Welcome to 2013 folks… We made it and those that misread the Mayan calendar are now in hiding somewhere. Glad you could join us in the new year, but before we have a little fun this afternoon in the Rose Bowl it's time to take one last look back at 2012.
If you've missed our previous editions of the "Badgers 2012 Year in Review let's rewind the countdown for you:
10. Danny O'Brien transfers to Wisconsin
9. Jarrod Uthoff transfers from Wisconsin to Big Ten rival
8. Paul Chryst bolts for Pitt
7. Curt Phillips becomes 3rd starting QB for Bucky
6. Montee Ball beat up in 5 on 1 attack
5. Wisconsin loses Rose Bowl in dramatic fashion
4. Montee Ball Breaks all-time TD record
3. Badgers basketball makes the Sweet 16
2. Wisconsin wins 3rd straight Big Ten football title
So, what landed at No. 1 on our list of the biggest stories to hit Wisconsin in 2012? It was perhaps the last possible thing anyone would've predicted to start 2012 and that was Bret Bielema taking another head coaching gig!
What Happened: Badger fans everywhere were still coming down off the high of a 70-31 pounding of Nebraska in the Big Ten championship, but 72 hours later the landscape of Wisconsin football changed in a big way as Bret Bielema shocked us all by leaving the Badgers for the head coaching vacancy at Arkansas.
What transpired next was a crazy mix of rumor, fact, innuendo, and flat out bad reporting as the crazy coaching carousel went round and round for the first time since 1989. Yes, I was a whole 8 years old the last time we had a true coaching search and I don't quite remember that one being nearly as crazy as this one.
So, why did Bielema leave the Badgers behind? He stated a quest to "do something no one had ever done." Apparently that's winning an SEC championship at Arkansas and not going to three straight Rose Bowl's or playing for a national championship at Wisconsin.
But hey, go ahead and enjoy being the 4th best team at best every year at Arkansas, don't let the door to the Nitty Gritty hit you in the ass on the way out. On the way out Bielema saw fit to take both of the UW defensive coordinators and that left the rest of the assistants to fend for themselves. In the end Wisconsin was left with just 3 of 9 paid assistants possibly left over for the new head coach. It was a case of here we go again in that respect for Badger fans.
Why it's Our Top Story of 2012: Simply put this was by far the most shocking piece of news as Bielema wasn't the most popular coach, but it was hard to argue with the results in his 7 years at Wisconsin. What came out after his departure was even more shocking. Details like BB sending a note to Jeff Jones, the AD at Arkansas, back in September and the fact that Matt Canada was hamstrung from calling his own game plans by Bielema's wishes… Oh, and then the fact that Bielema never bothered to give his mentor and AD Barry Alvarez a head's up he was leaving. Ya, you get the picture, right? It wasn't a pretty end to the Bielema era at Wisconsin and ultimately most fans were happy he left the Badgers behind.
Just a little piece of advice for those Hogs fans out there…. Enjoy "The Chart!"