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Badgers' strong Senior Bowl showings continue

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 NFL Network Broadcast Schedule
Friday, Jan. 24
- Week in Review: 9 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25

- 2014 Senior Bowl: 3 p.m.
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
 
The big news on the Badgers front Friday at the Senior Bowl was WR Jared Abbrederis withdrawing from the game. "Unfortunately I won't be able to compete in the game because I tweaked my hamstring," Abbrederis wrote on Twitter.

Even without playing in the game, Abbrederis accomplished what he set out to do this week, and that's impress NFL scouts and front-office personnel. The consensus seems to be that Abbrederis raised his draft stock with a solid week of work.

The final day of Senior Bowl practice in full pads came and went Wednesday, so that meant many of the media members and draftniks who have set up shop in Mobile, Ala., were ready to crown their big winners from the week.

In other words, here come the lists!

(In case you missed all the analysis from earlier in the week, here's our first look at Senior Bowl coverage from around the web.)

- Draft analyst Russ Lande put together his top 10 performers from the week of practice for Sports on Earth and, not surprisingly, Badgers Jared Abbrederis and Chris Borland were among his highlights:

On Abbrederis: "Arriving in Mobile with questions about his size and playing strength, Abbrederis leaves having proven that he has what it takes to be a quality starting slot receiver at the next level."

On Borland: "While NFL teams generally do not get excited about 5-foot-11 linebackers, there is no question that Borland's play all week had NFL people almost giddy."

- Abbrederis and Borland were also singled out for the parts of their game that resonated most with scouts by Coy Wire of FOX Sports. Borland? He's the "best hunter." Abbrederis (who actually spends his free time hunting) was labeled as the "best route runner" in Coy's observations from the week.



- Senior Bowl director Phil Savage points out Abbrederis, Borland and RB James White as players who are "turning heads" this week: "Every time I looked up, the running back from Wisconsin, James White seemed to be making a play," Savage said.

- Borland turned enough heads to be named the Most Outstanding Linebacker of the Senior Bowl practices by NFL personnel evaluating talent in Mobile.

- Packers beat writer Ty Dunne specifically mentions Borland and White in his look at prospects emerging from this week's practices for JSOnline.

- Former Green Bay great Leroy Butler joined Dunne to break down a number of players in a video segment for JSOnline, but it was the Badgers who caught Butler's eye this week: "You'll see a lot of Badgers go higher than you think in this particular draft," he said. Butler specifically mentioned TE Jacob Pedersen as an under-the-radar player and dismissed a couple of the knocks on Abbrederis and Borland. "The height is not an issue anymore," Butler said in reference to Borland's 5-foot-11 measurement. "If you can play football, you can play football." On the prevailing wisdom that Abbrederis will be a slot receiver in the NFL, Butler claims, "He's more outside like Jordy Nelson. He can make a team better."

- Dunne also caught up with Badgers S Dez Southward in another JSOnline video: "Versatility, that's what everybody wants," Southward said. "That's something, definitely, I can bring to the table."

- ESPN's Todd McShay agrees, labeling Southward just that: the most versatile defensive back at the Senior Bowl.

- BTN continues its coverage from Mobile, with Lisa Byington catching up with Borland following practice..

Badgers shining at Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl Logo
 NFL Network Broadcast Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 23
- Practice: 3 p.m.
- Senior Bowl Recap: 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 24

- Week in Review: 9 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25

- 2014 Senior Bowl: 3 p.m.
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
Who were the winners and losers of weigh-in day?

Yes, winners and losers of weigh-ins. That's the level to which prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft are being dissected this week in Mobile, Ala., leading up to the Senior Bowl, the nation's most prestigious college all-star game.

There's no shortage of coverage from Mobile, headlined by a daily TV presence on NFL Network, which will air the Senior Bowl game live at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Those prospects' week under the microscope began when they were sized up Sunday in front of a room full of personnel from NFL teams.

Jared Abbrederis, Chris Borland and James White -- three of the five former Badgers selected for the Senior Bowl, along with Jacob Pedersen and Dez Southward -- were listed among the losers from weigh-ins. At 6-0 and 189 pounds, Abbrederis measured in "shorter and lighter than expected." Borland has the shortest arms of any linebacker in Mobile.

