Friday, July 28, 2006

Feature Foto Friday

In what may become a feature of this humble Badger sports blog, I present a picture of campus for your edification.

A dramatic view of Vilas Hall from Lake Street. The building has suddenly found itself the sole occupant of the block bounded by Lake Street, University Avenue, Park Street, and Johnson Street with the demolition of University Square mall. The old mall, which was home to Paesan's restaurant, was torn down to make way for an eleven-story behemoth of a building, which will serve a staggering array of functions. It will contain 350 apartments, over 400 parking spaces, and a quarter million square feet worth of university territory. The whole thing, amazingly, is expected to be completed in just about two years.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Journey- Separate Ways

Journey made the world a better place when they released their video for "Separate Ways." Whether you love the hilariously awkward "appearance" of the band's instruments in the opening sequence, the "sliding" effect of the various members as they belt out the chorus, or the inexplicable scenes of Jonathon Cain banging out notes on a keyboard that appears to be fixed to a wall for some reason, it's hard to watch this video without being impressed or violently convulsing with laughter.

So go on and watch. You know you want to.

The All American Football League - set up for failure?

Various media sources are running stories on the nascent All American Football League. It's a professional league that is setting up shop in various college towns and creating opportunities for players who don't go to the NFL to make $100K/year playing the game they love. College towns thought to be in the mix (or confirmed) for franchises include NC State, Florida, Tennessee, and Purdue. Officials affiliated with Kentucky, Nebraska, and UCLA have been instrumental in forming the league, so those might be candidate schools as well.

The season will likely run 14 weeks and focus on making kids who played at the host college and that college's conference into professionals. The players must hold diplomas in order to play the game in an interesting pro-academic twist.

The league has obviously thought this idea through and has quite a few things in its favor. It's going to pay far more than the Arena League and play on actual 100-yard fields, giving players with talent more incentive to sign with the AAFL than the Arena League. It's going to run from April to June, meaning that it's in competition with exactly zero other football leagues. It's setting up shop in football-hungry towns. I'm definitely looking forward to the formation of this league.

However, there are several enormous roadblocks to success that come to mind as I, the casual fan, consider the idea:
  1. Ticket cost is the first one. All the releases cite a $30 price per ticket. Are you kidding me? At best, it's audacious to consider selling people $30 tickets without any concept of how the game's going to play out. I was thinking $10 would be a nice ceiling for the first season. You can't take a family of four to a game you know nothing about at $30 per person, plus parking, concessions, and souvenirs.
  2. Access to beer could be a problem. Like all low-level professional and amateur sporting events, beer is the fuel that drives fandom. Everyone enjoys going to Warner Park to watch the Mallards, our beloved college summer league baseball team, many due to the fact that $2 pints of stellar Great Dane beer are cold and ready to drink. Most college stadiums, to my knowledge, forbid the sale and consumption of alcohol on their premises. Would the rules change for the AAFL?
  3. The traveling nature of the college football fan plays into this. They don't pack in over 100,000 at Neyland because the entire population of Knoxville shows up every Saturday; people come from all over, making pilgrimages to see their favorite team. Again, without knowing what's going on with the team, nobody's going to put 200 miles each way on their preferred vehicle to attend a sporting event. The spectators at first will be curious locals.
  4. Currently, there's no TV deal for this league. Not only is TV an important source of revenue, but it's crucial in building the fan base. If this league doesn't get on TV quickly, it tanks.
  5. Who wants to tailgate in June? It's way too hot. Tailgating isn't necessary, of course, but it helps change football Saturday or Sunday from a simple pastime to a culture-changing phenomenon.
As a college football fan, I welcome the opportunity to watch a close approximation to the college game in the dead months of April, May, and June. But this league needs to dramatically drop ticket costs, get on TV, and make sure that I can have a beer in my hand before I'm willing to invest in it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Will have should update

The Journal-Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus checks in with an injury update replete with commentary from Coach Bielema. Bottom line: every injured player is expected to be available to start practicing: Shaughnessy, Thomas, Monty, and Cooper are all ready to go. Excellent.

The article does include two quotes from the coach that may not actually mean much, but I'll read into in the way that only a blogger-outsider can really do. One is bad, one is good.

Let's start with the bad: apparently, the disciplinary action that will be taken with regard to Joe Monty's driving (or scooting, as it were) while intoxicated is probably going to "involve [his] place on the depth chart to open the season."

