FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has reached back to Wisconsin to add another assistant to his staff.
Charlie Partridge, who has spent the past five seasons with the Badgers, was named Arkansas’ defensive line coach on Saturday night. He is the second Wisconsin assistant hired by Bielema at Arkansas, joining defensive coordinator Chris Ash.
“I am excited to welcome Charlie to our staff here at Arkansas,” Bielema said. “He brings a great amount of experience on the defensive side of the ball and in special teams, as well as a strong recruiting background in Florida. Charlie has been part of our staff for the last five years, and his knowledge of the way we run our program and specifically the defense will be valuable as we move forward in our transition. He will also be a key asset in developing our student-athletes.”
Partridge and Ash teamed to help the Badgers rank 13th in the nation in total defense and were tied for 19th in scoring defense last season.
Partridge joined Bielema’s staff as defensive line coach in 2008 and worked in that role for three seasons. He was promoted to associate head coach before the 2011 season.
Partridge, a Plantation, Fla., native, also is regarded as a strong recruiter who played an important role in Wisconsin’s efforts in the state during his tenure with the program. The Badgers have 11 Florida natives on their roster this season.
He worked as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh for five seasons before joining Bielema’s staff with the Badgers in 2008. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long was athletic director at Pittsburgh at the time and was asked about Partridge during Bielema’s introductory press conference last week.
“I’ve talked to him off and on, and I knew how much he enjoyed working with coach Bielema,” Long said. “So from that standpoint I knew - again - how passionate (Bielema) was. How good a coach he was. How the players responded to him.
“Charlie’s that kind of coach too. He’s a passionate guy.”
The terms of Partridge’s agreement with the Razorbacks were not immediately available Saturday, but he is the fourth assistant named to Bielema’s staff, joining Ash, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman. Like Ash, Partridge will remain with the Badgers through the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Ash a candidate at Wisconsin?
Ash was the first assistant hired by new Bielema last week. Could he be the first assistant to leave Bielema’s Arkansas staff as well?
A report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel late Friday night cited two college football sources as saying Ash was considering applying for the head coaching job at Wisconsin, which has been open since Bielema left for Arkansas.
Ash, who signed an agreement with Arkansas that will pay him $550,000 annually through June 30, 2015, has been with the Badgers for the past three seasons and has been the program’s co-defensive coordinator for two seasons. Bielema announced last week Ash would remain with the Badgers until after the Rose Bowl.
The Wisconsin State Journal also reported that Texas State coach Dan McCarney, who was Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez’s first defensive coordinator with the Badgers in 2003, was promoting Ash as a potential candidate for the position. Ash worked for McCarney at Iowa State earlier in his career.
Ash’s letter-of-agreement with Arkansas, which was signed last Tuesday and released by the Razorbacks two days later, includes a buyout. The letter stipulates Ash would have to pay liquidated damages — an amount that would began at $100,000 and be prorated over the term of the agreement — if he chose to terminate it “for convenience at any time during the term of the agreement.”
It isn’t expected to be a problem if Ash earned the Wisconsin job. The move wouldn’t be unusual for the Badgers, either, considering Bielema was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach after Alvarez moved into his athletic director role after the 2005 season.
It also wouldn’t be the first time an Arkansas defensive coordinator has left the Razorbacks without coaching a game. It also happened in 2008, when veteran assistant Ellis Johnson left Bobby Petrino’s staff shortly after being named defensive coordinator and accepted the same position at South Carolina. Petrino then hired Willy Robinson, who coordinated the Arkansas defense for four seasons.
Familiar with the Hogs
New Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman needs no introduction to Arkansas football. The Oklahoma native said he was very familiar with the Razorbacks when he attended Grove High in northeastern Oklahoma.
“I used to come to all the Arkansas games when I was a senior in high school,” Pittman said last week. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t a good enough player to play there, but certainly of all the places in the country, the University of Arkansas is where my wife and I wanted to be. We’re very fortunate.”
Pittman said he and two other high school teammates participated in former Arkansas coach Lou Holtz’s football camp during the summer before their senior seasons. They hoped to have an opportunity to play for the Razorbacks, but Pittman said “those guys decided they’d be better off if we didn’t and they probably made a good decision.” Pittman, instead, played at Pittsburg State in Kansas.
Pittman has been an assistant coach for 27 years, including 19 as an offensive line coach. He has moved around plenty since 1996, working at Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Western Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Northern Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee before joining Bielema’s staff last week.
“I’m looking forward to working with these guys,” Pittman said.
Bielema picked up his first verbal commitment as Arkansas’ coach last week in Georgia Military College safety Tiquention Coleman. The junior college player is rated as a two-star prospect on a five-star scale by Scout.com.
He was previously committed to Wisconsin.
“Coach Bielema told me that he was planning on me coming in and starting right away at Wisconsin and he thinks this is even a better situation for me at Arkansas,” Coleman told Hawgs Illustrated last week. “He said he wants to build the secondary around me because of the way I lead on and off the field and the character I have. How can you say no to that?”
Coleman is expected to enroll at Arkansas next semester along with junior college offensive tackle John McClure, cornerback Carroll Washington, linebacker Myke Tavarres and offensive guard Mitchell Bell.