Last year, it was Russell Wilson. Several weeks ago, it was Dayne Crist. Now, it looks like another well-known quarterback is planning on transferring, and perhaps unsurprisingly, he's looking hard at UW. Former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien was granted his release from the program Monday and, according to the Baltimore Sun, is currently considering Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Stanford as possible landing destinations.
Now there's no sign the Badgers are interested in bringing in O'Brien the way they brought in Wilson last season, but the news is still less than a day old and O'Brien's similarities to Russell Wilson are striking. Both started as redshirt freshmen after sitting out their first seasons and both were named ACC conference rookie of the year. When their programs brought in new head coaches, the quarterbacks didn't see eye-to-eye with them and ended up choosing to transfer, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players to play immediately after transferring if they have graduated.
If Wisconsin does bring in O'Brien, the Badgers will get a proven starter who worked (at least in 2010) in a West Coast offense that uses many of the same short throws the Badgers incorporate into their pro-style offense occasionally. Additionally, O'Brien will have two full years of eligibility left, as he plans on graduating in spring. If he's anywhere near as productive as Wilson was, the Badgers could be looking at more Big Ten titles and more Rose Bowl berths.
But allowing O'Brien to transfer to Wisconsin could also have a negative impact. By starting another transfer at quarterback, the Badgers could build a narrative that they can't develop their own quarterbacks, hurting them in recruiting and perhaps losing them respect from others in the college football world. It would also likely relegate Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips, two hard working but oft-injured players, to backup roles for the rest of their careers at UW. Finally, I shouldn't forget to mention O'Brien's sub-par numbers in the 2011 season. It was clear he didn't fit in to Maryland's new spread offense, as he completed only 56.4 percent of his passes and had more interceptions than touchdown passes.
O'Brien seems like a better fit for Wisconsin than he did for a rebuilding Maryland program, but do the Badgers think it's worth giving him a shot?
The Sun's initial report on the O'Brien transfer mentioned Vanderbilt as a possible destination, but it looks like he'll have to transfer outside of the ACC.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said the Badgers and his Spartans will be the teams to beat in 2012. (via Dave Heller)
Meanwhile, the Badgers are one of several teams in the hunt for top 2013 quarterback recruit Max Browne.
Former Wisconsin defensive coordinator and current North Texas head coach Dan McCarney was hospitalized yesterday.
CBS's Dennis Dodd doesn't care who starts at quarterback for the Badgers, listing the Badgers at No. 6 in his first 2012 preseason poll.
The Badgers jumped up several spots in the latest AP and Coaches Polls.
Wisconsin still has a shot to win the Big Ten, but will be hard-pressed to do so with road games against Ohio State and Michigan State left on the schedule.
That said, Jim Polzin pointed out Wisconsin's remaining schedule is still easier than each of those teams'.
The Badgers' next opponent, the Spartans, are every bit as good defensively as the Badgers are.
High levels of player turnover have crippled the Badgers in recent seasons.
That may be the case once again next season, as a few current Badgers (and plenty of impact players from other schools), could be headed to the pros this offseason.