Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema sounded excited to be a part of college football history with the advent of a four-team playoff that will replace the BCS model beginning with the 2014 season.
Doing the simple math, though, he expressed the one obvious concern that is shared by all of his fraternity brothers in the coaching profession. There is a concern, you ask?
"Yeah, if I'm No. 5,'' he said, grinning. "Everybody used to talk about the No. 3 and No. 4 teams that didn't get to play for the championship. Now they're going to be talking about No. 5 and No. 6.
"I think it's probably legit to say that every year you're going to have teams that can play the excuse game on why they should be there.
"But to have four teams that will have a shot to win it all now is really cool.''
The Rose Bowl will not only be part of the six-bowl rotation for the two semifinal games, but it will be locked into a 4 p.m. (CST) kickoff on Jan. 1 through 2026 (Jan. 2 if New Year's Day is a Sunday).
The Tournament of Roses also announced Thursday that the Rose Bowl would continue to honor a Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup in those years that it's not playing host to a national semifinal.
That type of stability and/or continuity is priceless, Bielema pointed out.
"Of course, we're all a little biased,'' he conceded. "I've been there as a player and a coach. I know the Rose Bowl is a sacred, hallowed ground for college football, especially for the Big Ten.''
The new system will render polls virtually meaningless in their current form, thereby eliminating what has always been a healthy source of debate and controversy for fans, players and coaches alike.
The preseason polls, in particular, were problematic; especially from Bielema's viewpoint. The Badgers were off the radar in 2006, his first season; yet fought all the way back to a No. 5 final ranking.
"I was a new head coach with a new team and people had questions,'' he recalled. "But we finished 12-1 and I felt like we were a BCS (bowl) level team (that had to settle for something less).
"I've always been in favor of ranking teams later in the year because you have a chance then to truly find out who has good teams -- and it's not based on just good projections.''
College football is expected to adopt the NCAA's basketball model for a selection committee, which would include a collection of current athletic directors and league commissioners.
That would eliminate the importance of two BCS staples: the USA Today Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll. There have been reports, too, that the tweaked system will rank teams by tiers; another notable departure from the past.
Winning a conference title will carry weight with the committee, especially if teams are comparable in other criteria. Strength of schedule will also become a key component in the equation.
Bielema, for one, has long been an advocate of spacing out the non-conference opponents, as opposed to playing all four games at the front of the schedule in advance of Big Ten competition.
Alabama, for example, will open SEC West play the third week of the season: Sept. 15 against Arkansas. The Tide will then go out of conference for Western Carolina on Nov. 17.
"Playing those (FCS) teams is just a fact of life,'' Bielema said. "But I think a conference's strength of schedule is going to be a big part (of the new formula).''
One of football's greatest strengths, he noted, is still the regular season.
"I hear basketball coaches talking all the time about how they've got to win six games at the end of the year to win a national championship,'' he said. "Well, we've got to win 13, sometimes 14.
"I like that element to our sport -- the importance of the regular season -- which is unprecedented in the world of college sports. I like the hype around our college game day.''
By extending the season with a playoff, some questions have been raised about the physical toll that the extra games might take on those players who are involved, however many are exposed.
It might be the greatest argument, in fact, against the potential for an eight- or 16-team playoff. University presidents have addressed these concerns by locking into a four-team playoff for 12 years.
Bielema, the quintessential player's coach, recognizes the risks.
"I think we're at the limit right now,'' he said of the 15 games that the two finalists would play. "We're maxing them out. If we did anything more, we'd have to change the way we train them.''
Added Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash, "These guys are still 18- to 21-year-old student-athletes and there's already a lot on their plates.''
Even though it will only impact a few teams, Ash was pleased to hear the semifinals will be staged on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day and the championship on the second Monday of January.
"These kids are here all summer and show up for training camp in August,'' Ash said. "They're here all fall. They don't get a Thanksgiving break. They don't get a Christmas break.
"If you were to take away their winter break -- between the first and second semesters (in January) -- it would have been really tough on the student-athlete.''
Ash, like Bielema, is excited to see how the playoff is going to fall into place logistically.
"You knew it was going to come and I'm kind of curious to see how it will all work out once we get to that point,'' Ash said. "Change is good, and it kind of seemed like it was going in that direction.''
Expanding to four teams that will compete for the championship is one thing. "But honestly,'' Ash said, "there are probably only about 20 to 25 teams who have a shot of getting there.''
Wisconsin has definitely put itself in that company. Over the last three years, the Badgers are among the winningest programs in the nation; their overall run includes 10 straight bowl appearances.
UW offensive line coach Mike Markuson believes the playing field nationally is more level than people think, despite the fact that the SEC has won the last six national championships.
Markuson coached at Mississippi and Arkansas, so he has a good frame of reference.
"College football is every changing and a playoff is something that people have been screaming about for awhile,'' Markuson said. "To me, it's going to give somebody a chance that was maybe hovering out there (among the top teams) and thinking, 'Why not us? Why weren't we involved?'''
Given that backdrop, he added, "I'm excited to see what it's all about up here (in the Big Ten).''
When the strikingly bright new FieldTurf was installed in early June, it signaled just the first stage of cosmetic and functional upgrades happening to Camp Randall Stadium this summer.
The next phase, which is currently underway, includes installation of LED ribbon boards on both the East and West facades as well as in the Southeast and Southwest corners above the tunnel entrances.
According to Associate Athletic Director for External Relations Justin Doherty, the digital boards will be used in a similar fashion to Kohl Center, providing information to spectators as well as new display opportunities for sponsors.
With the LED board consuming much of the west facade, the lettering which used to reside in that location needed a new home. A move to the east side of the stadium is part of a larger project to honor Wisconsin's football legacy. In addition to saying "Camp Randall Stadium," the East fascia will now feature commemorate the Badgers':
6 retired names and numbers
13 Big Ten Championship seasons
8 Rose Bowl appearances
"We have a strong football tradition at Wisconsin and prior to this summer's project, you could walk into Camp Randall Stadium and not know if we have ever won anything. If we've ever won a championship or been in the Rose Bowl," Doherty explained. "Particularly with winning the Big Ten championship in the last two years, we felt this was a great way to celebrate and honor those achievements."
