What were your initial reactions to all of the off the field issues that have been going on with your former teammates?
Bryant: I was a little disappointed. When it rains it poors. They started out great at 5-0 and everybody was like, `These are the Badgers of old.' And then a little adversity comes along and things start to happen. They are still a good football team, they still have great players and good kids and they still have a great coaching staff.
People have said the program has been getting out of hand. What is your take on that?
Bryant: It would be different if I didn't talk to most of these guys, but I know right now they are kind of frustrated. They are playing their tails off and stuff is not going right. You have a bunch of seniors on that squad that really want to win and really want to go to a bowl and nobody wants to go out without a bowl bid. Believe me I hated it last year.
They are playing their hardest and they are losing and that kills a guy inside, when you go out there and prepare all week and you just don't come out on top. Especially when you are playing against top quality opponents like Ohio State, I think they could have beat, Penn St they could have beat and Michigan they should have beat. It's frustrating for a program that during the Alvarez era has so much tradition. He has brought a lot here and brought a lot to the university and the community.
I don't think the program is getting out of hand. I think the ship is going to get right, I think they are going to be just fine. I wonder if people are more worried about the program or that they may not have anywhere to go for Christmas. If people are really true to the program and really loyal they will realize it's just a bump in the road and we had it last year and things happen. Regardless of what everyone else says it's hurting those kids more than it's hurting them, they are the ones who are going out there and playing their hardest.
What advice would you or have you given Lee Evans?
Bryant: I spoke to him and things are tough right now for my man. He is one of my best friends he is one of my guys. I talked to him and things are going wrong right now and adversity comes. Just like last year we had problems and we worked through it, we had a talented ball club. Everybody goes through adversity and will have to go through decisions that they will have to make. The fact that he was injured and (had to) decide whether he would play or not and then things such as his arrest happens and now he has to have another surgery...I just told him it's all part of a plan. You can't have a whole lot of bad without having a whole lot of good and vice versa. I think he is going to be just fine. He is going to go through his surgery and rehab and what I also realize is that as soon as he goes out there and scores touchdowns and starts winning again all of this will be forgotten. When he performs and does what he can do and he is the Lee Evans he was last year, people will just be like, `We can forget about what happened last year.'
It sounds like you think he is coming back?
Bryant: I think he is going to be fine. I would think [he is coming back to Wisconsin]. You know you didn't play at all and it would just be a detrimental decision to your year. People know you are good, why cheat yourself out of another year of college and get all your academics straight? And you get another year of being a college student. I will tell you right now, I am out here and I had to write out a check for $92,000 for my house for the down payment, so there is nothing cool about paying bills. Finding a job and everyone that I talk to says it's a mad problem. So kick back, have fun in college and be up there with those great fans in Wisconsin, because when you get out here it is grimey and it's not a game. People don't care who you are, they will step over you. This is real life.
When you hear rumors about people wanting coaches gone how do you respond to that?
Bryant: A player can't do anything about that because a player can only go out there and play. If you are the kind of player that loves your coach then that will upset you. You have to go out there and keep playing. It hits a player hard too, because the reason a coordinator is being fired is because you are not playing the defense right and that attacks a player's pride too. If you attack a coach's pride, you attack a player's pride too, because that coach teaches the player everything he knows.
Wendell Bryant Speaks His Mind
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