Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Begin the Beguine

Alright, so Welcome to the Terrordome or something. As per usual, I procrastinated the hell out of this (like a t-shirt for the UW Biomedical Engineering Society that I saw at the UW/NU game claiming that "I biomedically engineered the hell out of that"). The key stumbling point was a name, something that incorporated both the Badgers and the Packers. After appealing to my pantheon of deities, and to an assorted group of friends and family, I settled on the name above, honoring both legendary stadiums where I've spent so much pleasurable time. But some of the other proffered options were quite entertaining, including:
Remote Control Cheese Curds
Bucky, Brett and Beer
Every 30 Years
Big Girls Need Sports, Too
LeRoy Butler's Trick Leg
Could've Had Troy Vincent
and then getting to the mostly inappropriate:
Free Mark Chmura
Where's the Manure?(my wife's favorite)
Chmura and Rande El Are Innocent
and, perhaps winning the inappropriate award--
Gantner's Daughter

Uh, yeah, my father put that one out there. Getting beyond all the silliness, this season the Packers and the Badgers have been a distinct contrast. Both teams have a new, youthful coach with zero head coaching experience, but that may be the only similarity. Bielema stepped into a very solid situation, with a defense full of talented returning starters, an underrated senior quarterback, a brutish young running back, and the best left tackle in the country.
McCarthy has a plethora of rapdily aging veterans at key positions (LT, CB, QB, RB, DE, TE and WR), supplemented by unproven and questionably talented young players at OG, WR, and LB. Not the most inticing job for a new coach. Perhaps that's why Ted Thompson felt the need to interview Wade Phillips last offseason. By the way, I hope you reacted to that like I did. Something along the lines of-- "uhhh, please tell me this is a joke."
But despite the varied circumstances of my football teams, I'm optimistic, in the long run, about both coaches. After being around Lou Holtz, Hayden Fry, Dan McCarney, and Brad Childress, I have a firm suspicion that Barry knew what he was doing when he chose Bielema. Plus, he's supposedly an excellent recruiter, and he brought in a staff with several guys (Kerry Cooks, Dave Doeren) who are also known as excellent recruiters. Madison and UW should be an easy sell. (I mean, I've been to Champaign; that's like selling houses in Dearborn, Michigan these days). And, although they've been beating up on iffy teams lately, the Badgers seem to be getting better as the season has gone along, just like Alvarez's best teams. This bodes well for the coaching staff as a whole.
As we are all well aware of, McCarthy has not had similar success. But he is in a much, much worse situation, personnel-wise. And I like the games he's called. Despite having a new offensive system, no legitimate running back, an iffy o-line, and no dominant receivers, our offense has been passable, ranked 18th in Football Outsiders' weekly ranking, despite the utter debacle against the Bears. In the Rams' game, the running game actually worked, so the zone blocking scheme may finally be settling into place. So the improvement in the area of the team that McCarthy actually controls, the offense, has been noticeable. I also like how McCarthy's dealt with the team's failures: he's pissed, and he's holding people accountable. Eventually he'll have to hold some defensive staff members accountable, and I'm confident he will. But he cares, he demands that people own up to their mistakes, and he's not pear-shaped.
(Sorry, Mike I hope you and Ron achieve great things down in East Texas).

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