching position in 1990 when he was named the offensive line coach at Austin Peay. He then worked two years at Alabama A&M, coaching the offensive line in 1991 and serving as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 1992.
From 1993-96, Markuson coached the offensive line at Murray State before moving on with head coach Houston Nutt to Boise State and serving as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in 1997.
Markuson was a three-year football letterman at Farmington High School where he served as team co-captain and earned all-conference honors as a senior. He went on to Hamline where he was a four-year starter at defensive tackle and a two-time honorable mention All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection for the Pipers. He was also team co-captain as a senior.