Thursday, February 22, 2007

Price of Success

Wisconsin Football is on its soundest footing ever, and with that comes new challenges.

Let's first look at my premise. After Dave McClain's untimely death, when Don Morton began "veering" the UW football program into the tank, nobody nationally really cared about UW football. Our teams were so bad you could play catch on the field 45 minutes after the game was over. It was either that, or go around collecting cups, which was somehow also entertaining. Anyway, when Barry Alvarez came around, things changed. I remember being at the Coliseum, when between periods the spotlight shone on Donna Shalala introducing Barry Alvarez. The students went into a "Rose Bowl Da-Da-Da! Rose Bowl Da-Da-Da!" chant, and every hockey fan there was amused at the thought. Barry explained that he had a 5-Year Plan. Turns out that Brent "buzz buzz buzz give me yayo" Moss and Terrell Fletcher, and an enormous offensive line accomplished the plan in 4. Amazing. But Barry wasn't done, we went to, AND WON, 2 more Rose Bowls. Astonishing. But now, we are even stronger. And as such, we are being noticed, and when people notice in football, they start stealing your coaches. We have experience with this, we lost Bill Calahan, and Chilly and McCarney, but losing those guys was tolerable, despite their obvious talents. I am here to tell you however, we simply could not lose this guy:

Most fans who like to complain about the Badgers have not seen the bad times. They complained about Callahan, they complained about Chilly, and they complained about Brian White (fair, in his case). The clearly were not among the 5,000 fans who watched the Veer in action.

But you simply cannot complain about Chryst without your friends taking you to task. He is clearly one of the best coordinators in football, both in terms of strategy and in terms of relating to players and building on their strengths. I particularly enjoy his use of same-play variations, where we use the same formation and run 3 different plays out of it. We used this several times this year with Beckum running in motion and either A) receiving the end around hand-off B) faking the end around and handing it to the RB up the midddle or most notably having Donovan run the naked boot or C) running the TE middle screen which has been a staple of our offense especially in the red zone and has caught other teams way off guard. These same-play variations work spectacularly in the College game, and Chryst effectively employs it all the time. I don't need to add too much here because the Farking Cowboys wanted him so bad they re-upped their offer twice. That's RESPECT. Keeping Chryst was he biggest win of the off-season (Barry had been offering Johnny Clay a scholarship since 7th grade). We simply could not stand to lose Chryst, not only because he is so great, but because, Bret has handed him the keys to he entire offense. Bret does not get involved in play-calling beyond whether to go for it on 4th down, which he almost always does, and which Madden players (and a new-fangled computer system that I'll go into some other time) know is a great move.

A couple of things about this Badger team separate it from others past. Most notably, we have a 37 year old coach who makes $1.5mm a year. As any Badger Day of Naples attendee can tell you, there were plenty of older coaches besides Chrsyt, who were becoming a little more ambitious now that the youngster was making so much dough. If Chryst left, it would have set a terrible precedent. Instead, Chrsyt stays and so do our best recruiters, who because of our wins against the SEC are making inroads into Florida and Texas, the two most talent rich football states in the Union. Further proving that UW Football is on its soundest footing ever.

1 comment:

The man they call Craig said...

i want to go to this "Badger Day of Naples". TMMCC must go to BDON. say the word.