News came out this afternoon that Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, who played linebacker at Iowa, has been hired as the new Arkansas Razorbacks head coach. The Badgers have generally lost to Michigan and other big-time teams in recruiting battles, but they have a few offerees who might be of Michigan fans' interest.
2013 Wisconsin commits: Rob Wheelwright
2014 Wisconsin commits: Conor Sheehy
Current roster players: LB Vince Biegel, RB Melvin Gordon, RB Vonte Jackson, OG Dan Voltz, RB James White
For what it's worth, I really liked Biegel and Voltz when they were coming out of high school; regardless, it's unlikely that Michigan could grab any current roster members from Wisconsin because players usually don't transfer within the conference. Sometimes it's interesting to think about what could have been, though.
Meanwhile, Sheehy visited Michigan, and the Wolverines were supposedly high on his list, so it might be possible to coax him into decommitting. Wheelwright never seemed to be seriously interested in the Wolverines, although Michigan would still like to add a wide receiver to the class. The Badgers also have a commitment from 2014 quarterback Chance Stewart, a pro-style guy from Sturgis (MI) Sturgis. Several Michigan people thought that he would jump on an offer from Michigan, but he never earned that offer and one didn't seem to be forthcoming anytime soon.
I am somewhat surprised by Bielema's departure from Madison because he seemed like a Big Ten guy, but he may have realized that a national championship would be difficult to achieve at Wisconsin. While he did an excellent job of taking mid-level recruits and turning them into Big Ten champions, record holders, and such, he just didn't seem to garner the elite athletes that one needs to win national championships and dominate the conference. Now he'll have the SEC name, the weather, and the recruiting territory to build an even more athletic version of his teams at Wisconsin. The biggest question to me is whether he'll be able to make the guys in the south buy into his program as well as he did with the Badgers. Personally, I have never been a fan of Bielema because of his pompous attitude, so he'll fit just fine in SEC country.
It may be interesting to see what direction the Badgers go now with their coaching situation. I would not be surprised to see former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst come back to Wisconsin. He did a great job of running their offense prior to this season and would seem like a natural fit to keep that program running without any hiccups. And that would be quite unfortunate for the Pitt Panthers, who could be on the cusp of losing a second coach after just a one-year stint. Todd Graham coached there for the 2011 season before bolting for Arizona State, and now Chryst's old stomping grounds might lure him back after just one season in Pittsburgh.