Badger Bits: Danny O'Brien puts Wisconsin back in the limelight for 2012

I know you're all excited about Danny O'Brien but before we get started we need to address the fact that there will haters, and they will hate passionately in the name of providing balance to an issue that shouldn't really exist. Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com was the first to dip his toe in the water, calling Wisconsin's quarterback problems a result of their lack of focus on quarterback recruiting.

When you bring in only one quarterback per class, you can find yourself in some trouble when that quarterback gets hurt or just plain doesn't work out like you'd planned. While it's impossible to avoid injuries or misses altogether, if Wisconsin looked to bring in two quarterbacks per class, it would give the Badgers more options at the position.

While it is true that Wisconsin would be in much better shape if it spent 10 percent of its available scholarships on quarterbacks, it's possible that--and I'm just spitballing here--doing so would hurt depth at positions that require more than one person on the field. Wisconsin's numbers are hardly out of whack with the norm. They went hard after O'Brien because the two quarterbacks that should have been competing for the starting job haven't seen the practice field due to constant setbacks on serious ailments.

Now that that's out of the way, let's address what O'Brien means for the upcoming season. Ohio State is still suspended. Penn State still doesn't know if it will even field an offense. Illinois, Indiana and Purdue should be who we think they are. Truth be told, the Badgers were likely the odds-on favorites to make the conference championship game from the Leaders division before O'Brien hopped aboard. With a steady hand helming the offense, the expectation should be Indianapolis and then some. There are questions, naturally, but with the biggest one answered a third run at roses is within reason.

That is a lot of pressure to place on a guy who threw more interceptions than touchdowns last season, granted, though those numbers were preceded by a switch to a spread offense that didn't really fit his skillset. O'Brien thrived as a redshirt freshman under former head coach Ralph Friedgen, earning ACC Freshman of the Year honors while throwing for 2,438 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In that one season he proved he could run a basic pro style offense, which is great, because that's all he has to do to succeed at Wisconsin. He doesn't need to be Russell Wilson, he just needs to be accurate when the time comes. Reports and quick YouTube scouting indicate he can be.

The sour note to this story is that the transfer ever had to happen. Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips will be entering their third and fourth years in the program without having taken meaningful snaps in a game due to shoulder/elbow and knee injuries, respectively. They're getting a raw deal not because Wisconsin has brought in someone who may replace them, but because their own bodies haven't even given them a chance to compete. It is difficult to watch anyone work so hard for naught.

But if the question is whether this a good deal for Wisconsin going forward, the answer is unequivocally yes. The move keeps the Badgers back in the Rose Bowl discussion, and puts them back in the limelight after a rough few transition-filled months since time ran out in Pasadena.

Thursday's Links:

Reactions all over the blogosphere. Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries is pretty bummed. EDSBS does something cheeky and fun set to the tune of Baby Got Back. Jason Kirk at SB Nation speculates who will be Wisconsin's 2013 QB from the current crop of ACC passes. Pre-Snap Read says O'Brien's path only could have led to Wisconsin.

O'Brien called Wisconsin "the complete package" when asked about his decision.

Tom Mulhern does a mini podcast on O'Brien's decision, calling it a win-win.

O'Brien's high school coach sheds some light on his former QB.

O'Brien went 1-0 against Russell Wilson in his career.

Spring practice notes: Devin Smith and David Gilbert still aren't practicing.

Wilson will appear on ESPN's "QB Camp" series with Jon Gruden starting Wednesday, April 11.

Jordan Taylor earns honorable mention All-American honors.

More on Bo Ryan and the final play against Syracuse from the Journal Sentinel: Coach kept last timeout to protect the inbounder.

Bo comments on coaching his second Showalter.

Barry Alvarez is looking to revert the basketball student season ticket system back to first-come, first-serve and do away with the Red and White packages. No doubt it might anger some students, but in terms of getting the most dedicated fans in seats consistently it's ideal.

Wrapping up: I'm jazzed.

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