Wisconsin has long been criticized for its soft nonconference schedules, and rightfully so. But as the playoff era approaches in college football -- and with it an increased importance of schedule strength -- the Badgers are showing a greater willingness to beef up their slate.
Games with the likes of Arizona State, BYU, Washington and Washington State are already on the books, and Wisconsin could be adding a much bigger name -- the biggest in college football -- to its future calendar.
Athletic director Barry Alvarez said Monday that Wisconsin is in discussions about a 2015 game against Alabama. Alvarez made the comments during a speaking engagement in Mobile, Ala.
"I can't announce anything, but we're still talking about playing the game," Alvarez said of a possible matchup against Alabama. "We haven't signed anything, but we are in discussion."
Alabama will play a home-and-home against Michigan State in 2016 and 2017. The fact Wisconsin and Alabama are discussing just one game could indicate a neutral-site affair, much like this season's opener between the Crimson Tide and Michigan in Arlington, Texas.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus points out, Wisconsin had similar discussions with Notre Dame that never resulted in a contract. I've been told several major-conference teams shy away from scheduling agreements with Wisconsin because of the Badgers' success at Camp Randall Stadium.
Alabama has been more proactive about playing Big Ten teams than most of its SEC brethren. It would be great to see this happen, but even if it doesn't, it's nice to see Alvarez and Wisconsin being more open to these types of showcase games.
Alvarez made some interesting remarks about major conferences, suggesting they'd be better off operating separately from some of the smaller conferences in the FBS. "I'd like to see a league -- Southeast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 -- and have your own rules," he said. "Have rules that you know what the hell they are and that you could actually follow them, and let them have it. ... You're making rules to make the have-nots happy. Let the guys who can afford it go do -- the guys that are filling those big stadiums; the leagues that have the big TV contracts. Let them go. That's nothing against those other guys. But you can't let that group hold the entire group back."