Some honorable mentions from the Alvarez Era (given my age, that's what I'm competent to recall):
#1 Luke Swan (no argument with Brandon Williams): the Fennimore Flash didn't have the God-given talent that Williams did, but had the heart of a lion.
#2 Lee Deramus: Jamar Fletcher is the right pick here, but Deramus was a key cog in a hard-working team that brought the first Rose Bowl glory to Mad-town. Brian Calhoun would receive more votes if he had stuck around for one more year. Scott Starks had one of the great all-time Badger plays, returning Drew Brees's fumble for a touchdown to beat Purdue, vaulting UW to #4 in the nation (for a week or two).
#6 (pending) Isaac Anderson looks like he could be a great one. Better than Ike? That's a high bar, but I like what I see so far.
#9 Jonathan Orr: vs. Beckum? Tough call, I think. Two great ones.
#10 Taylor Mehlhaff: better than Samuel? No, but very important to the Badgers during his tenure.
#11 Darrell Bevell: 1993. 'Nuf said. Owen Daniels wasn't too bad, either. Either more important to the Badgers than their first black All-American (two times, too)? Probably not.
#14 John Hall or Kevin Stemke: apparently 14 is a [really good] kicker's number at UW.
#28 Anthony Davis: after his Freshman season, you always felt like there was a little more potential than he ever realized.
#29 Jeff Messenger: not at the front of the talent line, but a leader for the tough secondary for the '93 team.
#30 Zach Brown (also pending): I'm looking forward to seeing Clay and Brown as the two backs sharing most of the time. If he gets the snaps, he should take over the all-time #30 spot.
#33 Brent Moss: 1994 Rose Bowl MVP. "A tough out" as they say. A shame how his career went down, but before Fall 1994, he was as beastly a back as the Badgers had since Ameche and would've been a serious Heisman contender.
#39 PJ Hill: the Cap. Times limited this to players without any eligibility, surely PJ will take this spot when he leaves? I don't know. I've never been sold on him, and I'm still not.
#41 Terrell Fletcher: one of the better backs we've placed in the NFL; Chryst would drool all over a back like him. And he played second fiddle to Moss. Also at #41 Mark Zalewski: typifies the Wisconsin football story.
#44 Chris Pressley: for his academic exploits, but Donnel Thompson was a critical cog of those 98-99 teams, so academics alone don't get Chris there.
#45 Matt Berstein: beast of a fullback, but hard to say better than Greisen and his 7-year (and counting) NFL career.
#47 Eric Unverzagt: a staple for the '93 team, and an all-time linebacker name. Better than a 1937 first round pick for the Packers? Who knows.
Most of the lineman I recall made the list, but #67 Dan Buenning and #68 Mark Tauscher are notable exceptions on the offensive side. Two stick out on the defensive side (below).
#77 Anttaj Hawthorne: beastly defensive tackle. Difference between him and Wendell Bryant is Bryant played on a better Badger team.
#82 Elmars Ezerins: made some key plays in the 1963 Rose Bowl comeback including a fumble recovery that led to a touchdown; nearly blocked the USC punt at the end to give Wisconsin a chance to win. Besides, he's a friend's dad.
#88 Chris Chambers: didn't run great routes, but scored great touchdowns . . . and still does. Obviously can't beat out Pat Richter, but one of the better big-play threats we've had since I've been paying attention.
#89 (pending) Garrett Graham: a shoe-in; another in a recent line of great tight ends.
#90 Erasmus James: nasty at end; but for a nasty Gopher cut block, the 2004 sqaud might (and I stress "might") have made the Rose Bowl.
It was a strange game to watch. You read the box score and the Noles crushed the Badgers. They did. But it never felt that way until the second fumble return for a touchdown, and that was to start the 4th quarter.
At the half, I actually felt pretty good. The defense shut down the Noles, save for the last 33 seconds of the half, where they seemed to play like the half was already over. Ponder was nearly broken from hits he sustained from our line and linebackers. Sure, it was 14-3, FSU, but 7 of those points came from a flukey 75-yard bad screen-pass turned fumble recovery going the other way for a score on what had been a very promising drive. Another good drive ended in a field goal (to make it 7-3). So all in all, not that bad.
The second half started well, with a solid drive to kick another field goal making it 14-6, a one-score game (I might have gone for it on 4th and 2 the way we had run the ball), but taking the points was reasonable, probably the better decision). FSU's first series of the half, Valai forces a fumble, recovering it on the Noles' 22-yard line. Now we're in business. Or not. The fumble recovery is overturned. Tough for me to say that was the right call, but it was understandable, and being a Badger fan, of course I didn't like it. It was probably the right call. Then the Badgers surrender 22 yards on a 3rd and 19, and after a nearly 8 minute drive, FSU scores to go up 21-6. Still, the Badgers have had three very good drives out of the last four.
