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first_imgFor anyone who’s ever watched the weekly videos produced by Herald Sports about the upcoming football games (which can be found on the Badger Herald YouTube channel, among plenty of other goodies), I think we can all say that being on camera really brings out the awkwardness in me quite well.Just like the days in Spanish class when I’d be called on to speak. The time I got “excito” confused with “emocionado” is a fond one in hindsight. That was awkward.So from the perspective of someone not adept at speaking in front of people or a camera with ease, I’m impressed at how enthusiastic Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is about stepping in front of the bright lights.And from the perspective of everyone else, I’m impressed at Bielema’s enthusiasm because it seems like he’s working hard to increase the media exposure at Wisconsin.There’s been an avalanche of attention given to Wisconsin for about a year now, beginning (sourly) with criticisms of unsportsmanlike conduct against Minnesota last season and burgeoning with the defeat of a No. 1-ranked team and, later, a Rose Bowl bid.Then in the offseason, the Badgers landed a dual-threat, transfer quarterback who has become a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy. And right now, the team is arguably on a better five-game start than any of UW’s past four Rose Bowl teams.The Badgers are also sitting pretty at No. 4 in the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll, which, together, make up two-thirds of the BCS standings.National exposure is a natural byproduct of winning – specifically winning big, important matches (i.e. Ohio State, Nebraska). However, all the media access requests that come in between games are avoidable, and you don’t see Bielema trying to shelter anybody.Bielema spent the Friday of his bye week in Bristol, Conn., headquarters of ESPN, to engage with reporters and anchors for a full nine hours. SportsCenter, College Football Live, the Scott Van Pelt Show and ESPN the Magazine are just some of the ESPN incarnations he met with.This comes after Bielema allowed ESPN cameras to document the Badgers’ fall camp for a program called “Depth Chart” and, last spring, he was one of four college coaches to join the NFL Network’s broadcast of the college football draft as a guest analyst.He’s also letting others into the spotlight as well. In the week leading up to the South Dakota game, Bielema allowed Sports Illustrated to conduct an exclusive story on the offensive line while this past week, Russell Wilson also appeared on one of the best sports programs out there, Pardon the Interruption.It would be hard to match the ubiquitous nature of traditional powers like Texas, Alabama and Ohio State – teams that will make national news just by virtue of who they are – but I think Bielema wants Wisconsin to be a staple in the media. He doesn’t want to miss any opportunities of having people see and talk about the Badgers.Although the football team is well-known, Wisconsin is still behind plenty of schools in coast-to-coast prominence.It’s taken a Rose Bowl, top-5 rankings and a Heisman candidate to get Wisconsin in the major headlines. Meanwhile, you have schools like Notre Dame, where SportsCenter will occasionally check to see if the Fighting Irish are good again, only to say, “Nope, not yet. What about Michigan”?Wisconsin can benefit directly from attention similar to that. Consistent, national attention can make recruiting all the more easy when potential student-athletes from outside of Wisconsin and the Midwest grow up seeing the “motion-W” and Bielema’s face leading news outlets.Athletes always talk about the teams, coaches and players they grew up watching and reading about. It creates a connection – maybe you could even call it a “soft spot” – and the less introduction a football program needs when meeting a recruit of high value, the better.There are also no indications that Bielema is getting too caught up in the attention, either. Last Tuesday, he said ESPN came to him with the idea of going out to Bristol (not the other way around) and when Sports Illustrated came calling, he made sure the interviews were conducted in the week leading up to South Dakota, not Nebraska.Could he have been recruiting when he was in Bristol? Maybe. Last Tuesday, he detailed his coaching staff’s plans for the week, saying all of a possible nine recruiters were active, but that most of the year’s efforts were already done. According to Bielema, it’s a time of the year when high school sophomores and juniors (where there’s less urgency) start to shift into focus.Either way, it was one day he spent on the ESPN campus, not the entire bye week. And the more Bielema answers the door when ESPN and others come knocking, the better.Elliot is a senior majoring in journalism. Have you noticed how much Bielema welcomes the national attention to Wisconsin? Send him an email and tell him about it at [email protected] or tweet @BHeraldSports.last_img read more

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