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Have Wisconsin admission standards saved Badger football from embarrassment?

There’s little doubt that 4-star running back Jordan Stevenson is a special talent on the football field. Rushing for over 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons at Dallas (TX) South Oak Cliff proved that much. However, Stevenson was denied admission to the University of Wisconsin earlier this week and it made for a firestorm against the standards set by the school for football players.

Sadly, Stevenson’s situation isn’t unique or hasn’t been unique in the last few years. Instead, it’s been a far too common occurrence in the past four recruiting classes.

It’s something that James Carlton of Fox Sports pointed out in his article about Stevenson being denied admission. Over the last four years nine players have been denied admission to the University of Wisconsin.

Here are those nine players: Mohamed Berry, Rohan Blackwood, Craig Evans, Chris Jones, Jamil Kamara, Sam Madden, D.J. Singleton, Jordan Stevenson and Donnell Vercher.

Ask yourself one question about any of them (outside of Stevenson and Madden as they have yet to step foot on a college football field) — have you heard of them in a positive manner since they “parted ways” with Wisconsin?

Chances are no, and it leads one to believe that there is perhaps a method to the madness of the UW admissions department after all. While it’s nice to think of players working hard to get test scores and academic progress levels up, sometimes effort alone isn’t enough and that’s where standards matter.

It also matters that this happens to be a relatively new phenomenon. There’s been one common denominator to the majority of those players — Gary Andersen.

He was the head coach that went after eight of the nine names denied admission to UW. Yes, in three recruiting cycles and two swings as a head coach on the field, Andersen managed to go after 88 percent of the players denied admission over the last four years.

Previous to him it was a rare occasion to hear about a committed prospect not getting in to UW because of admissions, either during the latter stages of the Barry Alvarez era or during the Bret Bielema era too.

However, the bigger question is just what has happened to those players since they parted ways with Wisconsin. It’s those details that make one realize that perhaps the admissions department has had the best interests of the university and the program at heart all along.

According to Dave Heller here is what has happened to the players who have been denied admissions:

Then there’s the case of Jamil Kamara, who even after a year of work at the collegiate level didn’t have the combination of grades and test scores to get in at UW. It’s highly likely he wasn’t getting in had he committed the first time, especially if he didn’t get in as a transfer student after one year at Virginia.

While it’s tempting to want to have all the names we see on film and talk about (and to) on the recruiting trail, it just goes to show that sometimes standards matter. Not a single one of those nine players has made an impact in the world of college football today and of the players to have played or been eligible to complete a year of college football only one, Kamara, is still playing at the FBS level.

Just think about the prospect of having to be stuck with players who couldn’t hack it, were in trouble with the law or flunked out of school.

Wisconsin Badgers football is lucky to have that be a rarity on it’s roster, and it is something that makes it unique in the world of college football. Heck, its more common to have a player leave the football program to focus on getting their degree than it is for a player to leave because they have flunked out.

So, while it may hurt in the short term the reality seems to be that the Badgers have actually dodged a few bad situations and wasted scholarships along the way. While potential and athletic ability matter, so does how you do in school.

The reality is, it appears that borderline players (according to UW’s admissions standards) aren’t exactly panning out anywhere.

We shall see about names like Berry, Evans, Kamara, Madden and Stevenson, history suggests this is a group that UW will maybe be glad they didn’t ease standards up for.

It also means perhaps the problem isn’t with UW’s “strict” standards or “high” standards, rather it seems to be a problem of the type of people and players Gary Andersen was interested in bringing in to the program.

Wisconsin’s reputation for staying out of trouble with the law and doing good things in the community and in the classroom matters. One has to wonder what would’ve happened to that reputation in the last four years had these players been let in because a certain head coach wanted them.

So, while its tempting to be frustrated over the way things have gone down, it sure seems UW’s admissions department has been pretty good at weeding out those who couldn’t really hack it at Wisconsin and maybe the fans owe it a thank you instead of the hatred we’ve seen over the last week.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com

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