With Fall Camp just starting up, I decided to put my thoughts as a life long Badger fan and incoming freshman on all the changes to the Badger Football program out there. So here we go!
After losing Bret Bielema, who led Bucky to three consecutive Rose Bowls, it may seem a little odd that I feel more optimism this August regarding the future of Badger football than last. I feel like i should have lowered expectations, slightly less enthusiasm and the mindset that it's going to take a few years to reload and rebuild. However, I feel none of that. I feel more excitement about the direction of the football program than I probably should to avoid disappointment. Bringing in Coach Andersen feels like an upgrade to me not only as a game manager, but potentially as a recruiter and definitely as a man. That is why i believe the best days for Wisconsin football are yet to come.
In my opinion, the only debatable downgrade from Bret Bielema to Gary Andersen is in recruiting because the jury is still out on that. I know it's very early, but Wisconsin has the 38th best 2014 class according to Rivals.com as of now and the 25th according to Scout.com. It will be tough to replace Bielema's Florida connections that helped land players like Aaron Henry and James White, but in Andersen's small sample size, he's done a real nice job.
Clearly, the edge in game management and character go to Andersen. The well known story of him calling each and every player at Utah State as he came to UW is just one of many examples that speak to what type of person he appears to be. I understand what kind of person you are may not help at all in many people's eyes, but it feeds my optimism in the program's future. It gives me extreme confidence we will continue to run a clean program and produce players and high character guys like J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson that make many people, including me, very proud to be from Wisconsin. Now, I'm definitely not saying Bielema was a awful guy because he did bring in the two players I just mentioned and never got caught up in any scandals or off the field issues. However, to most people who aren't Badger fans and quite frankly a decent number of Badger backers, he came off as an arrogant S.O.B. He's not a bad person but he definitely wasn't a stellar game manager, which hurt the team during his time on the sidelines.
Other things Andersen is doing that make a nice impression to me are moving to 3-4 base defense, putting a strong emphasis on special teams and possibly adding new spread/ option wrinkles to the offense. I'm very excited to see how his offensive ideas work once he has a true duel-threat quarterback to work with (could be McEvoy who knows). Andersen could bring a great blend of old school ways combined with some new school styles as well as improve special teams which was always a weak spot under Bielema for whatever reason.
Because of these reasons, I firmly believe the future of Wisconsin Badger football will be very bright. The coaching change could very well be a blessing in disguise. Combining Coach Andersen, his staff, current and future talent, and the great new facilities such as the massive new scoreboard and the new Student-Athlete Center being built, it's hard for me to imagine Wisconsin football going anywhere but up in the future. Can't wait until August 31st, On Wisconsin!
Please comment with your thoughts whether you agree or not.