Last season everyone talked about the Wisconsin Badgers murderers row of a schedule. The Badgers didn’t listen. This season, everyone is pointing out how much easier UW’s schedule is to maneuver against. Once again, the Badgers aren’t listening.
It shouldn’t be surprising, as head coach Paul Chryst has never really bought in to all the talk in the media and the hype machine in general. So, Chryst made sure to set the tone early at Big Ten media day on Monday at McCormick Place.
Asked about the schedule and how does he handle that with his team, Chryst had a simple message.
“If you agree (last year) you can’t worry about what’s said, now you can’t all of sudden start reading it and saying this is right,” he said. “They know better. We’ve got to make sure that they do.”
With Michigan State and Ohio State off the cross-divisional schedule and the Badgers bringing back a ton of talent, the preseason talk has been all about a repeat division crown. The media certainly believe that is in the cards, with UW receiving 31 of 38 votes to win the West division in the unofficial Cleveland.com preseason media poll.
Chryst and Co. preached a steady message of not caring about the outside talk. It paid off right away, with Wisconsin winning a huge battle with LSU in the Lambeau Field College Classic. That win was a shock to the rest of the world, but internally it was clear the confidence was there.
This season, Wisconsin opens up the season on a Friday night of Labor Day Weekend. It’s opponent is a far cry from LSU, with the Utah State Aggies coming in for visit.
These aren’t the Aggies of Gary Andersen’s day. You know, the team that led the Badgers at the half and were a missed field goal with the game expiring away from pulling an upset in 2012.
Don’t expect the changing roster and fortunes of the Aggies to matter much to UW either. Don’t expect the fact that Ohio State were named an overwhelming favorite to win the Big Ten championship game to bother Chryst or the Badgers either.
“And I think that all the — that’s what’s great about this season is you have to go play it,” said Chryst. “And all the talk doesn’t really matter. And so don’t spend a lot of time, energy, thinking about what’s being said. You try to focus your energy and your players’ energy on what you can control, what you can best put your energy into, and that’s the fun part.”
Wisconsin certainly isn’t afraid to go out and win games regardless of opponent. Chryst comes in to this season with an impressive 21-6 record in his two seasons at the helm in Madison.
It is that attitude of taking one game, one practice and one day at a time that has gotten him this far.
Not-so-shockingly, that philosophy isn’t changing anytime soon and the Badgers wouldn’t have it any other way.