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Since Gary Andersen has taken over at the helm, turnover within the Badger football program has been dramatic and it grew even more dramatic Tuesday, as Wisconsin assistant strength coach Brian Bott has resigned due to family reasons. While his contract lasts until Sunday, Bott announced the move June 10 to the players, according to Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal.
I'm bad at giving gifts. Don't get me wrong, I'll always give gifts to my immediate family but I'll do it in the worst possible fashion. For Christmas, I'll usually give my sisters money out of my wallet the morning of, while giving my parents a gift card of their choice. With this being said, the most economically efficient gift I could give to my dad this Father's Day is through my column.
The player-coach relationship is an interesting one if you take a look at the longevity of it in the realm of college athletics. You have coaches like UCLA’s John Wooden, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Dean Smith and Alabama’s Nick Saban who stand at the pinnacle of this relationship and reflect the qualities of character, equality and hard work, and the list goes on and on.
“Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.” Those words were famously spoke by the late Jim Valvano during his 1993 ESPY speech and were proudly carried out by Aly throughout her life.
Ever since Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach Barry Alvarez paced the sidelines, the Badgers have established themselves as one of the premier running teams in the country. A massive offensive line coupled with athletic yet powerful tailbacks have led the program to six Big Ten championships and as many Rose Bowl appearances since Alvarez’s arrival in 1990.
You’ve had a couple of drinks and you’re feeling courageous enough to talk to the good-looking girl across the bar. You have a couple more drinks and realize that time is flying by, forcing you to drunkenly shuffle your hands through your pockets to find your keys. As you tell your friends goodbye with a drunken slur, you stumble your way to the car and force your keys into the ignition, putting yourself and everyone on the road at risk in the wee hours of the night.
Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen spoke with reporters Thursday in a Big Ten teleconference and addressed the team’s progress so far this spring.
As I contemplated what to write my column about this week, I came to a standstill. Should I write about the mess at Rutgers and the mind-boggling severance package head coach Mike Rice received? Eh, perhaps. What about the allegations regarding the 2010 Auburn national title championship team? No, allegations surrounding championship programs should be old news by now. While I could have torn Rutgers and Auburn a new one, I had the odd urge to be nostalgic and sentimental with my column for the mere reason to shy away from the norm.
The defense was, by far, the highlight in 11-on-11 live action, especially on the third-down drills. By my count, around half of the plays were tackles for loss.
There is a distinct cycle in terms of sports viewing in the state of Wisconsin. Throughout the fall, Saturdays have traditionally been reserved for Wisconsin football, while Sundays are religiously dedicated to the Green Bay Packers. As the Wisconsin and Marquette basketball programs get underway, some attention may be diverted toward those teams, yet they will still never amass the type of die-hard viewing reception the Packers or Badger football team receive.
As many college basketball fanatics expected, the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament was indeed filled with “madness.” While it was highlighted by the unexpected Sweet 16 berths of many double-digit seeds like Florida Gulf Coast University, Oregon and LaSalle, the pageantry, excitement and passion of the games was somewhat negated in nature by the bone-headed comments and overall arrogance of Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson.
As the Wisconsin Football Twitter and Facebook accounts hyped a “big” announcement Wednesday, endless possibilities roamed through my head. Would the program unveil a new alternative Adidas jersey to be worn next year? Would it officially be announcing the new realignment of the divisions, distinctly playing to UW’s advantage?
While my estimations were not even close in stature, the announcement to fans should be much more monumental in value than the football program initially alluded to. Per a UWBadgers.com press release—the “big” announcement—Wisconsin will kick off the 2015 college football season against the powerful Alabama Crimson Tide in the state-of-the-art Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
What was my first impression of the announcement?
It’s about time. Badgers fans have been accustomed to seeing the red and white take the field—either at Camp Randall Stadium or an away stadium—against the cupcakes of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or marginal Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams year-in and year-out.
Dating back to former head coach Bret Bielema’s arrival in 2006, Wisconsin has been anything but challenged in its non-conference schedule. The program has a combined record of 27-1 in such games over the last seven seasons, with the lone loss coming on the road against Oregon State this past season.
Moreover, the Badgers outscored their lackluster opponents by an average of three touchdowns (35.8 to 14.6) and scored over 35 points 17 times, including against all of their non-conference opponents during the 2011 season.
I really never understood the essence of scheduling opponents well below a team’s caliber of play, except for the fact teams can pat themselves on the back after bullying up on a less-than-superior opponent. Sure, they walk off the field feeling high and mighty after dismantling teams like Marshall, Cal Poly, San Jose State or UTEP, but does it really prepare them for the rigors of the conference schedule?
