Jan. 25, 2012
BY MIKE LUCAS
MADISON, Wis. -- Thanks to a Digital Video Recorder and an old game tape, Andy Buh was able to do his homework and get an early read on the personnel and personality of the Wisconsin defense.
Those preliminary steps in the discovery phase whet his appetite to find out more.
“When I was first approached,’’ he said, “the first thing I did was look at some games. I’ve always been intrigued by the Big Ten and I’m excited to finally get a taste of that brand of football.’’
The 35-year-old Buh, UW’s new linebackers coach, had the recent Rose Bowl between the Badgers and Oregon on DVR and the 2010 game between Wisconsin and San Jose State on file.
The latter was a common opponent. For the last two seasons, Buh has been the defensive coordinator at the University of Nevada. The Wolf Pack also played San Jose State in 2010.
That was the backdrop to Buh formally meeting in Madison with Wisconsin’s co-defensive coordinators: defensive line coach Charlie Partridge and secondary coach Chris Ash.
“We met quite a bit through this whole process,’’ said Buh. “It was normal conversational stuff; most of it was me listening and then responding to some of the questions that they had.
“We started talking about family and where I’ve been and who I’ve coached and we then transitioned into some (defensive) schemes and how I coached.
“They really seemed like pros. It never felt like an interview.’’
Maybe that’s because Buh has been in their position.
“When you’ve been a coordinator like I’ve been here (Nevada),’’ he said, “you rely on your staff which typically doesn’t get the credit that the coordinator does.
“But the strength of a coordinator is his staff – the continuity that is there – and being able to bring up ideas and figure out things together in a quick and detailed manner.’’
Buh is replacing Dave Huxtable, who had taken a similar career path. Huxtable gave up his defensive coordinator’s title at Central Florida to coach the Badger linebackers during the 2011 season.
“It wasn’t an issue to change titles,’’ Buh emphasized.
“Wisconsin is a national program chasing Big Ten titles and national championships. They’re competing at the highest level and they have a record that reflects a consistent winner.
“That made my decision to be a position coach again very easy.’’
So did being on the same page with Partridge and Ash.
“I feel like we mesh really well,’’ said Buh, who had previously served as a sounding board for the UW staff on how to defend the Pistol Offense; the creation of Nevada head coach Chris Ault.
Buh was a two-year starter at linebacker for Jeff Horton and Ault in the mid-‘90s. The Wolf Pack, in fact, opened the 1993 season against the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium.
“He had a big influence on me being a college football coach,’’ Buh said of Ault, a College Football Hall of Famer. “Once I became a GA (at Nevada in 1997), I knew it was what I wanted to do.’’
Buh credited former Cal defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich with furthering his education. “That’s where I really got a full grasp of defensive football,’’ he said. “He really taught me a lot.’’
At each stop, Buh learned from his teachers. That included his three seasons under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Harbaugh just completed his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers.
“Jim is everything you look for in a leader; he’s a lot like Bret Bielema,’’ said Buh, who was Harbuagh’s co-defensive coordinator in 2008 and 2009 before returning to Nevada.
“He has unquestionable integrity. He’s very engaging and easy to communicate with. He’s confident and very competitive. I know from just meeting Bret, he has all those characteristics, too.
“Jim Harbaugh is one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever coached with and I’ve coached with some really good ones. Coach Ault is all of those things and so was Pat Hill at Fresno State.’’
|Bielema hires Buh to coach linebackers
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema continued the process of filling out his coaching staff on Wednesday when he announced the hiring of Andy Buh (pronounced “Boo”) as UW’s linebackers coach. | Full Release
Having worked for so many unique head coaches – each of whom had different offensive philosophies – exposed Buh to a variety of styles and made him a more well-rounded defensive coach.
“Throughout my career, I’ve had a good blend of offenses,’’ said Buh, ranging from the Run-and-Shoot at San Diego State to the West Coast power/iso at Fresno State to the Pistol at Nevada.
“I got a great education in spread offenses defending the Pistol every day.’’
Stanford was the closest match to what the Badgers have been running offensively.
“It was very similar to what Bret is doing,’’ he said. “More of a West Coast offense with two or three tight ends – they bring in an extra (offensive) lineman and they knock your butt off the ball.’’
Buh had never met Bielema prior to being interviewed. His connection was former UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, now the head coach at Northern Illinois.
“Dave always talked about how awesome of a guy Bret was to work for,’’ said Buh, whose only other link to the Midwest (or anything east of Nevada) is his wife, Kelly, who’s from New Albany, Ind.
Buh has recruited in this part of the country, though.
“My background has been heavily on the West Coast,’’ said Buh, a native of Escondido, Calif., “but Stanford is a national recruiting program, so for three years I was a national recruiter.
“Although my recruiting areas were Iowa, Texas, Hawaii and California, once it got into positional recruiting (i.e. linebackers) I’d be in Florida one day and Michigan the next day.
“From my conversations with Coach Ash and Partridge, there seems like there will be a lot of similarities with Stanford in the types of players that we will recruit (at Wisconsin).
Based on everything that he has seen of his linebackers in his limited exposure to them, Buh is genuinely excited about inheriting the top two tacklers in the Big Ten: Mike Taylor and Chris Borland.
“You’ve got a couple of guys who are tough and like to create contact,’’ he said. “You’ve got a couple of guys who like to win and compete and play with fanatical effort.
“You’ve got a couple of guys who are really engaged in the game of football.’’
Much like himself by the sounds of things. When asked to describe his strengths as a college linebacker, Buh said, “I wouldn’t put fast in the same sentence. But I was tough and smart.’’
That’s always a good place to start; especially in this program.