An uneven start to the 2012 season that included a stunning upset at the hands of an unranked team has apparently cost a member of Wisconsin’s coaching staff his job.
While not yet confirmed by the school, the Wisconsin State Journal, citing a source close to the football program, reported late last night that Mike Markuson is out as UW’s offensive line coach. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel subsequently confirmed Markuson’s ouster.
During a radio interview Monday morning, head coach Bret Bielema declined to address Markuson’s status.
“As of now there is no comment on that,” Bielema said, speaking on WIBA-AM (1310) by way of the Journal Sentinel. “We’re trying to work through the work week.”
Bart Miller, in his second season as UW’s offensive quality control coordinator, will reportedly step in as the new line coach.
Markuson was hired in the offseason to replace Bob Bostad, widely regarded as one of the top line coaches in the country and who left to join former Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst‘s staff at Pittsburgh. Bostad then left his position as Pitt’s coordinator to take the line job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Two games into Markuson’s tenure, the Badgers sit at just 103rd in the country in rushing yards per game. UW hasn’t finished any lower than 37th in that category since head coach Bret Bielema took over in 2006, and haven’t ended the year below 15th the past four seasons.
In Saturday’s loss on the road to Oregon State, the Badgers were held to just 35 yards on 23 attempts. In a narrow five-point win over FCS program Northern Iowa, UW averaged just 3.6 yards per carry.
Montee Ball, who entered 2012 as one of a handful of preseason Heisman favorites, has averaged just 3.9 ypc and scored one touchdown on the ground. The past two seasons, the All-American running back has averaged over 6.2 ypc and rushed for 51 touchdowns.
It should also be noted that, in addition to Bostad, the Badgers also lost three all-conference linemen to the NFL.
UPDATED 3:11 p.m. ET: Bielema confirmed Monday afternoon that Markuson is no longer a member of his coaching staff.
“[We] decided to move on,” Bielema said according to the Journal Sentinel. “It was really something that wasn’t a knee-jerk thing by me.”
Of course, “parting ways” with an assistant two games into his first year on your staff is the dictionary definition of knee-jerk, but whatever.