Two weeks ago today, Arkansas Head Coach and Wisconsin's favorite pin cushion, Bret Bielema, left Madison to Ooohh...Pig..... *takes deep breath*.....SOOOOOOOOOOOOOEY Country, leaving Wisconsin Director of Athletics and Bielema's mentor for almost 9 years, Barry Alvarez high and dry. I'm sure Barry will not be sending Bret a Christmas card, or maybe he will, in a "gift" in the form of a hog's head in Bielema's bed, ala The Godfather.
In the two weeks since the team has lost its field general, rumors and "sources" have been interchangeable in verbiage about who the next coach of YOUR Wisconsin Badgers will be. First, Paul Chryst's name had floated around, until Barry, being that white knight of college football, said he would not pursue the Wisconsin native and alleged "perfect" fit due to the strings he pulled to help get the offensive guru his first head coaching gig at Pitt. Then, Boise State Head Coach Chris Petersen was supposed to be in for an interview last Monday, and that didn't happen. Miami Head Coach Al Golden? Nope. How about Mike Riley? Not a chance. Maybe Iowa State's Paul Rhoads? Guess not.
After those coaches either said no, or really, didn't get a single phone call from Alvarez, names have been shot up and down the message boards, internet sites, and yes, from my mother (no, Mom, Brett Favre can't come back to Wisconsin, yet.). From the Jaguars' Mel Tucker to Pitt's Joe Rudolph, to Oklahoma OC Jay Norvell and a couple of MAC coaches, no one knows who the next head coach is - so I'm throwing my two cents into the hat of "sources" (the voices in my head) - I think Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt will be the next leader of Wisconsin Football.
Am I off my rocker? Maybe. Am I crazy stupid? Well, I am Polish. But after all the supposedly fruitful rumors that have come out rotten the past two weeks, let's just throw his name into the "Pick-a-Coach" craze. He's a bona fide winner in college football, going 117-40 in his 12 seasons as the Bulldogs' coach, not to mention 2-1 in BCS Bowls(all Sugar Bowls, YA HEAR THAT BRET - HE'S WON SOME BCS GAMES - As I cry myself to sleep), and won SEC Championships in 2002 and 2005 with a 67-29 record overall in SEC play. According to research obtained by one Andy Coppens of MadTownBadgers.com, Richt is scheduled to make under $3 million this year, and does not have a buyout clause - so he'd be cheap picking for Alvarez and the Wisconsin boosters.
But those are facts. I'm not here to talk about wins, and losses, and everything logical about hiring a guy that's the SEC's longest tenured coach. No, sir. I have two major reasons why Mark Richt should be hired at Wisconsin: He "loves" critics and scrutiny from media and fans, and we would see Meyer vs Richt: Part Deux!!!
Even with that amazing record in the SEC, it seems like Richt has his share of detractors in Athens, Georgia. It seems like every year he's on the hot seat with fans calling for his head. Obviously, Wisconsin Badgers fans have NEVER berated a coach who has lead a team to a bowl game every year he's been at the helm or complied an impressive winning record. I'm sure Richt would absolutely love a chance to go to a place where he'd be accepted and not be compared with a living legend (By the way, what's that statue just outside of Camp Randall anyway...). He also loves addressing the media who ask stupid questions - remember that gem from the SEC Title Game presser back earlier this month?
Most importantly, I want Mark Richt in Madison to see the coaching rivalry that made the SEC amazing in the late 2000s: Meyer vs Richt. Remember when Richt told his Bulldogs - not just the offense, but the ENTIRE TEAM - to celebrate in the end zone against the Gators in '07? IMAGINE THIS: The Badgers go to Ohio Stadium against the Buckeyes with the Leaders (or whatever craptacular name is given next) Division Title on the line. Chris Borland, Melvin Gordon, and David Gilbert all run to the middle of the field, with Richt and Bucky Badger in hand, and spike a UW flag in the middle of the field. Or after a touchdown, the ENTIRE TEAM JUMPS AROUND in the end zone. This might not be the "Wisconsin Way", but c'mon, it'd be HILARIOUS!!!!! Plus, Delany could see dollar signs galore for promotions and publicity in that very division, and essentially make the Badgers-Buckeyes rivalry up to par with Michigan-Ohio State.
In all likelihood, this will not happen. Richt apparently is happy at Georgia (he just signed an extension this year to run through 2016), despite the repeated questions he faces. But that's okay, because I trust Barry and trust the program and what he founded it on. All these rumors and a new name each day, and even with assistants jumping off left and right on the U.S.S. Bucky, the ship will sail on with a new captain of the team. Just now, we're hearing from SI.com's Pete Thamel confirming Utah State Coach Gary Andersen was interviewed and JSOnline's Jeff Potrykus reporting Toledo coach Matt Campbell is a legit candidate, but don't fret, because Barry hired a no-name coach to replace him who didn't have head coaching experience eight years ago - because that worked out pretty well, credit most Bielema-haters will ever give him.
SATIRE ALERT: What you just read isn't based on anything factual... Besides who needs facts when assumptions can become rumors and rumors become facts these days? But seriously, if you take this thing with anything other than a joke you need a dose of reality.