Since they've taken the field, however, all three have been on a winning streak, according to the media members and draft pundits on site:

An AFC scout told NFL.com's Andy Fenelon that Abbrederis has "consistently been the best receiver on the field this week" in a deep draft class for at the position.

ESPN's Todd McShay tweeted Wednesday that Borland "is an animal. Great instincts. Strong this wk as rusher and in cvg. Doesn't have measurables but who cares. He's a player!"



Not surprisingly, White has drawn praise for his strong work in pass protection, as a pass-catcher and as a consistent runner. According to one account of Tuesday's practice, "White's lone ugly rep came as college teammate Chris Borland beat him with a swim move."

For the Badgers, this week is about proving to NFL scouts that the tale of the (video) tape is more telling than the tale of the (measuring) tape.

So far, so good.

What They're Saying...
NFL Network's Mike Mayock called Borland "as fun a guy to watch on tape as I have ever seen" and compared him to second-year Carolina Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly.

Borland was among the most impressive players as full-pads practices came to an end with Wednesday's session for the North Team, according to NFL.com's Chase Goodbread.

 Tony Pauline is keeping a running tab on each player at DraftInsider.net. His thoughts on Borland? Monday: "Just a tremendous day." Tuesday: "Another terrific day."

In a video recap for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Pauline poured more praise on Borland's game: "He plays smart, instinctive football, he's tough, he goes after the ballcarrier. He made plays on the blitz, made plays in run defense, also made good plays in coverage. He's got all the skills except for the height." 

Pauline had similar thoughts for Packers.com writer Vic Ketchman in this video recap. For his part, Ketchman also thinks highly of Borland, taking the popular comparison to former NFL star Zach Thomas a step further: "Borland bears body resemblance to Zach Thomas, but he's a better player."

Ketchman's thoughts were shared by Falcons head coach Mike Smith, who is guiding Borland's North Team this week in Mobile: "He reminds me of Zach Thomas. Sometimes we put these measurables up, but the tape doesn't lie. That's your DNA. He has great FBI (football intelligence)."

The crew from NFL Network also gave their thoughts on Borland's NFL future.

Borland is offering insight into his experience in Mobile by contributing a journal on the Senior Bowl's official web site. "It's no longer a dream, it's right front in of you," he writes. "I think it's exciting for us and I'm definitely pumped about it."

 Russ Lande was a guest on Big Ten Network's BTN Live on Tuesday and addressed the impression Borland has left on scouts: "Some people thought ... that like of height might hinder him, but he's just been great. The thing that's been the most impressive is his all-around versatility."

Lande also had some good things to say about Abbrederis: "He's making a tremdendous impression. Through the two days of practice he's shown that he's polished receivers down here in Mobile ... he's looked just tremendous."

Abbrederis and Borland were also the headliners of this assessment of the Senior Bowl workouts by the Sporting News.

When it comes to wide receivers, the consensus seems to be that Abbrederis has been most impressive in practice this week: "He's consistently been the best receiver on the field this week," an AFC scout told NFL.com's Andy Fenelon. "You know when they say the best player always jumps off the film when you pop in a game tape? Jared has been one of those guys for me this week."

NFL Network talked to Abbrederis about how much pride he takes in his precise route-running.

BTN's Lisa Byington also caught up with Abby to get his thoughts on his Senior Bowl showing.

The first team to talk with Pedersen in Mobile? That would be the Green Bay Packers, the team he grew up rooting for in nearby Menominee, Mich. "They haven't drafted a Wisconsin guy in a while," Pedersen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "but I wouldn't mind doing that."

Speaking of hometown teams, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native White spoke with MiamiDolphins.com on his hopes for the Senior Bowl.

Packer's Perspective: Back to Business

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Hope all those in Madison are staying warm as the weather has been sunny but freezing these last few days, or at least that has been the experience for myself and most of my teammates. 

