He was less cocky. He had formed senior leaders the right way — unlike his worst season in the dreaded 2008. He wasn't taking penalties any more for yelling at the refs.
In other words, he learned.
Well, the same lessons that have applied to the field and coaching ring true in recruiting as well.
While these types of problems can never be completely eradicated, the dismissal of players was non-existent this season and no one was publicly disciplined for behavioral problems as well.
As Bielema puts it, he has learned what type of kids he wants and needs to succeed.
"I think you can learn more from mistakes than you can from success," Bielema said. "If you look just at this past year's signing (from the senior class), there are 12 that had success and 12 that didn't. You look at some things you learned about them during the recruiting process, or some concerns that came full circle once you get them here. We are really trying to eliminate those kind of guys.
"We don't lose as many kids as we used to because I think we are more spot on in what we are looking for."
Yet another decree from the Word of Barry:
Make sure no one takes the kids you want from Wisconsin.
With the signing of Gordon, the Badgers ensured that they followed the law of Alvarez one more year. With nine kids from Wisconsin, the program will remain stocked with Badger-for-life type of fans.
"As a recruiting base, we always start within the state and build out," Bielema said.
"Our class is really strong in the state of Wisconsin. I'll go back to this year, going in I knew our senior group of players were good players, but some of the better ones were Wisconsin kids. Lance Kendricks and Gabe Carimi on offense. Returning we have Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler on offense, Bradie Ewing the way he is playing at fullback. Are Wisconsin kids are the heart and soul, those other guys tie in and build around that."
Bielema shared a story of linebacker Mike Taylor speaking at a luncheon, that summed up the attitude for recruiting in Wisconsin fairly concisely.
"I came to Wisconsin because that is what Wisconsin kids do," Taylor said.
From last year's freshman class, only two freshmen played right away, and only one — James White — was a significant contributor.
While it is way to early to tell, Bielema said he believes there are openings for freshmen to play if they perform the right way in camp.
Specifically in the return game, a speedy freshmen with instincts (perhaps Kenzel Doe?) would have an opening to start.
"There will be certain positions that will be given a chance to play right away in camp," Bielema said. "Both return games, our defensive front and linebackers, I wouldn't be surprised if one D-lineman plays and one linebacker. Because of tight end we lose Lance and we may need someone in a support role for us … wouldn't be surprised if one of those corners can play."