College football coaches want to attract the best athletes possible to their program, but depending on the school's monetary situation, they may need to adjust their recruiting strategy to fit within a particular budget. Apparently Bret Bielema and the Badgers not only succeed in developing lesser-known athletes into All-Conference and All-American caliber players, but they do so in a relatively cheap manner.
In 2011 the Badgers spent $204,181 on football recruiting - the least of any school in the Big Ten (without knowing Northwestern and Penn State's budgets because they are not required to disclose that information). And in 2010 the Badgers spent just $230, 227, the second lowest amount in the conference only to Iowa. These numbers may sound large but considering Wisconsin is a top-notch D-1 program with back-to-back conference titles, it is impressive the Badgers spend the least amount of money on recruiting in the Big Ten.
The numbers come from a very interesting article from ESPN.com that breaks down the recruiting budgets of 99 of the 120 FBS schools from the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. It is difficult to decipher these numbers though, because the variables that affect recruiting costs vary from each school. For instance, travel expenses are a major factor in the size of a recruiting budget, so the fact that the Badgers attract many players from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota may certainly play a part in the Badgers' lower recruiting expenses.
To put these numbers into perspective a bit, consider the budget differences between some of the major conferences. In 2011, Michigan spent the most in the Big Ten with a budget of $577,633. Meanwhile, defending national champion Alabama spent $980,882 and Tennessee led all FBS schools when it spent an astounding $1,479,099.
We cannot make much of these numbers without evaluating how each school decides to spend its recruiting money, but it certainly is interesting to investigate a topic that rarely receives much attention. That being said, it is again impressive how Wisconsin continues to attract quality athletes without breaking the bank.
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