Well folks, this is it — the final Badger Herald of 2004-05.
As sports editor it’s my unspoken duty to relate to the reader the intense joy of covering U-dub athletics over this past year, but that seems a tad self-indulgent, doesn’t it? After all, who the heck am I? Some dude who, as you read this, is either hungover or still passed out — to be perfectly honest.
Therefore, instead of boring our loyal readership by commemorating that which is already painfully well known, I’ve compiled a brief list of outtakes — items not to be found in the Herald archives or anywhere else for that matter.
Suffice it to say, “UW athletics: too hot for print” this is not. While I could probably fill that column with Mike Allen interviews alone, the last thing I need entering the job market is to have the FCC on my ass, I mean … butt.
4. ‘Tez forgets a football fundamental: I once heard a rumor that the Wisconsin defensive coaches asked now-linebacker Dontez Sanders to put on some weight before they pulled him in from safety. ‘Tez, then, went out and gorged until meeting their standard — not realizing, of course, they meant for him to add muscle. Details, details.
That, however, was second-hand info … this ain’t … When interviewing Sanders prior to the Badgers’ non-conference game with UNLV, I asked the sophomore will-backer about the upcoming matchup with tailback Dominique Dorsey. After breakaway success in the early season, the fleet-footed Rebel and his scorching 40 time of 4.35 presented a blatant challenge for the then-untested Wisconsin run defense.
“He won’t be running a 4.35 40 with 12 guys around him,” ‘Tez responded with a laugh. Wait, 12 guys around him? Was Wisconsin planning to unleash the dreaded 4-4 formation, or is the 12th man some kind of symbolic after-school-special entity, like “heart” or “willpower”?
Whatever the case, ‘Tez snagged a one-arm pick in the contest and Dorsey didn’t do jack. Nice play, willpower.
3. Joy to the world, the lord is a dead squirrel: All right, I apologize in advance, but I’ve sworn not to release the identity of the protagonists of this tale. I can only say it takes place during a training stint in Texas over spring break and speaks to the indomitable human instinct of self-expression.
Imagine a group of committed UW athletes locked in a grueling practice schedule during the time of year deemed one of revelry by the precepts of higher education. Imagine the toil breeding exhaustion, the exhaustion propagating insanity, which leads, invariably, to the desire to express through art. But where can one find a proper medium in the heart of trailer park country? Two words — road kill.
By the time our backwater bohemians completed their masterpiece, the classic nativity scene was majestically represented via the corpses of furry martyrs. Let it be known — comedy is the best blasphemy.
2. Buck-nuts in OKC: It’s difficult to look back upon the 2005 edition of March Madness without remembering Bucknell’s stunning defeat of third-seeded Kansas in the opening round. Showing up in Oklahoma City with a borrowed band and a handful of diehard fans, head coach Pat Flannery orchestrated the upset over Bill Self’s cocksure squad in dramatic fashion. When the buzzer sounded, perhaps five Bison fanatics rushed the floor as hundreds of de facto supporters applauded the colossal effort.
While the Big 12 claimed the home court, the weekend undoubtedly belonged to the Patriot League underdogs. In taverns and clubs throughout OKC’s iconic Bricktown district, the Bucknuts partied well beyond their numbers. At one spot on the main stretch, we found a bar occupied in part by the Wisconsin band, along with scores of dejected Jayhawk fans. Shortly after arriving, a local showed us a concealed route through the back to an elevator.
On the top floor, a livelier club featured a ’70s cover band (complete with oversized ‘fros) and harbored a healthy garrison of Bucknell supporters. Every so often I took the lift back down — where the brew was bargain basement — and walked past the somber mass of blue en route to the bar. Ah, the dichotomy of college hoops.
1. Woof-tickets to madness: Without a doubt, Wisconsin employs one of the most idiosyncratic coaches I’ve ever come across. Sometimes Bo Ryan says things that just leave people scratching their head. In fact, watching national pundits ponder the meaning behind his remarks is, quite possibly, the one thing I’ll miss most about covering UW basketball.
But every man must, on occasion, out-do himself. There’s typical Bo malarkey, and then there’s the “Onions” anecdote.
Shortly after Pierre Pierce’s well-documented blunder in Des Moines, someone asked Ryan if he had any insight for Iowa helmsman Steve Alford. Rattling off nicknames such as “Woof-tickets” and “Looty,” the gregarious coach recounted a tale of how his high school team set a record for ineligibility.
“It started out in study hall when the vice principal came in and said, ‘Hey ‘Onions’ McClain, come here. You haven’t gone to Algebra since the semester started. You’re off the team.’ About three nights later, the coach spots Bugsy Pierce standing on the street corner with a bottle of wine and a cigar. Coach pulled up and said, ‘Bugsy, that you?’ Apparently, Bugsy was like, ‘Yeah, who’s that? … Coach!’ [A day later,] Bugsy was off the team.”
That’s the abridged version, and I’m still not sure what happened to Woof-tickets. Anyway, Ryan came to the conclusion Mike Wilkinson’s nickname would be “Green Acres.” Moments later, the dish ran away with the spoon.
Patrick Klemz ([email protected]) is a graduating senior majoring in journalism.