Bielema wants focus on Gophers
MADISON University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema wants his Badgers to be focused only on the game with Minnesota this week, not just facing a former teammate for the first time.
Safety Kim Royston decided to transfer from Wisconsin to Minnesota and wasn’t granted a release to that school, meaning he had to enroll as a regular student. Because of Big Ten transfer rules, Royston also couldn’t receive a scholarship at Minnesota.
“It was a big issue a long time ago,” Bielema said Monday. “I’m happy for Kim. The part that probably gets blown out of proportion in these situations is bottom line: We thought the world of Kim. That’s why we offered him. Why he was here.
“To this day, except the game against us, I would root for Kim, and because I know he’s got all the right intentions.”
The border rivalry has had added spice ever since Tim Brewster took the head coaching job with the Gophers and immediately put beating Wisconsin (4-0) as one of his top priorities. Minnesota (3-1) hasn’t been able to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Ax during Brewster’s tenure, though the Gophers keep getting closer.
Royston has made a few critical comments of Bielema and the Badgers, but the coach said he understood.
“I always tell parents in recruiting, you know what, you should be biased, you’re his father, you’re his mother, you have a vested interest for 18 years in what this young man does,” Bielema said. “I understand why people take shots.
“As a head coach, you’re put in those positions, and you’ve just got to understand them and take them full fold.”
The relationship between the two coaches is tepid, too.
Both sides often meet up in recruiting for players like Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber and Wisconsin receiver David Gilreath.
“To me, the story needs to be about Wisconsin and Minnesota playing each other,” Bielema said. “People will try to make the story about me and Brew or whatever, but it’s always about the teams.”
Brewster told The Star Tribune that there doesn’t need to be any added motivation to win.
“I think the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry is as good as any rivalry in the country, and I’ve been at the best ones,” he said. “This is big.”
And the biggest key may be how the Gophers can slow down Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien.
Tolzien completed 19 of 31 passes for 243 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes in Wisconsin’s 38-30 victory over Michigan State and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. He was the first Badger quarterback to throw for four scores in three years.
Two Gophers suspended
Minnesota defensive end Cedric McKinley has been suspended for the next two games.
Gophers coach Tim Brewster said Monday that backup safety Tim Dandridge was also suspended for the upcoming games against Wisconsin and Purdue for an unspecified violation of team rules and policies.