A big run from Sherer, and the Badgers are back in business. From FSU's 31, Hill drives up the middle for 6 yards, churning, twisting, turning, dragging players, . . . fumbling. Ok, down 15 points and driving, we really needed that, but the defense played so well in the first half and again forces a three-and-out. Except that Nzegwu was called for roughing the kicker on the punt -- without even touching the kicker. Bizarre. Still, doesn't excuse giving up the ensuing drive for a touchdown.
Now it's 28-6, and with only 18 seconds left in the quarter, it's looking a little desparate, despite the Badgers not looking that bad. We need points and execution the rest of the way. A big play, another 15-yard personal foul against FSU, and the Badgers are back in business at the Noles' 41. Sherer drops back, feels pressure, gets hit, fumbles, FSU recovers and . . . returns it for a touchdown. Game Over.
From then on, everyone plays like it's over. The offense goes three and out, the special teams give up a 17-yard punt return, and the defense allows a 41-yard scoring drive. At 42-6, in come all the reserves. The Badgers add a late touchdown against FSU's scrubs, and there it ends, 42-13.
I don't know that there was a single turning point, but if I had to pick one it was Valai's non-fumble recovery. To that point the defense played well. Afterwards? Not so much. But the Badgers were still in it, even after another fumble inside the Noles' 30, when the non-penalty against Nzegwu gave FSU another chance on their subsequent drive. Even then, we had a chance. Sherer's fumble ended the chance.
By the way, the ESPN announcing was really, really, really bad. Paul McGuire is awful, and Nestler and Griese are justifiably relegated to 4th tier status by the "World Wide Leader." Just awful.
So? Does this one go in the ever growing list of Bielema coached games with ugly second halves despite quality starts? Probably. Bielema didn't give up the turnovers and it was the defense, not Bielema, that gave up the plays allowing the long touchdown drives in the 3rd quarter after what seemed like stops. But it was Bielema's coaching.
Disappointing. Not really that we lost; it was that kind of a season. More that a game we could have won ended so ugly.
Disappointing that the senior-led defense wasn't more resilient when things didn't go their way. Disappointing to have three very costly fumbles and not get any turnovers the other way. Disappointing to dominate the run game the way we did and not come away with a touchdown until garbage time against FSU's scrubs. Disappointing that we got blown out, and that people reading the box score will think we were outclassed from the opening kick-off.
Thud. 2008 is over.
#44 Chris Pressley, Woodbury, New Jersey
Bielema joked at the Champs Sports Bowl presser that while our scout team can’t match FSU’s athleticism, he doubts the Noles scout team can replicate a 280-pound fullback. Introducing . . . Chris Pressley. Chris is a lineman’s kind of fullback. He only had two carries all year, but that’s not why he’s here; he’s a road-grader. Scratch that, he’s a very smart road-grader. Chris graduated last year as an academic all-Big Ten, and is keeping that up, with a perfect 4.0 in grad school, leading the way for the Badgers through the hole and in the classroom.
#34 Bill Rentmeester, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Our other hulking fifth-year Senior fullback, Bill also excels on special teams. He doesn’t carry the ball often (11 carries for 52 yards this season), but iced the Fresno State game with a key, leg-churning, draw play to pick up a first down in the waning moments deep in Wisconsin territory. His five tackles and key blocks for the kicking units have earned the attention of NFL scouts. Bill and Chris have been a great tandem of fullbacks and will be tough to replace next season.
#9 Travis Beckum, Milwuakee, Wisconsin
Came in as a 5-star recruit on the defensive line. A reserve linebacker and special teams player his true-freshman year, he, along with fellow reserve linebacker Andy Crooks, was switched to tight end his sophomore year. He immediately made a difference and was noticed as a semi-finalist for the Mackey Award (nation’s top tight end), and a Walter Camp second-team All American. In a 12-1 season that started with serious question marks regarding who on earth Senior John Stocco could throw the ball too, he quickly became the go-to guy. His signature drag route across the middle was nearly uncoverable and Stocco found him on it to seal the Capital One Bowl win over Arkansas. His Junior year, he continued to impress. He was a finalist for the Mackey Award and named a Walter Camp first team All-American. He led the nation’s tight ends in receiving yards and broke the record for catches by a Badger tight end. 2008 was largely a bust as he was hurt in the preseason and saw limited action before breaking his lower leg.
