In these days where football is so tantalizingly close, and yet so far away, sometimes we have to go to the most fun game of them all to get through one more day until football. Real football. And if you follow me on Twitter, you know I have this predilection to go into the what ifs. In fact, I've probably pestered you into reading my screenplay. But that's another story for another time.
For we are going to answer the question: If there could be one Badger from all time that would be the best fit for this team? Who would it be, and why? To answer this, first we need to discuss people who might be on the short list, but wouldn't make the final cut.
Any running back
The Badgers are set at running back. Maybe a thumper like Ron Dayne would help, maybe a legend like Elroy Hirsch would help, (after all he did have 66-1,495-17 in the old school NFL AND had six interceptions as a rookie) but of all the Badger legends? It's not going to be a running back that would be the most helpful.
HAVE YOU GONE MAD? RUSSELL WILSON WAS THE BEST QUARTERBACK THE BADGERS HAVE HAD SINCE TONY LOWERY WAS KNEE HIGH TO A GRASSHOPPER.
Slow your roll. This is another positional need question. Do the Badgers need a playmaker at quarterback? it doesn't seem so. Between Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave, the Badgers seem to have a back-up who can make plays. And while he didn't make many attempts, the season wouldn't have been near as frustrating if Curt Phillips didn't make plays to send games into overtime.
Erasmus James/Tom Burke
Why? Because while both were great pass rushers, these two would be tweeners in Dave Aranda's 3-4. I mean sacks are cool. But they just wouldn't fit.
Now we're getting into the harder cuts. The Badgers could use a good offensive lineman. And someone in the Joe Thomas-Kevin Zeitler-Peter Konz-Travis Frederick-Cory Raymer sort of offensive line skill set would help aid the transition over. But you trust how well the offensive line is going to perform. It may come back to haunt me in my general good feelings about the Badgers' offense. But there's someone I like more.
Any defensive back from the beginning of the last decade
Jamar Fletcher was a shutdown cornerback. Mike Echols made more plays than he didn't. Jim Leonhard was a ball hawk. And in any other era, Scott Starks would be more memorable than he was. Point of fact, they would help. If you make the argument that they would be better than my choice? I would probably attempt to disagree, but I would not put up too much of a fight.
Who's going to be the receiver opposite Jared Abbrederis? No one knows. I mean, it's still wide open as all heck. Lee Evans actually had the record for most catches by a receiver at Wisconsin, so obviously he would make the offense click. Stave would throw it up, Evans would get it.
If you say, "Hey, Andrew, your choice is wrong. Lee Evans would be the best player to help this team," I would say, "Probably. He was great. But there's one greater."
You can make up for a lot of weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball if you can get to the quarterback. Saleh made his home in the backfield when he played for the Badgers. He's currently the Badgers' career leader in sacks and tackles for loss. He would be the pass rusher the Badgers have lacked since your O'Brien Schofield and DeAndre Levy held sway.
They would turn him loose. And he would force mistakes. He would sack the quarterback. He would take pressure off of Chris Borland and Ethan Armstrong. If time travel technology existed, and none of the Doctors Who could stop it?
Tarek Saleh would be a nightmare for everyone else.