Wisconsin. America’s Dairyland. Native home of Laverne and Shirley. Home to a pro-football franchise with a market so small, the team is practically a utility co-op. In the aggregate, it seems like a fairly benign place—the type of joint where a man might enjoy a nice bratwurst and the occasional helping of lutefisk, washed down with a cold, flavorless can of swill from the Milwaukee corporate brewing mega-complex.
But the Badgers. Oh, the Badgers. The Bert-alicious Bevy of Badgeresque Buffoonery. Wisconsin, I was so close to liking you. So close. Instead, I find only disdain nestled in the cockles of my B1G heart. Make no mistake. I don't want to hate you, Badgers. But like my well-meaning Uncle who tries to force Advocare crap on everyone he meets, you're too embarrassing not to loathe.
"How can you hate US?" the Badger faithful bleat, spittle and bits of cheese curd spewing from their maws. Well, wipe your hands on your grease-stained Reg Dog shirt and listen closely, for I shall enlighten you.
It’s actually quite simple, you see. Nobody hates Wisconsin merely for being Wisconsin. Generally speaking, it’s fairly endearing how well Wiscy does for itself in the grand scheme, especially when one considers the natural disadvantages of weather, location, and an abundance of bovine citizens. Why then, do I hate Wisconsin? How could a man whose life is built upon solid midwestern values have such seething disdain for all things Badger? My reasons are three-fold. Behold, the triumvirate of contempt.
1. Publicly Tarnishing a Dented Brand, or "Wiscy’s Rose Bowl Follies." In case you’re from another planet or Soviet Russia, the fortunes of the B1G in the college football world have been meager in this, the 21st century since the birth of Christ. To put it mildly, bowl season in the B1G is a tire fire. The Rose Bowl has been a particular point of shame. In 2010, Ohio State cruised into Pasadena and shut the Pac-10 and the Quack Attack up in fine fashion, reversing the skid of the Big Ten in West Coast football-type events (you’re welcome). The establishment gasped. Perhaps the B1G wasn’t an antique quilt rack masquerading as a football conference. College football in the Midwest might be alive after all. Corn-fed middle Americans had just beaten the west coast masters of the run & gun, hyper-tempo spread offense. The Granddaddy of Them All was proof that not only could the B1G compete in the new era of college football, the B1G could WIN on New Year’s Day on what remains the greatest of the longtime stages.
Then along came the Badgers. Three straight tries, fhree straight flops.
2011: TCU? Seriously? TCU. Tee. Cee. Yew. The pride of the Mountain West Conference held the vaunted Badger ground attack to 19 points. Surely that was an anomaly, though. A down year. A fluke! Lord, how the B1G faithful can only wish that had been the case.
2012: One year later, and it was the Ducks’ turn to ruin New Year’s from the Ohio valley to the Great Plains. Woe to the B1G. Another Rose Bowl collapse by a much ballyhooed Badger squad. Thirty-eight points is good, but not when a win takes 46.
2013: The final stake through the heart. Stanford. A two-score performance by the Madison Men. Fourteen points in four quarters by an offense with Montee Ball carrying the rock…an offense which only a month prior had hung 70 points on the corn kids in the B1GCG. Dreadful. Four quarters of Ambien-ball and no roses to show for it.
That’s three consecutive New Year’s holidays ruined by the gasping, bumbling, also-ran performances of the Badgers. Have other teams lost Rose Bowls? Sure. It happens. The fact remains, though, that the Rose Bowl is OUR THING. The B1G clings to that grand old gal for good reason. It’s one of the few bowls left with any class. The Rose Bowl is practically the only bowl game not brought to you by a hair care product or web hosting service, and we own half of it.
To show up three times in a row and embarrass the B1G with soul-gutting losses on the year’s natal day…ugh…you stoke the fires of my hate. Get it done or get out of the way for a team who will (PS...thanks, Sparty).
And that’s to say nothing of the fact that the Badgers have given the B1G a whopping four bowl wins this century. Bert and friends, thy sins are legion.*
*(For those of you educated in Michigan, 2000 was the last year of the 20th century, since there was no year zero).
2. Jump Around. Really, enough about this amazing "tradition" of playing the only true hit song Everlast could put his name to and making a half-assed mosh pit in the stands. In case you ain’t in the know, that song was released in 1992. Think about that. There are current UW-Madison undergrads who are OLDER than that song (and I’m talking about ones who went to college right out of high school). That’s not a tradition. Not in the B1G. Not in a league where traditions predate the aeroplane and women’s suffrage. That’s just some party trick to entertain yourselves while the media timeout guy is holding up play.
I know, I know, House of Pain is Irish and they’re from New York. Jumping around to Jump Around is the one chance for the Wiscy faithful to feel just a bit edgy and a little dangerous. I don’t mean to stop you from feeling all tingly in your Badger parts, but the fact remains that this ridiculous group hopscotch event is not a tradition. Traditions have to at least predate all Presidents named Bush, especially since the real traditions in the B1G tend to have the shine of a World War or two on them. Stop giving self-loathing Northwestern alum and all-around schmuck Brent Musburger more to slobber about. Enjoy your little dance party. Just shut up about it.
3. Bert. Need I say more? Bert. Bert. BERT. Comic value aside, that guy was a pimple on the ass of the B1G in every conceivable way, from his perpetually greasy face and monosyllabic incoherence to his inability to perform after December. At least your head coaching job was so unappealing that he left for glamorous Arkansas. On the plus side, at least he took his delightful betrothed with him.
Look, Wisconsin, I’m sure you’re a real swell gal. You’d be really, really likable in the right context. Good food, quantity of beer (if not quality), and sweet, unthreatening folks with slow reflexes and no dance skills. You’re America’s Wonder Bread. Just stop making turd sandwiches on New Year’s Day, and we’ll talk.