Application is scheduled to be finished in time for the opening of football practice in August.
Additionally, as part of the Student Athlete Performance Center project at the north end of Camp Randall, both of the stadium's scoreboards are scheduled to be replaced prior to the start of the 2013 season.
The 2012 USA Olympic Trials resume Thursday in Eugene, Ore., with the biggest day of competition yet for those with ties to the Wisconsin men's and women's track programs.
A total of seven Badgers -- either current or former -- are set to compete inside Hayward Field when the Trials resume at 5:50 p.m. (CT). Here's a quick rundown on what to watch for.
Keep in mind that tonight's live television window runs from 8-10 p.m. on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).
Men's 1500 Meters - Qualifying - 6:20 p.m. - Top six per heat, plus next six fastest times, advance to Friday semifinals - Rob Finnerty (Wisconsin), Jack Bolas (New Balance), Craig Miller (New Balance)
Finnerty has been riding a hot streak since breaking out by winning the 1500 meters at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in late May. He followed that with a fifth-place finish and All-America honors in the event at the NCAA outdoor championships.
It took an eleventh-hour run (literally) for Finnerty to make the Trials, however, as he clocked in at a personal-best 3:38.60 to achieve the automatic qualifying standard at a special race in Bloomington, Ind., just hours before the qualification deadline closed on June 10. Finnerty runs in the third of three preliminary-round heats.
Bolas and Miller, both 2010 graduates of UW, continue as teammates for New Balance and will race together in the first heat of the preliminary round.
In his second Olympic Trials appearance -- he also qualified in 2008 -- Bolas enters as the No. 10 seed for the competition at 3:36.33. Miller will make his debut at the Trials as the No. 12 seed with a personal-best time of 3:36.35.
Women's High Jump - Qualifying - 7 p.m. - Top 12 advance to final - Megan Seidl (Wisconsin Runner Racing Team)
Megan Seidl, a 2010 UW graduate, makes her third-consecutive appearance at a U.S. championship meet, entering the high jump prelims tied for the No. 9 seed with her personal-best clearance of 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches.
The 2008 Big Ten outdoor champion, Seidl was a two-time NCAA championships qualifier for the Badgers as a senior in 2010. That year, she went on to finish seventh at the U.S. championships in Des Moines. Seidl finished 14th in last year's U.S. meet in Eugene.
Seidl's best finish in a national meet came when she tied for third at the 2011 USA Indoor Championships. Men's Pole Vault - Final - 7:05 p.m. - Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team - Darren Niedermeyer (Jump High Athletic Club)
Darren Niedermeyer survived and advanced through a brutal qualifying round in the pole vault Monday, tying for sixth to advance as one of 11 qualifiers for the final.
In chilly, damp conditions, the 2005 UW graduate managed to clear 17 feet, 4 1/2 inches on his third and final attempt at the height -- which proved to be the cutoff for advancement to the final.
Niedermeyer was the last man to make the trials field, entering tied for the No. 23 seed at 18-1.
He owns a lifetime-best clearance of 18-9, which he would have to top in order to make Team USA even with a top-three finish. The "A" qualifying standard for the London Olympics is 18-9 1/4.
Niedermeyer won the 2004 indoor and 2005 outdoor Big Ten pole vault titles for the Badgers, and his most recent major success came when he won the 2010 Drake Relays title in the pole vault by upsetting 2008 Olympic Trials winner Derek Miles, who also is in Thursday's final.
Women's Shot Put - Qualifying - 7:40 p.m. - Top 12 advance to Friday final - Kelsey Card (Wisconsin)
Kelsey Card looks to extend her tremendous rookie season another day as she competes in the qualifying round of the women's shot put.
Card actually competed in the discus at the NCAA outdoor championships earlier this month, but her All-America effort in the shot put from the indoor season is what qualified her for the Olympic Trials.
Her school-record throw of 55-8 1/2 has Card tied for the No. 19 seed entering Thursday's qualifying round. She will look to improve that standing in order to advance, as the top 12 finishers in the 23-woman field will move on to Friday's final.
Card is no stranger to competing on the national stage at Hayward Field. She won the national junior title in the shot put at the 2011 USA Junior Championships at Hayward on her way to claiming bronze for Team USA at the 2011 Pan Am Junior Championships.
Men's 3000 Steeplechase - Final - 8:30 p.m. - Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team - Evan Jager (Oregon Track Club Elite)
Evan Jager has quickly gone from steeplechase novice to a popular pick for Team USA in the event. He'll get the chance to live up to that hype in the final of the event Thursday.
In his first season competing in the steeple, Jager entered the Olympic Trials seeded No. 9 with his personal-best time of 8:20.90. He easily advanced out of the qualifying round Monday by winning his section in 8:30.60.
Jager competed just one season in Madison, earning All-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the 1500 meters at the NCAA outdoor championships and then finishing eighth in the 1500 at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships.
Shortly after, he followed former Badgers Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp in moving west to train under former UW assistant coach Jerry Schumacher as part of Oregon Track Club Elite in Portland. The move paid immediately dividends for Jager, who made it an all-Badgers trio representing Team USA in the 5000 meters at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.
As someone who has already personally invested so much in college football -- as a former player, head coach and current athletic director -- Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez is convinced that a four-team playoff will pay off big dividends and ensure the continued success and popularity of the sport.
"I was pleased that the commissioners were able to come to an agreement on the playoff model,'' Alvarez said. "There was a lot of positioning -- and a lot of give-and-take in the end -- and I liked what they came up with. I'm also pleased the presidents approved the changes.''
Alvarez was one of the ADs invited to play a role in the discovery phase of the process. As a result, he has tried to keep an open mind to all potential options or scenarios. One of his points of emphasis -- making sure that nothing compromised the integrity of the regular season.
"I think everyone agrees that we have the best regular season of all sports,'' he said of the competitive element that exists from September through November. "That's why I've always felt it was so important to preserve the regular season, which we have with this four-team playoff.''
Preserving the bowls -- especially the Rose Bowl -- was also at the top of Alvarez's list. With a six-bowl rotation for the two semifinal games, the Rose Bowl will be assured of a traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup two out of every three years (or eight times over the length of the 12-year contract).
