LOS ANGELES — University of Wisconsin offensive line coach Bart Miller has had discussions about the tight ends job on the staff of new coach Gary Andersen but no official interview yet.
"I've got a pretty big interview on (January) first," Miller said Thursday.
Miller was referring to the Rose Bowl game against Stanford, which he is approaching as a job interview of sorts. After a wild couple weeks for the UW assistants, Miller is the only one whose status for next season is not yet known.
"I think every time you step on the field, players and coaches alike, there's always somebody watching and somebody competing for your job," Miller said of treating the Rose Bowl like a job interview. "You want to be proud of everything you do and everything you put your name on."
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said he recommended Miller for the tight ends job on Andersen's staff. Miller said he has also briefly spoken with former UW coach Bret Bielema, who is now at Arkansas.
"A couple different options I'm looking at," Miller said. "We'll see what happens."
Miller is thankful to have Alvarez on his side and putting in a good word for him.
"Coach Alvarez, especially, has been great through this thing," Miller said. "(He's) just trying to find out what's best for the University of Wisconsin.
"Coach Andersen knows what's best for his program and what he needs to do and, obviously, coach Alvarez wouldn't put him in the position if he didn't believe in him."
Miller, 27, said he was excited about the possibility of coaching tight ends after focusing primarily on the offensive line prior to this. He came into the season as a graduate assistant before being named the interim line coach when Mike Markuson was fired after the second game.
It's not uncommon for offensive line coaches to also coach tight ends at some point in their careers. It's also a way for a coach to branch out and get exposure to the passing game.
"There's carryover (from the line) and it helps learning things in the pass game, the routes and all that kind of stuff that O-line coaches don't usually deal with day-to-day," Miller said. "There are a lot of positives to it."
Miller and his wife, Amy, like Madison and would love to get the chance to stay. The offensive linemen have been outspoken in their support of Miller remaining on the staff.
"I've been around these kids, I know this program," Miller said. "The (UW) tight end room is one of the best rooms in the country. They're a great group of guys and it would be great to be around the guys up front, who make the wheels go."
It's been a whirlwind year for Miller and his players. While he hasn't had much time to reflect, he did think about it a bit on the plane ride here.
"I'm really proud of where we are, what we've done — what our kids have done is the biggest thing," he said. "I'm tremendously proud of those guys. I love them and respect them for everything they've gone through and what they've done and the improvement they've shown each week.
"There's no doubt we're the best O-line program in the country. That was a point of pride for them and a point of pride for me. We'll look back on this season in 20 years and it will be something pretty special."
Practice turned up
When Alvarez said he was going to turn up the intensity during the first few practices here, he wasn't kidding.
UW junior tight end Jacob Pedersen said Thursday's practice, which lasted 90 minutes, included a scrimmage session between the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense — with live tackling.
Pedersen couldn't remember doing that prior to the past two Rose Bowls unless it was with young players who weren't going to play in the game.
"Full speed, definitely something we haven't done since fall camp, against our ones," Pedersen said. "It was definitely higher tempo, guys were jumping around."
Only the first 30 minutes of practice were open to the media.
Pedersen said after a couple nice gains by the offense at the start, the defense won the battle.
"Obviously, on the offensive side, we want to be able to hit it every single play," Pedersen said. "I thought it was pretty sluggish. The offense had less energy than the defense, so compliment them. We've got to come out (Friday) and top them and have more energy."
Sanders plays Ball
Stanford is using several different players on the scout team to simulate UW senior tailback Montee Ball. One of those players was of special interest to Ball.
Cardinal defensive coordinator Derek Mason said Barry Sanders Jr., a freshman who is being redshirted, is one of the running backs who is being Ball in practice.
That drew a surprised look from Ball, who said, "Hey, then they'll be ready."
Ball is pretty familiar with the elder Barry Sanders after tying his NCAA single-season touchdown record of 39 last year. The elder Sanders and Ball even Tweeted back and forth a couple times, which is something Ball said he might do again.
"I've Tweeted him before," Ball said. "I'll shoot him a Tweet."