Coach puts Badgers’ dance skills to the test

MADISON, Wis. — Sometimes, spring football is about strapping on the pads and hitting against a teammate. And sometimes, spring football is about strapping on the pads and hitting the dance floor against a teammate.

Huh?

Wisconsin’s football team did a little bit of both at practice last Saturday. Before the session began, Badgers players participated in a good old-fashioned dance off, while the rest of the team encircled to applaud or heckle. Players went head-to-head, with a winner being determined by a group of three judges seated inside the circle.

The Wisconsin athletic department captured the fun on video and posted it to Twitter this week, and it quickly went viral. It has more than 34,000 views and even made “SportsCenter.”

Badgers defensive lineman Warren Herring, a 6-foot-3, 286-pound junior, stole the show with his moves, which included doing the splits, to beat out wide receiver AJ Jordan. In other matchups, running back Melvin Gordon edged fellow running back James White. And linebacker Ben Ruechel took down fullback Kevin MacCudden in possibly the least-athletic looking dance-off in history.

It was just another step in first-year head coach Gary Andersen’s attempts to bring some entertainment to spring practice. Andersen also has implemented that non-stop music be blared from speakers during the entire practice. This week, the team sang the school fight song “On Wisconsin,” while reading it off cue cards following Wednesday’s practice. 

“Publicity is a very positive thing,” Andersen said Friday morning. “(MacCudden) walked in and I asked how he was doing. He said he was doing tremendous today. ‘I was on ESPN top-10 plays.’ I was like what? That stuff is fun. It’s fun for the kids. I think it brings energy and excitement. 

“If I’m a player, I want to have fun playing football, and I think it also helps on the recruiting side of things.”

Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.