Badger Bits: Two Roads Diverged In a Wood, and Bret Bielema Says $@#% It


The decision to start Curt Phillips is just the latest piece of evidence that Bret Bielema is more in tune with his gut than the rational sector of his brain. And that's just fine.

I can't speak for the decision-making process of Bret Bielema or anyone else. I know myself pretty well, however, enough to know that no decision I have made has ever come easy. Usually the breakthrough comes when I should be sleeping. My brain will go haywire around 3 a.m. I'll turn to one side and feel one way, and turn to my other side and feel another. When I lay on my back, I'm calm. Time slows down and I know that nothing really matters, anyway. Flip to my stomach and suddenly there's something weighing on my gut. High on theta waves, something informs me that I need to act, and quickly.

Face buried, fists clenched, I punch the mattress and say [screw] it. Let's buy a bike/eat jello/play Curt Phillips this weekend.

This process is not healthy. Rather than make a measured determination, I let the seedier parts of my brain take the reins, usually siding with the outcome that makes the least practical sense, but is much more satisfying to the soul. Like I said, I can't directly speak for Bret Bielema's process, but the man has shown every indication of being just as impulsive.

Unless you really believe that Curt Phillips performed head-and-shoulders above Danny O'Brien during bye week practices. Phillips apparently wasn't close when we were poring over the O'Brien vs. Joel Stave competition before the season began. He didn't get a sniff when O'Brien was struggling during the second half against Michigan State. There is something fundamentally wrong with O'Brien when he steps onto the field on gameday, and Bielema is seemingly banking on the hope that his senior of 12 career passing attempts is a "gamer."

Is this practical? Absolutely not. Tom Oates makes the case for O'Brien, and it's a convincing one. We don't know if Phillips can plant his right leg and physically get a pass off, much less show the arm strength, accuracy, touch and/or poise to be effective in the pocket. But we do know that O'Brien has looked skittish under center, a trigger man incapable of pulling the trigger. And Phillips is as veteran as an untested quarterback can be, coming back from three (!) ACL surgeries. The coaches love to coach him, his teammates love to play with him, he has never asked for pity, working only for a simple chance, and it's only football, and ... ah [screw] it.

Will it work? We'll see. But after much deliberation thrown out on a whim, count me on board.

Thursday's Links:

Interim offensive line coach Bart Miller will likely have have "interim" lobbed off his job title. Jeff Potrykus gives his take, along with effusive praise from the linemen themselves.

Two Indiana (basketball) freshman have been suspended nine games for impermissible benefits.

Land-Grant Holy Land asks, "why not Indiana?"

OTE presents this week's Power Poll (UW No. 6) and Bowl Projections (still Gator Bowlin')

Dave Heller rounds up all other matters of rankings and bowl projections.

ETC.: TWiS, obviously.

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