Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Football: The origins of Wisconsin’s most popular traditions

Take a look at the history behind Wisconsin’s famous football traditions
Justin Mielke

Back when Saturdays were filled with Badgeralls and miniature earthquakes produced by thousands of students participating in Wisconsin’s famous“Jump Around” tradition, did you ever think about its origin, and that of many other storied gameday traditions?

Traditions such as “Jump Around,” singing “Build Me Up Buttercup” staying late for “Bucky’s 5th Quarter” and the rallying cry of “On, Wisconsin” are all traditions that have been staples at University of Wisconsin football games.

The Badger Herald delved into the origins of these four great football traditions. 


“Jump Around”

In 1998, a talented Purdue team was driving against the then No. 10 ranked Badgers. The Boilers, led by quarterback Drew Brees were trying to deadlock the game at 24 as the third quarter came to a close. As the Boilers’ potent offense changed ends, “Jump Around” by House of Pain was played through the loudspeakers. Immediately, it became a hit. Now, over twenty years later, “Jump Around” is considered one of the best traditions in college football. 

“It all started as just another song to energize fans with the ulterior motive of trying to make it difficult for Purdue to move the ball,” UW Assistant Athletic Director for marketing and promotions Kevin Kluender said in a 2019 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article

The Badgers went on to finish the 1998 season 11-1 with a victory in the Rose Bowl. Not knowing if this tradition would stick, Wisconsin’s marketing department tried the song in the ‘99 season as it was a success. 

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“We tried it at the start of the ’99 season,” Kluender said. “They continued to participate and the tradition started.” 

Bucky’s 5th Quarter 

According to UW’s marching band website, around 1977, the band received national attention with a new approach to the post-game show. They started this tradition by playing songs that got the student section involved.

“Initially, it was clapping to ‘You’ve Said it All’ and arm waving to ‘Varsity,‘” the website says. “Nevertheless, it was evident early on that everyone was having fun being part of the show. As the repertoire of post-game specialties grew, so did the choreography. The band members added to the festivities by adding their bit of craziness — rolling vigorously on the ground, playing while standing on their heads, or kicking their legs in the air while playing on their backs.”

 A performance that keeps fans in the stands for close to 30-45 minutes after the game, Bucky’s 5th Quarter is a tradition that allows Badger fans to celebrate regardless of the games outcome. 

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“On, Wisconsin”

Not only is “On, Wisconsin” the school’s fight song, but it’s also the official song for the state of Wisconsin.

The epic battle cry of “On, Wisconsin” dates back to the Civil War when Lieutenant General Arthur Macarthur Jr. said those words to rally his regiment in the Battle of Chattanooga at Missionary Ridge. Now this phrase is used to unite Badgers across the country.

The story behind the fight song is controversial and involves Wisconsin’s most hated rival, Minnesota.

According to Culture Trip, in 1909, the University of Minnesota was holding a competition for the school’s new fight song. Composer, William T. Purdy thought of the tune “Minnesota, Minnesota.” Purdy’s roommate, Carl Beck, a UW attendee heard the song and fancied the melody.

Beck began writing the lyrics for a song for the Badgers and after convincing Purdy to drop out of the competition, “On Wisconsin” was born.

To add insult to injury, Wisconsin’s opponent the first time  “On, Wisconsin” was played, was Minnesota. 

One of the best fight songs in the country, “On, Wisconsin” is a term and fight song that brings the entire state together. 

“Build Me Up Buttercup”

Like “Jump Around,” the popular song “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations playing at Wisconsin football games was another tradition created through trial and error.

Though the exact origin of this tradition is unknown, the Wisconsin Alumni Association believes that it began shortly after the release of the film “There’s Something About Mary” in 1998.

The movie brought renwed the song’s popularity and by the early 2000s, the song was blasting every Saturday at Camp Randall.

Wisconsin’s tremendous fanbase should be given the credit for this great tradition, along with that of “Jump Around.” Without their passion and engagement in the game, these traditions would fade away. 

Each year, Wisconsin offers one of the top gameday football experiences. The next time you catch these traditions at Wisconsin home games, take time to think about the fascinating history behind them. 

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