Outside of Travis, the Badger offense lacked star power throughout his time, but Travis was truly special. Big, fast, and sure-handed, he was the perfect weapon in a Paul Chryst offense and will likely be the best remembered player of the 2008 senior class.
Good luck to Chris and Bill as they take on the Noles, and good luck to all of them in whatever they do next, whether it's playing on Sundays or something else.
Audio of the interview of Joe after the Pro Bowl announcement here.
"I'd give this up anyday to be on a team that is winning 10 games and being in the playoffs . . ."
#49 Ryan Flasch, Germantown, Wisconsin
After redshirting at UNLV in 2004, Ryan transferred back to UW, but sustained a leg injury in camp, and missed the first season he was eligible for in 2006. Primarily a special teams player, most fans probably aren’t used to calling his name, but the Wisconsin faithful have a soft spot for the local boys who make good, and Ryan qualifies. This fan particularly appreciates student-athletes, and Ryan was one of this season’s Academic All-Big Ten honorees.
#48 Joshua Neal, Nashville, Tennessee
Like Ryan Flasch, Neal was primarily a special teams player and reserve linebacker through his time in the Badger uniform. He also assisted as a back-up fullback in 2006 when the team needed it due to injury problems. His name doesn’t roll off Badger fans’ lips, but his willingness to do what the team needed is the hallmark of a good teammate.
#4 Allan Evridge, Papillon, Nebraska
Originally recruited by Bielema at Kansas State, he played quarterback there as a true-freshman, but transferred to Wisconsin his junior year. Sitting out Stocco’s senior year, many (yours truly, for instance) thought he would be the next Badger starter. Perhaps due to an off-season injury, Tyler Donovan held him off to get the nod at starter last season. I’m sure he’s disappointed with how this season went for him, and probably he received too much of the blame for the losses against Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. Probably not well-suited to the Paul Chryst offense, it just never quite worked the way he and his admirers expected for him in Madison. But he’s a tough kid, a good student, and he played hard for the Badgers.
Offensive MVP: Garrett Graham. It's no surprise that a tight end would excel in Chryst's system, but this season Garrett proved he doesn't take a backseat to anyone. Second on the team in receiving yards, and first in receiving touchdowns, Graham was the go-to guy all season.
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: No surprise, John Clay. The kid can ball. Another spring and fall of learnin' and this kid should be a star. He may be the closest Badger to an everydown NFL back in a long time.
Offensive Pleasant Surprise of the Year: Isaac Anderson. Finally healthy, if we have a quarterback that can get him the ball, this kid looks very nice.
Defensive MVP: Allen Langford. Coming off a season-ending ACL, Langford put together his best season as a Badger, led the team in pass-break-ups, and was second among the secondary in tackles. One of two Badgers named first-team all-Big Ten (Graham is the other). DeAndre Levy gets honorable mention.
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: O'Brien Schofield. A linebacker-turned undersized defensive end, O'Brien led the team in sacks and was second in tackles for loss (.5 behind the leader). The defensive line will be a concern next season, but it looks like at least one end is in good shape.
Defensive Pleasant Surprise of the Year: with some healthy competition from Chris Maragos, it's Jaevery McFadden. Coming in as the rookie middlelinebacker, starting the year with a broken hand, he lead the team in tackles, and it wasn't close. The linebacking corps wasn't all we had hoped -- heck, the defense wasn't all that we'd hoped -- but Jaevery did his part.
Special Teams Player of the Year: Philip Welch. 18 of 22, only one miss inside 44 yards, and a season long of 52 (4th longest in Badger history). 38 of 39 on PATs. Not bad for a Freshman.
Unsung Hero Award: Zach Brown. The second best running back on the team (with the ball), he's the most versatile in the backfield. Clay should be the everydown back, but Brown should spell him, and take the obvious passing situations.
Graduating Senior I'll Miss Most: Travis Beckum. This year didn't go the way he (or the fans) wanted for him or the team, but he's been a joy to watch and cheer for. We're all looking forward to a speedy recovery and seeing what he can do on Sundays.
12/15 Weekend Update: here are the awards the team gave Friday night (with several familiar names)
#75 Andy Kemp, Menasha, Wisconsin
When they talk about the big uglies from Wisconsin, they’re talking about guys like left guard Andy Kemp. A three-year starter up front for the Badgers, he’s also a three-year Academic All-Big Ten honoree. A consistent grinder of the kind the Badgers are now famous for, Andy is an unsung star.
