MADISON, Wis. (BVM) – A shaky start to the Wisconsin Badgers’ 2021 campaign didn’t stop the program from righting the ship and ending the year with a bowl win. This year’s slow opening, however, hasn’t quite led to the same results after a disappointing 2-3 start for the Badgers ended with the firing of head coach Paul Chryst.
A 4-3 record since has brought a culture–shifting change to the program after the recent hiring of former Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell. With an expected overhaul of some of the team’s upcoming roster, current quarterback Graham Mertz could find himself with an important decision to make in the coming days or after spring practices.
Mertz has headed the Badgers to a 19-13 record during his three years starting for the program, passing for 5,405 yards and 38 touchdowns. Since his near-perfect opening as a starter against Illinois in 2020, that included Mertz going 17-17 on pass attempts, inconsistency has become the name of the game for the Wisconsin quarterback.
After his arrival to Wisconsin as the highest-rated quarterback the program has ever had, Mertz has struggled to get the team’s passing attack going. His struggles over the past two years have been on full display after ending with more interceptions than touchdowns in 2021. This season, he’s surpassed 2,000 passing yards and has a 19-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio which currently sits at the top of his career marks.
Where does the transfer portal lead to?
Mertz may wait to see how things play out this spring, but if he does decide to enter his name into the transfer portal during the upcoming window, he will have some potential suitors. Mertz may have a tough time landing a starting spot on a team of Wisconsin’s caliber without a quarterback battle, but there should be Power 5 programs who will take a chance on the former top recruit. The Kansas native would have made sense for both Kansas and Kansas State in the past, but right now, both programs look to have solidified their quarterback openings.
The Sun Devils have had a catastrophic 2022 season that included more than enough drama after the firing of coach Herm Edwards. Following the recent hiring of Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State should be a program that will be active in the portal. Dillingham is fresh off a season where transfer quarterback Bo Nix helped lead the Ducks to one of the top records in the Pac-12 after fizzling out at Auburn. Although it was a different coaching staff, Mertz should be familiar with the program after its recruitment of him coming out of college, lining up a chance at a solid fit for both sides.
The Tigers have been in a state of mediocrity over the past four seasons. Since taking over full-time at the quarterback position this year, Brady Cook has played well and will surely be one of the team’s main starting options heading forward. With a record right at .500 after three seasons, head coach Eli Drinkwitz could still be in for a splash move as he aims to turn things around. Mertz could have a chance at bouncing back in a more stable environment that deploys a similar offensive philosophy behind a strong run effort.
After a standout COVID-year in 2020, head coach Tom Allen has been unable to keep the train moving over the past two seasons. Disappointing efforts on both sides of the ball, alongside a missing piece following the transfer of former quarterback Michael Penix, has the Hoosiers’ future plans up in the air. Missouri transfer Connor Bazelak played well-enough in his opening year, but the performance hardly led to more success in the standings. Another run at a transfer quarterback could be in the works with the possibility of Mertz staying in the Big Ten.