Wisconsin football announces the hiring of Phil Longo and Mike Tressel
Luke Fickell brings in a pair of tenured coaches to lead offensive and defensive units
MADISON, Wis. – Phil Longo and Mike Tressel, two experienced and accomplished collegiate coaches, have been hired to lead Wisconsin’s offensive and defensive units, respectively, UW head coach Luke Fickell announced Tuesday.
“I’m extremely excited for our players and our program to add Phil and Mike,” Fickell said. “I’ve built a relationship with Phil over the past six years and am happy to finally be able to work side-by-side with him. He’s a very innovative and well-rounded football coach. He’s a tremendous person and family man and truly cares about his players.
“I’ve known Mike for 20 years and he is a great coach and person. He has incredible experience, including a terrific background in the Big Ten. Over the last two years coaching together I was impressed with his ability to adapt both as a coach on the field and to the culture of a program. We are very fortunate to have both Phil and Mike on staff.”
Longo, a 33-year coaching veteran and offensive guru, joins the Badgers’ staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Longo arrives in Madison after holding the same position at North Carolina the last four seasons. As an offensive coordinator over the last 14 years, Longo’s teams have produced a 118-59 (.667) record, won six conference championships and made nine postseason appearances.
Over the last four seasons, since the beginning of 2019 (Longo’s first at North Carolina), the Tar Heels led the ACC with 197.5 rushing yards per game and ranked second in the conference with 102 rushing scores. Through the air, UNC’s offense led the ACC in passing yards (14,781), passing touchdowns (131) and passer rating (161.6) over Longo’s tenure. The Tar Heels produced five 1,000-yard rushers and five 1,000 yard receivers over the last four years.
Longo tutored quarterback Drake Maye in 2022, helping the freshman earn ACC Player of the Year and Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year honors. He threw for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns against only seven interceptions while also leading the Tar Heels in rushing yards (698). Over the previous three seasons, UNC quarterback Sam Howell set 27 school records, including passing yards (10,283), passing TDs (92), pass efficiency (164.2) and total offense (11,292).
Before his stint with the Tar Heels, Longo engineered two successful seasons at Ole Miss, producing top-20 units both years. In 2018, his offense ranked seventh nationally in yards per play (7.1), ninth in total offense (510.5 ypg) and fifth in passing offense (346.4). In 2017, the Rebels averaged 462.3 yards of total offense to rank second in the SEC and 18th nationally. The offense also produced the conference’s best passing game with 328.4 ypg (11th nationally).
“I am elated to be joining Coach Fickell and his staff at Wisconsin,” Longo said. “The welcome from around the state has been tremendous. My wife Tanya and I are excited to get settled in. I can’t wait to hit the ground running with our players and staff!”
Tressel, who directed the Cincinnati defense the last two seasons, joins the Badgers’ staff as defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach. Tressel had been on staff for the Bearcats since 2020 after moving through the defensive coaching ranks at Michigan State from 2007-2019.
The Cincinnati defense flourished under Tressel in his first season (2021), ranking fifth nationally in scoring defense (16.5) and No. 10 in total defense (318.4). The Bearcats also allowed only 4.5 yards per play to opponents, which was the fourth-fewest in the nation. Then-Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner emerged as a star, eventually being selected as the No. 4 pick by the New York Jets in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Last season, UC ranked 20th in the nation in scoring defense, 11th in the country in pass efficiency defense and 15th in tackles for loss. The Bearcats’ four defensive touchdowns were tied for fourth-most in the country.
In East Lansing, Tressel was Michigan State’s linebackers coach from 2007-19. Tressel added the title of co-defensive coordinator for two seasons (2016-17) before becoming defensive coordinator for two seasons (2018-19), in addition to being the assistant head coach in 2019. He coached safeties in 2020, his final season in East Lansing.
During his time at MSU, Tressel coached 20 players who earned 35 All-Big Ten honors along with eight All-Americans and two major award winners. He was a nominee for the Broyles Award in 2018, which honors the nation’s top assistant coach.
Known for constructing some of the best defenses in the nation, Tressel helped coach the Spartans to final FBS Top 10 rankings in total and rushing defense on six occasions. MSU also ranked among college football’s top 10 in scoring defense four times and was the FBS leader in rushing defense in 2014 and 2018.
“I’m beyond excited to join the Wisconsin football family and look forward to carrying on the tradition of elite defenses here in Madison,” Tressel said. “This is a program I’ve always admired and it’s great to be back in the Big Ten. I’m most excited to be able to work with the tremendous young men here. They have already demonstrated to me great work ethic, intelligence and ability.”