Baseball at Wisconsin: Progress Report

MADISON, Wis. — I’ve started research for my next in-depth report and I wanted to take this opportunity to let our listeners/readers know where I’m at in the process. I’ll try to do these somewhat regularly as a way to inform the public, but also allow feedback on parts I may be getting wrong or new directions to consider.

Topic: Baseball at the University of Wisconsin and if it’s possible to revive the program

Interviews completed:
Terry Gawlik | Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration, University of Wisconsin

Interviews Requested:
Jeff Block | head coach of club baseball, University of Wisconsin
Pat Richter | former Athletic Director, University of Wisconsin
John Vodenlich | head baseball coach, University of Wisconsin | Whitewater
Bud Selig | former MLB commissioner and Milwaukee Brewers owner, University of Wisconsin alum
Herb Kohl | former Milwaukee Bucks owner, U.S. Senator, University of Wisconsin alum
Steve Schmitt | Owner of Big Top Baseball and Madison Mallards

Interviews declined:
Barry Alvarez | Athletic Director, University of Wisconsin

Summary of information gathered so far: In speaking with Terry Gawlik, it appears very unlikely Wisconsin will ever revive its baseball program unless there is a substantial surplus of revenue. Operating costs have run at or very near revenue generated in each fiscal budget report for at least the last 10 years. Barry Alvarez also appears to have no willingness to bring baseball back to Wisconsin at this time.

Suggestions? Eric.rogers@madcitysportszone.com

Jake’s Take: Packers not going “all-in”

In this week’s edition of Jake’s Take, sports director Jake Zimmermann argues the Packers have yet to grant quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ request. After the NFC Championship loss in Atlanta, Rodgers stated the Packers need to go “all-in this offseason.”

Click the audio link below to hear why Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy believes the Packers ARE going all in, and why Jake feels they aren’t.

 

Former Madison Capitols D Mitch Hults signs with Anaheim Ducks

MADISON, WI | The Madison Capitols, a member of the United States Hockey League, announced former defenseman Mitch Hults has signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks.

Hults, 22, played in 55 games for the Capitols as a defenseman during the 2014-15 season, and collected 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points, and 90 penalty minutes. He is currently ranked eighth on the Capitols all-time penalty minutes with 90 minutes and 10th all-time with 21 assists. Hults is the first Capitols player to sign an NHL contract following his time in Madison.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Stoughton, WI, moved to the forward position and has recorded 54 points (20-34=54) and 98 penalty minutes in 76 games with the Lake Superior State University Lakers the last two seasons, 2015-2017.

Prior to joining the Capitols in 2014, Hults played two seasons with the USHL’s Indiana Ice. He registered 24 points (10-14=24) and 22 penalty minutes in 64 games with the Ice from 2012-14. Hults also won the Clark Cup with the Ice in 2014 with five playoff goals in eight games.

(MadCapsHockey.com)

Eddie Lacy agrees to contract with Seattle Seahawks

GREEN BAY | Eddie Lacy is no longer a Green Bay Packer.  The running back has agreed to a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks according to tweets made Tuesday by Lacy’s agent. The Packers’ second round pick in 2013 gets a one year, $5.5M deal with $3M guaranteed according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Lacy originally had a meeting with the Seahawks over the weekend and it apparently went well. He also met with the Vikings and was still talking to the Packers about a return. But Seattle will be Lacy’s new home which means Packers General Manager Ted Thompson is in search of a new running back. Currently Green Bay’s top running backs are Ty Montgomery, a former receiver, and Don Jackson.

Lacy ran for 2,317 yards in his first two seasons, but poor conditioning and an ankle injury led to struggles the past two years.

 

Ugly first half dooms Milwaukee in a 110-98 loss to Denver

Playing with what coach Jason Kidd would later call a lack of urgency, the Milwaukee Bucks fell 110-98 to the Denver Nuggets last night, their third loss in the last four games.

“In our locker room right now we don’t understand the urgency…of what we’re fighting for, and that’s a playoff spot,” Kidd said. “We don’t have that many games left. Our energy and effort has to be high.”

It was anything but as the Nuggets outscored Milwaukee 32-15 in the first quarter and held a 26-point lead at the half. Denver pushed that lead to as much as 31 in the third quarter before the Bucks battled back, but they could get no closer than 12 down the stretch.

Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee with 21 points off the bench, while rookie Malcom Brogdon added 17 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Denver’s Nikola Jokic recorded his second straight triple-double with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

The loss dropped Milwaukee two games back of Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks (26-33) will host the Los Angeles Clippers (36-24) on Friday night.

Wisconsin picks up three in-state commitments in the class of 2018

MADISON — Wisconsin added three commitments to its class of 2018 on Monday.

First, it was Catholic Memorial (Waukesha, Wis.) inside linebacker C.J. Goetz, who received a scholarship offer from the Badgers on Sunday. He wasted no time in pulling the trigger, calling coach Paul Chryst Monday morning to commit.

Then, Kimberly (Kimberly, Wis.) defensive end Boyd Dietzen followed suit, announcing his commitment to the Badgers just before noon.

And finally, Menominee (Menominee, Wis.) linebacker Mason Platter gave his verbal pledge early in the afternoon.

Goetz, a 3-star recruit, according to 247 Sports, chose the Badgers over offers from Bowling Green, New Mexico and Northern Illinois. Michigan State and several other Big Ten schools were showing interest in the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder.

Dietzen, a three-time state champion at Kimberly, picked Wisconsin over recent offers from Minnesota, Iowa State and Syracuse. 247 Sports lists the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Dietzen as the No. 19 defensive end in the country, and the No. 1 player in the state of Wisconsin for 2018.

Platter is the third commitment from Menominee in as many years, joining linebacker Mason Stokke from 2016 and lineman Alex Fenton in 2017. A 3-star recruit, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Platter had a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois, but as generating interest from Iowa and Minnesota.

The trio joins quarterback Ben Bryant (La Grange, Ill.), safety Reggie Pearson (River Rouge, Mich.) and safety Trent Ingalls (Menasha, Wis.) as commitments in 2018.

The Neighborhood: What decisions should the Packers make in free agency?

GREEN BAY, Wis. — I’ll begin by admitting I’m not an expert on the salary cap, and I don’t have a direct line to Ted Thompson’s office. But with about $42 million in cap space heading into the offseason, here are some of the options the Green Bay Packers are faced with, along with my predictions of how they’ll handle them. My predictions are only for those positions in which Green Bay also has options in free agency.

Center

Incumbent: J.C. Tretter has just finished up his four-year, $2.6 million contract and is an unrestricted free agent. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the 13th-best center in the league based on this past season’s performance, despite missing the last half of the season with a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL). That’s nothing new for the Cornell product, but it’ll cost him when it comes to contract negotiations.

Options: A.Q. Shipley | Arizona Cardinals, Joe Hawley | Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brian Schwenke | Tennessee Titans, John Sullivan | Washington Redskins

Prediction: With Corey Linsley as the only other experienced center on the roster and Tretter the best available, he’ll likely come back on a one-year contract.

Guard

Incumbents: T.J. Lang ranked as the No. 6 right guard in the regular season, according to Pro Football Focus, and has expressed his willingness to return to Green Bay at age 30. Don Barclay suffered a shoulder injury in November and was replaced by rookie Jason Spriggs, who showed promise for the future protection of the Green Bay backfield.

Options: Kevin Zeitler | Cincinnati Bengals, Ronald Leary | Dallas Cowboys, Larry Warford | Detroit Lions, Luke Joeckel | Jacksonville Jaguars

Prediction: I see this as a position the Packers only address in the draft, so the only move here is to re-sign Lang to a multi-year deal, while potentially cutting Barclay loose. With the promise of Spriggs and the frugal nature of Thompson, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barclay released.

Tight End

Incumbent: Jared Cook came over from the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams on a one-year, $2.75 million contract, and despite missing six games with a high ankle sprain, he performed admirably and became a keystone to their success entering the postseason. He averaged 55 yards and four catches per game over the last 10 games (including playoffs).

Options: Martellus Bennett | New England Patriots, Jack Doyle | Indianapolis Colts, Vernon Davis | Washington Redskins, Jacob Tamme | Atlanta Falcons

Prediction: After earning a Super Bowl ring with New England and making it clear he wants to get paid, Packer fans dreaming of a Bennett-to-Green-Bay scenario can forget about it. At 29 years old, Cook is productive enough to warrant a two-year deal to remain in Titletown.

Running Back

Incumbents: Neither Eddie Lacy, nor Christine Michael were dominant forces in the backfield for the Packers, but because of that, Green Bay can cash in when it comes to negotiations. Lacy logged just 360 yards and no touchdowns before an ankle injury sidelined him for the season. Michael was seldom-used, logging 114 yards on 31 carries in Green Bay.

