Partridge hiring adds Florida ties

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Monday, December 17, 2012
Wisconsin co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge, pictured in this 2011 photo, will join Arkansas as defensive line coach following the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge, pictured in this 2011 photo, will join Arkansas as defensive line coach following the Rose Bowl.

— Charlie Partridge remembers walking the hallways at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Dallas in the mid-1990s with fellow Drake University assistants Dave Doeren and Chris Ash.

“We realized we didn’t know a soul,” said Partridge, who told a story during a teleconference Sunday on his first full day as Arkansas’ defensive line coach. “I don’t know, there were roughly 8,000 to 10,000 coaches there.

“At the end of the night we vowed some day that we would have the opportunity to spread our wings and separate and then hopefully get the chance to come back together and coach at the highest level.”

The three men achieved that aim for the 2010 season at Wisconsin, which ended in the first of three Rose Bowl berths for the Badgers.

Doeren went on to become a successful head coach at Northern Illinois before taking over the North Carolina State program earlier this month, and Partridge elected Saturday to join Ash and Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema on the Razorbacks’ staff.

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Wisconsin co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge discusses his new role as Arkansas new defensive line coach. (By Matt Jones)
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“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to join Coach Bielema and Coach Ash and the additional coaches who have joined the staff for the Arkansas Razorbacks,” said Partridge, who has committed to staying on the Wisconsin staff through the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl.

Partridge, a 39-year-old native of Plantation, Fla., played defensive line at Drake one year ahead of Ash, although they were born 17 days apart in December 1973. Partridge, Ash and Bielema, 42, all share a background as college football players in Iowa in the early 1990s.

Partridge, who has never been to Fayetteville, has a reputation for stellar recruiting in his home state, as the current Wisconsin roster lists 11 players from Florida.

“All the guys that are on the roster right now from Florida, I did have a hand in recruiting all those guys,” Partridge said. “I think, certainly, Coach Bielema has a track record in Florida as well. He used to recruit down there for Iowa and Kansas State and Wisconsin before he became the head coach.

“He had that area, and that’s where me and Coach Bielema actually got to know each other. I think regardless of what area you’re recruiting it comes down to relationships and earning people’s trust through the course of the recruiting process. ... It’s exciting for me to think about going down there and having the opportunity to recruit for a program like Arkansas in the SEC.

Partridge worked three years as the defensive line coach and with the specialists at Wisconsin before Bielema named him associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator with Ash in 2011. The pair served the past two seasons in those roles.

“Well, Chris was the lead coordinator without a doubt,”Partridge said. “My job was to assist him in any way that I could. So, in terms of the title I’m going to have there, I believe it’s going to be defensive line coach.

“Bret is going to continue to sort out the staff as he fills it out, so I’m still going to assist Chris in any role that I possibly can to continue to install our package and get things going.”

Partridge said he had been involved in discussions with Bielema about the defensive line post at Arkansas for several days but needed to “catch my breath and talk to my wife face-to-face” before accepting the position.

While Partridge continued with his recruiting and coaching obligations on the Wisconsin staff in recent days, he also checked out the Arkansas roster and statistics.

“I’m well aware that Chris Smith has done some amazing things ... from a production standpoint,” he said. “Trey Flowers, I know he had 13 [tackles for loss] this year and was recognized from an SEC standpoint.”

Partridge also noted the production of defensive tackles Byran Jones and Robert Thomas and said he was eager to start getting to know the Razorbacks personnel.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Sunday that Ash, 38, has made the decision to compete for the head coaching stint at Wisconsin. In a blog, sports writer Jeff Potrykus wrote that it was too early to tell if Ash has “a legitimate chance” to land the job.

Media out of California and Wisconsin are reporting that Wisconsin linebackers coach Andy Buh has agreed to join Sonny Dykes’ new staff at California. Buh was believed to have an offer to follow Bielema to Arkansas.

The status of Arkansas running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Horton is still unknown. Horton is thought to be in the running for jobs at Auburn and Texas, and he might have an opportunity to remain on board at Arkansas, his alma mater. The Journal-Sentinel reported Sunday that Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock has an offer to come to Arkansas, and Hammock is reportedly a candidate for the running backs job at Texas.

Sports, Pages 15 on 12/17/2012