Badger Bits: Recent success alters UW's recruiting strategy

Happy football signing day, Wisconsin fans. This has never been a really big day for the Badgers, as Bret Bielema runs a program that doesn't rely on elite recruiting talent. It's not easy to pinpoint one reason we don't see many five-star recruits put on a red Wisconsin hat this time of year, but I can think of a few reasons why.

Firstly, the state of Wisconsin is not a bastion of high school football talent. And Wisconsin is not like Oregon, a state in close proximity to a football recruiting hotbed in California. Secondly, Wisconsin as a football program does not have the flair that attracts the top recruits. Blame the weather, the boring Adidas uniforms, or the propensity to rely on the running game. Finally, the Badgers want a recruit who will work hard, has a good head on his shoulders, and is academically sound. That eliminates potential recruits who are otherwise extremely talented at playing football. So, Wisconsin won't have a player in the ESPNU 150 rankings unless offensive lineman Jordan Diamond picks Bucky later this week. But the Badgers did take more chances in recruiting this year, backed by Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl appearances as recruiting tools.

As a result, Wisconsin snagged more four-star recruits than usual, some from unusual places. A four-star QB named Bart Houston from California committing to Wisconsin is not the norm. Going after better talent has its consequences, however. This class is Bielema's smallest, possibly because some average recruits were passed up as better players were courted. Also, widespread coaching staff turnover definitely was an issue in the final stretch. But this still seems like a recruiting class that Badger fans can be proud of.

Wednesday's Links:

John has been live blogging UW's signing day today. You can check it out here.

As expected, Kyle Dodson switched away from Wisconsin to the loving arms of Urban Meyer. But, a nice surprise with Jake Meador picking the Badgers.

Phil has the recap from last night's absolutely grotesque Wisconsin basketball victory over Penn State in Happy Valley. Playing the Nittany Lions hoops squad has not been an enjoyable experience in recent years, but Bucky was able to secure the road win.

I mentioned Jordan Diamond earlier. The four-star offensive linemen will make his college choice on Friday, and Wisconsin is one of the finalists.

Varsity talked with Wisconsin's three early enrollees this year. The three (Hugs Etienne, Dan Voltz, and Vonte Jackson) are helping each other along as they get a head start on their college experience.

In case you didn't see it, the Badgers took a little time out of their Happy Valley trip to pay their respects at the Joe Paterno memorial. Bo Ryan's interaction with Paterno is priceless.

The first ESPN.com Bubble Watch was released, and the Badgers are in the "Should Be In" category. After that Big Ten conference start, I'll certainly take should be in. I wonder if a win over Ohio State on Saturday makes Wisconsin a lock for the tournament.

Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com chats with our very own Iceberg, aka Jared Berggren. Jared is quietly (or maybe not so quietly) leading the Big Ten in shots blocked.

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