The weather Sunday afternoon however was surprisingly nice and turned out to be perfect for our outdoor skate in the community. The team returned Saturday night around 7 p.m. after enjoying a quick flying following a series sweep up in Bemidji. Sunday was a nice relaxing day off where we were able to get out and be active in the community with some of the fans who come out to support us throughout the year.

Monday we went back to work on and off the ice. We had practice Monday morning and then hit the gym as a team to get in a good workout to start the week off right. The team knows there is a great deal riding on the games this weekend and we are doing everything we can to properly prepare for the upcoming series at home. Tuesday will be the first day of class for myself and fellow teammates, and it will be a sure change of pace after having a month of doing nothing but hockey around campus.

This is just a quick recap post of the weekend, but tune in Thursday for reactions from teammates on their first few days back at class, and what to expect in the upcoming series against rival Minnesota Duluth!

Thanks for reading and On Wisconsin!

- Madison

 

Packer's Perspective: Badgers take on Bemidji

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Hey Badger Fans!

The team has arrived in Bemidji after a short day of travel, and a very cold welcome. We left Madison this afternoon at 3 p.m., and headed to the airport where we flew straight into Bemidji, headed to the rink for a quick practice, and then checked in at the hotel. The team had our usual evening meal, before turning in to get some rest to prepare for the upcoming games. The team is looking forward to the series and hopes to build of last game's momentum and move forward.

'"We are expecting a good battle this weekend," freshman forward Sydney McKibbon said. "They will be fired up to play us at their home rink with their home fans to cheer them on, especially considering we beat them both games in Madison. I think we need to come out strong in the first period in order to set the tone for the weekend. Last weekend we learned that you can't take any team lightly and that we need to play a complete 60 minutes in order to win. We came out on Sunday against North Dakota and did the little things to be successful so we need to carry that on in Bemidji. This weekend is going to be all about compete level and who is willing to work the hardest and win the battles. We are well prepared and had a great week of practice and I think we are all excited to play some games."

Fellow Badger forward, Rachel Jones, had similar emotions heading into the weekend and realizes the weight this weekend holds in the standings.

"Heading into this weekend, I think our team realizes how important these games are with the understanding that Bemidji didn't like being swept when they came to Madison," Jones said. "They are going to come out hard and play for the whole 60 minutes, this is a team that won't go down without a battle. Some of the things our team needs to build off of from last weekend is we need to play 100% every time we hit the ice, winning every one on one battle. After last weekend our team knows that we have to play for the whole game in order to be successful."

The team is well aware of the importance of the upcoming weekend, as well as the importance of competing for the full 60 minutes. Bemidji is a team that is always difficult to play on the road, and in order to be successful in their barn we have to give it everything we have every time we hit the ice.

The games take place Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and we hope those back home can follow our games and cheer us on as we look to walk away this weekend with a few road wins in our back pocket.

Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin!

-Madison 

Aloha: Badgers make annual business trip to Hawaii

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MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin winters are sudden and serve as a cruel reminder that each year state residents are obliged to endure at least 2-3 months of freezing cold temperatures, snow and the occasional blizzard.

Aside from the obvious perks of enjoying a week and a half of sunshine and sandy beaches, this makes the annual nine-hour flight from Chicago's O'Hare Airport to Hawaii each December that much more bearable for the University of Wisconsin swimming and diving squad. 

Prior to head coach Whitney L. Hite taking over the reins of the program in 2011, the Badgers would travel to the Aloha State for a few weeks to train and enjoy the sun. Hite continued the tradition but slightly changed the focus and objective behind the opportunity.

"I view it as a business trip," Hite explained. "We go there with the mindset of getting better, whether it's getting stronger in training, faster in speed.

"There's a lot of development going on and it's a great opportunity for team bonding as well."

Hite uses the time spent away from campus to measure each student-athlete's progress at this point in the season, while also continuing to stress the idea of growth and getting better during grueling practices and training sessions.
"A lot of people think we go out there to lay on the beach," Hite added. "As (UW Senior Administrator) Terry Gawlik saw this year we worked out hard -- really hard."

