Bleach: Badger fans don’t know what they’re missing

first_imgIn a rational world, P.J. Hill would be celebrated for his contributions to the University of Wisconsin. In a sensible world, Badger fans would bemoan the fate of their steadily slipping football program as one of the top running backs in the nation fled for the National Football League.Unfortunately, this is not a rational world, and Badger fans are far from sensible.Hill will leave Madison ranking third on the school’s all-time rushing list, tied for second in total touchdowns and, along with Ron Dayne, the only running back to break the 1,000-yard plateau in each of his first three seasons. The bruising junior also won multiple national freshman of year awards and made an All-Big Ten team in each of his three seasons.“I wish P.J. the best in the future and want to thank him for all his hard work during his time as a Badger,” head coach Bret Bielema said. “He’s a great running back, and I think his numbers speak for themselves.”While the numbers should speak for themselves, many Badger fans — including all three of the other sports editors at the Herald — are happy Hill chose to leave one season early.What a sad lack of appreciation for one of the top three backs in UW history.Addition by subtraction, I am told. While Hill was good, redshirt freshman John Clay will be so much better the theory goes.On the surface, I suppose this makes sense. Clay did post a beastly 5.7 yards per carry average and scored nine touchdowns in his rookie year.Hill wasn’t too far behind, however, churning out 5.1 yards per carry and making it to the end zone 13 times. Furthermore, in the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State, Hill carried the ball 15 times for 140 yards, while Clay managed only 39 yards on 11 rushes.Even without factoring in Hill’s value as a pass blocker and receiver, Clay’s statistical advantage over Hill is marginal.To simply compare the two running backs, however, completely misses the point. The Badgers did not lose six games because Hill carried the ball more than Clay. UW lost because the passing attack was beyond dreadful, the defense was average at best and Bielema failed to keep the team playing at a consistent level. I don’t care who is in the backfield; if the quarterbacks fail to improve next season, the Badgers will be lucky to make it back to the very prestigious Champs Sports Bowl.As for Hill, I have also heard griping that he thinks too highly of himself and entering the draft early was a mistake for him personally. While I cannot speak to where Hill believes he will be drafted, it is clear he made the right choice where he and his family are concerned, even if it is not what is best for the Badgers.I also doubt Hill will go in the first three rounds, but failing to be drafted on the first day should hardly be considered a failure. After starting for three straight years, there is little Hill could do to improve his stock for NFL scouts, but he could hurt his draft status plenty. Already prone to minor injuries and sharing carries with Clay, Hill stood to lose even more ground if he completed his senior year.For comparison’s sake, rookie running back Tim Hightower of the Arizona Cardinals made $430,500 this year as a fifth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Even if Hill busts in the pros, a couple years at that salary should help him finish his degree.Hill often received a large portion of the blame for Wisconsin’s struggles the past two years after his stellar freshman season. In fact, Hill played at the same high level, but without Joe Thomas as your left tackle and the likes of Tyler Donovan and Dustin Sherer dropping back to pass, anyone’s numbers would suffer.Hill should be remembered for what he accomplished at UW, not scorned for the failures of his teammates. Eventually everyone will remember Hill as one of the best backs at a school known for its running game. If only he was remembered for that now.Michael is a junior majoring in journalism. Think the Badgers will be better off without P.J. Hill? Michael can be reached at [email protected]last_img

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