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 Wednesday, Nov. 9, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
Moving up in playoff rankings
As expected, Wisconsin moved up one spot to No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night. It wasn’t so much the impressiveness of the victory over Northwestern that helped them as much as the beating then-No. 4 Texas A&M took over the weekend, sending them down to No. 8.
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) November 9, 2016
It leaves Wisconsin as the highest-ranked two-loss team, in front of the Aggies, No. 9 Auburn and No. 10 Penn State. And unless the Badgers somehow falter in one of their last three games — home to Illinois, at Purdue, home to Minnesota — then coach Paul Chryst and his team should enter the Big Ten title game no worse than seventh and potentially higher depending on how the Michigan-Ohio State game plays out.
All of it means that Wisconsin is still in the hunt to be among the four teams chosen by the playoff committee. No matter who the Badgers play in the title game — whether it’s an unbeaten Wolverines squad or a one-loss Buckeyes team — a win would give Wisconsin a resume that would be difficult to ignore.
With #Badgers at No. 7, they must hold serve for 3 weeks to get to Indy, take best shot and see what happens.
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) November 9, 2016
Is it likely that everything comes together just the way Wisconsin needs it to? Probably not. But the fact the Badgers are even in the conversation is among the bigger stories in college football this season.
Wisconsin to play on Friday night
Friday night football is coming to Madison in 2017.
The Big Ten announced its new 2017 Friday night schedule on Tuesday, and one of the games is a Sept. 1 matchup between Wisconsin and Utah State.
When the idea of Friday night games was announced last week, the response was less than positive for many in Wisconsin, and that continued in the wake of Tuesday’s unveiling.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany was, is & always will be a basketball guy. A football guy would never make this move. #shorttermgreed
— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) November 8, 2016
UW football opens at home next year on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. That is also, I believe, week 1 of HSFB conference play. Nice.
— dan needles (@dneedles12) November 8, 2016
Friday night games are not new. Smaller conferences like the WAC, Mountain West and MAC have been playing them for quite some time, with the ACC jumping into the fray in the last decade as well.
The Big Ten, though, seemed above impacting what Fridays in the fall are most known for — high school football. That’s no longer the case, and though Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez has said that the intent isn’t to harm that level of the sport, it’s doing just that, according to those in charge.
The WFCA does not support Big Ten's decision to play college games on Friday nights. Further comment & info will be provided in coming days.
— WiFCA (@wifca) November 2, 2016
The advantages for some — like an Illinois, Maryland and the like — doesn’t hold up for Wisconsin. The goal of Friday night games is to make the conference and the teams more visible. With where Wisconsin’s program currently is, there is no need for it. And like Michigan and Penn State did last week, Wisconsin should have come out against the idea.
Everyone will complain about this for a year. By the next year we will forget it was ever a thing.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 8, 2016
Friday football in the Big Ten isn’t going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean it’ll become any easier for fans of a program like Wisconsin’s, that come from all over the state for a Saturday game, to make it on a weekday. And it’s not as if all the players are in favor either.
— Derrick D.T Tindal (@TindalIsland) November 9, 2016
No one is saying Friday night games will be some kind of a disaster for high school football in the state or result in an empty Camp Randall Stadium next September. But it’s the Big Ten taking advantage of a fervent fan base for a simple money grab. And it’s wrong.
Signing day for basketball
Wednesday is a momentous day for Wisconsin coach Greg Gard and his program. It’s the first day that recruits in the class of 2017 can sign national letters of intent, and it’s also Gard’s first full recruiting class as the head coach of the Badgers.
And it’s one heck of a group. Maple Grove (Minn.) High School point guard Brad Davison, Lakeville North (Minn.) High School forward Nate Reuvers and La Crosse Central (Wis.) High School shooting guard Kobe King combine to give Gard a top-10 class in the country, according to 247Sports.com.
Official Signing Day tomorrow ???? We would love it if you would join us in the Main Gym at 7 AM at the High School ! ?⚪️
— Brad Davison (@braddavi34) November 9, 2016
Gard did recruit a pair of players in the class of 2016 — point guard D’Mitrik Trice and forward Aleem Ford — but they were very late in the process. Gard has been working on the 2017 class for several years and two of the three have committed since he took over for former coach Bo Ryan last December. They will be among the first players who determine whether Gard will be able to keep going what Ryan and his staff built over 15 years — or possibly even take it to the next level.
And it’s a group good enough to do it. With the Badgers losing four seniors off this year’s roster, there will be minutes that need to be filled when these three step on campus. A lot of Wisconsin’s success has come with kids that were underrated coming out of high school.
For every 5-star kid like Sam Dekker, there was a 3-star guy like Frank Kaminsky. Let’s see what Gard and his staff can do with three 4-star recruits that had a bunch of other major programs chasing them.
Paul Chryst: Coach of the Year?
In his weekly Forde-Yard Dash, Yahoo reporter Pat Forde broke down the potential candidates for national coach of the year, and Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst was among the many names thrown out.
“Paul Chryst (14), Wisconsin. The case for Chryst: Took on what has been the nation’s toughest schedule so far and has gone 7-2 against it. The only losses have come by a touchdown apiece to Michigan and Ohio State. Chryst benched senior quarterback Bart Houston in the third game of the year, turning over the starting job to redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook, but has skillfully brought back Houston for spot duty along the way. Chryst’s single best coaching move might have been hiring Justin Wilcox as defensive coordinator after losing Dave Aranda to LSU.”
Chryst should definitely be in the conversation, and his decision to bring on Justin Wilcox as defensive coordinator should be among the reasons. But his handling of the quarterbacks should not. The idea that he’s done it “skillfully” is beyond humorous.
Yes, the Badgers have continued to win, but it hasn’t been because of the quarterback play. If anything, playing both guys has disrupted the passing game, something that was far from perfect to begin with. And asked after the win over Northwestern if the two-quarterback system was working, Hornibrook paused before passing on actually answering the question and just saying that the team is winning games.
The job Chryst has done in getting Wisconsin to 7-2 is more than impressive. But it has absolutely everything to do with him, his coaching staff and an underrated group of players getting it done better than anyone thought they could, and next to nothing with his shuffling of the quarterbacks in Wisconsin’s last three games.
- Goal for Nebraska’s defense this week? Don’t lose to Ohio State again
- Disappointing Iowa stands at a crossroads with its fans as Michigan comes to town
- MSU’s Dantonio: Learn from the past, but live in the present
- Ohio State is No. 5 in the CFP rankings. Now what?
- QB Wilton Speight seriously considered transferring from Michigan