Does Wisconsin have a coaching problem?

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For the second time in three years, Wisconsin is looking for a new head coach after losing its head coach to another power conference program stuck in the bottom half of its division. Three years ago Bret Bielema left Wisconsin following three straight Big Ten championships to take over Arkansas, a program in the dumps following the bizarre ending to the Bobby Petrino era. Now, the Badgers look for a replacement to take over the program after Gary Andersen surprisingly packed his bags and left to accept a job offer from Oregon State, a program typically happy just to finish above .500 while playing in the multi-uniformed shadows of Oregon.

Wisconsin has been a solid program in the Big Ten over the course of the last five or six years. Perhaps to a certain extent Wisconsin has taken advantage of some down years by Michigan and a temporary setback for Ohio State, but credit the Badgers for seizing the opportunity to claim a spot among the top teams in the Big Ten. Now, in the expanded 14-team conference, Wisconsin is in a favorable spot in the West Division. A good coach can win in this division more often than not for years to come, keeping Wisconsin among the top teams in the Big Ten. So why is Wisconsin all of a sudden a program not capable of keeping quality coaches in Madison?

This is the question former Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez, now the school’s athletics director and a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee is left pondering. During a press conference Wednesday evening Alvarez was asked why Wisconsin was no longer a destination school. He was left without an explanation. Maybe the question is if Wisconsin was ever a true destination school in the first place. It was for Alvarez, who took the job in 1990 after serving as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, and perhaps it was for a few of his predecessors, but then we start diving into a different age of football.

For a moment, let’s toss aside the idea that recruiting is becoming harder and harder for Big Ten programs, with recruiting trends moving away from the Big Ten’s region. If that is the case, then every school is having that problem without the issue of losing coaches to other programs. That would not make this a Wisconsin problem, but a collective Big Ten problem.

Is it the leadership at Wisconsin that is an issue? The idea Wisconsin has been unable to afford to provide comparable salaries for a coaching staff is a fair point. The Badgers ranked 40th in the nation in coaching staff salary with a total staff salary of $2,368,600 according to a coaching salary database compiled by USA Today. If Andersen left for a program with a higher financial commitment to its coaching staff, he may be going to the wrong place. Oregon State ranked 41st in coaching staff salary ($2,347,200). Of course, maybe Oregon State will change that with Andersen coming to the program. The lack of ability to provide a secure financial commitment to a coaching staff was believed to be a factor in Bielema leaving for the SEC, where coaching salaries tend to be higher. For a point of reference, Wisconsin’s coaching staff salary was ranked eighth in the Big Ten and it is possible it might even be lower. Salary information for Penn State and Northwestern is not on record.

But every school has to spend money the best way they see fit. Sometimes the payroll for the football staff has to take a backseat in order to cover other expenses in an athletics department, or the university as a whole. There is no question Wisconsin receives a healthy amount of money from the Big Ten through revenue shares in the conference, but that does not always mean the money will be spent on the staff.

Or maybe sometimes a coach just needs a new challenge (Bielema) or wants to go back closer to home (Andersen). And maybe there’s nothing wrong with Wisconsin at all. The Badgers have proven to be capable of competing for the Big Ten title (I say this fully acknowledging that 59-0 against Ohio State does not support this statement). As with any coaching search, if Wisconsin hires the right man for the job, the Badgers should be fine.

Five Wisconsin DBs listed as questionable on initial injury report

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When Wisconsin takes the field this weekend looking to bounce back from a stunning beating at the hands of Michigan in Week 7, the Badgers’ secondary could have decidedly different — and depleted — look to it.

UW released its initial injury report for this coming Saturday’s homecoming game against Illinois, and a whopping five defensive backs were listed on it.  The injured fivesome are safeties D’Cota Dixon (right leg), Scott Nelson (right leg) and Reggie Pearson (left leg) and cornerbacks Travian Blaylock (right leg) and Faion Hicks (left leg).

