I love Badger football. Attending games in the fall is among my favorite activities. I have been to Camp Randall for games coached by Jardine, McClain, Morton, Hilles, Alvarez, and Bielema. I have seen the best and worst Wisconsin football has had to offer.

I am almost, but not quite, ready to ask for a coaching change in UW football. I have, however, jumped off the bandwagon.

Whether or not you enjoyed Barry’s conservative, defense-oriented approach to football, one knew exactly what you were going to get when watching Barry’s Badgers. I have no idea what Bielema’s Badgers are or what they are trying to be. The defense is…non-descript. they don’t tackle well, are not physical, don’t blitz much, don’t defend the pass well, and are shaky against the run. Paul Chryst’s offensive play calling this past year was…well…strange at times caused perhaps by a complete lack of confidence in the capabilities of the quarterback.

The pressure is not on Bielema…the pressure is on Alvarez. The Wisconsin AD has enjoyed a lengthy honeymoon period without having to make a serious administrative decision relating to the UW coaching staff in any sport. Does he stick with Bielema? Does he exert some pressure and encourage some changes in the coaching staff?

The Badger football program has reached a crossroads.


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  • http://mike Mike

    Thanks for doing the Badger post-mortem as I fell asleep for most of the second half, largely owing to the lackluster play on the part of UW. Even if they had somehow won, a victory over this diminished FSU team would have been more symbolic than telling. I think BB will have to show some significant improvement in the team next year to retain his job. I also don’t expect that to happen. His recruiting classes haven’t been particularly good and to this point he hasn’t shown the ability to ‘coach up’ lesser talent. As AD, Barry knows the financial clout of the football team largely carries the department; he can’t afford to wait very long. Yes, Bielema was his first hire and it will reflect poorly on Barry if he’s fired, but the success of the football program and, indeed, the entire athletic department is his legacy. And given Alvarez’ ego, I’m sure it’s not one he’s willing to risk.

    Let the Curt Phillips ‘watch’ begin.

  • Jon

    Thankfully, I found a Band of Brothers marathon on the History Channel that saved me from watching much of the second half. Besides the decreasing level in play, there is a middle school cockiness about Bielema that rubs folks the wrong way. He recently did a radio interview on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee and cut the interview short when asked a reasonable question…”Will there be changes in the coaching of special teams after this year’s struggles?” It is a legitimate question and Bielema coaches the special teams…maybe hire or reassign an assistant to specifically handle special teams play? BB needs a heckuva year in 09 to recapture an increasingly irritated fan base.

  • Chris

    I think Mike makes a great point about Alvarez’s legacy being the health of the entire athletic program–that will be a powerful motivator for Barry to make a move. However, I will be surprised if he would pull the plug after next season, even if UW posts another mediocre record. At the end of the day, Barry is a coach, so I expect he will deal patiently with his hand-picked successor. From my chair in Madison, my best guess is that BB will get at least two more seasons to prove his case. Beyond that there will be too much pressure for Alvarez not to make a move.

  • Jeff S

    The problem is, they got no guys!

    D-Line? No guys
    LB? After Casillas and Levy leave (and they weren’t terrific this year)…no guys!
    QB? Definitely no guy
    WR? Probably no guy
    RB? Clay is probably a guy who can do it.
    OL? they might have a few guys.

    What shocked me most over this entire season was that when they played Cal Poly, they were probably worse at 17 of 22 positions than their 1AA opponent. I’m very worried that their level of talent is falling behind the rest of the Big 10/11.

    • http://mike Mike

      I absolutely agree with you here. Too many times when I read articles about UW recruits, it seems like the teams they’re competing with for players are lower level schools. It reminds me of the Morton era.