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Friday, September 22, 2006

Know Your Foe - Wisconsin

On Saturday the Wisconsin Badgers come to Ann Arbor to kick off the Big Ten season against the Wolverines. Wisco beat Michigan last year for the first time since 1994, so revenge will be on the minds of the Wolverines against their cuter and less ferocious weasel cousins. The MZone hereby presents another installment in our award-winning series of KNOW YOUR FOE.

History – The university essentially came into being the same day the state did. The establishment of a state university was part of the state constitution in 1848. The south border of campus was Mineral Point Road which is now University Avenue. They would have scored far more points in Know Your Foe if they'd kept the original name. One of the graduates from the first graduating class was named Levi Booth. Doesn't he sound like he could be a current member of the Badger team?

Location – Madison, Wisconsin. The similarities to Ann Arbor are striking. Both are ultimate college towns. Both have a special place in the hearts of most of their alumns. Both get ranked highly in those “Best Places To Live” lists. Both are close enough to a bigger city so as to not feel isolated, but are far enough away to be cities on their own. Both lean liberal and had extremely active protests during the Vietnam War era. But Madison – at least the campus – is beautiful. They have two lakes! Kind of like Notre Dame. Of course having two lakes didn't do the Irish any good.

Nickname – Badgers. The badger is actually quite similar to a wolverine. But they're much friendlier. And they're undoubtedly cuter. When I first attended a game in Madison in 1997, I was struck by two things: one, how damn cold it was, and two, how cute Bucky Badger is. Plus, it's the only mascot that I could think of that was also a verb. That's impressive.

Colors/Logo/Cheers –Cardinal and White. Solid if not spectacular colors. The advantage is the sea of red that Camp Randall Stadium is on Saturdays. There's no question what color the fans wear. The drawback is that the colors are quite common. Nebraska, Stanford, Alabama, NC State, heck even tOSU's are similar.

Sometime after the arrival of former football coach, current athletic director, and Wisconsin savior Barry Alvarez, the Badgers changed their logo from a W sitting inside an oval to a very '90s style, "forward moving" W. Though I'm not a big fan of the logo from a style standpoint, the university's sports teams have definitely moved forward since its introduction.

The fight song, On Wisconsin is one of the classics. It's certainly in the second tier of fight songs after The Victors and Notre Dame's fight song. And it doesn't hurt that the marching band is great. Loud, entertaining and proficient. When they get the 80,000 plus fans in the stands to sing "When you say Wissssssconsin you've said it all,” it's impressive. In the past several years they've also pumped in Jump Around before the fourth quater. Now I like me some House of Pain as much as the next guy, but I see this getting dated pretty soon.

Academics – Pretty darn good, but not elite. They like to think of themselves as a "Public Ivy," but based on the kids from my high school that got in there - and couldn't get into Michigan from in-state - I'd have to put them a couple notches below Michigan. Students and alumni would likely defend their school by saying it's a great combination of being an academically strong school and a great party school. And they'd be right, at least about the last part. Wisco is consistently ranked among the top party schools in the country and most everyone who goes there loves it.

Athletics – Until the aforementioned arrival of Barry Alvarez in the early '90s, Wisconsin was a wasteland for football. But three Rose Bowl wins, and consistently tough teams under Alvarez, have completely changed the attitude in Madison. And it's spilled over into other sports, particularly basketball, where the men's team is always a Big Ten contender and has one of the toughest home courts to play on for visitors. Meanwhile, the hockey team has always been strong and not only did they win the NCAA title this year in men's hockey, but also in women's as well.

Famous alums – A solid list which includes historian Stephen Ambrose, glass artist Dale Chihuly, '70s rocker Steve Miller, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, and CNN commentator Jeff Greenfield. But Wisconsin pales compared to Michigan by boasting only one astronaut, albeit a kickass one in Jim Lovell, and they're also the alma mater of major league baseball commissioner Bud Selig. If I could take away points from them for this I would.

