MADISON - The University of Wisconsin made it official Tuesday morning, announcing the hiring of John Settle as their running backs coach.
This will be the second stop in Madison for Settle. He coached the running backs under Bret Bielema from 2006 to 2010, a very successful stretch for UW’s ground game. In his five seasons, the Badgers had a 1,000-yard rusher every year, including two in 2010.
Settle left Wisconsin following the 2010 season to take a job in the NFL with Carolina Panthers. He spent two years there and then one more with the Cleveland Browns.
The 49-year-old came back to the college game in 2014, overseeing the running backs with new UW head coach Paul Chryst at Pittsburgh. Under his watch, sophomore James Conner ran for 1,765 yards and scored 26 touchdowns on his way to earning All-ACC honors and being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.
As a player, Settle ran for a school-record 4,409 yards and 43 touchdowns at Appalachian State in the mid-1980s. He would go on and play six seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins, making one Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,024 yards in 1988.
As a whole, Settle inherits a relatively inexperienced group of tailbacks. Only one player – junior Corey Clement – has carried the ball when the game was still in doubt. However, the position is loaded with talent, including four-star running back Jordan Stevenson from Texas, who will arrive on campus this summer.
Settle replaces Thomas Brown, who left in February to take the running backs job at his alma mater, Georgia.
In the press release announcing Settle’s hired, Wisconsin included some reactions from former players about his return:
Montee Ball (2009-12)
“Coach Settle was a big part of why I chose to go to Wisconsin. He came to my house and my family loved him. He really spoke highly of the education available at Wisconsin and the success of the athletic program and it was something he believed in. One thing I really enjoyed about him was how easy he was to talk to both on and off the field. He’s a great fit for the university and I’m really excited to see that he’s coming back.”
John Clay (2008-10)
“What I remember most about Coach Settle is that he treated us all like men. He didn’t babysit us but he held us accountable for making the right choices on and off the field. He was almost like a father figure to us that way. When he was recruiting me, I remember him coming to my high school, watching my track meets and he had a great charisma that would just make everyone around him smile. When he was looking at some other jobs, I remember telling him that if he left, I was going to leave too because I didn’t want to be coached by anyone else. That was how much I believed in him as a coach.”
Bradie Ewing (2008-11)
“Coach Settle played a key role in my choice to attend the University of Wisconsin. He has always demonstrated that he is a great man of character and faith, along with what he can do as a football coach with his teaching ability and proven development of his players. Through my years with Coach Settle, he grew into someone I looked up to on and off the field for advice and guidance. He is a great fit for Wisconsin and it will be good to see him back on the Badgers’ sideline again!”
James White (2010-13)
“Coach Settle was definitely a big reason why I chose Wisconsin. When he was in my house, he felt like a part of the family. He was very personable and down to earth. I had seen what he had done with guys like P.J. Hill, John Clay and Montee and knew he was a great coach. He’s very demanding on the field and expects the most out of his players. In my opinion, he’s the best fit for the job.”