What has been a painful season for University of Wisconsin sophomore quarterback Jon Budmayr is ending the way it began — with a restriction on throwing and more nerve problems in his right elbow.
Budmayr has been out all season after developing a problem with his throwing elbow during preseason camp. A nerve problem caused numbness in his fingers and led to surgery in which an impinged nerve in his elbow was moved.
He had been making some progress and was allowed to do light throwing, which was closely monitored.
“They were kind of ‘pitch counting’ his throws during the course of the day,” UW coach Bret Bielema said. “Everything was going good until about Sunday, it took a turn for the worse.”
Bielema said Budmayr was scheduled to return to the doctor on Thursday.
It’s serious enough that it doesn’t look like Budmayr will be able to throw at all during bowl practices.
“Different nerve,” Bielema said. “They moved the one, (but) he’s having some other issues in that same elbow.”
Coming out of spring practices, Budmayr looked like the team’s starting quarterback. Then senior Russell Wilson transferred in and quickly won the starting job. Budmayr was injured in the first week of camp and barely competed for the job. Now, there’s no telling when Budmayr will be able to return.
“It’s just such a difficult year for Jon,” Bielema said.
Bielema did have more upbeat news on another injured quarterback. Junior Curt Phillips is trying to come back from a third ACL surgery to the same knee and is making progress.
“On the flip side of it, Curt has made some positive strides (and) is a little bit ahead of schedule,” Bielema said.
Ball makes connection
One of the best things to happen to UW junior running back Montee Ball during his trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation was the chance to bond with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who won the award.
“I tell you what, obviously, I would have loved to see Montee win it,” Bielema said. “But that RG III kid, incredible human being. … Him and Montee kind of gravitated to each other during that three days they were together. It’s pretty cool to see a kid like that have that kind of success.”
Ball looked as excited as anybody when Griffin’s name was read as the winner during the ceremony.
“I got along with him the most — really a down-to-earth guy,” said Ball, who finished fourth. “ He deserved it, honestly. I knew going in I was the underdog, so I was just making sure I was going to soak up the experience and just have a great time. I wanted to be the first to congratulate him.”
Ball said he didn’t have any problem getting back into his regular routine when he returned. But he will always cherish the experience of going to New York.
“It was exactly how it looks on TV and in the movies, a great city,” he said. “I was looking forward to meeting the (finalists). Really down-to-earth guys; (I) really enjoyed meeting them.”
Bielema fields staff calls
In addition to everything else going on for the Badgers the last few weeks, Bielema has also been dealing with other teams trying to hire his assistant coaches.
“With all my coaches, the last three weeks, I’ve not only been battling recruiting wars, I’ve been battling coaching wars,” Bielema said.
UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was a hot name at one point, talking to Illinois and Kansas about head coaching openings that have since been filled.
Bielema praised the way Chryst has handled what has now become a familiar situation, given the number of times in recent years Chryst has been courted for other jobs.
“I’ll give the utmost respect to (Chryst). There was a team that wanted to interview him prior to our Big Ten championship game,” Bielema said, likely referring to Illinois. “He would not do it until after the game. He’s such a man of character and integrity, it goes beyond what words can describe.”
While most of the open head coaching jobs have been filled, things could change in a hurry. The Pittsburgh job unexpectedly opened up on Wednesday, when Todd Graham left for Arizona State after less than one year on the job.
Chryst’s name came up in conjunction with Pitt last year, but as of midday Thursday, a source said nobody had contacted Bielema about speaking to Chryst.
“It’s something I’ve grown to expect,” Bielema said of interest in his assistants. “I know it’s coming. To me, it’s a compliment to our program.”