The Game - As expected, the Badgers put up a good fight. But in the end they're no match for the ornery, aggressive Wolverines. KNOW YOUR FOE Prediction: Michigan - 31, Wisco - 16


beast in bama said...

What would a "Wacko the Wolverine" mascot look like, I wonder. Benny?

MGOBLUE94 said...

what the hell do you have a crush on BUCKY?

Under Colors/Logos/... you forgot to include the other BT team with RED ... INDIANA!

WISCONSIN (we-SUCKS-in) Madison

U-DUB lost their #1 party school ranking to the Longhorns this year perhaps because of this UW Block Party Rap

They should get SNORZE/SNOOZE to do the song: Dane is the county ... Madison is the city

Anonymous said...

This is the second time I've seen the blog refer to other schools (ND & Wisconsin) as not being what they're cracked up to be academically. Not saying either school is fantastically better than UM (at the undergrad level, since that's only comparison that makes real sense if you're going to talk about ND), but I think you've got an overdeveloped sense of UM's relative academic strength.

Anonymous said...

For all those college football fans who also love grammar parsing, a partial list of verb mascots in addition to [Bucky] Badger:

Bear (multiple)
Bully (Mississippi State)
Buzz (Georgia Tech)
Champ (Montana State)
Chip (Colorado)
Dog (multiple, incl S Illinois)
[Donald] Duck (Oregon)
[Goldy the] Gopher (Minnesota)
Hawk (multiple, incl Iowa)
Hoot (Rowan)
Jack (Georgetown)
Judge (Baylor)
Pirate (multiple)
[Roarie] Rage (Florida Intl)
Ram (multiple, incl Colorado State)
[Rocky the] Rocket (Toledo)
Scratch (Kentucky)
[Sammy the] Slug (UC Santa Cruz)
Spike (Georgia)
[Stanford] Tree (Stanford)


Andy said...

The first time I ever drank a beer (legally) was in Madison. They grandfather'd 18 year olds when they moved the drinking age to 21.

In the late 80's, Mad-town was easily the best college party town in the world.

No letdowns. We are going to kick their arses this weekend.

Anonymous said...

One might also be able to "mountaineer". Although, I think that's only for people in West Virginia to attempt.

Anonymous said...

I'd be pretty curious to hear more from Anon 6:39. My sense about Michigan is that the bottom 30% of the school is not that impressive, but by and large the profs and students are whip smart. I had friends who went to Michigan over Duke, Cornell, Penn and U. Chicago. When I was at Harvard Law there were about 20 Michigan alums in my class -- not the school overall, just my class -- and Michigan was something like the seventh or eighth best-represented undergrad school. Also, Michigan's professional schools -- undisputably top tier. While there were definitely idiots (like the woman in Sidney Fine's class who raised her hand and asked what the State Department is) I know few U-M alums who haven't had their pick of grad schools and done pretty well for themselves.

This is something that I did not appreciate until I moved out of state and had extensive interactions with people from other schools.

Personally, I think Wisconsin actually is pretty close to a Public Ivy and more academically sound than Notre Dame, especially in social sciences.

Anonymous said...

The correct nomenclature for Whiskey's new logo is the "Motion W". Very sexy. I preferred the wierd, old school Ws on the front of the helmets they sported as throwback unis like a year ago or so.

anonymous iv said...

I have always had respect for the academics of Michigan or else I would not have applied for doctoral study at such an erudite institution. When I was at University of Washington for a doctoral interview four of the prospective doctoral students were graduate students from Michigan. Sadly, I was the only representative from a directional school, North Texas. Even though I was not accepted I also knew that fifteen of us were not going to accepted regardless of where we went to school.

Anonymous said...

The "foward moving" or motion W is a nod to the state motto, "Forward," I believe

Brad said...

So what awards has Know Your Foe won? I'm guessing the Mike Cooper Award for Best Public Expose'.