Aside from escaping Wisconsin's below zero temperatures, the Badgers were able to refocus their energy to powering up for the final stretch of the season, which continues this weekend at Christiansburg, Va., for a two-day meet against Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others.

The team used their time in Hawaii to emphasize improving on last season's Big Ten championships finish and gaining momentum heading into the NCAA meet in March.

"I think that's the thing that has changed since I've been here," Hite said. "We made it clear why we made this trip and the team realizes the goal is to get better."

Badger Blog: The first two days of practice

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In today's Badger Blog, outfielders Mary Massei and Maria Van Abel give an update on the first two practices and provide insight into the Badgers' chalk talks. 

After a rejuvenating winter break, the whole team is back in Madison for the start up of another promising season. We got right to work on Monday morning getting in a great workout before our first official spring semester practice. We have been doing a lot of situation drills in the McClain facility and are excited to finally be using the new Goodman indoor complex. The coaches have done an outstanding job of incorporating chalk talks and meetings to keep a balance of our athletic and mental training for the upcoming season.

Coach Schneider started things off with a chalk talk on Monday afternoon in which he analyzed the neurological perspective on vision and the strike zone in the game of softball. Having coaches who dedicate themselves to learning and absorbing as much outside academic information as they can has made such a difference in our program in these past three years. Knowing our coaches go above and beyond what the average coach might be willing to do makes buying in to their philosophy so much easier for us as players.

In our chalk talk on Tuesday, coach Healy elaborated on our own team's culture through a business lens by looking at the different strategies and values of some of the most successful companies. Coach started out by recognizing the difference between simply claiming values verses actually living them. We looked at our own program and saw how our main values and priorities aligned with some of the Fortune 500 companies coach presented us. After reflecting on coach Healy's presentation, we all took it upon ourselves to see if we were holding ourselves accountable to live out the values of the program. 

Our countdown to Florida is on, currently at 23 days, and we can't wait to get our season started!

Packer's Perspective: Back to Work

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Hey Badger Fans,

Thank you to all who came out and supported us this weekend! The atmosphere was great, and the team thrives when the home crowd gets involved. Saturdays game was a tough loss, but the team used our mistakes from the game to learn and build for Sunday. It was tough when North Dakota came out and got a quick goal again, but the team rallied together as one and played our hearts out, taking 3 points away from the weekend and finishing on a high note. There was a lot to learn from overall after the weekend, but we also did a number of things very well as a team. Monday was a much needed day off after the grueling weekend and physical series, and all the ladies took full advantage of the extra recovery.

Monday night we gathered as a team at LaBahn, and had a little 101 clinic. There were about 100 kids that showed up for the clinic, and it was a great way to give back to a community that supports us throughout the season. We spent an hour on the ice, teaching and playing around with the little kids, and then we headed up to the concourse of the arena to sign some autographs and eat some pizza with the skaters. The whole event lasted a little over two hours, and it was a huge success. We are grateful to all those who showed up to support our organization and hope all the participants enjoyed being little Badgers for the day.

Tuesday was back to work, as we had film, practice, and lift. We reviewed the game from Sunday, looking at times when we had a few breakdowns, and also focusing on the things we did well and need to continue to execute in order to find success this season. We then hit the ice for a quick practice to work on skill and focus on what we need to do this weekend, and then headed down to the weight room for a quick workout to keep in shape. After workout, the team enjoyed a nice meal, and a few of us headed to a local middle school to visit with a fourth grade classroom.

While visiting with the fourth graders, we talked about our experiences as young athletes, our journey to the University of Wisconsin, and then answered a number of varying questions from our favorite NHL team to our favorite movie or color. The kids were awesome, and certainly came prepared with a number of questions to ask. The visit with the fourth graders was finished with a quick autograph session, before we headed home. The visit to the elementary school was extra special for senior goaltender Ilana Friedman, who attended that middle school when she was younger. Later tonight, a number of ladies will be heading to the local senior home to visit with some elderly members of the community. I am always amazed at the willingness of my teammates to give back in the community whenever they get a chance, especially with the highly demanding lifestyle they live.