Hicks, Nelson and Pearson were all injured in the loss to Michigan.  Dixon sustained his injury in the Oct. 6 win over Nebraska and didn’t play against U-M.  Blaylock, after playing in the first four games this season, hadn’t seen any action in the last two.

Hicks and Nelson, both redshirt freshmen, along with the senior Dixon were listed as starters ahead of the Wolverines game.  Pearson made his first career start in place of Dixon, who hadn’t been listed on the injury report heading into that game.

The Badgers will update the status of all five defensive backs later on in the week.

Duke DT Edgar Cerenord’s season ends after surgery for ruptured Achilles

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The depth along the interior of Duke’s defensive line has taken an injury hit.

Earlier this week, Duke confirmed that Edgar Cerenord suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in this past Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech.  The defensive tackle underwent surgery Monday afternoon to repair the damage.

Suffice to say, the fifth-year senior will miss the remainder of the 2018 season.

Cerenord could pursue a sixth season of eligibility if he so chooses.  It’s unclear at this point if he’ll utilize this option.

Thus far, Cerenord, who started all 13 games last season, has played in 41 games during his Blue Devils career.  Four of those appearances came this season, and he was credited with 14 tackles in that action.

According to the school, he’s the lone senior on the Blue Devils’ defensive line.

Iowa State to appeal $25,000 for field storming after upset of WVU

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Iowa State’s not going to take the monetary hit lying down.

Earlier Tuesday, the Big 12 announced that ISU has been fined $25,000 after their fans stormed the field this past Saturday.  The field storming came in the aftermath of ISU’s huge upset of then-No. 6 West Virginia in Ames.

In a statement announcing the fine, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that the league “[has] a duty to provide a safe game environment” and that ISU “has a written event management policy that was not thoroughly implemented, and was unsuccessful in ensuring the safety and security of all visiting team game participants” — a sentiment with which WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen is likely to agree.

Not long after the league’s announcement, ISU president Wendy Wintersteen confirmed in a statement that the university will appeal the fine.

Our institution takes the safety and welfare of all student-athletes, officials and fans very seriously. We have reviewed all of our procedures, including several videos of the post-game celebration, and we do not agree with Commissioner Bowlsby’s assessment of the events that evening,. Chief [Michael] Newton, of the Iowa State University Police Department, and the CSC staff had a very thorough and specific plan.

“Those plans were discussed and implemented prior to the game and were evaluated and adjusted during the game to ensure the safest atmosphere for everyone attending the game, including the West Virginia players and staff.

According to school officials, it took security less than 90 seconds to safely get the WVU football contingent off the field and into the locker room.  No injuries have been reported on either side.

Big 12 fines Iowa State $25K for West Virginia field rush

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No one ever wants to lose $25,000, but the guess here is Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard will be happy to cut this check. (And, yes, we know no one really cuts a check in these instances. Just roll with us here.)

The Big 12 on Tuesday slapped Iowa State with a $25,000 fine for the rushing of Jack Trice Stadium’s field following the Cyclones 30-14 destruction of No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday.

“We have a duty to provide a safe game environment,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “The Iowa State Department of Athletics has a written event management policy that was not thoroughly implemented, and was unsuccessful in ensuring the safety and security of all visiting team game participants. Although the Big 12 conference does not currently have a policy prohibiting spectators from entering playing areas for post-game celebrations, it is of utmost importance that home game management provide adequate security measures for our student-athletes, coaches, game officials and spectators.”

Iowa State is the second school to receive such a fine this week. No. 5 LSU was fined $100,000 for the rushing of Tiger Stadium’s field following the Bayou Bengals’ 36-16 blowout of No. 8 Georgia.

Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen said the field rush was “very unprofessional” during the Big 12 teleconference on Monday.

“Our job is to keep student-athletes in a safe place. When you have thousands of people coming at you, it’s not good,” he said. There are league rules and a league ban against that for a reason. Our job is to keep players safe, and we didn’t have time to get them off the field. That was not good.”