The Big Ten has been matched against the Pac-12 in six of the last 11 Rose Bowls since 2002.
"You have to give up a little bit; much like we gave up in the BCS's four-year rotation with the Rose Bowl,'' Alvarez said of the league's negotiating approach. " But this allows us to be in the mix (for a national championship) and still have our relationship with the Rose Bowl.''
When the dialogue began to heat up on the proposed playoff to replace the BCS model, Alvarez supported the concept of a selection committee, not unlike what has been used to determine the field in the NCAA basketball tournament.
"I've been a proponent of a committee all along,'' he said. "And with that comes transparency where all the criteria are known. I've never been a big fan of the computers. There are a lot of people who know football and I trust the human element more than I did the old BCS formula.
"I like the fact a committee will be taking a lot of things into consideration; they'll be giving credit to the league champion and weighing different things, including strength of schedule.''
Does that mean that Wisconsin will attempt to strengthen its schedule?
"Bret (Bielema, the UW football coach) and I have talked about that,'' Alvarez said. "In 2017, we'll add a Pac-12 opponent every year. That will leave us with three non-conference dates to fill.
"If you want to be competitive and in the (final four) mix, you have to be cognizant of your nonconference schedule. I'd like to see us put another BCS opponent on the schedule (circa 2017).
"We can go from there still knowing we have to play at least seven home games each year.''
Would Alvarez be willing to serve on a national selection committee? "I would be interested,'' he said. "With my background, I think I'm knowledgeable enough about the business.''
Alvarez would not have a problem with former head coaches on the committee, either.
Regardless of the selection guidelines, he knows that a healthy debate will likely ensue.
That comes with the turf, new or old.
"A lot of people complained about the BCS, but it was very good for college football; the sport has never been more popular,'' Alvarez emphasized. "People have said all along that it needed to be tweaked. If you go back and read my statements from previous years, I said the same things.''
Alvarez recognizes that the four-team playoff is not a panacea.
"Everybody is not going to be satisfied,'' he conceded.
But it was a positive move, he insisted, that will only enhance the product.
"You now have a chance for a truer national champion,'' he said.
There was Mohammed Ahmed's fifth-place finish in the NCAA cross country championship that helped spark Wisconsin to its fifth national team title the in sport, and first since 2005.
"One of the greatest moments of my life," he said.
There was Ahmed's run in the 10,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational that easily met the Olympic "A" qualifying standard and broke the school record by nearly 30 seconds.
"A lot of pressure was relieved from my shoulders," he said.
There was Ahmed's win in the 5000 at the Big Ten outdoor championships that was a meet record and one of two first-place medals UW captured in winning its first crown since 2007.
"The way we came together was true teamwork," he said.
And there was Ahmed's seventh-place finish in the 5K at the NCAA outdoor meet that validated his All-America status a second time despite limited training because of an Achilles injury.
"I wasn't happy with the way I finished, but running is a great metaphor for life," he said.
In other words, you take the good with the very good -- or the exceptional -- in Ahmed's case. Given his list of individual and team accomplishments, what would rank at the top of his list?
"Winning nationals as a team, that's number one," he said. "Cross country was a magical year. The title will be something I'll cherish for the rest of my life. It was a beautiful moment."
Beautiful, he said, because of the chemistry with Elliot Krause, Ryan Collins, Reed Connor and Maverick Darling. Beautiful because it rewarded coach Mick Byrne with a much-deserved title.
It was also beautiful, he said, because of what it told him about his running skills. "Finishing fifth told me that I belonged at the top of the NCAA," Ahmed said. "That helped me a lot."
Ahmed spent the indoor season "training very hard with the focus on going to the Olympics -- and with my first race (the Payton Jordan) I got that out of the way."
That's where the confidence gained from his success competing during the cross country season really kicked in -- in what was, at the time in late April, the fastest 10,000 meters race in the world.
"I thought to myself, 'If you can race with the guys in the NCAA, you can keep up with them, why not here?"' he said, convincing himself that "I can definitely do it."
That confidence carried over to the outdoor season and the Big Ten meet in front of the home fans. "Everyone was doing it for the seniors," said Ahmed, a junior from St. Catharines, Ontario.
Few, he noted, will ever forget senior Kyle Jefferson's true grit during his leg of the 4x400 relay.
"The amount of toughness that he displayed is going to be his legacy," Ahmed said, "and something we talk about every time we see each other or at team reunions.
"It didn't take one person to win the Big Ten title. It took everybody. It took throwers, distance guys, sprinters. Everybody came together. It was a great feeling."
Despite dealing with his Achilles injury, Ahmed is feeling much better in advance of Sunday's departure for Calgary and the Canadian Olympic Trials. He will race Wednesday in the 10,000 meters.
Ahmed is one of two runners who met the "A" qualifying standard. The other, Cameron Levins, who won the Payton Jordan event and claimed two NCAA titles, will compete in only the 5000, though he will double at the Olympics.
"Physically, I'm at a good spot; I'm not burned out yet, I still feel fresh," Ahmed said. "It's all mental now. And I'm going to treat this race just like it was any other race.
"I've learned that you've got to use the nervousness to your advantage. It's good energy if you use it to get ready. I'm not putting this race on a pedestal just because it's the Olympic trials."
Ahmed is looking forward to running for Canada in London.
In a sense, the truest sense, he said, he would be also running for the Badgers.
"Being a Wisconsin Badger," he said, "whether it's my identity on the track as a runner or that of a student, is something that is going to be a part of me forever and ever."
Darrell Bevell, Chris Maragos, Russell Wilson and John Moffitt have found a home with the Seahawks
Prior to Monday's Legends of Wisconsin golf outing, Darrell Bevell, Scott Tolzien and Chris Maragos were engaged in some good-natured banter outside the University Ridge clubhouse.
Someone mentioned that Bevell was one of the earliest if not original "legend'' -- the starting quarterback on the 1993 UW football team that returned to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1963.
Tolzien also took note of Bevell's "old school'' footwear that he once wore with the Badgers; high tops which fell just short of rivaling Herman Munster's boots. Bevell laughed.
Of course, Bevell got the last laugh in the 1994 Rose Bowl when he broke contain and "sprinted'' 21 yards for what would turn out to be the game-winning touchdown against UCLA.