This past year, Minnesota took the route of scheduling its fair share of lowly non-conference teams, and it paid off for the Gophers in the short-term, as they owned a 4-0 record heading into the Big Ten season.
Want to know how that turned out? They went 2-7 the rest of the way, including a 34-31 loss to Texas Tech in the Meineke Care Bowl.
On the contrary, I completely understand the notion of Southeastern Conference teams scheduling “cupcakes” mixed-in throughout the season, especially toward the end of the season, because of the depth of their grueling conference schedule.
However, they still challenged themselves to a certain extent throughout their non-conference slate. Alabama played preseason Big Ten favorite Michigan this past year in Cowboy Stadium. LSU kicked off their 2011-’12 season with Oregon and Georgia played Boise State in the Georgia Dome in the same season.
While I’m sure Wisconsin fans are giddy about making travel arrangements to Arlington and finally seeing UW challenged on the field during its non-conference slate, they should be more giddy about the explicit meaning behind the Alabama-Wisconsin announcement: Things are changing for the better under head coach Gary Andersen’s regime, specifically in terms of scheduling.
Planning games against superior BCS-level programs like Alabama in 2015 and Virginia Tech in 2016 will provide a respectable body of work for the playoff selection committee to refer to, should the Badgers be in contention for college football’s playoff in the coming years.
Moreover, the message Andersen and athletic director Barry Alvarez are sending aligns with the common sports saying, “In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
By in large, Alabama is currently the face of college football, having won three of the last four national titles, and it is the closest thing fans have witnessed to a football dynasty since the days of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart at Southern California.
Yet with the announcement, the Crimson Tide’s prestige did not phase Andersen and Alvarez. Both of them have made it known they want to compete at the highest level, and this 2015 matchup will serve as a golden opportunity to do just that. Finally.
What do you think of UW scheduling a non-conference game against Alabama? Send Rex your thoughts in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the second-coming of college football’s signing day (also known as the start of the National Football League’s free agency period) clogged up Twitter feeds nationwide the last couple days, I could not help myself but to keep constant tabs on where the big names in this year’s free agent’s class would end up. While I scrolled through the constant updates courtesy of ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson, or NBC’s Pro Football Talk, teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers made the biggest moves while the rest of the league, including the Green Bay Packers, tried to play catch-up.
MINNEAPOLIS — Win and you are in. That was the magnitude of the semifinal matchup in the WCHA Final Face-Off between the second-seeded Wisconsin women’s hockey team and third-seeded North Dakota Friday night in Minneapolis at Ridder Arena.
While Wisconsin hockey fans have grown accustomed to the comfortable seating and the rowdy Crease Creatures at the Kohl Center since its existence in late 90s, the program started the makings of their dynasty elsewhere in Madison—Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The current Wisconsin hockey team will relive the Wisconsin glory days at the building former head coach Bob Johnson built this weekend, where they will look to add another WCHA championship banner against St. Cloud State. With the Badgers closing their season at the Coliseum this weekend, it is only appropriate to revisit the once-great spectrum in college hockey.
Win and advance. That is the mentality the No. 2 seeded and No. 6 Wisconsin women’s hockey team needed to possess in its WCHA first-round matchup with St. Cloud State this past weekend, and it did just that. The Badgers took both contests by scores of 5-0 and 4-1. The victories extended Wisconsin’s winning streak against the Huskies to 16 games.
The race for the 2013 WCHA conference tournament crown is underway and second-seeded and No.6 ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team (17-9-2 WCHA, 21-9-2 overall) will look to build upon their late-season momentum, as they host seventh-seeded St. Cloud State (5-21-2, 9-22-3) in the first round of the WCHA Playoff series—the first ever playoff series at the LaBahn Arena.
As the news of junior guard Josh Gasser tearing his ACL in an October Saturday morning practice filtered around the Twitter world, the hearts of Badger nation sank. As both someone who follows the UW hoops program and a journalist, I wrote off this Badgers squad. While much had been endorsed about the development of redshirt freshman guard George Marshall during his redshirt season and the drastic improvement of sophomore guard Traevon Jackson, they simply could not duplicate the experience and talent of Gasser—a two-year starter and one of three freshman to start in the Bo Ryan era.
It is not where you start, it is where you finish. This phenomenon extends to teams year-in and year-out, especially to the No. 6 Wisconsin women’s hockey team (15-9-2 WCHA, 19-9-2 overall) this season.
It would be the ultimate dream of a sports fan to become a professional athlete and make an absurd amount of money. Fancy cars. Big house. Life could not get any better, right? Well, as Lee Corso famously says, not so fast, my friend.