Options: Le’Veon Bell | Pittsburgh Steelers, LeGarrette Blount | New England Patriots, Latavius Murray | Oakland Raiders, Danny Woodhead | San Diego Chargers

Prediction: Thompson doesn’t like to go with what he doesn’t know, so I don’t see him contacting any of the above options (Bell will re-sign with the Steelers anyway). It’s already being reported that Lacy is likely coming back on a one-year deal worth about $2 million. And with Ty Montgomery looking like a more sure bet, Michael will try to find work elsewhere.

Outside Linebacker

Incumbents: Nick Perry finally had a breakout year, posting 11 sacks, 35 solo tackles, and 17 assisted tackles. Julius Peppers‘ numbers weren’t as great, but he was still effective at 7.5 sacks, 15 solo tackles, and eight assisted tackles.

Options: Chandler Jones | Arizona Cardinals, Melvin Ingram | San Diego Chargers, Malcolm Smith | Oakland Raiders, Barkevious Mingo | New England Patriots

Prediction: While it’s been a nice ride for 37-year-old Peppers, he’ll likely hit the free market and end his career with his first team | the Carolina Panthers. After finally seeing one of “his guys” break out, Thompson will re-sign Perry to a three-year contract and probably overpay. Don’t be surprised if the Packers tease us with a nibble in free agency on an OLB.

Safety

Incumbent: It was a career year for Micah Hyde, matching his personal-best three interception mark on the season. That’s despite making a switch to slot cornerback due to injuries in the Green Bay secondary.

Options: Eric Berry | Kansas City Chiefs, Tony Jefferson | Arizona Cardinals, Barry Church | Dallas Cowboys, Johnathan Cyprien | Jacksonville Jaguars, Quintin Demps | Houston Texans

Prediction: Hyde had a relatively team-friendly contract of four years, $2.3 million, and after earning the performance-based escalator last season, I don’t see why that changes. He’ll earn a three-year deal with the Pack. Plot twist: Thompson nabs one of the above options at safety, but it’ll be a player we know little about.

While cornerback was largely ignored in this post due to the fact that Green Bay doesn’t have any on expiring contract, I’d expect that to be the area where the Packers find a piece in free agency. The best players available are A.J. Bouye (Houston Texans), Trumaine Johnson (Los Angeles Rams), Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo Bills), Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys), and Captain Munnerlyn (Minnesota Vikings).

Former Badger James White sets Super Bowl record

HOUSTON — Former University of Wisconsin and current New England Patriots running back James White set an NFL record with 14 receptions in a Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

White broke the previous mark of 13 held by Demaryius Thomas set in Super Bowl XLVIII. The former Badger scored three times in Sunday’s win, including the game-winning score in overtime. It was the first time in Super Bowl history a game has needed overtime to decide a winner.

White’s walk-off touchdown was just the second such play in league championship history, sharing that honor with former Wisconsin running back Alan Ameche, then with the Baltimore Colts. Ameche’s touchdown came in the 1958 NFL Championship game against the New York Giants played at Yankee Stadium.

The Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Falcons 34-28, also the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. Game MVP Tom Brady spoke volumes about White’s efforts.

“He’s everything you want in a teammate and football player: dependable, consistent, durable, the best attitude. He brings it everyday. We just kept going to him. I think that speaks for itself.”

White finished Super Bowl LI with 139 yards from scrimmage: six carries for 29 yards and two touchdowns, and 14 receptions for 110 yards and one score.

Former Badgers hockey coach Jeff Sauer dies at 73

MADISON | Former Badger men’s hockey coach Jeff Sauer died Thursday because of pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

Sauer coached the University of Wisconsin from 1982 to 2002 and guided the Badgers to a pair of NCAA men’s hockey titles in 1983 and 1990.

Sauer started his head coaching career at his alma mater, Colorado College in 1971, and moved to Madison to coach the Badgers when Bob Johnson resigned in 1982 to take over the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Sauer got his coaching start as an assistant to Johnson at Colorado College.

Sauer coached at Wisconsin until 2002, when he was replaced by Mike Eaves.

Sauer also coached the U.S. men’s sled hockey team to a gold medals in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

Sauer, a native of Fort Atkinson, Wis., was a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and won the NHL’s Lester Patrick Trophy in 2011. He is survived by his wife, Jamie, and two adult children.