Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst continues to be overlooked by the national media.

Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst continues to be overlooked, Badgers hitting the West Coast and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at 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 Thursday, June 8, and this is what’s for breakfast.


Missing somebody

Maybe it’s because he’s not flamboyant and a one-liner machine like many college football coaches are, but it feels like Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst doesn’t get the respect he deserves.

The latest example of that comes courtesy of Stewart Mandel of FoxSports.com and his piece ranking the best Power 5 conferences based on its coaches. He’s got the Big Ten No. 1 on his list, and while it’s hard to argue with his first point of Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Penn State’s James Franklin and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio being “among the most renowned coaches of this decade,” it’s easy to take issue with his breakdown of the rest of the conference.

“Recent imports include a guy who had a lot of success in the Pac-12 (Nebraska’s Mike Riley), another who went 13-1 at Western Michigan (Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck) and another whose offenses dominated Conference USA (Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm).

When Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, widely revered nationally, is sitting in the middle of the pack, that’s a strong lineup.”

Yep, he mentioned Riley, whom Chryst owns a 2-0 record against in addition to a total of six more wins in their first two years in the conference together.

Sure, throw Fleck in there despite Chryst and the Badgers beating his Western Michigan team in the Cotton Bowl in January.

Oh, Fitzgerald is more deserving of mention? Why? Chryst has more division titles in two years (1) than Fitzgerald has (0) since the Big Ten went to the division format in 2011.

And Brohm? Just stop. It’s Western Kentucky and Conference USA. He never beat a Power 5 team in his three years. But, hey, his offenses sure were dominating.

Chryst isn’t perfect. No one is trying to say he is. But he’s 21-6 in two seasons at an institution that is on its third coach since 2012. That’s not some small feat. So to continue overlooking the coaches’ pick for Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2016 is mind-numbing, especially in favor of his less accomplished peers.

Going back to Cali

Over the years, Wisconsin has dipped into California and the West Coast for recruiting. Former coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez made some inroads, trying to build off his team’s three trips to Rose Bowls. Former coach Gary Andersen used his deep West Coast roots extensively in his short time with the Badgers, chasing kids in California, Hawaii and Utah, among others. Wisconsin’s current roster includes seven players from points west of the Rocky Mountains, including starting outside linebacker Leon Jacobs (Santa Clarita, Calif.).

Based on Chryst’s recruiting the first few years, he plans to continue that. Wisconsin is among seven Big Ten teams taking part in USC’s Rising Stars camp this weekend.

According to 247 Sports, Wisconsin has 19 scholarship offers out in the Class of 2018 to kids who come from states in the western half of the United States, including eight in California. That’s not a huge number when you consider the Badgers have offered 54 players in Florida. But it reaffirms Andersen’s message when he first showed up that Wisconsin has a big enough national profile to recruit nationwide. Though Andersen seemed to lose touch with what coaching in Madison was truly about, his overall message wasn’t wrong.

The success the Badgers have had over the last 20 years, and really in the last 10, are what recruits know. Use that to your advantage, while at the same time never losing focus on who you are. It’s a difficult balance, but one Chryst and his staff seem to be handling well.

Workouts continue

We’re getting closer to the 2017 NBA Draft, with things set to get underway two weeks from Thursday. Workouts for prospects continue, including former Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes, who was in Toronto on Wednesday to audition for the Raptors.

Chances that Hayes is among the 60 draft selections on June 22 are slim, with barely any mock drafts predicting he’ll hear his name called. Still, all it takes is one team to like you. If Hayes goes undrafted, he’ll likely find a summer league home quickly and have a chance to play his way onto a roster. It’s not ideal, but it’s also far from a career killer.

This is also a time of uncertainty for three other former Badgers trying to carve out pro careers.

Bronson Koenig had workouts scheduled with several teams before a right ankle injury last month limited his ability to take part. The point guard still seems like a good bet to find his way onto a summer league roster.

Guard Zak Showalter is scheduled to work out with the Milwaukee Bucks before the draft and is hoping to catch on with a summer league team. He seems resigned to continuing his basketball career overseas.

Forward Vitto Brown, the other senior starter last season, worked out for the Bucks in May but is in the same boat as Showalter.

Catching up

Correction: Kendrick Torain’s last name was misspelled in the original post. Land of 10 regrets the error.