Wisconsin not quite over flu spell
Wisconsin's not quite over the flu.
Badgers coach Bret Bielema said Monday at his weekly news conference that after more than 40 guys were sick over the course of last week, two new players showed flulike symptoms on Sunday.
"The flu, I think, is through us. But on the same account, we had two new guys pop up," he said. "We're just kind of going off what the medical staff and trainers have told us [how] to handle it when it comes up."
That includes sending the players home to get as much rest as they can.
Wisconsin is 2-0 and preparing to play Football Championship Subdivision opponent Wofford this Saturday after hanging on to beat Fresno State 34-31 in double overtime despite the illness that had several players needing IV fluids before the game even started.
Bielema said the training staff told him that the flu could linger all season.
"You're never going to be totally through this. Guys that haven't had it, even guys that have had it could get another strain at some point and you've just got to give them plenty of rest at that time," he said. "Hopefully, the worst is behind us."
Players weren't available on Monday, but many guys admitted they were sick leading up to Fresno State. Defensive back Aaron Henry threw up several times Saturday and was one of the players who needed IV fluids. He tried to play, but was too ill and was pulled for good early in the game.
"I was feeling real bad," Henry said. "A lot of people were saying if you don't have it, then eventually you're going to get it. The next guy that was healthy was anticipating getting it. Some guys were diagnosing themselves as having the flu or H1N1."
Henry said he did not have swine flu, describing his illness only as a "stomach bug," but teammates remained worried.
"Being in such close quarters, everybody was thinking everybody's going to get it," running back John Clay said. "Taking medicine, staying hydrated, keeping clean, it really stopped it from spreading [more]."
The struggles could continue on the field this week for the Badgers against Wofford (1-1).
Wisconsin has struggled the past two seasons with FCS opponents, needing a missed extra point to escape with a 36-35 overtime win over Cal Poly last season and scoring late in a 45-31 win over The Citadel in 2007.
One thing that will continue to be the same is the criticism Wisconsin receives for a schedule that is perceived as soft, but Bielema said he doesn't see playing games against FCS opponents as "no-win" situations just because they're expected to run up the score.
"I could see and I fully understand where that comes from, but kind of one of the things that we always talk about is we prepare to play teams, not divisions," Bielema said. "Scheduling is a very, very complicated and detailed thing that consumes a lot of time. As I've said in here before, it's one of the more frustrating things to go through."
Wisconsin currently has a BCS team on its nonconference schedule for eight consecutive seasons starting next year, but the school likely will continue scheduling FCS teams to fill out a seventh home game.
"We've already got a BCS team between Arizona State, Washington State, Arizona and Virginia Tech," Bielema said. "If you have a BCS team on your schedule, in particular if you can get one at home every year guaranteed, then they'll look at that third game or that second, third or fourth [game on the] nonconference schedule a little differently."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press