Even Bevell had to chuckle at the verb. Sprinted? But his run was "legendary'' in that it links him with Mike Samuel and Brooks Bollinger as the only Wisconsin quarterbacks to ever win a Rose Bowl.
Meanwhile, the Badgers are coming off back-to-back trips to Pasadena thanks in large part to the contributions and leadership of their most recent starting QBs -- Tolzien and Russell Wilson.
Last season, Tolzien caught on with the San Francisco 49ers and served as the No. 3 quarterback behind Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. Wilson is targeted for that same role, maybe better, in Seattle.
The Seahawks offensive coordinator is none other than the 42-year-old Bevell who has already seen enough of Wilson, a third round pick, to recognize that "he carries himself well --that 'it' factor.''
Seattle did their homework on Wilson. "We talked to him a bunch at the Senior Bowl, the combine and his own pro day,'' Bevell stressed. "There were a lot of things to like about him.
"He loves to play the game. He works hard at this craft. And he seems to have 'it.'''
Wilson put "it'' on display during the Seahawks recent minicamp in competition with Tavaris Jackson, the returning starter in Seattle, and Matt Flynn, the free agent pickup from the Packers.
Each quarterback got one day to work with the No. 1 offense.
"We're letting them all compete,'' said Bevell, echoing head coach Pete Carroll. "Russell came in and did well enough in rookie camp to put himself in the race.''
How will the practice snaps be distributed in training camp?
"That's a good question because it's not something we've done before; I don't think many people have,'' Bevell said of trying to maximize a three quarterback rotation during the drills.
"Just like we did in minicamp, we're going to spread the reps evenly and try to get them all in the same situations so we have something to compare.''
Some comparisons have been made between Flynn and his Green Bay mentor, Aaron Rodgers. "You can see some of Aaron's mannerisms, which is a positive thing,'' Bevell said.
Citing Flynn's "presence'', he also noted, "I see the veteran's knowledge that he has. He understands the game and his strengths and weaknesses. He also carries himself very well.''
Bevell and Jackson have been together the longest, dating to their days in Minnesota. "He's still learning and improving,'' Bevell said. "He's athletic and strong and coming off his best year as a pro.''
You could tell that Bevell almost anticipated the next question because he gets it so often.
What about Wilson's height?
"There are times when it will show up, without a doubt,'' Bevell said. "There are plays where you can see that it does (have an impact). But he's played with that (question) his whole life.''
Wilson has been listed between 5-10 and 5-11.
"That's who he is; that's what he is,'' Bevell said. "He knows his abilities -- when to move, when to slide and do all those different things in the pocket. Most of the time it won't show up.''
Maragos, a backup free safety for the Seahawks, offered a unique perspective.
"Maybe not a lot of people realize this,'' said Maragos, who's entering his third season in the NFL, second with Seattle, "but when I'm back there playing at deep safety in practice, he (Wilson) gets covered up by those linemen and I can't see where he is or where he's looking.
"As I'm backpedaling, I can't get a good read on what side of the field he's looking at to know which way I should lean. At that point, I'm at a disadvantage. A lot of times I see this little arm coming up over the top of the helmets. Usually I'm getting a slow break on the ball because I can't see him.
"Everybody has been talking about his height as a disadvantage. To me, I feel like it's an advantage having played against him a little bit now in practices. He also has a high release point and does a good job of extending the play. He might have had only one ball batted down.
"Boy, I tell you what, Russell has been very impressive for a rookie. Anytime you transition to a level up (from college to the NFL in this case), there's a big learning curve. But I was really impressed with the way he hit the ground running. Russell has that 'it'' factor. You can just see it.''
Jackson has some distinguishing characteristics, too. "He's got so much knowledge within the offensive scheme,'' Maragos said. "He knows his stuff and has a good command of the system.''
No one had to remind Maragos of Flynn's background with the Packers and Rodgers.
"You can tell that he's a savvy player,'' he said of Flynn. "He makes throws that are very difficult to defend. He'll drop back and he'll be looking right at the middle safety, seeing what I'm doing.
"Without looking to see where his receiver is, he'll just step, turn and throw -- he'll let it fly trusting his receiver and knowing where he's going to be. He's been taught well in Green Bay.''
Maragos has experienced his own learning curve. That's why this season is so important. "This is when you really start establishing your identity and the type of player you are in the league,'' he said.
"The next couple of years are going to be big in terms of continuing to establish myself and taking advantage of the opportunities I have -- hopefully laying a foundation for the years to come.''
As for the immediate future, Maragos will focus on his football skills camp, July 6-8, in Kenosha.
JJ Watt, DeAndre Levy, Brian Calhoun, Jim Leonhard, John Clay and Luke Swan are among the former Badger athletes who have provided instruction and, perhaps, inspiration.
Maragos, for one, has definitely been inspired by Leonhard, who kept "grinding and grinding'' during his early years in the NFL before finally somebody noticed and gave him a chance.
Maragos seems to have the same survival instincts, and timetable.
"No matter what your role is on the team, you always want more,'' he said.
Right now, the Badgers are four-deep in Seattle: Bevell, Maragos, Wilson and John Moffitt; who started at right offense guard as a rookie before getting injured.
Bevell sounded like he really enjoyed coaching under Carroll. Maragos, for sure, loves playing for him. "Oh, man, coach Carroll is awesome, he's the coolest,'' he said.
What makes him so cool? "He lets you play, he lets you be you,'' he replied, "and the guys play hard for him because they really respect him. He's a player's coach.''
Maragos also loves jabbing him about the UW connection. "I told coach Carroll we're finally starting to get some Wisconsin guys out here,'' he said, "guys who really know how to play football.''
Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt and Bill Nagy arrived together Monday morning for the Legends of Wisconsin Classic golf outing at University Ridge.
That seemed only fitting since the three former UW offensive linemen also "arrived together'' as rookie starters in the National Football League last season.
But that's not where the symmetry ended. Carimi, Moffitt and Nagy each sustained season-ending injuries after earning spots in the starting lineup for their respective teams.
What are the odds of that happening?
"Probably has never happened before and won't happen again,' 'suggested Carimi, a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. Carimi dislocated his kneecap in the second game.
