Badgers should kick ’em when they’re down
During Barry Alvarez’s 1-10 first season in 1990, Michigan came into Camp Randall Stadium ranked No. 3. After squeaking by the Badgers, 41-3, the Wolverines were soon elevated to No. 1.
Probably not wanting to waste reeds on the occasion, Michigan did not bring its marching band to the game. And that was a good thing for the smallish house that didn’t particularly need to hear “The Victors,” I don’t know, 50 or 60 times.
But wouldn’t you know it. A lone Michigan fan, holding aloft a boom box like John Cusack in “Say Anything,” blasted the one fight song you cannot get out of your head with a crowbar each and every time Big Blue scored.
If you’re Wisconsin, there’s a reason to beat Michigan.
Another would be for the way the Wolverines once treated Wisconsin as their personal rented mule. Beating on the Badgers as if they were solely responsible for disco, Michigan outscored Wisconsin by the combined score of 176-0 in the four games from 1977-’80.
Somehow, the Badgers exacted revenge by knocking off No. 1 Michigan in the 1981 opener, but those Delta House moments have been far too infrequent in a series only marginally less lopsided than Globetrotters-Generals. Do you really need to be reminded who inflicted UW’s only ’98 loss?
That’s why Saturday’s game presents such a tasty opportunity for the Badgers, and not because they let Michigan off the hook last season after being up, 19-zip, in Ann Arbor.
And not because a victory would necessarily make UW’s season, either. There’s still the biyearly Northwestern minefield and the quadrennial recruiting junket to Hawaii to deal with, and that’s beyond the fact the Beat Michigan Club isn’t exactly exclusive these last two years. When Toledo and Notre Dame are members, enrollment is pretty much open.
Thing is, the chance to kick the sand-kicker when he’s down makes itself available far less than the Rose Bowl itself. When they come around, go at it with both feet.
As a side benefit, beating Michigan might even render Rich Rodriguez speechless, which would befit all concerned.
For example, here is what the Michigan coach said after his team was thumped, 38-36, by the same bunch from Purdue that was beaten, 37-0, by U-Dub:
“I think we’re in a process.”
Heavens to Schembechler, where’s Jim Mora when you need him?
Process? At Michigan?
Before Rodriquez got involved with the, um, process to the tune of 3-9 last season, Michigan had gone 40 years without a losing season. Alvarez, Hayden Fry and selected others at places with little heritage to speak of could ask for patience without their appeals being accompanied by a laugh track. Typically, such dispensation is not granted to those given the keys to a stadium where 11 national and 42 conference banners hang.
“Just give us time,” Rodriguez said.
And that’s the scary thing, because sooner or later, with or without Rodriquez, Michigan is going to stir. Just as sure as Fritz Crisler put those wings on the helmets more than 70 years ago so his single-wing passers could distinguish their downfield targets, the Wolverines are eventually going to rise up and reclaim what is theirs by birthright.
And if you’ve been tied to their whipping post for all these years like the Badgers, it’s best to be off the schedule when it happens. Either that, or get in the licks now while you can.