#63 Kraig Urbik, Hudson, Wisconsin
At 332 pounds, right guard Urbik is the biggest of the big up front for the Badgers. A four-year starter, he kicked off his career as a second-team Freshman All-American after his redshirt year. Kraig finished this year a second-team all-Big Ten pick. ESPN's Ivan Maisel named Urbik an All-American in 2008.
#71 Eric Vanden Heuvel, Hudson, Wisconsin
Like Kemp, a three-year starter, but at right tackle. In addition to academic all-Big Ten honors, he was twice, including 2008, an honorable mention all-Big Ten lineman.
And I bet you haven't been thinking about . . .
#81 Dave Peck, Media, Pennsylvania
A three-year starter you can’t remember: Dave has been the team’s long-snapper for the place-kickers. Like the other lineman, he doesn’t get his own stats, but when the kicker is 38 of 39 on PATs and 18 of 22 on field goals (only one miss inside 44 yards), the snapper is doing the right thing.
Thanks guys! Enjoy Orlando, get after the Noles, and good luck post-Camp Randall, whether it's playing football on Sundays, or something that's easier on your body.
Bret started out by mentioning that they're back . . . again . . . in Florida.
Bobby is old and his comments about the first time FSU played a bowl in Orlando remind everyone that the Noles were a nothing before he got there.
Bret: good athletes at FSU. Story will be big strong Wisconsin vs. speedy Florida State, but we have Florida athletes, too. It's hard for our scout teams to mimic FSU because of the talent disparity. Players looking forward to game: great character in comebacks, despite disappointment at MSU towards the end.
Jimbo Fischer runs the FSU offense, and he will be the next FSU head man. Period.
Bowden put a good spin on the opportunity to play someone new, versus playing Miami or Florida twice.
Bret takes accidental swipe at Bobby's age. Talks about how much fun it is to watch the sport when you don't care who wins. He doesn't have the reference point that Bowden does; "the first question was about a bowl 33 years ago and I'm only 38, so . . ."
Bowden, Paterno, these are names of legends that Bret is a little starstruck by. Bobby appears amused.
Bielema isn't concerned about the Big Ten's rep. His first year they proved it against Arkansas, last season we beat Michigan who in turn beat Florida. The Big Ten is doing just fine.
8-4, 5-3 ACC. What's that mean? For one, they beat one decent non-conference opponent (Colorado, at home) and got the snot kicked out them when Florida visited Talahasee. Not too much shame there - the Gators would crush the Badgers, too. They feasted on Western Carolina and Chattanooga, and while outsiders might point to our close call with Cal Poly, I'd bet Cal Poly would feast on Western Carolina and Chattanooga, too.
So, 5-3 in the ACC. The ACC is a funny conference this season. Despite 80s and 90s powers, Miami, Florida State, and VaTech (not to mention consistently very good Boston College), the ACC just doesn't have a national title caliber team this year. What it does have, though, is a bunch of solid teams. A whole bunch. Ten of twelve are going bowling, and looking at their records against each other, every one of them is good one day, but suspect the next. The difference between 6-6 North Carolina State (PapaJohns.com Bowl), and 8-4 Virginia Tech (Orange Bowl) just isn't that big. FSU falls somewhere right in between (one Boston College loss from playing VaTech again in the ACC championship game).
The Noles even have a win over the aforementioned Orange Bowl-bound Hokies. Their three conference losses, not unlike the Badgers' five (good God, was it really 5!?!) conference losses are forgivable: Wake Forest (ok, that one sounds bad, but Wake is pretty good), Georgia Tech (who just beat pre-season #1 Georgia), and Boston College (loser of the ACC championship game). In addition to beating the Hokies, they had solid wins over Miami, Clemson, Maryland.
In short, Florida State is a solid, but not spectacular team. The Badgers will need a strong effort to beat them on what is basically their home turf.
More to come . . .
Speaking of the Big XII, does anyone care at all about the championship game (aside from Texas fans)? Seriously, we get to watch Oklahoma torch Missouri again? Oh, and #17 (9-3) Boston College playing #25 (8-4) Virginia Tech for the ACC championship (and the right to play Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl)? Someone hold me back, it's too much excitement to handle all in one week . . . yawn.
Actually, I like the ACC this year: very competitive conference, with no real standout. It makes for fun football, but not championship/BCS Bowl level football.
Speaking of conference evaluations, can anyone really say one conference is that much better than the rest? The ACC wins the depth award. 10 of 12 teams bowl eligible. Each of those 10 can reach out and bite someone on any given Saturday.
