Bielema Has Enjoyed the Journey

Head coach Bret Bielema was adamant on how much he enjoyed the season. His senior captains were adamant that they still had something left to accomplish.

MADISON — The tone Bret Bielema adopted at his press conference Sunday night after the Wisconsin football team was officially placed in the Rose Bowl sounded like a man who had already won the granddaddy of them all.

He wasn't disrespecting TCU — far from it in fact — and he wasn't taking comfort in just getting to the game. Anyone who has ever learned under Barry Alvarez understands the importance of winning the Rose Bowl when you actually get there.

But Bielema possessed a radiating happiness that suggested he was already appreciating the obstacles his team had overcome.

"Sometimes the joy is in the journey and not the end," Bielema said. "And with this group, I have enjoyed the journey immensely."

As he has all season, Bielema tossed all the credit to his seniors — both present and last year's bunch.

Bielema told a story about how he promised the 2009 senior class he would buy them all championship rings when the Badgers won this year, and only had to recant his promise after he was alerted that was against "dumb NCAA rules." Still, Bielema couldn't help but hand out effusive praise for the leadership from the upperclassmen.

Bielema has impressed upon his team a message of focus, discipline and "1-0" all season long. But it was up to the seniors and some positive peer pressure to reinforce it.

"The seniors that were leaving us that day, they weren't apart of a championship season but they laid the foundation … the scars of last year propelled us to this year," Bielema said.

"I told our seniors in the last two weeks, 'be tough love.'"

With a month to prepare for unbeaten TCU, there will plenty of obstacles left to overcome.

Keeping their conditioning up. Embracing rather than being awed by the atmosphere of the Rose Bowl. Not becoming overconfident.

All of these issues and more will be addressed, but Bielema made it clear, he didn't think it would be all that necessary.

"I don't really worry about this team being focused, one thing about this group is they take everyday for what it is — nothing is more important than today," said Bielema.

"I don't think this will change."

For the senior captains available to the media, the message was the same from every single mouth: We are happy to be there — we have more work to do.

Quarterback Scott Tolzien opened up in particular, waxing poetic about the times he used to root on the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl when he was younger.

"It is a dream come true for a lot of us," Tolzien said.

Badger Nation Top Stories