"That was just crazy -- that's the game (of football), though,'' rationalized Nagy, a seventh-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys. Nagy broke his ankle in the fourth game.
"That's a freak thing, isn't it? Probably illuminati or something,'' jested Moffitt, a third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks. Moffitt tore his MCL and PCL, but not his ACL.
At least they had somebody to communicate and commiserate with during their rehabs.
Long distance bonding.
"I talked to those guys once a week,'' Nagy said. "They're some of my best friends.''
"We never really talked about the injuries,'' said Moffitt. "We just got updates.''
Since returning to Madison, "We've been hanging out the last couple of days, too,'' Carimi said.
Their friendship is strong enough to survive just about anything, Moffitt and Carimi ventured.
"We'll always talk,'' Nagy added. "We'll always stay in touch.''
Despite the injury setbacks, each is confident about their NFL future.
"I'm healthy now,'' pronounced Carimi after going through the OTAs and minicamp with the Bears. "It was rough having to sit on the sidelines. It made the season really long.''
But he noted all the rehabbing "has made the off-season really short.''
Carimi was cleared in May to resume full workouts.
"But you're always rehabbing,'' he acknowledged.
As a rookie on the injured list, you're always playing catch-up, too.
"There's a little bit of a detachment,'' Carimi said, "because you would have had a stronger bond with your teammates if you were playing with them the whole time.
"But I felt good about the way I played in the first two games (of the regular season before being injured). Did I answer all the questions? Not really. But it's good to have some success.
"I'm feeling comfortable playing right tackle; I'm feeling good about it.''
Some NFL pundits have contended that the success of Bears offensive line is dependent on Carimi's development and whether he anchors the group.
Does he feel such pressure, such expectations? "I can't say that's 100 percent true,'' he said. "An offensive line is a group of five guys. All of us need to play well.''
Going into the draft, Carimi was projected as a rookie starter. That comes with being the Outland Trophy winner. That was not the case with Nagy, who wasn't even a starter at Wisconsin.
Yet, he won a starting job with the Cowboys.
"It was a crazy process,'' Nagy reflected. "Because of the lockout, you just kind of showed up for training camp. Everything was going so fast you really didn't have time to think or be nervous.
"I think I probably did surprise some people. But I knew that I could do it. If you don't believe that, then you shouldn't be out there.''
Can his storyline serve as inspiration for other players who might have flown under the radar?
"I hope so, I really do,'' he said. "It just kind of shows that if you get an opportunity, it's in your hands. That's the big thing that I learned through the whole process. I just felt so prepared to compete.''
Nagy credited the UW football environment -- namely the rich tradition and history of Badger offensive linemen -- for facilitating a smooth transition to the NFL.
He's now working for a former UW offensive line coach, Bill Callahan, who was on Barry Alvarez' coaching staff in the early '90s and tutored the likes of Joe Panos, Cory Raymer and Joe Rudolph.
"Coach Callahan loved his time in Madison,'' Nagy said. "So we can relate.''
So can Moffitt, who's planning on training here until reporting to training camp.
"I love this place,'' he said."Our O-line tradition is the best in the country.''
The Legends of Wisconsin Classic dinner drew All-Americans like Paul Gruber and Joe Thomas.
Two current UW starters, Travis Frederick and Ryan Groy, took part in the golf outing.
"Groy is the most athletic offensive lineman I've seen here other than Joe Thomas,'' Moffitt said.
The Seahawks didn't draft Moffitt for his footwork as much as they wanted his toughness.
And he didn't disappoint, either.
"It's just crazy how much you can learn about football and how deep you can go into it,'' Moffitt said of his evolution. "You grow as a player; you become more mature as a student of the game.
"The thing is, everyone is so good across from you. Every week you're facing another great player that you have to gear up for; you have to learn him and how to play him.
"In college, there are some really good players. But there might be a few games in-between great players. You might play against Cameron Hayward from Ohio State one week.
"But you might not get another player like him for three or four games.
"In this league (NFL), you're playing against the best guys every week.''
Moffitt admitted that the injury rehab "was painful and it can wear on you mentally.''
But he's ready to prove himself all over again.
In this context, the three friends have arrived together at that same conclusion.
"I'm dying to get back to playing football,'' said Moffitt, speaking for Carimi and Nagy.
College basketball coaches have gotten their wish for more communication and contact with players during the summer. Ru ready 4 this? That includes unlimited texting and calls to recruits.
"I absolutely love it,'' said UW associate head coach Greg Gard. "It allows you to speak directly to the parents or the kids and you don't have to worry about anybody relaying a message.''
"It will help coaches get to know players better, and vice versa, they get to know you better. As long as everybody abides by the parameters, it will be good for college basketball and help the process.''
That would be the recruiting process. In the past, the NCAA limited calls between coaches and recruits to one or two a week. But it was very difficult to monitor and enforce.
"What we've found since the rules went into effect (June 15),'' said Gard, the UW's lead recruiter, "is that it's helpful to have multiple times during the day or the week to access prospects.
"You can have a short conversation and call them back later in the day, or tomorrow, or next week; however you want to do it. Now a dialogue can take place with the kids and parents.''
Besides unlimited texts and calls to prospects who have finished their sophomore year of high school, the NCAA is allowing coaches to send private messages through Facebook and Twitter.
UW head coach Bo Ryan is pragmatic about the changes.
"If a kid doesn't want to take your call, he doesn't take your call,'' Ryan said. "If a kid doesn't want to read your text messages, he doesn't read your text messages.''
Thx but no thx.
"I really would find it hard to coach someone for four years that constantly needed to be texted or tweeted or whatever,'' Ryan opined.
"In recruiting, I'm not looking for people who are so needy that they have to have someone talking to them -- or doing some form of communication -- 25 times a day.
"Be a teenager -- be a teenager.''
Ryan's plea is for kids to be kids.
"It isn't about the next step yet,'' he went on, "but when you're interested in a school, or a school is interested in you, then there are ways to communicate without being obsessive.''
Ryan is more excited about the NCAA allowing "court time'' in the summer. That amounts to two hours a week during the eight-week summer school session. Players must be enrolled to practice.
