I watched the “Play of the Day” on “Good Morning America” today. A stray black cat was running around the playing field during the NY Giants/Dallas Cowboys NFL game at New York the night before.
It brought back memories of a Wisconsin football game that I was watching at Camp Randall Stadium back in the late 1980s. Wisconsin did not have a good football team that year. A sparse crowd was witnessing another losing game against a Big Ten opponent when suddenly a squirrel scampered onto the playing field which brought out a loud cheer from the fans. I heard a guy behind me trying to start a pool on how far the squirrel would get on the field. After about five minutes of running around, the furry player ran off the field and out of the stadium. The crowd cheered wildly. That was the “Play of the Day.” On all of television news programs that night were shots of the squirrel on the Camp Randall turf. In his few minutes of fame that crazy squirrel ran more yards than all of the Badger running backs combined that afternoon.
I have been a Badger football fan all of my life, but it was tough watching Wisconsin football teams from the late ‘80s until the early ‘90s. In the BA (Before Alvarez) years a lot of fans went to Camp Randall knowing that the best part of the afternoon would be the UW Band’s “5th Quarter” performance. The one game of the season that UW fans looked forward to was the Battle for the Paul Bunyan Axe. Wisconsin and Minnesota shared the bottom rungs of the Big Ten Conference ladder during those years and the loser of the “Axe” game quite often ended at the very bottom of the Big Ten.
The game between Wisconsin and Minnesota was first played in 1890 and is the longest running uninterrupted rivalry in FBS Division 1 schools. After 128 meetings the series is tied 60-60-8. This year’s game is Nov. 30 at Minneapolis.
When Wisconsin improved and started going to bowl games, my wife Molly and I followed the team to a number of those games. We saw Wisconsin win two Rose Bowls and a number of other exciting post-season games. It was great fun, but I gave up going to the bowls after the Badgers lost to TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl. I have thought about going to a few bowl games in recent years, but as I get older I find the seat in front of the television is much better than the seat I could have at the game and the price is certainly cheaper. But if Wisconsin would win another trip back to the Rose Bowl, I would certainly have to seriously consider another trip to Pasadena. That won’t happen this year.
Say, cheer up Badger football fans. It was tough losing to lowly Illinois and top-ranked Ohio State in consecutive games, but there are more games left to play this year and I think we will celebrate some more great Wisconsin victories in 2019.