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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Bielema feels justified in suspending safeties

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema doesn't second-guess his decision to indefinitely suspend senior safeties Shane Carter and Aubrey Pleasant last week, even though family members of the players plan to fight the ruling.

Neither side has revealed the reasons behind the suspensions, but Carter's brother and Pleasant's father told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the situation was handled poorly and a request for an expedited hearing has been made.

Bielema isn't backing down, either. 

"They can do what they want," the coach told me Tuesday. "I know who's going to be on my team. I wouldn't have done something if I didn't know where it was going to end up."

Badgers senior linebacker Jaevery McFadden remains close with both suspended players and talked to Pleasant on Monday, but McFadden said he's still in the dark about what happened. 

"It's a difficult situation, but there's nothing I can do," McFadden said. "They're missing what they love to do, but times are hard."

Bielema was encouraged to see the team respond well shortly after he announced the suspensions Friday.

The team went through its first two-a-day session Saturday, and after struggling at the end of the morning workout, Bielema told players they would remain in full pads at night. They delivered their best practice of camp under the lights.

"It tells me the mind over matter thing is real," he said. "Their bodies weren't in the ideal shape to go out and do that, but their minds were, and that's why they prevailed."

As a leader on defense, McFadden knew he needed to push ahead. 

"I came in with those guys [Pleasant and Carter], so it hurt me," he said. "But at the same time, I couldn't let it affect my play and hurt the team. Some of the leaders on the team, we gathered the team up, got them together and told them, 'What happened, happened. Nothing we can do about it. We've got to move forward.'

"That's what we did."