Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


If I had a crystal ball, I’d be a Wolverine

What a difference two years makes.

Students who are currently sophomores here at Madison must feel ripped off. Two years ago when they slumped during their senior year of high school, they chose a school that looked like it had a juggernaut athletic program.

Like all other perspective students, most based their decision on what college to attend for the next four years on how good a school’s sports teams were.


The Badgers were coming off a Rose Bowl victory, a Final Four berth and boasted a hockey team that had retained the number one ranking in the country for most of the year. To be a Badger, and more importantly a Badger fan, would surely provide four years of sports cheering bliss, thought most of these incoming freshman.

Aspirations and expectations for Badger athletics had never been higher.

Then a funny thing happened.

The same players who carried our beloved teams to victory graduated.

Ron Dayne won the Heisman and jettisoned for the NFL along with Chris McIntosh. The man so nice they named him twice, Duany Duany, moved on to higher pastures along with NCAA Tournament Regional MVP Jon Bryant, taking their timely three-point shooting with them. Dany Heatley left Badger hockey as a sophomore to declare for the NHL draft. Soon to follow the next year were Jamar Fletcher, Chris Chambers, Michael Bennett, and in effect the entire Final Four basketball team.

All of a sudden, two years after the most decorated sports year for Badger athletics, those of us who are still here are left with a morass of mediocrity.

Exhibit A: the football team. Yes, we knew that is was going to be a rebuilding year. Just by looking at the influx of freshman and sophomores on the roster it was obvious before the season even started that even the mighty Wendell Bryant would be unable to help produce another Big Ten title. The team is young and is bound to get better, but there is plenty of room for criticism.

The Big Ten is not what it usually is this year, yet if the Badgers loose to No. 11 Michigan on Saturday they will have lost three out of four conference games at Camp Randall.

This includes the 31-point thrashing by Indiana at home in early October. Wasn’t it just two years ago, when Indiana last came onto our turf that the Hoosiers left with their tails between their legs due to a 59-0 domination by Wisconsin? Has Wisconsin gotten 80 points worse than two years ago, or is Antwaan Randle El just that much better of a quarterback as a senior than he was as a sophomore?

Exhibit B: the basketball team. No one expected the Badgers to dance all the way into the Final Four in 2000. That was a good team that had everything go right for them at the right time. That year’s edition may not have been so consistent, but they could play and beat any team in the country on a good day (with the exception of Michigan State).

The most relevant question to ask about this year’s edition is; who are these guys?

The leading returning rebounder from last year is guard Kirk Penney, and the returning leader in assists is Travon Davis, who averaged a dominating 1.3 assists per game.

In the aftermath of last year’s coaching saga, Wisconsin wanted a more high-profile coach and left us with Bo Ryan. Never heard of him? Well then you probably just did not watch enough of UW-Milwaukee’s games on TV.

It is going to be hard even for angry columnists like myself to criticize a man who inherits such a disastrous situation. Gone are five senior starters from last year’s squad, and top recruit Latrell Fleming will be unable to play due to a problem with his heart.

Most thought, with exposure in the Final Four two years ago, the men’s basketball team would be able to cash in and reap dividends, turning it into a national powerhouse with highly touted recruits. Instead, Badger fans are left with a bunch of players no one has ever heard of.

Exhibit C: the hockey team. Out of the three major sports here in Wisconsin, the hockey team appears to be in the least disarray, but it still remains a shadow of its former self. Two years ago they managed to retain the number one ranking throughout the majority of the season; this year they are unranked and could stay out of the top twenty-five all season.

All hope is not lost for Badger fans. The football team should be greatly improved next year. The basketball team might not make the NIT this year or win more than three conference games, but they will have nowhere left to go but up. As for the hockey team, like the football team, they are going through growing pains.

Wisconsin has not become Northwestern in two years, but they have steadily declined. In 2000 there was a surge in applicants to Madison based on our successful sports. It seemed Wisconsin was finally cutting into Michigan’s applicant pool as it edged closer to achieving Wolverine excellence in all sports. Then, but two years later, for applicants coming up in 2002, even this journalist would be looking at Ann Arbor or somewhere else as choice number one.

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