The Badgers held their first two-hour workout last Tuesday. Some coaches have elected to split up the time and hold two one-hour practices or three 40-minute practices per week.
Because of class schedules, Ryan said the two-hour window worked the best.
"We did a lot of competitive drills,'' Ryan said of the first workout. "I've already started to break that one down and some things we want to emphasize in the next one.
"We used it (the first practice) to get a little better idea of where the guys are -- those filling positions where you have guys graduating -- and who's stepping up in different areas competitively.
"You see, this is all we ever wanted as coaches, to have some kind of contact and be around our kids in the summer while they were playing; even if it was just to watch pick-up games.
"The fact that we can be on the court with them (two hours a week) is even better because now we can help them through some different situations.''
The old rules frustrated coaches who were left in the dark; out of the loop, if you will. "Unless our guys were working our summer camp, we didn't have any direct contact,'' Gard said.
There are just so many benefits to the NCAA relaxing those standards, he added, not the least of which is helping build more lasting relationships between the athletes and the coaches.
"It's not only good from the instruction and teaching standpoint on the court,'' Gard said, "but it also gives you more contact; such as helping the younger guys (freshmen) in their transition to college.''
That would be to the benefit of UW freshmen Zak Showalter and Sam Dekker, who was a member of the USA under-18 national team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in Brazil.
"We're talking about two very talented and extremely competitive players who grew up being huge Badger fans and have worked extremely hard to put themselves in this position,'' Gard said.
"Anything they've gotten so far as high school players -- or will get down the road as college players -- will be because of their work ethic and the fact that they've both earned it.''
That would be the operative word in Ryan's vocabulary -- earn.
"There's never an excuse for not getting better (over the summer) whether we're teaching them on the court or not,'' Ryan said of a player's implied commitment to out-of-season development.
"We give them things -- the breakdown drills -- which they can work on.
"But this gives coaches a better understanding of the competitive level of the incoming guys and if there's been improvement since April with the returning guys; strength-wise and everything else.
"Still, they're going to have to do a lot if it on their own because two hours is nothing. Good players spent a heckuva a lot more time than two hours a week working on their game in the summer.''
Yet, he fully endorses the NCAA changes; the additional contact which adds up to eight hours a week (two on the court and six for weight-lifting and conditioning) while attending summer school.
"It's an historical period,'' Ryan said, "because basketball coaches have been fighting for this for a long time. (UW men's hockey coach) Mike Eaves asked me how we went about it.
"I just said, 'You have to keep knocking on the door,' because I can see other sports wanting to do this also. It just so happens in our sport we've been clamoring for it a longer period of time.
"If we have more contact with our players, it means that they're not running around with some of these third parties and runners and other people telling them things they don't need to be hearing.''
By Anna Poulter-Hendrickson on June 22, 2012 11:11 AM
In today's blog, head coach Yvette Healy shares her speech from the Goodman Softball Training Center ground breaking on June 21, 2012.
They say true happiness in life comes from being a part of something bigger than yourself, from dedicating yourself to a greater cause and building a legacy that will extend beyond your years. Thank you to everyone in the Wisconsin softball family gathered here today to build not only a new indoor softball facility, but ultimately to build the Badger softball program into a national powerhouse.
What an honor it is to be here today with Randy Schneider and Tracie Adix of our coaching staff, and so many of our Wisconsin student-athletes to celebrate this groundbreaking
We want to extend a special thank you to EG Schramka and the Goodman Foundation for their lead gift and ongoing support of the Goodman softball complex and the new Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Softball Training Center. And to all of the softball alumni, family and friends who have donated their time and money to make this dream project possible.
Thank you to coach Alvarez, Terry Gawlik, Marija Pientka and all the senior staff in the UW Athletics department for their outstanding commitment to women's athletics.
People say it takes a village to raise child, or build a championship program, and after coaching the Badger softball team for the past two years, we know that's true. We are committed to growing Wisconsin softball into a nationally-ranked, NCAA tournament team that competes for a Big Ten championship each year, and a big part of that journey starts today.
We are extremely proud of the strides we've made as a program over the past two years, posting back-to-back 30 win seasons, tying a record for the most wins in school history and earning the most Big Ten wins in a season this year. Yet, we still have a lot of work to do. We know to take this program to the next level, it will take year-round commitment from our student-athletes, state of the art facilities and blue chip recruiting. The addition of the Goodman Softball Training Center will give us a new competitive advantage on all of these fronts.
I've always thought Goodman stadium had one of the most beautiful locations in the country. When you can combine a world-renowned academic degree with nationally ranked athletics, you have something special. The scenery of this beautiful lakefront view coupled with this new state of the state of the art indoor space will now make the of the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Softball Training Center one of the premiere softball stadiums in the Big Ten and the country.
Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.
In just three years, Justin Schultz has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, cementing his spot among the best defensemen ever to play hockey for Wisconsin.
Atop the list of "firsts" for the junior is becoming the first player in UW history to be named a two-time Hobey Baker Memorial Award top-10 finalist. The Hobey Baker Award is given annually to the top player in collegiate hockey.
The West Kelowna, British Columbia, native is the only defenseman in team history to lead his team in goals, scoring 16 in 2011-12. Schultz also not only led his team, but he also ranked No. 1 nationally among defenseman in goals and points in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
He was recognized by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, becoming the school's first and conference's third player to be named a two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year.
Schultz also led the Badgers this season with 110 shots, a plus-11 rating (on a team that scored three more goals than its opponents), and one game-tying goal. He shared the team lead with seven power-play tallies and two game-winning scores.
A 2008 second-round NHL draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks (43rd overall), he has totaled 40 goals, 73 assists and 113 points, including 21 power-play goals and five game-winning scores, in his career. Schultz has also collected 28 multi-point games across three years with the Badgers.
Over the course of two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.
Mohammed Ahmed's return to the track turned out to be an introduction to the world stage.
After redshirting the indoor season following an outstanding cross country campaign that saw him win the Big Ten title and earn All-America honors with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA championship, Ahmed had set his sights on taking a run at the automatic qualifying standard for the Olympic Games in the 10,000 meters.
He planned on giving himself one chance to hit that mark, at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational on April 29 in Palo Alto, Calif. Turns out, all Ahmed needed was that one shot.
