With summer conditioning around the corner and fall ball ensuing shortly after, the aura of college football is finally in the air. Head coach Gary Andersen's squad debuted at No.15 on ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach Way-Too-Early Top 25. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Badgers this high in the rankings, but there's something to be said about having Melvin Gordon on your team. In reality, there's reason to think Wisconsin could make this list at the end of the season given the putrid conference schedule, but the team on paper doesn't merit it just yet. If quarterback Tanner McEvoy ends up winning the job, the offense will be fine, but his play will need to make up for the lack of playmakers at the wide receiver position. Defensively speaking, the unit will go as the secondary goes, plain and simple.
If Gordon has a special-enough 2014-15 season in Madison, the Badgers may land much lower than No.15, as he will be the biggest part of the team's success. Sports Illustrated's Zac Ellis compiled different tiers of 2014-15 Heisman Trophy contenders, and tabbed the Kenosha Bradford product as one of the eight 'frontrunners.' It will certainly be an uphill battle for Gordon to take home the program's first Heisman Trophy since 1999 if Wisconsin gets blown out against LSU in the season opener, but keep in mind: when Ron Dayne joined the Heisman fraternity, Barry Alvarez's squad dropped the third game of the season to lowly Cincinnati, only to drop the conference home opener against then-No.4 Michigan the following weekend. Still, if Gordon runs to his fullest capability and UW gets back to Indy, the running back should be in New York for the ceremony.
As you pop out of your day dream about Gordon hoisting the Heisman Memorial Trophy in December, we've got some recruiting updates. Andersen and his staff have been quite busy on the recruiting trail, especially on the West Coast. Drew recaps all of this, including some early scholarship offers and the Badgers making one prospect's top-8 list. Wisconsin offered Class of 2015 New Jersey tight end Jordan Fox on Monday. Fox's 247 Sports profile is bleak, but he holds 13 total scholarship offers. The team also offered 247 Sports' three-star defensive end/outside linebacker Rahn Bailey, who reigns from League City, Texas.
2015 UW commit Austin Kafentzis has made a name for himself on the football field, but he's also lighting up the scoreboard elsewhere. The Jordan High School product broke the Utah state record in the javelin with a throw of 217 feet, 9 1/2 inches. Any time a student athlete can excel outside of their focus sport, it's only going to better their overall athletic cause. Needless to say, it looks like Kafentzis is one heckuva athlete.
The Big Ten will add another intra-conference challenge, as the conference will host the Gavitt Tipoff Games with the Big East starting in 2015-16. Money, money, money, and more money for these two power conferences. It's too bad the matchup doesn't boast the old traditional Big East teams, but Villanova and Georgetown are good enough.
The good ole memories of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis and Chicago will endlessly live on, but the magic of the tournament will make its way out to Washington, D.C. and the Verizon Center in 2017. I may not have been the sharpest in geography, but the nation's capital isn't in the vicinity of Big Ten schools, save Maryland and Rutgers. This is simply a ploy to extend the conference's money tree and brand, but it's an awful inconvenience for fans. Go figure, eh?
Jake talked with former UW defensive lineman Beau Allen about his prep thus far for the NFL Draft, and the teams that have shown interest in the big fella. Rightfully so, Allen was frustrated by his lack of NFL Combine Invite.
As mentioned in Friday's Badger Bits, Andersen was going to work fast to fill the void left by Zach Nyborg as the Director of Football Operations. He backed up his word, hiring Utah State assistant athletic director of academics Jason Thomas to fill the position. Football Scoop first reported the story.
There's one conundrum I have with JJ Watt: I can't decide whether he is a better person or football player. The former UW defensive end held his annual softball game, "J.J. Watt Charity Classic." From there, Watt and his mother met up with former UW gunslinger Russell Wilson and his mother at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday.
Women's volleyball head coach Kelly Sheffield and his squad will face a tough 2014 schedule, including 12 NCAA tournament teams. The program greatly improved upon its Class of 2015 recruits over the weekend, securing the commitment of libero Amber McDonald.
Video of the Day
In honor of the Big Ten tourney slowly, but surely ending in Indianapolis and Chicago, we have to relive each of the greatest moments in the respective cities. Since Bo Ryan took over, Wisconsin has made it to the title game five times (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2013), winning it all twice. Ironically enough, the two championships (2004, 2008) came at Conseco Fieldhouse while the team's runner-up appearances (2005, 2007, 2013) came at the United Center. Skip to 3:11 for the second video to catch Michael Flower's steal against the Spartans in 2008. Technology wasn't working with me tonight.