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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Wisconsin promotes Strickland as assistant

By Brian Bennett

We noted earlier that Wisconsin had filled an opening on its staff by hiring former Nevada defensive coordinator Andy Buh as linebackers coach. Turns out the Badgers weren't done announcing coaching moves on Wednesday.

Head coach Bret Bielema is promoting from within to fill another vacancy. Ben Strickland, a graduate assistant on staff, moves up to coach the secondary and will also be involved with special teams. He takes over for DeMontie Cross, who left for Kansas.

“Since I arrived in Madison I’ve been impressed with Ben, first as a player and team captain, then as a high school coach and for the last three years as a member of our staff,” Bielema said in a statement from the school. “I have watched him grow personally and professionally. He exhibits great leadership and is a tremendous teacher. Our kids really respond to him. I’m thrilled to be able to give Ben his first opportunity at a full-time job.”

Strickland spent the last two seasons as a graduate assistant working with the defense. He played for the Badgers, where he initially walked on before being elected team captain as a senior in 2007. A defensive back and special teams player, he had 72 career and an interception. He blocked and recovered a punt in the 2007 Capital One Bowl and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to cap a dramatic comeback win at Minnesota in 2005.

“When Coach Bielema presented this opportunity to me I was very humbled by it,” Strickland said in a release. “To be able to play for my home state school, a school I loved growing up, get my start in coaching here and then bring it full circle and be hired on full-time is a dream come true for me. It’s something I feel very fortunate about and something I have worked hard for. I’m going to continue to work hard and do what’s best for the program and what’s best for these kids.”

Strickland is the fifth new full-time assistant coach the Badgers have hired since the Rose Bowl. They still have one opening left for a tight ends coach.