The impressive finish was good enough to earn the Badgers a Big Ten West Division title and a trip to the conference championship game. Wisconsin finished the year ranked in the AP top 10 for the first time in six seasons.
Coming off the third-straight campaign with 10 or more wins, you'd think recruits would be lining up to play in Madison, right? Wrong.
On the eve of National Signing Day, Wisconsin owns the No. 11 recruiting class in the Big Ten. With the No. 46 class in the country, the Badgers fall behind squads like Northwestern, Rutgers and Illinois. Should Wisconsin fans be concerned?
Here's a quick video of Chryst talking about last year's class. I know it's a year old, but he still touches on a few of his philosophies when it comes to recruiting:
Wisconsin 2017 overview
Paul Chryst has just 16 commitments the eve of National Signing Day according to 24/7 Sports. It's a group with no 5-star prospects, one 4-star prospect and fourteen 3-star prospects. The lone 4-star talent is offensive guard Kayden Lyles, a 6-foot-3, 323 pound bruiser from Wisconsin. It shouldn't be a surprise the Badgers best commit is an in-state guy. At this point, it doesn't seem like Chryst is taking an overly aggressive approach.
The Wisconsin Way
Let's pause for a moment. Could Chryst really be taking this approach on purpose? Avoiding highly-regarded prospects?
ESPN's Jesse Temple highlighted Wisconsin's recruiting strategy and touched on this exact point.
"The Badgers' on-field accomplishments despite seemingly unimpressive recruiting classes highlights two central points," Temple said. "That recruiting is an inexact science, and that Wisconsin has, for a number of years, cared more about how players fit and evolve over time. Wisconsin does not procure the top recruiting classes in the nation annually. But what the Badgers are able to achieve is developing players over four-and five-year careers. By the time they're ready to play for the Badgers, they're every bit as good as any player in college football."
This is fascinating stuff, but it's fair to note Wisconsin held the No. 6 recruiting class in 2015 and 2016. The Badgers weren't the best, but they weren't as low as No. 11, either.
While Wisconsin owned one of the top defenses in college football last season, there were obvious deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball. The Badgers finished the year ranked No. 8 in the Big Ten in total offense, averaging just 382 yards per game. I understand they aren't looking for the quick fix and it makes sense, but there are glaring needs that need to be addressed now. One would think Chryst would focus on bringing in a few highly-rated offensive prospects, but it just doesn't look like a priority.
I understand Chryst's approach, but am not convinced it can sustain over a long period of time. Wisconsin should be a team that competes for a national title year in and year out. Until Chryst starts recruiting with the big boys, it seems like a long shot.