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Badger Bits: Wisconsin football recruiting spending not limiting success

A look at Big Ten football recruiting spending, plus non-conference scheduling talk and the video of the day.

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Wisconsin has been able to get away with a low profile on the recruiting front since Barry Alvarez came to town, but the Badgers slowly paced forward toward becoming more prominent. If someone asked me how much football programs spend on recruiting, I would not even have a remote guess. Thankfully, ESPN's Big Ten blog took a look at the economic value of recruiting in the Big Ten. Head coach Gary Andersen and his staff spent $256,967 year, the lowest amount spent in the conference. This number has varied little from year to year, and it's remarkable how much success the program has yielded in as many years.

Elsewhere on the recruiting trail, Florida transfer Marqui Hawkins was offered a scholarship by UW, as mentioned in Wednesday's Badger Bits. According to 247 Sports' Ryan Bartow, the wide receiver will be in Madison this weekend for his official visit. Hawkins says there's a chance he commits over the weekend, or soon thereafter. We also have all you need to know about Wisconsin's recruiting efforts as part of our tri-weekly recruiting roundup.

We're keeping the money train going by looking at the cash Alvarez and the athletic department spend on cupcake opponents. $1.55 million will be dished out for three non-conference home opponents in 2014 -- Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida, Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple reports. Comparatively, that number is down from last year's figure of over $2 million. This trend is not a coincidence. With the College Football Playoff debuting next year, it is expected that Andersen is going to put a greater emphasis on scheduling more worthy opponents. It extends over the next three years with LSU twice and Alabama, but I expect this number to increase over the next 4-to-5 seasons. I don't think the cupcakes will instantly go away, but there's clearly an economic advantage to diminish scheduling them. Hey, maybe we can get this leftover money to the athletes! Just kidding, but only slightly.

Former UW head coach Bret Bielema churned out some unbelievable NFL players over the past five seasons; 20, to be exact. Russell Wilson and J.J. Watt help the Badgers take the top spot among Big Ten teams producing NFL talent, even ahead of Ohio State (h/t to @BadgerFootball). I hate thinking about it, and hate even more having to write about it, but the 2011-12 season frustrates me to the core. First of all, if Watt stayed, you could have booked the Badgers for the national championship game. Also, that offense was way, way too good to lose three games. Disregarding the very solid offensive line, here was the offensive lineup: Wilson, Bradie Ewing, Montee Ball, Nick Toon, Jared Abbrederis, Jacob Pedersen and Jake Byrne. Mind you, all of these guys are either in the NFL or will be there in two weeks. Plus, you can't forget the ultimate signal caller in offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. The Badger world may never know what could have been.

Some Throwback Thursday action for all of you: Sports Illustrated's Peter King did a mock draft before the waiting days of the 2011 NFL Draft, categorizing selections both as "should pick" and "will pick." King tabbed Watt as the New England Patriots', San Diego Chargers' and Kansas City Chiefs' "should pick" with the 17th, 18th and 21st overall selections, respectively. Also, he tabbed Gabe Carimi as the Kansas City Chiefs' "will pick" at No. 21. King was vastly wrong on Watt, who was selected 11th overall by the Houston Texans. Though he was a little closer for Carimi, who was selected 29th by the Chicago Bears.'s Geoff Mosher has the Philadelphia Eagles taking Abbrederis in the fourth round with the 122nd overall selection (h/t Fox Sports Wisconsin's Dave Heller). Mosher notes the impressive tandem that Jeremy Maclin and Abbrederis would form in Chip Kelly's potent offense. I'm not so sure Abbrederis will be around in the fourth round, but it would be a helluva grab for the Eagles.

As noted in Monday's Badger Bits, Frank Kaminsky is returning to Madison for his senior season. The Wisconsin State Journal's Jim Polzin talked with Kaminsky's father about his son's decision, and what they were hearing from NBA people. What I really liked about this story was the fact that Kaminsky's father cut off any agents trying to get ahold of Frank. Job well done, sir. The more noise, the worse the draft process gets colluded for these young men.

It's always a plus when recruits stay true to an original commitment, and Ethan Happ carried out this loyalty when the recruiting process got hot. ESPN Madison's Zach Heilprin has the story of the kid who is excited to finally get on campus and uses Kaminsky's NCAA tournament success as a blueprint to success for a lowly-ranked player from Illinois. Happ reminds me a lot of former UW baller Jon Leuer. He mentioned to Heilprin how his work ethic distinguishes him from others, and that's all one can ask a young basketball player coming into Bo Ryan's system.

One UW individual who is apparently leaving the 2013-14 basketball squad is Director of Basketball Operations Luke Wainwright. There was no official release from the team, but, courtesy of SB Nation's Matt Brown, a job posting on the position was listed online here. The gig makes almost $48,000 per year, but the benefits alone that coincide would justify it for me. I wrote about the departure of Director of Football Operations Zach Nyborg on Wednesday, and the Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Mulhern has an update on the situation.

Quick Hitters

Jake caught up with former UW baller Kammron Taylor and talked about how his ACL recovery is going in Madison. As a kid, Taylor was always one of my favorite Badgers and we wish him the best in his quest back to the NBA.

BuckAround chatted with TCFA co-host Mike Unger, discussing Maryland's entrance into the Big Ten and head coach Randy Edsall.

There has been an awful decline of running backs selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Sports Illustrated MMQB's Robert Klemko writes about the demise of the position. Could Melvin Gordon buck this trend? Simply, YES.

Video of the Day

Mike Bruesewitz might just be the funniest student-athlete to ever walk the UW campus. No. 31 was the energizer bunny out there on the court for Bo Ryan, diving for loose balls and hitting a key three in the 2011 matchup against then-No.1 Ohio State. He may have stumbled his senior year, but there's been no one ever like him to put on the red and white uniform.