Charlie Partridge, who helped lead Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowls, was named the Arkansas Razorbacks defensive line coach and an assistant head coach last December. He sat down this week with Matt Jones and me during Overtime on 103.7 FM The Buzz to discuss his new job and where things stand on a number of fronts, including recruiting in South Florida.
Partridge said had some preconceived thoughts about the University of Arkansas when he learned that he would be following Bret Bielema from Wisconsin to the Hill. He told us he didn’t realize what he had to sell until he learned about the school for himself, including new football facilities.
“[The new facilities] it puts us on an even playing field,” Partridge said. “The facilities that we’re moving out of, while I’m sure they were great in their time, they were behind compared to what we were recruiting against. I give all the credit in the world for Arkansas winning with facilities that were substantially behind the rest of the conference. And what we’re moving into puts us on an even playing field.”
Partridge spent the last five seasons at Wisconsin, where he helped the Badgers win three straight Big Ten championships and become the first Big Ten team to play in three straight Rose Bowls since Michigan following the 1976-78 seasons. Before the 2011 season, he was promoted to associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach after three seasons as the Badgers’ defensive line and specialists coach.
Partridge said he studied up on the University of Arkansas and then took what he learned to south Florida where he already had relationships established with several recruits. Partridge, a Plantation, Fla., native, earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Drake in 1995 and a master’s degree in education from Iowa State in 2002.
Would it be tough to go back in and try and sell another school to a recruit than the one he was previously selling?
“I was curious what kind of respect and power it would be walking into South Florida representing Arkansas,” he said. “It opened a lot of eyes. … We carried a lot of power down there … because the power of the SEC and because of the success this conference has had here in the last 15 years.”
“Obviously I am born and raised [in South Florida] but have built relationships,” Partridge said. “Fortunately, [head football coach Bret Bielema] lets me go down there and work those relationships. Over time I’ve earned trust and through that trust, which really is what recruiting is at the end of the day comes down to – do they trust what they are telling them is reality. Recruiting is sales. And there’s a time where if you’re coming in there and you’re giving your sales pitch and that’s all you’re about [recruits] don’t know what they are really getting. But if you’ve earned trust over time, it becomes more significant.
“And to represent a school like Arkansas in a conference like the SEC to guys that trust what I am about as a person, it’s a powerful combination,” he said.
In the end he was able to get the job done.
One of the prized recruits from Florida was Alex Collins, one of the top running back prospects in the country.
“For those of you out there who have met him,” Partridge said of Collins, “he’s an unbelievable young man. He’s extremely intelligent. … We were able to carry over [a good relationship with him] when we came to Arkansas. That change was hard on him. But once we learned about Arkansas and were able to teach him about what this place can provide it was almost like it was supposed to happen and couldn’t be more excited about him being a Razorback.”
Partridge told us when you have one of the best business schools in the world to sell along with a great academic institution, they can provide players with opportunities beyond football.
You have to like the start that this staff is off to. You can listen to the full interview by clicking here.