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Badger Bits: Coaching hires a sign of Badgers growing stature in college football

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Wisconsin's shiny new linebackers coach Andy Buh compared Bret Bielema to his former Stanford boss Jim Harbaugh this week. This is a positive thing for a number of reasons. For one, Harbaugh happens to be pretty good at what he does, having turned around a doormat Cardinal program before heading off to the San Francisco 49ers where he came one win away from the Super Bowl.

For two, because perception is nine-tenths of the law or something like that, and comments like Buh's indicate that Bielema's clout within the inner workings of the college football world is pretty high at the moment. It would have to be, considering how Wisconsin was able to pull coaches, good ones at that, away from odd corners of the country. Barry Alvarez noted as much:

"Bret was really surprised at the quality of people that applied - the quality people that were interested - and I knew that would be the case," Alvarez said. "I told him, 'We've got a good situation here and people know that.'"

The Matt Canada hire fell flat for me, and at the time seemed to be an indication that Bielema and Barry Alvarez were putting in the bare minimum level of leg work to rebuild a ravaged staff. But the Zach Azzanni, Mike Markuson and Buh hires proved, at their face, that the program is not only willing to look beyond its established branches, but has the capability. All three coaches have diamond-in-the-rough potential, as well as solid recruiting reputations in fertile areas of the country.

Coaches often talk about "destination" schools, programs that once you've arrive, you know you're there. Wisconsin is starting to solidify itself as a destination school, a team with enough recent success and long-standing tradition to attract attention from everywhere. It's a lot to infer from the offhand comments of linebacker coach, but then again it isn't common that anyone really care about Wisconsin football that didn't have to.

Thursday's Links

The John Chadima scandal may force the university's alcohol policy, or lack thereof. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

UW is still stringently pursuing the neutral site option for the Big Ten Hockey Tournament, despite the lack of any support from the rest of the conference.

The Wisconsin State Journal previews Indiana.

Big Ten Powerhouse also takes a look at Thursday's game. They have Wisconsin ranked No. 5 in this week's power rankings.

Jared Berggren has stepped up his game immensely, spurring the Badgers four-game win streak.

Bo Ryan think Russell Wilson should never have been a Badger, apparently.

Ben Strickland is psyched to join the coaching staff.

Yesterday's Senior Bowl practice report notes that Russell Wilson has been struggling with his accuracy this week.

Wrapping up: You can catch Erasmus James playing for the New Mexico Stars in the Indoor Football League next season.