In recent years, Wisconsin has been criticized for its lack of worthy nonconference opponents. Games against schools like Austin Peay and South Dakota certainly do not help the school's cause, but that does not mean the athletic department is not making an effort to improve the caliber of UW's opponents.
Athletic director Barry Alvarez recently pitched the idea of starting a yearly showdown with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Once he heard other Big Ten schools (Michigan or Michigan State) might not renew their contracts to play Notre Dame, Alvarez jumped at the opportunity to see if the Irish would be interested in a series with the Badgers.
Unfortunately it did not work out, but Alvarez will not rule out the idea for the future.
"I thought there were some other Big Ten schools that may take a couple-year hiatus, and I was trying to get us involved. But we just never could work anything out. I'd like to have them scheduled," Alvarez said.
A series with Notre Dame would have been great for UW. While football in South Bend has not quite been up to school standards recently, it would make for a classic matchup each year between two of the best academic and athletic institutions in the country.
Despite not striking a deal, Alvarez and the athletic department need to continue to search for more respectable nonconference opponents. They do not need to be of Notre Dame caliber - lets be honest, that would have been a home run - but at least with football programs more reputable than UTEP (a UW opponent this fall).
It is certainly difficult to schedule decent opponents because schools usually agree to playing a home-and-home (a two-game series with each school hosting one). The other problem is how early nonconference games are scheduled. Years ago when Wisconsin agreed to a home-and-home with Oregon State, it boasted a much better football team. This year Wisconsin will take on a Beaver squad coming off a lousy 3-9 season and a 35-0 beat down at Camp Randall last September.
After two Rose Bowl seasons, the Badgers are well known in the national sports scene. When it comes to rankings though, the BCS (especially those flawed computer polls) do not look favorably upon Wisconsin, particularly because of its weak nonconference schedules. The Badgers would certainly not want that to inhibit them from another BCS bowl appearance, so it may not be Notre Dame, but lets hope Alvarez can get the Badgers some more enticing early season matchups.
BTN's Tom Dienhart said the Badgers have the easiest nonconference schedule in the Big Ten, which is tough to argue against.
Tom Dienhart warns about the Wisconsin's tough three-game stretch next fall when they take on Nebraska, Illinois and Purdue. See everything else he had to say in his thorough breakdown of the Badgers 2012 schedule. He also ranked his top tight ends of the Big Ten and you won't be disappointed to see where the Badgers' Jacob Pedersen ended up.
An interesting Sports Illustrated article looks into how teams like Wisconsin continue to take away their opponents' 3-point shots every season.
The talk of John Chadima, former UW senior associate athletic director, may have died down but he still cost the university nearly $44,000.
Barry Alvarez learned the hard way how quickly news can travel and get out of control. He talked about how the Jarrod Uthoff transfer situation "got out of hand so fast." That debacle also prompted the NCAA to review the rules on transfer restrictions.