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This Week in Badgers Takes

Armageddon Edition

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Wisconsin v BYU

Take \’tak\ (noun): a strong opinion, frequently wrong to a hilarious degree, designed primary to elicit a visceral response in the listener and to boost social media traffic.

Well, this was quite the weekend.

On a sweltering hot September Saturday, Wisconsin’s 41-game non-conference winning streak ended with an embarrassing 24–21 loss to BYU at Camp Randall Stadium.

With the defeat, Wisconsin’s playoff hopes dimmed significantly. As you can imagine, when the then-No. 6 team in the country has a potentially season-defining loss at home to an unranked, non-conference opponent, the media (and social media) response is thoughtful and measured.

Here are the best takes of the week:

The Athletic’s Aaron Torres declares the ‘Big Ten is the best conference in college football’ narrative dead.

Heat Index: Light fall breeze.


CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee calls Wisconsin the weekend’s biggest loser.

Heat Index: A scouring-hot shower to clean the weekend funk off.

Assessment: The Badgers were certainly a big loser, but were they the BIGGEST LOSER on a college football weekend that saw Ole Miss get squashed 62–7 at home by Alabama, No. 22 USC get curbstomped 37–14 at Texas, Rutgers lose by 41 at Kansas, Maryland lose by 21 at Temple, Illinois lose at home to South Florida, and Nebraska lose at home to TROY?

Were they??

Of course, the best and HOTTEST #takes came from the Badgers faithful. As is usually the case in times of trouble, the fan base came out of the woodwork with positive, encouraging support for the home squad.

(Auth. Note: All takes have been made anonymous for anyone without a blue check next to their name on Twitter. But you know who you are. You know.)

Bret Bielema was a better play caller than Paul Chryst.

  • Heat Index: Steaming-hot Razerback poo.
  • Assessment: “On Teams Coached By Bret Bielema” (a poem)

Bret Bielema was Wisconsin head coach from 2006 through 2012.

Paul Chryst was Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator from 2005 through 2011.

As offensive coordinator, Paul Chryst was responsible for the coordination of Wisconsin’s offense.

This coordination of the offense included calling plays on offense.

On teams coached by Bret Bielema.

On teams coached by Bret Bielema.

Paul Chryst cannot bring a title to Wisconsin.

  • Heat Index: Too hot to handle, too cold to hold.
  • Assessment: Here is an inclusive list of Wisconsin coaches who have won national titles: Harry Stuhldreher in 1942 (as declared by the Helms Athletic Foundation). Wisconsin doesn’t even claim it.

Since he became Wisconsin’s head coach, Chryst accomplished things that no Wisconsin head coach has done before. Win 13 games in a season. Win the Orange Bowl. Win the Cotton Bowl. Go undefeated in regular-season Big Ten conference play (modern era). If anyone has a chance to break through, it’s Chryst.

But more importantly, is that seriously the measure of Wisconsin football’s success now? National titles?

Here is the list of the schools that have won national titles since 2000: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas, and USC. Go back another 10 years and you can add Colorado (and Georgia Tech), Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, and Tennessee. Go back 20 years and you add BYU, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Penn State.

I am sure I missed someone, but what is that, 22 schools give or take, that claim titles in the past 30 years? Only 11 since the turn of the century (one of whom vacated and several of whom had either scandals and/or Tim Tebow).

Look, I would love to see Wisconsin win a national title as much as the next person, but if that’s your measure of success, you’re in for a long and lonely wait. Just ask Oregon.

(Auth. Note: The following are less #takes, more soul-rending, primal howls of the fan base into the great abyss, psychic food for the Old Gods as they rest in their infernal cosmic slumber.)


  • Heat Index:
  • Assessment: Yes, Wisconsin does not generally have a highly-ranked recruiting class versus its peers (that may be changing). Yes, the Badgers identify and recruit players that fit their system and who they think will succeed in Madison, regardless of star rankings. Yes, Wisconsin does more with “less” than just about anyone (here’s an oldie but goodie from FiveThirtyEight quantifying this very phenomenon). Yes, Wisconsin relies heavily on its walk-on program for adding talent into the program.

(Auth. Note: Be sure to pick up Walk-On This Way - The Ongoing Legacy of Wisconsin Football’s Walk-On Tradition by B5Q’s own Jake Kocorowski on Amazon.)

Do you know who has finished ahead of Wisconsin each year since 2016 in the recruiting rankings? Nebraska. Don’t be Nebraska.


  • Heat Index:
  • Assessment: The junior quarterback was neck-and-neck with Chryst in the incomprehensible-anger-verbal-explosion of fan takes this week. I said my piece on Alex Hornibrook in last week’s Takes and in my post-game assessment of the offense’s struggles, but for all of the vitriol, you’d think that Chryst and Hornibrook led an armed heist of an orphanage’s Christmas party.

(Auth. Note: I would 100 percent watch a heist movie in which Paul Chryst was the affable, deadpan ringleader and Alex Hornibrook was the hotheaded, young up-and-comer, just looking to make his mark.)

<Spends 45 minutes down a heist movie internet rabbit hole.>

(Auth. Note II: The Mendota Job, screenplay © Jon Beidelschies, 2018)