The journey for our team continues this weekend as we head up to Bemidji to play on the road. Check back in later this week for emotions from players about the upcoming games, and a recap of our journey to Northern Minnesota. Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin!!

Badger Blog: Most Improved

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In today's blog, head coach Yvette Healy writes about the Badgers' 2014 resolution to get better every day. 

Dreamers wish they were the best player, while doers work to get better every day. #MIP #Badgersoftball2014

As we look to 2014, so many people talk about wanting to be the best this New Year. They want to be the best team, player, company or CEO. Who doesn't want to win, accomplish and achieve? Here in Madison, we're shifting our goals for 2014. Instead of worrying about being the best, why not focus on being better? Isn't that what life is all about, getting better? When we get caught up in being number one, we lose focus to the periphery.  Does it really matter what's going on all around us? Wouldn't we be better suited being the best version of ourselves, constantly growing, climbing and making progress?

For the Badger softball team, 2014 really needs to be about improvement. Our schedule is so challenging, that we certainly can't walk out from the snow to the dirt in February and arrive. It's a journey, and a progression. Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to not only play Florida, Texas A&M, Arizona State, Washington and Arizona, early, but also again late in the season. We all know it's not where you start, but where you finish. Each season's a new opportunity to rewrite the history books and start a new legacy.

At what point did most improved became a dirty word? Everyone wants to be the most valuable player, not the most improved player. Fans look at the MIP as a consolation trophy, like being named best personality instead of homecoming queen. Sure being the MVP is prestigious, but it's also limiting. There's only a handful of MVP's in the country, but the lions-share of teams and programs are made of hard-working, blue-collar athletes that are on the path to improvement. In life, our greatest feelings of pride and accomplishment come not from the trophy, but from the climb. Improvement really is empowerment, it factors in who you are, where you came from, the adversity and inequality of where you started, ultimately measuring how far you've come.

Talking about improvement forces you to take a good, hard look at the past, understanding who you are, and where you came from. Improvement doesn't come from ignoring, or running from your origins, but rather from understanding, and accepting your heritage. The imperfection of your past is beautiful, because it's part of who you are, it helped you to arrive in the amazing place you are today with empathy and gratitude. Some programs and people have always had success. But if your past was different, challenging and checkered, you can always make strides. There's a lot of beauty in the struggle. Every climber knows that the path of improvement is paved with hundreds of people who loved, cared, worked hard and laid the groundwork for your journey.  

So, for our 2014 resolution, Wisconsin softball doesn't want just to be the best team in the Big Ten, or the country, we want to grow and improve as a program, and as people. Of course the Badgers want to win the Big Ten. It's every student-athlete's dream to say they were part of a Big Ten championship program. Yet reality, history, and a lack of legacy are stacked against us. We'll play 23 Big Ten conference games against eight B1G teams this spring. We'll see Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue at home, and Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Penn State on the road. Wisconsin has 95 wins in 281 career games against those teams, that's a .338 winning percentage. We've got our work cut out. Yet we're blessed with 20 student-athletes in the Badger softball family that can win most improved every day, every practice and every game this season. The journey starts Monday! #MIP  

Badgers among best of BCS era

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The Bowl Championship Series era came to a close Monday with the crowning of Florida State in the 16th and final BCS National Championship Game. Marked by both compelling matchups and controversy, opinions vary as to what the BCS' legacy will be. No matter what history chooses to reflect, however, the one undeniable truth about the BCS is that it forever changed college football by taking the sport to new levels of popularity nationwide. 

Just as the postseason format will leave a lasting impact on the sport it helped to grow, Wisconsin teams will always be among the lasting images of the BCS era, a time in which the sport's growth coincided with the growth of the Badgers into one of the nation's premier programs.