OK. The kid had a huge medical situation because of his actions, including a stitch count that made the triple digits, and all of that physical pain probably taught him a valuable lesson -- not to mention the court dates, the hundreds of dollars of fines, and the notoriety in the local media. So, this is a case that could go either way. However, my heart leapt when Bielema took over the position of head coach and almost immediately kicked Booker Stanley to the curb. "Finally," thought I, "we may be shedding the image of Camp Randall as a minimum-security prison where football is occasionally played! Lo, Coach Bielema is a real disciplinarian!"

Keeping Monty out of the lineup during the Bowling Green game would do much to solidify this image, and it's the approach I favor. Indeed, the fact that this was yet another booze-drenched episode on a campus where alcohol problems are already beyond epidemic levels only serves to strengthen the cry that an example be made. (And yes, I realize that every D-IA campus that isn't named for a guy who had four dozen wives has similar issues, but if you don't recognize that Wisconsin is particularly egregious in this regard, then you should consider have a high-speed internet connection piped under the rock under which you've been living). However, this situation was full of life lessons for Mr. Monty, and it may be that no further punishment is necessary. At least he got a sweet "ME POUND LITTLE MAN" feature photo of himself out of the whole ordeal, complete with Incoherent Refrigerator Magnet Poetry subheader:


Speaking of Mr. Potrykus, he has started a thread worth monitoring over at the BadgerNation/BadgerManiac forum. He'll be reporting from Badgers camp in this space starting August 7. He's also doing informal Q+A in that thread, giving an especially intriguing answer to the question "Does this team remind you of the 2004 team, and if so, why?" Click over to read more!

Let's finish strong with some bullets:

  • Some UW football players took time out of their weekend to visit with Children's Hospital patients and their families. Very nice, guys!

  • The Racine Journal-Times's sports section is basking in their newfound relevance, for they are the paper physically closest to star running back John Clay's house. And damned if they're not going out of their way to remind us of that. "It's been something being Johnny Clay these past eight months," they gush. Well, it's been something to be a Racine-based high school football beat writer, too!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Every year, it's harder to get into UW-Madison

The Journal-Sentinel ran a nice lengthy piece on the annual dogfight for admissions to UW-Madison. It highlights the fact that year after year, the average UW enrollee is smarter (good!), but that tuition keeps going up (bad!). It's tougher for in-state applicants to get in (bad!) because more out-of-state applicants are being accepted, largely because they pay triple the tuition (good!) Plus, the article gives a spicy and satisfying rehash of the fact that UW-Milwaukee was set up as a second-class university. Brad Vogel was crucified this spring for pointing out this truth, both in the Herald and on his blog. So, it's nice to see the big ol' Milwaukee paper bringing this to light.

Of special interest to the large number of University of Michigan bloggers who read (or at least have linked to) this site is this passage:
The UW System administration saw UW-Milwaukee, with its doctoral status, large size and urban setting, as a place to address the needs of students rejected by UW-Madison. It envisioned turning UW-Milwaukee into a Wisconsin version of Michigan State University or the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Feeding time, gentlemen!

Go Badgers and beware killer elephants

Courtesy of Dave Heller's blog at the Journal-Sentinel, we've got linkage: the SportsNetwork's ranking of Big Ten teams to win the BCS Championship compared to how reasonable a bet those teams really are. They like Michigan at 14-1, then Iowa at 50-1, and in third place they have Ohio State at 11-2. The Badgers are given 100-1 odds, and SportsNetwork thinks even that's a bad bet:
Wisconsin's offense will struggle with only three returning starters, but its defense will show tons of improvement, especially on the line where they allowed 4.6 yards per rush. The Badgers have the easiest Big Ten schedule, as they face four of the worst teams in the conference, with three of those games coming at home. Still, 100-1 is way too low as they could even lose at home in week three to San Diego State.
About that final sentence: WTF?!? A possible loss to San Diego State? At Camp Randall? I've already been labeled "cynical" by some bloggers, but apparently the ol' SportsNetwork will consider me a downright homer when I say that there is NO WAY the Badgers lose that game.

On to the bullet points:

  • CSTV has tagged the UW-Penn State game the second biggest "game to watch" during Week 10 of the college football season. As soon as the sophomore slumps start to set in at West Virginia, this game should become number one. Plus, no game that includes Louisville should ever be given Game of the Week Status. Puh-leez.

  • When you have an article about a football team and declare that the Sum is Greater than the Parts in the headline, the next season is sure to be full of surprises. "Wow, another blowout loss! But the sum of this team is so, so much greater than the parts! How can this be?" Enjoy the Packers' season, Mr. Wilde.

