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The Jeff Falconio Blog

Ryan Grant, Bret Bielema and other topics on my mind...

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All season I'd been saying that the Packers wouldn't bring back Ryan Grant.  Well, color me surprised.  But the move became necessary when news broke that the James Starks knee injury could sideline him for the rest of the season.  When Cedric Benson went down people asked if the Packers would bring in Grant.  I didn't think that was a possibility.  I felt it spoke volumes that Grant wasn't able to stick with any team and when the Packers needed to pick up a back in August they went with Benson over Grant.


However, the Packers are now missing four of their top six backs.  Eventually you get to a tipping point and that tipping point occurred when Starks went down against Minnesota.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see Grant back, assuming he can fill the role of Starks.  We know this, the Packers are going to be balanced and running the ball is far more important than it was in 2010 or 2011.  So hopefully Grant still has some gas left in the tank.


When it was announced that Bret Bielema was leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas there seemed to be much rejoicing.  However, there was a tiny faction of folks out there repeating the same phrase: "careful what you wish for."  Bielema was certainly not without flaws.  Strategically, there were plenty of things that Bielema did that deserved criticism.  But there's a flip side to it.  He recruited well.  He won a lot of regular season games.  And despite what most want to think, Bielema was capable of winning big games.  There is no arguing that the glaring omission on Bielema's resume is no Rose Bowl wins and only two bowl wins in his time in Madison despite going bowling every year. 


The challenge for the next coach will be continuity.  The Badgers are now in a spot where they should compete for a division title every year and winning the Rose Bowl every now and then is very realistic.  I'm not sure exactly who the Badgers are targeting but I can say with near certainty that it won't be any former NFL coaches.  We can put to rest any silliness that Mike Holmgren or Jon Gruden would take the job.  Those guys want NFL money and NFL power.  Two things Wisconsin can't deliver.  Not to mention that there are few coaches that can go from the NFL to college and still be successful.  Nick Saban is one though he was unsuccessful as head coach in the NFL.


If the NFL season ended today (and if I had a vote) I would say the MVP is Peyton Manning.  In fact, I'd rank it like this: Manning, Brady, Rodgers.  It's no longer a case of being a feel-good story for Manning, he is back to the same level he was in 2010.  His numbers across the board are solid and with Denver already at nine wins he's taken the Broncos farther than the guy they had last year.  Just another example that intangibles only take you so far.


Taking a look at the bowl schedule I couldn't help but pause at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl between Michigan State and TCU.  The matchup itself is, well, not great but if anyone can put some flavor into a football game it's BW3s.  If you ask me, the sauce equivalent of these two teams would be Mild and Spicy Garlic.


I love how some in the college football world were up in arms about Northern Illinois getting a bid to the Orange Bowl.  Hey, that's the rules folks.  This is what happens when you get polls and computers involved.  BCS proponents are always quick to point out how the regular season acts like a playoff.  Well if that's the case then it's not NIU's fault that Louisville lost twice down the stretch and Nebraska soiled themselves in the Big 10 title game.


With the bowls beginning next week the looking ahead to the NFL Draft has begun.  As always, I'll be tweeting out thoughts on the bowls, the NFL playoffs and flexology.  Follow along and join in on the conversation.

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