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The Voice: Badgers have chance to provide positive storyline

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To say the least, this has been a wild college football off season. There has been trouble at a variety of schools, including Ohio State. It seemed every week we would hear something unsettling about a well-known program.  

Coaches and administrators at the trouble-free schools breathe a sigh of relief, while at the same time they want to make sure everyone is following the rules.

It reminds me of the incident several years ago when coach George O'Leary had to step down from a dream gig at Notre Dame because of false information on his resume. Just about every other coach in America felt the need to double check his own resume.

Naturally, all the trouble in college football has many critics claiming the game is little more than a cesspool, where nobody cares about anything other than making money. Sure, money matters in college athletics. I think most folks accept that as a fact of life. The mistake occurs when everyone is labeled by the actions of a few.

Badgers fans should feel pretty good about their team. The biggest news story out of Madison this summer is the addition of transfer quarterback Russell Wilson. While the hype surrounding Wilson's arrival has bordered on the extreme, his resume suggests he should be an excellent fit at Wisconsin.

I do not simply mean his on-field stats. Wilson has earned his undergraduate degree, and by all accounts he is a very good teammate.

There is no guarantee that Wilson will be a star with his new team, but his addition is a good, positive story. One national writer said it was refreshing to report something that did not involve the NCAA Committee on Infractions. It is hard to argue with those sentiments.

As another training camp opens, the only thing that concerns me is the hype. Even some national pundits, such as ESPN's Rod Gilmore, have mentioned Wisconsin as a team to watch in the BCS title hunt. Maybe he is right, but I always feel a little better when the Badgers are under the radar.

History supports the argument. In Wisconsin's four Big Ten championship runs of 1993, '98, '99 and 2010, it never was the preseason favorite.  

Fans in these parts can't wait for the historic Big Ten opener against Nebraska, but before the Cornhuskers come to town, the Badgers have at least a couple of tricky non-conference games -- specifically a home tilt with Oregon State, and a Soldier Field date with Northern Illinois, under the direction of former UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren.

Those back-to-back road night games at Michigan State and Ohio State figure to be extremely difficult. The Spartans, with veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins, should to be a strong contender in the Legends Division.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes might be in a difficult period, but if they get through the first five games unscathed, they too could be more than a handful.

While it is easy for the rest of us to wonder whether Ohio State's saga creates a window of opportunity for Wisconsin and everyone else in the Big Ten, Coach Bret Bielema is smart enough to know that thinking about any program other than his own is a waste of time.

Don't get me wrong -- it is hard to blame you for being excited about Wisconsin football. The Badgers have been winning, and by all indications, they have been winning the right way. They have done well in the classroom. They have done wonderful work in the community.

As another season approaches, the hope from this observer is that the Badgers stick to the principals that worked so well a year ago. They won big in 2010. The way they won in 2010 was proof that there are good things going on in college football, and they gave fans plenty of reasons to be very proud.

There always seem to be a handful of plays that make or break a season. Last fall most of those plays went the Badgers' way, but as long as the Badgers stick to their principals, they have a very good chance of having another successful season.

1 Comment

Great story Matt... I love that Wisconsin is being mentioned nationally... although that raises the expectations to great heights it is a lot better than not being talked about at all.. plus in the end it gets us athletes we may have not been able to get before.. Anyway, here's to a great season with high expectations. Look forward to hearing you and Lukey on Thursday night Sept. 1st.. ON WISCONSIN!