Wisconsin Football: What It Will Take for Badgers to Become B1G Dynasty Program?
Dynasties are hard to build, and quick to fade. That sentiment holds true when you talk about the Egyptians, Romans, Huns, Chinese, Army, Notre Dame—and when you talk about "The U."
Sustained success in athletics is a tall order, and it's even a taller order when talking about the wide landscape of college football. At one point the University of Chicago was a force to be reckoned with and Southern Methodist University was the dominant program in Texas. Today, a few dynasties are just beginning to take shape while others are watching their legacy dwindle into nothing more than a historical footnote.
The Wisconsin Badgers are on their way to becoming a powerhouse. The squad has been solid for the past two decades, but Bret Bielema has the team poised for a status reserved for the likes of Ohio State, USC and Florida State.
There is more work to do to bring on the next evolution of Badger football.
Strengthen the Infrastructure
A team does not become back-to-back Big Ten champions behind a little luck.
A college football team is a multi-layered organization that needs nurturing in every aspect to ensure its performance. Before the players take the field, or the fans storm the stands, a whole lot of elbow grease needs to be put in.
Athletic Director Barry Alvarez was known for being a prolific coach. Now, he needs to cement his legend as an administrator. Alvarez is moving in the right direction with the brand new $76.8 million Athletic Village set to open its doors in 2014.
These facilities offer the school's entire student-athlete population a state-of-the-art facility comparable to its counterparts in Oregon and Florida. It also shows coaches, parents and prospects that Wisconsin is by no means a second-tier organization when it comes to resources. Winners build, simple as that.
On top of the physical infrastructure, Alvarez needs to ensure his staff is as competitive as its product.
Staffing turnovers have seen deputy athletic director Shawn Eichorst take the reins at the University of Miami and John Chadima all but flee the state. The athletic executives in place now are more than capable, but their long-term effect on the program is yet to be seen.
Develop the Leadership
Paul Chryst needed to move on.
The architect of the Wisconsin offense was not long for the program, and it was not a matter of "if" but "when." Some fans will disagree but this is the double-edged sword of success.
With that said, Wisconsin needs to keep hungry, with young coaches engaged and excited. Head coach Bret Bielema says he definitely prefers ambition over complacency but he needs to strike a balance. For elite players, the Wisconsin brand only goes so far and it's that position coach or coordinator that keeps them playing their best.
Receivers coach Zach Azzanni has the spark, intensity and smarts to be a head coach some day. Bielema needs to make his time in Madison meaningful in a time where coaches change jobs faster than James White in the flat.
Players followed Chryst's schemes and plans. It worked out for both parties. But that era is over and dynasties know how to adjust to new leadership.
Recruit, Recruit, Recruit
With a solid infrastructure in place and the staff ready to go to battle, the soldiers need to be recruited.
College football, above all, is a struggle for talent—similar to corporate dynasties like Facebook or Google. Development is a testament to coaches and great seasons, not teams, can rely on walk-on attitude alone. At the end of the day, to become elite you must recruit elite.
That does not mean the entire team needs to be chock full of five-star mercenaries. A few, though, won't hurt.
Montee Ball, Bart Houston and Dan Voltz all represent that next level of recruit that Wisconsin needs to keep selling on Madison. They will come for the tradition and stay for the legacy they build for themselves.
Win with Honor
It does not have to be said that dynasties are built on winning traditions.
Wins alone can keep a conference power atop a pedestal for years, but a scandal can easily burn down that ivory tower.
Ohio State was a dynasty that was brought to its knees by gold pants. Penn State's future is anything but bright after its last year while places like USC are hoping to regain form after a Heisman was hijacked.
The "win at all cost" culture has been re-evaluated and today, teams need to "win within the rules" to guarantee a place in the record books. Otherwise they are dancing on the edge of a knife instead of hoisting up crystal footballs.
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