ESPN is televising five college football spring games this year, up from two last year. The Big Ten Network will air every conference team's spring game except Nebraska's, which typically draws upwards of 60,000 people in Lincoln.
This year's Badger Spring Game (Saturday, April 23, 1 p.m., Camp Randall Stadium, $5) will not only be televised, it may actually be worth watching. Head coach Bret Bielema announced Monday that he is abandoning the practice of pitting the starters against the reserves in what has traditionally been a one-sided and tedious inter-squad scrimmage.
"To spice it up a little bit and give a true assessment of where we're at, I'm going to actually play ones against ones," he said Monday. Bielema is still working out a scoring system for the game, which will have offensive players in one color and the defense in another.
In the past, the Spring Game has often been much ado about nothing. To avoid injuries, marquee players rarely play, and the play calling is typically pretty vanilla. But with quarterback Scott Tolzien, running back John Clay and defensive end J.J. Watt, among others, entering the NFL draft, fans now have a chance to see how their replacements perform against legit competition.
Is Bielema worried that all this attention will help future opponents get a bead on his team?
"I watched Penn State Saturday night and caught Purdue last Thursday," he says. "We'll have our own little spin on it. But everybody's got everybody's film now."