Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Badger Football looking to strengthen non-conference schedule in new non-BCS world?

By Nicole
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The new, non-BCS way of doing things will mean even more scrutiny on teams that could be eligible for the four-team playoff.

One of the things the selection committee will be looking at is strength of schedule, something Wisconsin has struggled with for as long as I can remember.

Maybe it's because the Big 10 had an auto bid and the Rose Bowl and because UW has never been a national player, but head coach Bret Bielema, and former head coach and currect AD Barry Alvarez have never shown interest in removing the FCS teams from their schedule.

The toughest non-conference opponent of the past few years has been Oregon State, whom they have a home and away with last year and this year. But they also have teams like UNLV, Northern Iowa, San Diego State and Temple.

So Bielema let it be known this week that he's trying to put Notre Dame on the future schedule (they have a current agreement with Michigan that ends in 2017).

And Alvarez, with the help of ESPN, has apparently been trying to work something out with defending National Champion Alabama. The first idea was for a neutral site game, but a home and home was also floated. Bama coach Nick Saban apparently said "no thanks."

Bielema and Alvarez were being coy about these moves, but it's clearly a response to the change in the NCAA football landscape and the new playoff system. Schools have their schedules set for 5 or so years in advance, so any moves UW makes will take a few years to have an effect.

Wisconsin seemed to have a little sister type syndrome in the 90 and 2000s where they were happy to be the best of the Big 10, but weren't acutely interested in being players on on the National scene.

That's an opinion, but you'll note that folks have always been happy with a Rose Bowl berth - Alvarez's teams weren't national contenders, but he'll forever be lauded as our best coach because of those Rose Bowl wins.

Suddenly, last year's team let a NC berth slip through its fingers on a few hail marys and the thought process seems to be changing.

It'll be interesting to see if any teams add Wisconsin and if UW can start dropping these awful cupcake games off their schedule. They'll never be taken seriously if they don't start scheduling tougher opponents, especially with the new Big Ten alignment meaning that they're not always going to be playing the best teams in the conference every year.

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