Luckily Wisconsin Badgers fans have seen this scenario play out before, losing a key recruiter and running back coach following national signing day. UW made out well last time, trading a veteran coach for a young up-and-coming coach with a good pedigree in Thomas Brown.
Brown didnâ€™t last long in Madison, as the pull back to the state of Georgia and his alma mater was always going to be strong. If heâ€™s ever going to move up doing so where heâ€™s most comfortable makes sense. No fault for taking that kind of opportunity and riding off in to the sunset as the coach of the 2nd best single season for a running back ever.
However, that leaves the Badgers in the lurch and it also means a scramble to fill this position quickly given the commitment of top 10 running back Antonio Williams.
So, who are likely candidates UW should and are likely to consider for the position? A lot depends on what Paul Chryst believes he has already on staff and what needs he sees the running back coach meeting on the field and on the recruiting trail.
Letâ€™s take a look at five names the Badgers could and should be checking out to fill the vacancy at running back coach.
Whatâ€™s He Up to Now? Free Agent
This is the logical first name most Badger faithful would look to, as Settle was the running back coach while Chryst was at UW and did follow him to Pittsburgh. However, heâ€™s also not exactly a great recruiter and isnâ€™t someone that is going to go out on the trail and put in the hard work that Brown did over the past year.
As for on the field results itâ€™s kind of hard to argue with his playersâ€™ production. He did coach UW in 2010 when the Badgers nearly had the first trio of 1,000-yard rushers in the history of the game.
Settle didnâ€™t just do it at UW either, as ACC Offensive Player of the Year James Connor ran for over 1,700 yards this past season himself. Pitt ranked 15th nationally in rushing offense as a team last season a well, not too shabby of results, huh?
Yet itâ€™s hard to get past his past at UW and if ever there is a name that wouldnâ€™t sit well in the fanbase it is Settleâ€™s hire. Just take a look at Twitter for proof:
Major downgrade. "@McNamaraRivals: If Thomas Brown is headed to Georgia, John Settle could be a name to watch as his replacement at UW."
— EricTheRed (@RealEricTheRed) February 16, 2015
or try this one:
Can't wait for John Settle #FartNoise
— Josh Sharp (@TooSharp3) February 16, 2015
Still, what the Badgers program needs more than ever is stability and even if Settle isnâ€™t the best recruiter out there he is a proven xâ€™s and oâ€™s guy and heâ€™ll stick around for awhile. The question is, do the Badgers want to settle for Settle or do they want to continue trying to swing for the fences with great recruiters who could end up elsewhere sooner than later?
Whatâ€™s He Up to Now? RB coach at Boston College
If John Settle makes you want to hurl, then weâ€™ve got your elixir in Al Washington. Heâ€™s done yeomanâ€™s work in five seasons as the Boston College running back coach, including that magical season by Andre Williams in 2013. BCâ€™s rushing offense was No. 14 nationally last season as it looked to replace Williamsâ€™ production, which means it wasnâ€™t just a one-year wonder on Chestnut Hill.
Washington also happens to replace Brown pretty well in terms of his recruiting areas having dabbled in both New Jersey/upper East Coast and also down in Georgia. If the Badgers want to go with a bit more established coach with great recruiting results this is a slam dunk hire.
Perhaps the biggest question is if Washingtonâ€™s loyalty to Boston College is deep enough for him not to take this job, especially given it is after national signing day. If Iâ€™m Chryst this is my very first call and the one I go at the hardest.
Washington would be a slam dunk hire and a mutually beneficial relationship. If he can recruit like he has been at BC, imagine what he can do with Wisconsinâ€™s running back reputation and brand name along with his coaching prowess as well.
Whatâ€™s He Up to Now? RB coach at Purdue
What would the Badgers want with a coach from Purdue? Well, not every coach on a bad team is a bad coach and thatâ€™s the case with Williams. Sometimes the results arenâ€™t indicative of the coaching job someone can do and putting the negative results of a coaching transition on the running backs coach is a bit much.
However, just take a look the improvement his group made from the 2013 season to last, where they went from averaging 67.8 yards per game (2013) to 157.2 yards per game last season. Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert were a nice 1-2 punch in the run game and Hunt nearly topped the 1,000-yard mark last season while averaging 5.5 yards per carry as well.
Thatâ€™s good news, and so is the fact that Williams would put the Badgers right back in the Peach State and Georgia appears to be a place the Badgers can have success as a program. This past recruiting class Williams brought in some intriguing names like Markell Jones (Columbus, Ind.) and Tario Fuller (Buford, Ga.), and if he had a bigger name on his polo shirt you can bet the names he attracts will be bigger too.
Other potential names: Mike Hart (RB coach at Western Michigan), Deland McCullough (RB coach at Indiana), Anthony Johnson (RB coach at Toledo)