The SEC? Florida looks really good, but what's their defense like? Alabama? Who have they really beaten? LSU? Georgia? I like the Tide this season, and think they will give Florida a good fight, but their resume just isn't that impressive. Georgia is down (see loss to Georgia Tech), Tennessee is WAY down, Auburn is down, LSU is down, heck, even South Carolina is down relative to where they should be, which isn't that impressive. Kentucky and Vanderbilt? Please. Mississippi is up, so that's one.
The Big East? Don't get me started.
The Pac-10? USC is very, very good on defense, and their offense is better than you think. Still, the loss to Oregon State looks bad because, well, Oregon State just isn't that good. Neither is Oregon, Cal, or Arizona.
The Big Ten? Are we down because Michigan isn't any good? USC better not sleep on Penn State, but there's a reason the Rose Bowl isn't generating much hype. Ohio State? USC did destroy them (only a 3-point difference from USC's embarassment of Notre Dame). Michigan State, Iowa, and Northwestern, and heck, throw in our Badgers for kicks, are all good on the right day and poor on the wrong one (obviously that's a sliding scale).
So, back to the Big XII. Really? Do they play any defense down there? Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech make up the deepest bench of top-tier teams right now . . . I think. But I'm not at all sure their defenses are very good. Missouri is ok, but not great, same for Oklahoma State. So, yeah, I'll go ahead with conventional wisdom that the Big XII is the best (at the top) right now, but I won't be surprised if those high flying offenses get shut down come bowl season.
It brings me back to how conference comparisons are just pretty lame. They're all playing football and they all have good, mediocre, and bad teams.
By the way, what happened to Fresno State and Texas A&M?
This Saturday is the last chance for Ty Willingham to get a win at U-Dub this season. Without a monumental upset of Cal, the State of Washington won't have a single D-1 (FBS) win other than against itself (Wazzu over U-Dub in overtime). Ouch.
Last, but not least: Auburn. How do they justify firing one of their winningest coaches ever, with a 6-1 record against their most hated rival over the last seven years, who unbeaten and mere subjective sports writers' opinions away from a national title within the last five years? DUMB. Karma should relegate them to the SEC cellar for the next 20 years. And Syracuse's AD should be all over Tubberville like stink on stink.
Both games will offer good opponents for us: Champs Sports will offer a flawed ACC foe (aren't they all?), whereas the Insight likely offers a flawed Big XII foe (we, of course, are a flawed Big Ten offering).
Prestige? Seriously, we're going to evaluate prestige between two third-tier bowls? I'm not buying that Champs is that much better than the Insight. It pays more, but the money is shared in the Big Ten pot anyway (and after travel expenses, there won't be much leftover from either game), so it makes no actual difference to UW's program.
I'm not traveling and I get both the NFL Network and ESPN, so I'll watch either game, but Wednesday December 31st at 1:30 EST? That's DVR time for me and most people I know. This little thing called work. Sucks, don't it? Oh, and way more people have ESPN than the NFL Network. So Champs, on ESPN on a Saturday at 4:30 EST sounds like a clear winner.
Finally, who do *they* want? Does the Citrus Committee want to take a chance on the Wisconsin fan base skipping Florida this year? Or would they rather have the Minnesota fan base, riding a four-game losing streak with a blowout loss to Iowa, a not-close loss to Michigan, and a head-to-head loss to the Badgers? Oh, and with less helmetosity than Wisconsin?
I'll say this, the Insight Bowl is mad as heck at Notre Dame for losing to Syracuse (or Pitt, or North Carolina). Can you imagine the ratings bump if they could've had Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin? But no, no 6-6 teams picked over a 7-5 team, so the Insight gets Kansas. Kansas vs. Minnesota? Yawn.
For all Potrykus has lobbied against Florida this season, I think -- and hope -- we're headed to Champs. Think it would help if I went and bought something there for Christmas?
the Women's hockey team remained unbeaten (16-0-2) and #1 in the land. The men continued their improvement, reaching .500 for the first time, with wins over Michigan and Michigan State in the [Big Ten] Showcase at the Kohl Center.
The #22 men's hoops team warmed up for its big ACC/Big Ten challenge match-up with VaTech by beating UW-Milwaukee. The 5-1 women's squad rallied late to upset #6 Baylor and win the Paradise Jam tourney in St. Thomas.
The wrestling team beat Oregon State Sunday.
The only downside for the weekend was two losses for the Volleyball team means the women will miss the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1995.