Since the Olympics, "Dream Team" has been a loaded term. But as another football season sits tantalizingly close, fans find time to daydream about their favorite players from yesteryear, as well as get excited for returning stars.
The careful creation of a Dream Team is no simple task. It requires concentration and consideration that ordinary fans simply do not have the time to take. Legends of the past cannot be forsaken in favor of the flash of modern superstars. Style of play, historical context, attitude and production are all variables that mean as much as touchdowns, sacks and yards per carry.
For the sake of this experiment, this collection of Badger greats will all be taking the imaginary field as units. No two-deeps here. Dream Teams don't have backups.
While his time was short in Madison, it made a huge impact on the Wisconsin program. The signal caller and leader of this super squad will be none other than Russell Wilson.
Perhaps the smallest guy on the offensive side of the ball, Wilson represents a player who embodied the Badger spirit. He was a team player, but not at the expense of realizing his individual potential—and so far, that ability is translating nicely to the NFL.
3,175 passing yards with 33 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions made Wilson one of the most accurate quarterbacks in NCAA history. His competitive fire and ability to run the huddle made him the undisputed starter on the Badger Dream Team.
Take a seat, Montee. It's not your turn yet.
Ron Dayne is the undisputed king of running backs in college football. His record of 6,397 career rushing yards has yet to be touched or even approached. The Heisman on his mantel is a testament to his incredible tenure as the Wisconsin wrecking ball. Dayne's achievements propelled him into near mythical status among Wisconsin fans, as his name is etched into Camp Randall's interior ring.
A father-son duo highlight the Dream Team receiving corps, but a late-game hero may steal both their thunder.
Al and Nick Toon would keep defenses plenty busy as both players proved to be a handful in their prime. Al's speed and Nick's sure-handedness could provide Wilson with an embarrassment of riches when it came to targets. Both Toons topped 2,000 yards in their careers with double-digit touchdown counts.
Lee Evans would be the third receiver in this set. The fan favorite had plenty of incredible moments in the cardinal and white, none more amazing than a touchdown against Ohio State in 2003.
Travis Beckum would fill the tight end spot as a fellow member of the 2,000 receiving yard club.
When anyone talks about Wisconsin, the conversation inevitably turns to the "Big Uglies" on the offensive line.
Linemen are easy to overlook on the stat sheet, if not in real life. This unit will probably also get the most criticism as Wisconsin fans latch onto favorite players in the trenches like fans of other teams fall in love with skill players.
Joe Thomas nabs the starting left tackle spot with John Moffitt at left guard. "Iron" Mike Webster would control the line at center. Former All-Big Ten performer Casey Rabach would take the right guard position and would be flanked by 1998 All-American Aaron Gibson at right tackle.
Size and strength is not saved for the offensive side of the ball.
The Badgers have fielded some incredible defensive linemen throughout the years. A rotating line consisting of Wendell Bryant, J.J. Watt, Tim Krumrie, O'Brien Schofield, Tom Burke and Erasmus James would all collaborate to wreak pure havoc.
When it comes to destructive prowess, don't count out the linebacking corps.
Chris Borland's infectious energy and Mike Taylor's productivity would be complemented well by prolific Pete Monty, who still holds the university career record for tackles with 451.
Wisconsin is known for their players' collective waistlines, but the school also has a strong contingent of speedy defensive backs to boot.
Cornerback and one-time Jim Thorpe Award winner Jamar Fletcher along with Troy Vincent would lock down any receivers foolish enough to try and run on them.
Meanwhile safeties Jim Leonhard and Chris Maragos would prowl in the deep, waiting for an errant throw to be gobbled up and returned for six.
To round out the Dream Team roster, two former All-Americans would handle the kicking duties.
Taylor Melhaff was a two-time Lou Garza finalist and sits second on the school's all-time points list with 295.
Ray Guy award winner Kevin Stemke would be the team's punter, but there wouldn't be much punting to do with this dream team.
Don't agree with the Wisconsin Badger Dream Team? Tweet Peter at twitter.com/PeterRaisch.