The St. Catharines, Ontario, native clocked in at 27 minutes, 34.64 seconds to not only achieve the Olympic "A" standard but also smash the 36-year-old Big Ten record in the event.
Ahmed's time stood as the No. 6 mark in the world for several weeks.
The performance also helped propel Ahmed to a Big Ten title in the 5000 meters two weeks later as he boosted the Badgers to the conference team title. He also scored All-America honors in the 5000 with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA outdoor championships.
Now, all that stands between Ahmed and a spot on his native Canada's team for the Olympics in London is a top-three finish at next week's 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in Calgary.
Over the next two weeks, UW Athletics will look back on the Badgers' biggest accomplishments during the 2011-12 season. The first week (June 18-22) highlights the top five individual achievements, with team accomplishments highlighted June 25-29.
For the third time in four years, a Badger walked away with the top prize in women's collegiate hockey.
Junior forward Brianna Decker became the fourth member of the Wisconsin women's hockey team to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award when she was presented the trophy on March 17.
That presentation came on the eve of the Badgers' appearance in the championship game of the 2012 NCAA Women's Frozen Four, the culmination of a postseason run fueled by Decker's play.
The Dousman, Wis., native joined former Badgers Sara Bauer (2006), Jessie Vetter (2009) and Meghan Duggan (2011) as a Kazmaier Award winner.
The 2012 WCHA Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection, Decker led the nation with 37 goals and tied for the national scoring lead with 82 points. During a school-record scoring streak of 32 consecutive games that ended 22 games into the season, Decker totaled 33 goals and 44 assists.
With one season of eligibility remaining, she already ranks No. 4 all-time at UW with 189 career points.
UW men's hockey assistant coach Gary Shuchuk is hoping that Davis Drewiske, a former Badger captain, will be treated like a King, a Los Angeles King, a Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles King.
"As of right now,'' Shuchuk said, "it's a shame to be a part of a franchise and when they finally do win the Stanley Cup knowing that you're not going to get your name on that Cup.'
Shuchuk, a former King, understands that the Los Angeles organization would have to tweak the protocol because Drewiske didn't play in enough games to qualify for having his name on the Cup.
Drewiske, 27, skated in just nine games overall for the Kings this season and didn't see any action in the finals against the New Jersey Devils. His last actual game appearance was in December.
"He waited for his call,'' Shuchuk said.
And it never came whether through injury or coach's decision.
Sporting his No. 44 sweater, Drewiske still celebrated on the ice Monday night with his teammates following the Kings' first Stanley Cup-clinching win in franchise history, dating back to 1967.
"I hope the Kings are able to do something to get his name on the Cup,'' Shuchuk went on. "I got to know Davis and he's a great young man and leader. When he wasn't playing, he never asked for a trade, never complained. He went to the weight room and to practice and he waited for that call.
"They brought up another kid from the minors and Davis didn't get his chance. That's just the business. But he was a part of the organization; probably a big part of the scout team against the Devils; so he helped make those guys better in practice and had something to do with winning the Cup.
"Davis is going to get a big, beautiful huge ring that he's never going to wear because they're so massive and gaudy. I just hope the Kings can do something to get his name on the Cup. Talk to some of the guys who have done it, like Adam Burish (another former UW captain). It means a lot.''
Why is it so important to be formally recognized on the Stanley Cup? "There's the mystique of the Cup,'' Shuchuk emphasized. "There's all that history and when you have your name on the Cup you become a part of that history, and they can never take that away from you.''
Have you ever heard anyone ever talking about the Lombardi Trophy in the same reverent tones, he then asked rhetorically. "I don't even know what they call the baseball trophy,'' he added. "But when I was growing up in Canada (Edmonton) all I wanted to do was get my name on the Cup.''
Shuchuk came close in 1993 as a member of the Wayne Gretzky-led Kings that lost in five games to Montreal in the Stanley Cup finals. Shuchuk had an impact on the post-season run by scoring the game-winning goal in double-overtime against Vancouver in Game 5 of the Smythe Division finals.
Not that he remembers the specifics.
"Midway through the first period, I was coming through the middle of the ice and Gerald Diduck laid me out with an elbow to the jaw,'' Shuchuk said of the Canucks' 225-pound defenseman.
"I came out of the game and I didn't know what hit me.
"They gave me some smelling salts on the bench and when our coach, Barry Melrose, came over and asked, 'Are you OK?' I said, 'I'm ready.' I'm not going to lie, I was real foggy.
"I played the rest of the game and I can remember being out there (for the overtimes). It wasn't like I totally blacked out or anything like that.
"But when I got interviewed afterward on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), I had to look at the teleprompter to see how I had scored because I honestly didn't know what happened.''
Shuchuk, now 45, has never forgotten the friendships that he made with those Kings.
He's still very close with Melrose, an ESPN analyst; and Tony Granato, a former UW center and NHL assistant. Occasionally, he'll cross paths with his old roommate, Mike Donnelly, a Kings scout.
"The hockey world is so small that I still get to see some of my ex-teammates,'' he said, listing Kelly Hrudey, Charlie Huddy, Corey Millen and Rob Blake, among others.
During his four seasons in Los Angeles, Shuchuk and his wife Michelle got to be friends with actor Ted McGinley and his wife Gigi, who's also an actress.
Among his roles, McGinley was Roger Phillips, the gym teacher, in the "Happy Days'' sit-com. Later, he was Jefferson D'Arcy in "Married ... with Children'' and Charley Shanowski in "Hope and Faith.''
"I'd get him tickets to the Kings and we'd go to the tapings of Married ... with Children,''' Shuchuk said. "We keep in contact all the time through our kid's graduation and birthdays.''
Shuchuk is still loyal to the Kings.
"I've always had a special place in my heart for them,'' he said. "I lived in Los Angeles. My son was born there. It was a special time in my life and I still feel like I'm a part of the organization.''
He was delighted to see Kings announcer Bob Miller, a Hall of Famer, finally get a chance to hoist the Cup. Miller was the original voice of Badger Hockey before relocating to the West Coast.
"Over the last 19 years,'' Shuchuk said, "I've always cheered for the Kings.''
