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Wisconsin football: thoughts heading into the offseason

Despite the Rose Bowl loss, not all is lost for the Wisconsin program heading into the offseason.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oregon vs Wisconsin Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that sucked, huh?

*very Bill Belichick voice* “We’re onto 2020.”

Obviously the Badgers’ 27-28 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl was a sobering way to end the 2019-20 season, leaving the Badgers’ season record at 10-4. The Badgers dominated the game in almost every facet, but turned the ball over four times and (though this did not cost them the game) were on the wrong side of some interesting calls. While I’ve been busy (suffering my own disappointing, season ending loss) my good pals Drew and Tyler and Ryan and Bob and Matt have all written enough about this current version of the Badgers this season, so I’m not going to go back over what they’ve said. However, I’ll just leave you with a few thoughts coming from the Rose Bowl as we head into the offseason.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oregon vs Wisconsin Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

1. For those who aren’t/weren’t sold on Paul Chryst, you should be now

Now, this probably isn’t what you were expecting to read following a disappointing bowl loss (the Badgers fourth straight loss in Rose Bowls), but Paul Chryst is the man for the job. Wisconsin was prepared to play, and other than the first drive of the game, Wisconsin dominated the football game. The only times Oregon scored were off of Badger miscues.

Wisconsin faced arguably the most talented team in the Chryst era of bowl opponents, and outclassed a future first round quarterback, an offensive line with five future professionals on it, and frankly, a game Oregon team. Wisconsin is no longer the “good team but doesn’t have the athletes to compete” with the upper echelon of college football. Now, I’m not advocating for Wisconsin’s defensive backs to try and cover Alabama’s receivers or anything, but Wisconsin isn’t outclassed any longer. That’s huge.

2. Help is on the way

I’m not here to turn this article into a recruiting article, but simply put, Wisconsin is upping the talent level. Athletically, Wisconsin was as impressive as Oregon was - something you’d have thrown out your back laughing in my face if I’d made that statement in 2012. I’m also not here to turn this into a depth chart article, but from this team, you graduate one (1) wide receiver and zero (0) defensive backs. You just had a 4-star quarterback redshirt, a 5-star offensive tackle and a 4-star (likely future guard) offensive tackle both redshirt. Both incoming tight ends redshirted.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimately, the level of talent that’s coming to Wisconsin is impressive, and the fact that they’re so able to preserve the eligibility of so many of these kids is a testament to the depth and talent level being built by the Badgers. Keep your chins up, Badger fans. The cupboard is far from bare.

3. Whoever the starting quarterback is in 2020, be happy about it

I know Badger fans are still trying to process how to handle having a top quarterback commit, but the world will still spin if Graham Mertz doesn’t start in 2020. Maybe he will, we’ll all have to see, but what Jack Coan showed us in 2019 should be encouraging enough in his first season as a starter. Coan and Mertz will undoubtedly compete for the job in spring and throughout the summer and fall, but whoever wins the job will have earned it.

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The future is bright, Badger fans. Don’t let last night’s disappointing result ruin your mood heading into the offseason, where the Badgers have just signed the best recruiting class in recent memory, and are already working on making 2021’s even better. It’s an exciting time for Badger football, as difficult as that can be to recognize while trying to be patient.