Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema took the stand Thursday morning at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, as the Head Coach of the two-time defending Big Ten Champions.
Bielema spoke Thursday in Chicago.
With the season just around the corner, it was clear from his opening statement that Bielema and the Badgers are focused on continuing their run, and turning it into three-peat.
"It's just a tremendous opportunity," Bielema said Thursday from Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. "Very excited to be at Wisconsin this year, coming into an opportunity to be a three‑time defending champion in our conference.
"Really special season last year. I think one of the great things that probably hasn't got enough publicity was the first inaugural season of the Big Ten championship game, and obviously to be the winning coach was very, very special."
Wisconsin won't have quite the same road to the Big Ten Championship game in 2012 as they did in 2011, as both Ohio State and Penn State will be unable to compete for a conference title this season, due to NCAA sanctions.
With Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue, the lone schools standing in Wisconsin's path for a second consecutive trip to Indianapolis, the key for the Badgers this season will be staying hungry.
"Well, obviously we've known about Ohio State for a while, and it kind of educated our players into that process," Bielema said. "One of the big things when we split into two divisions a year ago, I made a very conscientious effort as a head coach to explain to our kids, you know, the leaders in the divisions, who is in it and why certain games play up a certain level of competitive nature just to get to where we want to be.
"I'm not blind and oblivious to the fact that now we're in a division that has six teams. Only four of them are eligible for the Big Ten championship game. But it really won't change our approach. It's something for the bigger topic to talk about. But everybody's like: Coach, why do you have success? Why have you won two championships?
"The number one thing I believe is of a 1‑0 mentality, you take every day for what it is. We'll take August 5th, we're going to process that day the first day we're together, move on to August 6th, move on to August 7th. We'll take every day for whatever it is.
Wisconsin's success will be on the heels of Ball.
"And any game that's on our schedule, I'll definitely make note of teams that are within our division, but it really doesn't change what we do because we can never skip a step to get to where we want to be, which is obviously in Indianapolis at the end of the year."
Much of Wisconsin's success in 2012 will depend on senior running back and Heisman candidate Montee Ball.
Ball, who opted to return for his senior season, skipping a chance to become one of the first running backs taken in the NFL Draft, will be in the limelight once again for the award.
Although the main goal for the Badgers is to win a third-straight Big Ten Championship, Wisconsin would also love to bring another Heisman Trophy Winner to Madison.
"And of course everybody knows, ‑‑ he's had a name change, but Montee Ball has come back and been really one of our greatest leaders, not just on the field, but just the way he practices, the way he competes," said Bielema. "The highest level that he has set for us in all facets has been truly incredible.
"And he's going to return as the highest leading vote‑getter from the Heisman a year ago. And our goal and our intention, obviously he's going to be up for the, Heisman but I'd love to be a head coach that coaches a Heisman trophy winner. Our offensive line would love to be an offensive line that blocks for a Heisman trophy winner, and everybody in our program is going to try to help him win that award."