Wisconsin Badgers

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With Brandon Harris off the board, Texas reportedly looking at former ND QB Malik Zaire

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Texas pursued former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, but Harris is no longer interested in being pursued.

After Harris’s commitment to North Carolina, Tom Herman has reportedly turned his interests to the next logical choice in the graduate transfer market — former Notre Dame signal caller Malik Zaire.

The news comes from Chip Brown of Horns Digest who, unfortunately hid the goods behind a pay wall.

The move would be an interesting one considering Zaire’s history with the Longhorns. Zaire played like a Heisman candidate in a 38-3 crunching of Texas on the opening night of the 2015 season, hitting 19-of-22 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. As we know, Zaire was lost for the year to a broken ankle one week later, but managed to win back the starting job in training camp before the ’16 season.

Zaire didn’t last long, though, hitting 2-of-5 passes for 23 yards while being credited for no gain on three rushes, giving way to DeShone Kizer in an eventual 50-47 double overtime loss to the Longhorns in Austin to open last season.

Zaire would toss only 18 more passes as a Fighting Irish quarterback.

If Zaire reciprocates Herman’s interest he would immediately join an open quarterback battle with incumbent Shane Buechele and true freshman Sam Ehlinger. At the time of his South Bend departure Zaire was reportedly considering Wisconsin, Baylor and recently off-the-market North Carolina.

Wisconsin extends NCAA streak for postseason success thanks to football assist

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The calendar says it’s March and that can only mean one thing for most sports fans: NCAA Tournament time and the inevitable madness that ensues.

While you’re busy filling out your brackets (here’s a printable one in case you haven’t yet), you may have noticed that Wisconsin is the No. 8 seed in the East Regional and set to play No. 9 Virginia Tech.

Why is that notable for CollegeFootballTalk? Well, thanks in part to an assist from the Badgers on the gridiron, the school can extend an NCAA record streak one more season.

Per a university release:

UW’s football team has qualified for a bowl game and its men’s basketball team has earned an invitation to the NCAA tournament for 15 straight years (every year since the start of the 2002 season). That is the longest streak in NCAA history. The next longest belongs to Texas, which qualified for a bowl and the NCAA tournament 12 straight seasons from 1998-99 to 2009-10.

In case you’re wondering, the next two schools with active streaks are Baylor and North Carolina at a paltry (by comparison) four such seasons with both a bowl and tournament appearance.

While the Longhorns’ streak ended a few years ago, Wisconsin did appear to have some competition from a Big Ten rival in Michigan State. The Spartans did have a run of nine straight years where they made the postseason in both sports but the football team’s shocking 3-9 record in 2016 put an end to that.

Maybe even more impressive for the Badgers is how they’ve been able to keep things going on the football side despite having four different head coaches in the same time frame. One name from that very same quartet of coaches should see some face time in Wisconsin’s opening round game as Barry Alvarez  is now the athletic director at the school and overseen the streak from the very beginning.

‘On Wisconsin’ indeed it seems, especially when it comes to the postseason of the two biggest college sports.

Wisconsin names Alex Hornibrook starting quarterback

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It’s common for teams to enter spring practice with quarterback battles on their hands, and in those situations it’s common for the head coach in question to let them play out as long as possible. The reason, obviously, is to allow two (or more) quarterbacks to drive through the spring, the summer and as much as fall camp as possible to treat themselves as the starter, making the whole group better in the process. Oftentimes, though, a head coach will name a starter at some point toward the tail end of spring drills, in an effort to give the entire team one voice to follow as players conduct their own workouts over the summer.

What isn’t common, however, is to see a head coach name his starter before spring practice even begins. But that’s what Paul Chryst did on Monday.

The Wisconsin head coach revealed Monday, the first day of spring practice in Madison, Alex Hornibrook will be the Badgers’ starter in 2017.

“He is the guy,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst told Wisconsin’s official website. “He knows it and he thinks it.”

To be clear, Hornibrook was the clear-cut favorite after last season. Splitting time with the now-graduated Bart Houston, Hornibrook appeared in 13 games, hitting 106-of-181 passes (58.6 percent) for 1,262 yards with nine touchdowns against seven interceptions, helping Wisconsin win the Big Ten West and defeat Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. Hornibrook took a back seat to Houston down the stretch, however, tossing only 19 passes over Wisconsin’s final four games.

Chryst also indicated to the team site that former tight end David Edwards, who transitioned to right tackle and started the team’s final seven games there, is the projected starter at left tackle, and tight end Troy Fumagalli is expected to be a featured member of the Badgers’ offense this season. He led the club with 47 grabs for 580 yards and two touchdowns in 2016.

Wisconsin gives pay raises to head coach Paul Chryst, OC Joe Rudolph

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There is always a certain rhythm to college football and as sure as the sun rises in the East, the offseason after a good year will result in a handful of raises for various coaches.

Such is apparently the case at Wisconsin this week, as documents provided by the school to the Wisconsin State Journal show head coach Paul Chyrst has received a hefty half million bump in salary this year.

Chryst is coming off a terrific year with the Badgers after guiding them to a surprise Big Ten West title and victory in the Cotton Bowl over previously undefeated Western Michigan. He is now set to earn roughly $3.2 million in 2017 and then see annual raises of $100,000 each year until the end of his contract. The head coach and former Wisconsin player was recently extended by the school through 2022.

That’s not the only raise handed out either, as offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph also received a bump of $80,000 this year to bring his salary to $650,000 in 2017 and 2018.

Despite the pay increases, the two Badgers coaches are still well behind most of their peers at the Power Five level and in the Big Ten especially. At Michigan alone, for comparison’s sake, head coach Jim Harbaugh makes around $9 million a season and pays three different assistants seven figures as well.

Former Wisconsin offensive coach returning… as defensive assistant

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Paul Chryst is certainly taking a unique approach in reconstituting his Wisconsin coaching staff.

Earlier this month, Chryst hired Jim Leonhard as his new defensive coordinator despite the latter having just one year of experience as a coach at any level. Now, reports have surfaced that Chryst is bringing Bob Bostad back to Madison to fill a vacancy on the staff.

While Bostad was an offensive assistant during his first tour of duty with the Badgers, he’ll be a defensive coach in this latest stint. Specifically, he’ll serve as UW’s inside linebackers coach.

Bostad would technically replace Justin Wilcox, the coordinator Leonhard replaced after Wilcox took the head-coaching job at Cal last month.

From 2006-11, Bostad was an assistant for the Badgers — the first two seasons as tight ends coach, the last four as offensive line coach. After spending four seasons as the line coach for two NFL franchises — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13), Tennessee Titans (2014-15) — Bostad spent the 2016 season as tight ends coach at Northern Illinois.

In a coaching career that spans 27 seasons, this would be Bostad’s first job on the defensive side of the ball.

UPDATED 12:59 p.m. ET: Wisconsin has confirmed the hiring of Bostad.