Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - April 18, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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LUCAS AT LARGE M I K E LUCA S • UWB A DGERS.C OM Travels show Genyk it's a small world T here have been a couple of windows in Jeff Genyk's resume that have allowed the first-year Wisconsin tight ends coach to more fully appreciate a sport that ultimately he could not live without. The first was after Genyk, a quarterback, graduated from Bowling Green in 1982 with a degree in business administration. For the next nine years he had a successful career away from football. Genyk worked for Marathon Oil at four Eastern locations for about four years. After the price of oil dipped, he transitioned into the office furniture industry back in his home state of Michigan. "It was a great time in my life being able to travel all over the world,'' said Genyk, an Ann Arbor native, who was responsible for international purchasing, among other management duties. That eventually led him to the automotive industry and a crossroads in his life. "I was making good money,'' he said, "but I didn't have a great passion for business even when it was going well.'' In mapping out his future, it was obvious that football was still in Genyk's blood, especially since his father, George, was a former Michigan captain and longtime high school coach. Genyk, then 29, summarily left the business world to become a volunteer coach at Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College. Armed with his MBA from West14 » VARSITY APR I L 18, 2013 ern Michigan, he even taught classes. "I fell in love with it (coaching),'' he said. "That's what I wanted to do and I worked my tail off.'' It paid dividends when Northwestern's Gary Barnett hired Genyk as a grad assistant in 1992. Genyk worked his way into a fulltime position with Barnett and also served the late Randy Walker. Handling a variety of assignments ― from special teams to coaching tailbacks, linebackers and safeties ― Genyk spent 12 years with the Wildcats, the last five with Walker, who passed away in 2006. While at Northwestern, he earned another master's degree (education and social policy). He also used the Big Ten as a springboard. In 2003, Genyk was named head coach at Eastern Michigan. Running his own program for five years, he gained an understanding for "all that's on a head coach's plate'' and the importance of "not getting too emotional, too high or too low'' during games. It was during this stint that Genyk actively recruited a tight end out of Menominee (Mich.) High School in the Upper Peninsula. "We were expecting him to come to Eastern Michigan,'' he said. Jacob Pedersen had the same expectation. "They were the only D-I school to offer me,'' said Pedersen, who ended up at Wisconsin after Genyk was fired at the end of 2008 season at Eastern. Although it was not of his own doing, another window subsequently opened up for Genyk, who was hired by ESPN Regional Television in 2009 as a color analyst for its broadcasts of ACC football games. In his debut, Boston College held on for a 27-24 overtime win over Wake Forest when there was a mixup in the backfield and the Wake quarterback lost a fumble in a firstand-goal situation from the 4. "What struck me was the look ― that I've experienced (as a coach) ― on the coaching staff and players of Wake Forest,'' Genyk said, "and then the jubilation of Boston College. "As a broadcaster, you have neither. You've done your job, you shake your play-by-play man's hand and you ask, 'Where do you want to go to dinner?''' Genyk liked what he was doing in TV ― "It was a great experience and I felt I grew as a person,'' but he wanted so much more out of the football experience, thus, rekindling his passion for coaching. After three seasons at Cal ― where he got to know new UW offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig ― the 52-year-old Genyk caught on at Nevada in January before rejoining Ludwig and Pedersen at Wisconsin. Putting things in perspective, Pedersen said, "I kind of laughed when I heard he was the next tight ends coach coming in (after Jay Boulware abruptly left for Oklahoma). "It's a small world.''

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