We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
Today is Monday, Oct. 17, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
No moral victories for Badgers
When Paul Chryst took his seat in front of reporters following Wisconsin’s 30-23 overtime loss to No. 2 Ohio State late Saturday night, he said exactly what a fan should have wanted the second-year coach to say.
“This one is tough, on them, on us, because we didn’t come into this one hoping to keep it close, hoping to just be out there.
“Asked the kids on Friday night to put it all out there, and they did.”
In other words, it wasn’t some moral victory to take one of the best programs in the country to overtime. No, the Wisconsin program is past that type of thinking. The Badgers have been good, and at times great, for the last twenty-five years. This isn’t 1990 or 1991 when this would be considered a win.
This team, and program, is better than that.
We. Will. Be. Back.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) October 16, 2016
Sure, you can take positives from the battle with the Buckeyes. Whether it was the reappearance of a dormant run game or the answer from the offense after Ohio State took a lead in the fourth quarter. Both are fantastic developments moving forward, but they don’t show up in the win-loss column. And on Saturday night, that’s what mattered.
Thanks to all the fans who showed up tonight you guys were amazing. In the words of Kendrick Lamar… "We Gon' Be Aight" #OnWisconsin
— Alec James (@blackXsuperman) October 16, 2016
Chryst understood that and the players did, too. While the team proved, to an extent, it can play with the Ohio State’s and Michigan’s of the world, what does it matter if Wisconsin doesn’t actually win those games? Can national analysts declare the Badgers among the best teams in the country if the result doesn’t end in a celebration?
“They can’t do it unless we win,” tailback Corey Clement said. “That’s on us.”
It is. And though Wisconsin was not able to capitalize on the past two opportunities, if Clement and company take care of business the rest of the year, there’s a good chance the group will get to see Michigan or Ohio State in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game, giving the Badgers another 60 minutes to replace any idea of a moral victory with an actual one.
Playoffs still a possibility?
In what probably shouldn’t have been a surprise, Wisconsin dropped just two spots in the AP Top 25 to No. 10, becoming the highest ranked two-loss team in the country. When your two losses have come against the No. 2 (Ohio State) and No. 3 (Michigan) teams in the poll by seven points each, it makes sense that there wasn’t a big drop.
And it leaves open the question of whether a two-loss team like Wisconsin could realistically make a push for the College Football Playoff.
No. 10 in the Coaches Poll
No. 10 in the AP Poll
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) October 16, 2016
In the first two years of the system, no team with more than one loss has made it in the final four, and it seems unlikely that Wisconsin would be able to become the first. But what if the Badgers win out, which would include a win over currently unbeaten and No. 8 Nebraska, they make the Big Ten title game and beat a likely unbeaten Michigan or Ohio State?
The percentages aren’t in Wisconsin’s favor, but if it happens, the Badgers couldn’t be ignored. Not with four likely top-10 wins and the two losses to teams ranked very high when Wisconsin played them. In the BCS era, there would be no chance. But with a committee that can see games and use the eye test as much as anything, it’s not totally out of the realms of possibility, no matter how unlikely. Especially when they are picking four teams and not two. The Big Ten has proven itself this year, and it would be hard to keep the conference champion out of the playoffs, even with two losses.
Nigel being Nigel on College GameDay
Nigel Hayes knows how to draw attention to a cause. After lighting up Twitter earlier this fall with his take on racial issues in the country, the Wisconsin basketball star took on the NCAA this weekend by appearing at ESPN’s College GameDay with a sign that said everything.
— Badger Beat (@BadgerBeat) October 15, 2016
Hayes has been vocal about his displeasure with not getting paid despite the large sums of money the NCAA and Big Ten bring in on the backs of football and college basketball players. In fact, he was involved in a lawsuit against the NCAA aimed at taking the cap off the amount of money athletes can make.
As you’d imagine, there were differing takes on Hayes’ sign, especially among the national media. Some, like Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, said Hayes, who took part in the draft process before deciding to return to school, shouldn’t be the voice of this movement.
“Studying an issue informs one’s opinion, but it doesn’t make that opinion correct. Hayes’ stance that he is being fleeced by the scholarship athlete arrangement would be a lot more convincing if he’d chosen not to stand for it through another year.”
ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who has railed against the NCAA for years on the topic of pay, was not impressed with the article by DeCourcy.
Nobody "willingly accepts" a unilaterally imposed, industry-wide, cartel restriction. The paid telling the unpaid to "shut up and play." https://t.co/dYPOesD7JF
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) October 15, 2016
DeCourcy’s argument boils down to, if you don’t like it, leave it. Which, weirdly, is similar to what those have said about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. You don’t like America? Well, leave then.
But that would a simple solution for those folks and not fix the problem. There are social issues in this country that need to be addressed, as are the inequalities as to who makes what when it comes to college athletics. That Hayes is willing to stand up for both issues, and speak on them intelligently, is rare and inspiring for many.
Tweets of support came from everywhere for Hayes, just strengthening his resolve. He’s not going anywhere, and anyone hoping to see or hear less of him, too bad.
A split for the hockey team
The momentum for the Wisconsin hockey team continues to increase. Yes, the Badgers had to settle for a split of its two-game series with No. 6 Boston College, but that they were even able to take one game is a reason to be encouraged about the program just four games into the Tony Granato era.
That's how you open your season at home. Badgers defeat No. 6 BC 3-1! pic.twitter.com/pwBMkLdhw2
— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) October 15, 2016
Game 2 of the series on Sunday, an 8-5 win by Boston College, was entertaining even if it didn’t end in a Wisconsin victory, including potentially the goal of the year in college hockey.
— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) October 16, 2016
Wisconsin wants wins, sure. But Granato and his coaching staff also want to create a buzz around the program that has been missing. The first few weeks of the season have done just that.
And if you just skipped past that video, go back. It’s well worth watching.