It took just two games for Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema to part ways with one of his most important new assistants.
Offensive line coach Mike Markuson is out, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal reported late Sunday. Markuson's dismissal came just a day after Wisconsin's anemic offensive performance in a 10-7 loss at Oregon State. The Badgers recorded only 35 net rush yards and surrendered three sacks in the loss, and they came just minutes away from being shut out. After setting records on offense and churning out All-American linemen for years, Wisconsin is 103rd in rush offense following its first two games.
Bielema said following the game, "We weren't getting any push at the line of scrimmage." The coach declined to address reports of Markuson's departure during a radio interview Monday morning.
Wisconsin's offense, and specifically the line, hasn't resembled what the Badgers have grown accustomed to, but Markuson's quick dismissal is a stunner. While we've seen assistants get the quick hook around the country in an increasing rate in recent years, it's extremely rare to see this in the Big Ten, especially involving a position coach, not a coordinator.
Markuson looked like a very good hire when Bielema brought him in to replace longtime line coach Bob Bostad, one of six assistants to leave Wisconsin's staff following the 2011 season. A veteran line coach, Markuson had spent the past 14 seasons coaching with SEC teams.
Although there's no official word on his departure or his replacement, the Journal Sentinel and State Journal report that Bart Miller, the Badgers' offensive quality control coordinator, will fill Markuson's post. Miller played offensive line at New Mexico, graduating in 2007.
This move certainly doesn't jive with the picture Bielema and others painted for me in the offseason about the arrival of the new assistants and mastering transition.
It'll be interesting to see how the line responds the rest of the season. Bielema clearly is sending a message with the move, but it creates instability that Wisconsin isn't used to having.