At least, that is Wisconsin football head coach Bret Bielema's official position. With the announcement of the new Big Ten divisions Wednesday, many Bader fans were upset that the strong rivalry with Iowa would soon be broken. Minnesota and Iowa are both in the other division (which have not yet been named), and UW is only guaranteed to face the Gophers each season.
Bielema, however, took the diplomatic route, saying everyone knew going in certain rivalry games were going to be lost.
"I knew however it panned out someone was going to be without a traditional rivalry or a game they have always had," Bielema said. "But I am excited about the one we are in, and obviously to keep Minnesota. I think if you went to everybody's campus, there is stuff going on there."
For the foreseeable future, UW will have to top Ohio State each year for a shot at the Big Ten Championship game. While a daunting task — the Buckeyes are the only team Bielema has yet to beat as a head coach — UW football's task master recognized some ancillary benefits that came along with a division rivalry against OSU.
"Especially the last two years the amount of signees we have had out of Ohio, we are probably going to increase our efforts even more … you can guarantee playing [the Buckeyes] every year," Bielema said. "Iowa can't say the same thing. There is benefits there that go way beyond what most people think. I couldn't be more pleased."
With UNLV posting a 16-43 record the past five seasons and breaking in a new coach in Bobby Hauck, it seems unlikely the Rebels could find a traditional way to overcome the superior talent of Wisconsin.
Which means untraditional venues have to be explored.
One aspect Bielema has been preparing his team to look out for in practice this week are trick plays in special teams. At FCS Montana — where Hauck posted a 80-17 record in seven years — the rookie UNLV coach made a point of trying to steal possessions from special teams.
"I believe they ran three fake punts alone last year," Bielema said of Montana under Hauck. "They do some unique stuff in the kicking game. Just kickoffs, sky kicks, onside kicks."
Mike Taylor will make the trip to UNLV but is still questionable to play. Taylor has been recovering with an ACL injury, and suffered a setback in fall camp. All others who sat out camp with injuries will not be making the trip.
"From an injury standpoint, the guys that missed camp won't be [at UNLV]. I don't know if Mike Taylor will be able to go," Bielema said. "He will travel — him and Curt Phillips — but you know if Mike can't go full go we absolutely won't put him out there."
Bielema awarded scholarships to three walk-ons this week. Offensive lineman Ricky Wagner, tight end Rob Korslin and long snapper Kyle Wojta earned the three remaining scholarships. All three players are natives of Wisconsin ... True freshman Manasseh and Beau Allen will both be making the trip to Las Vegas, though Bielema said only Allen will be guaranteed to play. Bielema compared Manassed to Montee Ball's situation a year ago, where the then-freshman running back didn't play until the fourth game of the season. … Although the UW players won't get to enjoy the shenangians that come along with a trip to Vegas, they will get to see where they take place. Bielema said he allowed a bus tour of The Strip, before clamping everyone back in their hotel room.