Badger Bits: Upping the ante on recruiting efforts

The Badgers have been one of the best teams in the Big Ten at churning out NFL talent over the last decade, so why aren't more high-profile recruits clamoring to come to Madison

Adam Rittenberg pointed out a few days ago that Wisconsin and Iowa are behind only Ohio State as the best NFL talent-producing programs of the Big Ten. Over the last 10 years, the Hawkeyes and the Badgers have had 48 and 45 players drafted, respectively. While those numbers pale in comparison to the Buckeyes' 70, they outpace Michigan (43) and Penn State (42).

What's surprising about the numbers is that the Badgers and the Hawkeyes haven't recruited on nearly the same level as the conference's traditional "Big 3" programs. Rittenberg goes on to explain that Wisconsin and Iowa should exploit their pro-producing pedigrees to entice better high school talent. While true, the assertion is also blatantly obvious. Neither school ever sold itself on the weather.

Rittenberg then compares the use of Twitter between Bret Bielema and Kirk Ferentz and concludes that ... well not much really. Bielema is apparently doing a good job pimping his team's track record. Ferentz isn't, unless you're talking about his son and offensive line coach Brian, in which case the Hawkeyes are doing okay. Quantifying the effect of a few tweets on the outcome of a year's worth of recruiting is still impossible I think, so whether Rittenberg is on to something is as yet undetermined.

The reasons why Wisconsin isn't bringing in Top 10, or even Top 25, classes on a yearly basis are probably numerous and complex, and wholly unknown. Their inefficient use of Twitter as a recruiting tool to flaunt draft prospects may be one of them. You can also take you pick from any of the following:

  • Placement in a talent-poor geographic area
  • Placement in a poorly-scouted geographic area causing Rivals/Scout to underrate commitments
  • Proud winning tradition stretches back just 20 years, not 100
  • Rose Bowl momentum negated by mass exit of entire coaching staff
  • Facilities in the process of being upgraded, but still not up to Phil Knight all-chrome-everything levels
  • Our guys don't cheat like those cheaters over there
  • Fill in your own blank

It is bizarre that programs like Iowa and Wisconsin that have had success rivaling just about anyone in the sport over the last 10-15 years are still recruiting against MAC schools, Minnesota and Cincinnati for the most part (with exceptions). The academics are great, campuses beautiful, fanbases adoring, etc. It's complicated to say the least, and until we can derive the formula to bring Wisconsin out of its recruiting doldrums, we'll just have to be happy with things like winning football games.

Thursday's Links:

Arguments against using campus-sites for semifinals are getting exponentially stupider.

Stewart Mandel reports that commissioners still support using bowl sites, 60-40. You can probably figure out how those percentages break down conference-wise.

Todd McShay has Ricky Wagner going No. 2 overall to the St. Louis Rams in a disgustingly early look at next year's NFL draft.

JOHNSON ALL THE THINGS: The ice at the new La Bahn Arena being built next to the Kohl Center will be named after Lance Johnson in recognition of generous gifts given by Paul O. Johnson, his son Erik S. Johnson and their families. They are unrelated to Bob Johnson of "Bob Johnson Rink," Mark Johnson, and Nancy Johnson of the Nicolas-Johnson Pavilion. Johnson.

Malcolm Gladwell argues for the abolition of college football.

Now for something completely different: A pair of former Badgers, Ross and Grant James, made the U.S. Men's National Team 8 in rowing, and will race in a must-win qualification regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, from May 20-23 in hopes of earning an Olympic bid. They happen to be twin brothers, as well as good couple of guys who graduated with me as members of the UW Rowing team (they were in way faster boats than mine). You should support them with all your Badger hearts, especially since I know you have nothing better to do.

ALSO: More great people that I know are doing awesome things. Steve Dudek, another former Badger, rowed 6-seat in the Cambridge boat that beat Oxford in one of the most controversial runnings of the Boat Race in the long history of the event. Here's his beard.

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