Tuesday, June 24, 2008

BIg Time Running Back Commits to WIsconsin

As soon as running back Montee Ball sat down and watched tapes of the University of Wisconsin football team's offense, he knew it was the place he wanted to go.
"Their style of offense is the style of offense I was looking for," said Ball, who is from Wentzville, Mo. "They have huge linemen, they pound the ball, pound the ball — but they also throw the ball, too. It's a balanced offense and that's what I like."
That's why Ball, who initially thought he was going to wait until December to choose a school, ended up making his decision over the weekend.
He gave an oral commitment to the Badgers after an unofficial visit on Friday. His other two finalists were Missouri and Kansas.
Asked what comes to mind when he thinks of Wisconsin running backs, Ball said, "workhorses."
That certainly fits when it comes to the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Ball, who rushed for 4,922 yards on 655 carries (7.5 average) and 46 touchdowns the past two seasons for Timberland High School in suburban St. Louis.
"Very durable kid (with) big-play ability," Timberland coach Craig Collins said. "He's a guy we built our team around the last couple years."
Ball ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds at one combine, but most recruiting services list him at 4.5. He makes a living between the tackles, but after working with a personal trainer the past three years, he also became a breakaway threat last season.
"He's your typical Wisconsin-type running back," Collins said. "I think it's a great fit for them. Between-the-tackles type of guy, but he's got good ability to sidestep safeties and good ability to run over people, too.
"Has a great forward lean when he runs. This (past) year, he really showed the ability to break away, which accounts for the big numbers."
Ball rushed for 3,077 yards on 358 carries (8.6 average) and scored 31 touchdowns as a junior. He also caught four passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, helping his team finish 10-2 and advance to the Class 4 quarterfinals.
He is a good student, with a 3.4 grade-point average and already has a qualifying test score. He was recruited by UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren.
"I've been talking to (Doeren) for about two months now," Ball said. "We already have a strong relationship going. When I went up there and visited, we sat down by the lake and just talked about the place, talked about what I was looking for, talked about my major — business — and all that stuff. We're going to be pretty good together."
That should be good news for UW fans who might remember an early oral commitment a year ago from wide receiver Wes Kemp, who was considered the top recruit in St. Louis at the time.
Missouri never gave up on Kemp and he de-committed from the Badgers and signed with the Tigers. Even though Missouri has had a lot of recent success keeping the state's top players at home, it's a different case with Ball, who doesn't seem a good fit for the Tigers' spread offense.
For now, at least, Ball doesn't see much chance of changing his mind.
"Nope, because when I sat down and watched the film with (running backs) coach (John) Settle, their offense is exactly the style offense we run here at my school," Ball said. "I'm basically moving into the same offense, which is going to be really comfortable."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Badgers almost play at Lambeau Field

The rumor was intriguing enough that University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez sought to substantiate it this spring. Is it true Fresno State officials rejected a multi-million-dollar offer from an independent promoter to move their Sept. 13 home football game against UW to Lambeau Field in Green Bay? Well, sort of. Alvarez said he was told the offer included a $1 million payout to Fresno State, as well as a promise to install FieldTurf at 41,031-seat Bulldog Stadium. Alvarez said an official from the Western Athletic Conference told him about the particulars during the NCAA Final Four men's basketball tournament in April. Alvarez said he subsequently verified it during a trip to the West Coast earlier this month. "I know they really want that game," he said of Fresno State officials. But while Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh confirmed the $1 million offer and the promise of a new playing surface for the stadium, he made several points that downplay the apparent significance of the proposal.For one thing, Boeh said this week that his school generates $1 million in revenue from its home football games, so the payout represents a wash. For another, Boeh said the offer to install FieldTurf at Bulldog Stadium amounted to around $800,000. "We just weren't interested," he said. According to Boeh, the Fresno State AD since 2005, multiple offers have been made from multiple third parties about switching the September game against the Badgers to Lambeau Field."It's come up at least twice since '05," he said. "We've never had any interest." The value of the game to the Bulldogs goes beyond the gate receipts. They return 17 starters from a team that went 9-4 last season and fancy themselves as contenders for a Bowl Championship Series berth. The Badgers, meanwhile, are regarded by some as Big Ten Conference title contenders. Fresno State plays two other schools from BCS conferences — Rutgers (Big East) and UCLA (Pacific Ten) — but those games are on the road. Alvarez said it would be intriguing to play a game at Lambeau Field, but he wouldn't give up a home date at Camp Randall Stadium to do so. "How are we going to handle our season ticket-holders?" he asked rhetorically. "We just couldn't move a home game. There's just too many hassles with that."
To say that the Badgers couldn't move a home game because of the hassle sounds like a cop out to me. They should just tell the truth and say that it is more work than they want to do. Hopefully someday the Badgers will play at Lambeau Field. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!