Bleach: UW ’09, meet Badgers from ’06

first_imgUnless you have been living under a rock in Pahrump, Nev., the past four years, you should know that Badger football coach Bret Bielema lives by the mantra “1-0.”He has a giant 1-0 sign posted in Camp Randall, all players must sign a contract that they vow to try to go 1-0 each day and he sleeps with a crotched 1-0 pillow he found at a garage sale.Usually this clich? refers to how the team isn’t looking ahead past the next game — a valid message for any head coach to instill when Wofford is on the schedule.However, this annoying adage is also used to erase past seasons from coaches and players memories.Seriously, bring up something that happened last year for UW football, and Bielema adopts a smirk that would make Bill Belichick proud, before talking around the question with such eloquent spin I get dizzy just listening to him.This refusal to look to the past (or at least to admit that he does to the media) is a shame. The sporting history of this country is riddled with mistakes that could have been avoided merely by learning from prior screw ups.Eric Mangini wouldn’t have a job if Cleveland management had just glanced at his very recent history in coaching. The San Francisco Giants wouldn’t have handed Barry Zito $126 million if they had simply learned from Mike Hampton, Denny Neagle, Carl Pavano, Kevin Millwood, Jeff Suppan and Chan Ho Park — and those are just contracts from this decade. Finally, “experts” would stop picking against Peyton Manning and predicting his downfall, because if there are any certainties in life besides death and the inefficiency of government programs, it’s that the Colts will make the playoffs with No. 18 under center.While there aren’t any major blunders Bielema must avoid from UW history (besides the entire 2008 season that is), there is certainly hope to be gleaned from UW’s recent seasons.Namely, Bielema’s boys are shaping up an awful lot like the 2006 version of Wisconsin football.First you have preseason expectations. According to almost all “pundits” (is that word ever written without sarcastic quotes?), the 2006 team would finish somewhere in the middle of the Big Ten and started the season unranked. Ditto for the current version of the cardinal and white.By the way, in case you treat history like Bielema does, the 2006 team finished No. 5 in the country and 12-1. Just saying.The next comparison comes at quarterback. Between John Stocco* and backup Tyler Donovan, the 2006 passers averaged 211.5 yards per game and 1.6 touchdowns a contest. Between Scott Tolzien and Curt Phillips, the Badgers are averaging 216 yards through the air and 1.8 touchdown tosses per game. I know, those numbers creeped me out too. Besides, you can’t go to a bar in the Dairy State without hearing a drunk proclaim (like he thought of it first) how much Tolzien reminds him of Stocco.*OK, I totally stole the asterisk from SI’s Joe Posnanski — he calls it a pozterisk and I am just making sure to give him credit — but I find it incredible that the Badgers’ record for TD passes in a season is 21 by Stocco in 2005. Just to put that in perspective, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford threw for 50 last season. That is a long history of ignoring the forward pass.Looking at the offensive attack UW is known for, the 2006 and 2009 team are virtually identical in the running game. With Open Pantry’s favorite, P.J. Hill, as the featured back for Wisconsin in 2006, Hill averaged 120.7 yards per game at 5.0 per carry and 1.2 touchdowns per game. This year’s featured back — though he starts the game on the bench — John Clay, has compiled 116.4 yards per game at a 5.2 clip with an average of 1.4 TD’s per game.If I haven’t melted your brain Indiana Jones-style with statistics yet, read on for further comparisons.Similar to the 2009 team, Bielema only had to face one of the conference’s top two teams in 2006 — they lost to Michigan and didn’t take on Ohio State. This year’s group can take a similar route by missing Penn State and losing to Ohio State (which they will, no matter how much of a roll they are on right now… go ahead, send me hate mail), but winning the rest of the way out with a schedule comparable to Boise State’s.Take a look at just how easy the schedule is from here on out. They have a tough game with Iowa in two weeks for the homecoming game, but then they play Purdue (enough said), at Indiana (more than enough said), Michigan (second-most overrated team in the country behind Notre Dame), at Northwestern (actually scares me more than Iowa does) and finally at Hawaii for the bowl tune-up game. As the Herald statistics editor and my boy Max Henson says, the 2009 schedule is worth nine wins by itself.Whether Bielema would admit it or not, there are comparisons all over the board between his first season and his fourth.For once, Badger fans should hope that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.Michael is a senior majoring in journalism. Just be glad he chose not to write about Brent Favre for the fourth time in his Herald career. Any questions or comments about the column can be directed to [email protected]last_img

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