One of his many acquaintances during his playing days was the late John Candy, a Canadian actor and comedian. Prior to the '93 finals, Candy gave each of the players a bottle of champagne to toast winning the Stanley Cup. Shuchuk still has his unopened bottle.
"It came from a special person and it means a lot to me,'' he said.
Resisting the temptation to pop the cork after Monday's game, Shuchuk said that he plans on not opening the champagne "until the time is just right ... maybe when we win in Pittsburgh, I'll crack it open then.'' Pittsburgh is the site of the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four.
After last month's announcement of the 2012 induction class for the College Football Hall of Fame -- a collection of 17 former players and coaches -- there were a number of passionate and persuasive arguments made for those individuals who had been "snubbed'' by the selection committee.
At the top of nearly everyone's list was Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier, who put the Cornhuskers in a position to win three straight national championships. As it was, he "settled" for two NCAA rings ('94-95); twice winning the MVP award in the Orange Bowl, and once in the Fiesta Bowl.
Overcoming a series of injuries, Frazier was Tebow-esque in his final appearance as a collegian. While completing just 6-of-14 passes for 105 yards, he rushed for 199 in Nebraska's convincing dismantling of a Florida team coached by Steve Spurrier. The final score was 62-24.
Despite his pedigree as a champion, Frazier hasn't scored with the Hall of Fame voters yet.
Neither has former UW nose guard Tim Krumrie, a two-time All-American (1981-82).
Krumrie was one of 20 former Big Ten players on the 2012 ballot, which featured 76 names overall, including Purdue running back Otis Armstrong, who played in the early '70s and made the final cut. Besides Frazier and Krumrie, Ohio State fullback Jim Otis came up short in the voting process.
Nose guard and fullback are not sexy positions to anyone's thinking.
That might be one of the elements conspiring against Krumrie and Otis.
Yet in spite of playing in the middle of such gridlock -- in the heart of the trenches -- Krumrie put up numbers worthy of Hall of Fame linebackers and safeties. Krumrie, a three-time first-team All-Big Ten performer, finished his Badger career with 444 tackles, third best in school history.
That's a Hall of Fame area code, regardless of position, but especially for a nose guard. By comparison, Kansas State linebacker Mark Simoneau, a member of the 2012 class, had 400 career tackles. This is not an indictment of Simoneau, but an endorsement of Krumrie. Both are deserving.
That's the number of solo tackles Krumrie had during his UW career -- 25 more than Simoneau. Keep in mind, we're talking about unassisted tackles, solos. Krumrie had 276. That figure alone would rank him among Wisconsin's top 25 all-time tacklers, just ahead of Don Davey, who 267 tackles overall.
It's apparent Krumrie will have to wait his turn to be recognized by the College Football Hall of Fame. He's not alone. But hopefully he will not be penalized for being a nose guard who merely went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL during which he led the Cincinnati Bengals in tackles five times.
Upon being inducted in the UW Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, Krumrie acknowledged, "This is one of those things that you don't target or set as a goal. But if everything else falls into place and you have a good career, these things will come afterward.
"When I first came to Wisconsin, I was just trying to make the special teams, then trying to make the travel squad, then trying to be a starter. And from the start, I played every down, every day.
"Did I have all the special tools? No. But I always wanted to be known as a guy who always played hard, always gave his best and always played every snap.''
Let's not forget that, either. Nor him the next time that his name is on the ballot.
As the Wisconsin football team opens summer conditioning this week, they are doing so in an entirely new environment. While Camp Randall Stadium was built in 1917, the headquarters of the Badger football players for the next year are brand new.
Construction has begun on the Student Athlete Performance Center at the north end of the stadium, the McClain Center is being remodeled, and new turf is being installed at Camp Randall. A temporary locker room, weight room and auxiliary areas will be used by players and staff for the next 14 months as every Badger student-athlete gets upgraded spaces.
On the second floor of the stadium's northeast end are new locker rooms for players and coaches. The area previously housed women's soccer, softball, staff locker rooms and athletic training offices. The space also housed the football locker rooms before the McClain Center was built in 1988.
After several months of renovations, the new space is the temporary home for the Badgers until the McClain Center renovations are complete. The locker room area is separated into four smaller spaces, which after the football team leaves will be converted into isolated areas for several other teams.
The Badgers also have a new weight room, located under the stands in sections M-P. That area also houses an athletic training room and equipment room. All three departments were displaced with the renovation of the McClain Center. When construction is complete, the athletic training and equipment staff will move back to McClain, while the weight room will expand into the Student Athlete Performance Center.
In the McClain Center, a new roof is being installed in addition to new turf. Outside the facility, a new exterior will greet fans along an improved pedestrian walkway spanning from the Camp Randall Arch to Breese Terrace.
The soccer, track and softball teams lost their locker rooms temporarily. They all have taken up residence in auxiliary locker rooms under Camp Randall's south stands, where there are several locker rooms used for events at the UW Field House and WIAA state championship football. After construction is complete, they will move back to new locker rooms either in the McClain Center or the second floor of Camp Randall.
The final piece of the relocation puzzle is the Student Athlete Performance Center, which will be the new home to the Academic Services. Every student-athlete will benefit from expanded space and meeting rooms within a new Fetzer Academic Center.
Construction is scheduled to be completed on the entire project in late 2013.
10:50 a.m. Badgers' multi-event entries multiply It's a busy day for Wisconsin's multi-event groups as the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships continue Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Senior David Grzeisak and sophomore Japheth Cato look to carry some momentum over from a strong first day of competition in the decathlon when the final five events begin at 11:30 a.m. (CT) with the 110 hurdles.
Cato enters the day 10th in the standings at 3,920 points, while Grzesiak is 11th at 3,914.
On the women's side, UW's trio of senior Jessica Flax, junior Dorcas Akinniyi and sophomore Deanna Latham open the heptathlon with the 100 hurdles at 1 p.m. They make Wisconsin the first program to advance three athletes to the NCAA championships in the heptathlon since 2001.
Also Thursday, junior Rob Finnerty runs as the top seed in the semifinals of the men's 1500 meters at 6:15 p.m., while junior Caitlin Comfort also makes her NCAA championships debut in the women's 10,000 meters at 8:45 p.m.