Wisconsin proved to be one of the nation's most successful teams during the BCS' hold on the college football postseason. Here's a look at why:

- Wisconsin appeared in the Rose Bowl five times in the BCS era, making UW one of just 11 teams to play in at least five BCS bowl games

The Badgers went 146-61 (.705) overall in the BCS era, giving them the 13th-best win percentage in the nation over that span

Among Big Ten teams, only Ohio State had more wins (161) and a better win percentage (.793) than Wiscosnin during the BCS era

- UW's 146 wins were the 12th-most of any team in the BCS era

- The Badgers were ranked in 72 of the 125 BCS standings, tied for the 11th-most appearances of any team in the nation

- From 2004 to 2006, the Badgers appeared in the BCS standings for 24 consecutive weeks

- UW ranked as high as fifth in the BCS standings, rising to No. 5 in consecutive weeks in 2004 (Nov. 1, Nov. 8) and 2010 (Nov. 28, Dec. 5)

- Ron Dayne holds the record for rushing yards in a BCS bowl with his 246 vs. UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl

- Dayne tied for the record for most rushing touchdowns in a BCS bowl with the four he scored on UCLA in the 1999 Rose Bowl

- Jared Abbrederis owns the record for all-purpose yards in a BCS bowl with 346 (119 receiving, 201 kickoff return, 26 punt return) vs. Oregon in the 2012 Rose Bowl

- Montee Ball became the first player to rush for 100 yards three times in the Rose Bowl and the first to score a touchdown in three different Rose Bowls

With college football set to move on and the debut of the College Football Playoff coming at the end of the 2014 season, it's an exciting time for the sport. Hopefully, the playoff can prove to be as exciting - and successful - for Wisconsin as the BCS era. 

The Voice: Saying goodbye (good riddance?) to the BCS

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With Florida State's dramatic win against Auburn on Monday night, we bid farewell to the BCS era. Some will say goodbye, while many others will say good riddance.

Whatever the case, starting next season college football moves into its next phase -- the College Football Playoff. While the now-departed method created some classic championship games, not to mention a number of other thrilling BCS bowls, the whole concept of the Bowl Championship Series has been a source of great debate, and often times, harsh criticism.

As I -- and many others -- have previously stated, the BCS was an imperfect system, but it was far better than what preceded it. Gone are the days of a top-ranked team sealing its national title by beating a No. 14-ranked squad in its bowl game.

The system also set up a number of wildly entertaining matchups, such as Boise State's stunning victory against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. This year's other BCS games were fairly decent, too, from underdog Central Florida putting the hammer down on Baylor, to Michigan State's 24-20 victory against Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

Ohio State-Clemson in the Orange, and Oklahoma-Alabama in the Sugar Bowl were not bad games, either.

I think part of the frustration of the BCS is that many of us struggled to fully understand how it worked.

We did not know what made up most of the computer rankings. We were easily confused on what a team had to do to qualify for consideration to one of the "big boy" bowls. A top-14 finish? A top-16 for a non-AQ conference if it finished ahead of lowest-rated champ from an AQ conference? Otherwise, a non-AQ had to be in the top 12? Huh? What is a non-AQ? And Notre Dame has its own sets of rules? 

What?

As sports fans, we tend to like things to be a bit more simple, and hopefully the College Football Playoff is a step closer in that direction.

Still, in today's world, many of us will find something to be unhappy about, and we will have multiple platforms where we can vent to our heart's delight.

It is anything but a stretch to predict that the biggest outcry will come from those who want more than four teams in the playoff. However, executive director Bill Hancock repeatedly has said the four-team playoff will be in place for the next 12 years, so we probably would be wise to get used to it. Those who help run college football are very protective about the importance of the regular season. They are in no hurry to run the risk of hurting high-stakes games in October.

We also should remember that there will be two more top-end bowls, the Cotton and the Chick-fil-A. Part of the selection committee's job will be to place teams in those games, as those sites will join the rotation for the semifinal round on New Year's Eve 2016.

Whether the College Football Playoff will be more satisfying than the BCS remains to be seen. I believe it will. Yes, the team that ends up fifth in eyes of the committee will be very upset. So is the basketball squad that just misses the cut to the 68-team NCAA tournament. 

Overall, I would claim the BCS worked reasonably well. If nothing else, it gave college football fans something to talk about every week of the season.

Starting next season, we can all try to figure out who will play in those semifinal games at the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, with the winners meeting in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12, 2015.

It figures to be anything but dull.
ON WISCONSIN