"We didn't tell the players earlier, but this was pre-planned by the coaches," Bielema said afterwards. "We wanted to scale down and get our legs back under us."
The strategy must have worked, because freshman running back P.J. Hill shed his green caution jersey and looked frisky again in practice.
Hill was banged up late in the season, but Bielema said, "P.J. had a bounce in his step today."
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who hand-picked Bielema in July 2005 to succeed him as head coach beginning this season, attended practice but will not make the Capital One Bowl game against Arkansas on Monday.
Instead, Alvarez must work the Fox Sports telecast of the Fiesta Bowl game between Oklahoma and Boise State on Monday night.
"Obviously I'd rather be at this game, but I made the TV commitment last spring," Alvarez said.
Maybe it's just as well.
"I'm like a caged lion at Wisconsin games," he said. "I'm up there raising cain with the officials, but there's no feedback. Then I go home on Saturday nights and do the laundry."
Bielema talks with Alvarez every day about administrative matters, but not X's and O's, he said.
With an 11-1 record in his first season, Bielema has the football part figured out.
"I'm most proud that our team got better as we went along this year," Bielema said.
The Badgers feel at home on their second straight bowl trip to "SEC country," as Bielema called Orlando.
"We have the same surroundings as last year in the Peabody Hotel," he said. "I got a bigger room this year, so I'm really satisfied.
"We're very excited about the matchup with Arkansas. Everybody should be in red and white on game day, so you'll have to look closely."
Having been raised on a hog farm in Prophetstown, Ill., Bielema acknowledged, "I've said, 'Sooie.' My brother said it, so I did, too. I still don't know what it means, but it moved the pigs down the line."
Bielema added, however, "I don't think Arkansas will be that cooperative for me."
Bielema said quarterback John Stocco threw so well Friday that he pinpointed one pass into the back of a nearby golf cart.
Since Stocco is recovering from a shoulder separation, Bielema joked, "I should have hit him in the shoulder two months ago."
Bielema Knows 'Sooie,' But Will Hogs Listen?
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