Buh focused on the task at hand

Andy Buh

Cheery candor and commitment have led players to greatly respect new California defensive coordinator Andy Buh in his lone season with Wisconsin.

LOS ANGELES – Andy Buh doesn't seem like a typical coach.

Most defensive coaches tend to be pessimists, beaten down by rules that favor the offense, always trying to figure out the answer to that next innovative scheme.

Buh is upbeat with a smile as bright as his disposition.

He also doesn't act like a typical coach.

Most coaches move on to the next job as soon as possible, leaving players to fend for themselves, something Wisconsin players know all too well after head coach Bret Bielema left for Arkansas.

Buh is standing by his Badgers through the Rose Bowl, even though he has been on staff there for less than a year. He could be at California right now, focusing on recruiting and preparing to transition 3-4 personnel into the 4-3 scheme he will bring to Berkeley under new head coach Sonny Dykes.

Instead, he is focused entirely on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, even going so far as refusing to answer questions about his new role as Bears defensive coordinator, albeit in a polite manner.

"I've come to expect that out of Coach Buh," linebacker Chris Borland said. "He's such a classy guy."

For his players, blindsided by Bielema's shocking departure, Buh has been their rock the last month, even after accepting the Cal job midway through December.

"He was very upfront with us about it," linebacker Ethan Armstrong said. "He told us, ‘I need to find a job. My job isn't guaranteed here.' As soon as he was done with that, he put it away and said I'm not going to worry about that until after the Rose Bowl.

"'I'm here. I'm committed to this team. I'm going to help you guys win this game and then we'll go from there.' He's been all in once he got all that stuff squared away."

It is that combination of commitment, honesty, and energy that players said they would miss.

"It has definitely helped create a bond," Armstrong said.

Buh has also helped refine the game of Borland and Mike Taylor. Though their tackles and tackles for loss are slightly down from last season, they have had more impact plays.

Armstrong, a former walk-on who started every game this season, added 89 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one interception.

"What he brought is the technique, the fundamentals he taught us to build on and play with, especially out in space with body control and footwork, how to strike," Armstrong said. "That was definitely new, something we had never been coached on in that way before, so that was something he brought to the table."

But the biggest loss will be Buh's positive outlook, they said. It was certainly needed as Wisconsin staggered through an up-and-down season before ultimately winning the Big Ten for the third straight season.

Safety Shelton Johnson said Buh's meeting room was the place to be for sheer entertainment. Even staffers and strength and conditioning coaches would make it a point to duck in.

"He keeps it fun," Taylor said. "Practices, meetings, it's just fun to be in those."

"There's always a minute or so of straight laughter going on in the meetings," Borland said.

"He's got a ton of energy and excitement about him. He's always happy, it seems like. That positive energy really wears off on his players."

Wisconsin hopes it will result in a Rose Bowl win after losses each of the past two years. Cal hopes it will result in a return to that hallowed site.

Buh's focus on achieving both goals will not be divided, just another reason he is anything but a typical coach.

Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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