  • Finally, although it's upsetting that the Henry Vilas Zoo no longer has an elephant exhibit, it's probably better that they jettisoned the angry "on the spot" human killer elephant when they did. To be specific, before it got angry and killed a human on the spot.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Basketball OOC schedule is out

Here's the release ... it's being hilariously oversold. Six teams the Badgers will play out of conference will have made the NCAA tournament last year!!! You'd think that Duke and Syracuse were visiting the Kohl Center based on that. But no: we get such notables as Pacific, Winthrop, and Gardner-Webb.

That's fine by me. Don't kill yourself in the OOC when the Big Ten is always a dogfight. It's not worth it. But don't sell it as the Toughest Opponents Evar!! either.

If only the football team could say as much about their OOC opponents.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Booker Stanley - Guilty on 4 of 7 counts

From NBC15 in Madison:

The verdict is in for former Badger football star Booker Stanley, on trial for beating, choking and sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend last December.

Stanley is found guilty tonight on three felony counts - second degree sexual assault, second degree reckless endangerment, and bail jumping.
He was also found guilty on one misdemeanor charge of battery.

Because of the felony conviction, Stanley's bail has been revoked.
A pre-sentencing investigation will be conducted and sentencing should take place in about 45 days.

Quick math says that the maximum sentence possible for these convictions comes in at just over 50 years.

Good luck, Booker ... so long as you've learned your lesson.

Booker Stanley Thug Activity Update

Yesterday, Booker Stanley had his day in court yet again. This time around he was accused of beating his girlfriend. The incident is supposed to have happened last December, about eight months after his previous brush with the law. Former Badger Brian Calhoun testified at the trial, redundantly acknowledging Stanley's reputation for honesty and truthfulness. Which of those two virtues caused this kid's face to look the way it did is still in question (warning: not for the squeamish.)

I have no tolerance for incidents like this. This guy gets all expenses paid to a top-tier university and spends his time playing a game he loves and becoming a hero to the entire campus, and he shows his gratitude by pummeling his fellow students? Let the bum go. He's a disgrace.

A stupid list has crept its way from CFN to the Top 100 Heisman candidates for 2006. Has there EVER been a reason to compile a list of 20 Heisman candidates before a season, let alone 100? Doubtful. Has any sane person cared about who might win the Heisman before the month of November? Unlikely. Am I sinking to their level of stupidity by linking the article? Possibly. For what it's worth, the only Badger appearing on the list is QB John Stocco, and he checks in at #69.

If you're a self-loating Western Illinois Leathernecks fan, you should be aware that you can still get tickets to what shall almost definitely become known as the Massacre at Camp Randall (non-Temple edition). Come up to Wisconsin and smell our dairy air. Enjoy the hospitality of our cordial alumni, who only become that way after pupating from the obnoxious, drunken undergraduate student larvae that hatch from the dormitories every September. Prepare to be regaled with clever four-letter taunts and watch your step lest you plunge ankle-deep into somebody else's pre-game burrito -- all without most of the people in attendance even having known about your school's existence prior to gameday. Only $35 and this can be yours!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Recruiting Johnny Clay

Apparently, the exceptional Racine tailback has decided which schools will be allowed to woo him:

* Wisconsin
* Iowa
* Ohio State
* Illinois
* Tennessee
* Nebraska

Evidently Mr. Clay favors two types of schools: those in the Big Ten, and those that are coached by patently unlikable men who won't let ethics get in the way of building a winner. Heck, one of those schools combines both attributes!

If the Badgers don't get Mr. Clay, I hope he goes to Illinois. The conference is more fun when the Illini are a factor, especially since those Illini fans are so darn entertaining when they expect to win but wind up losing. Clay would be a great guy around whom to build a program.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Adventures in Link-Begging, Volume 1

In an effort to look more respectable to such internet luminaries as Google and Technorati, I've been going down the list of blogs I've liked and have linked and, when an email address is clearly listed, begging for a reciprocal link. I've gotten through all the Big Ten blogs and will be going down the blogs in the right margin there. So far I've gotten a few neat responses, mostly from Michigan fans. Is this because the men of Michigan are just that much more gentlemanly than the other bloggers, or is it because there are like fifty billion Wolverine blogs out there? No matter.

Actual insight comes to us courtesy of Vijay at iBlog for Cookies who notes the following about the commitment of Michigan QB James Stallons to UW:

[R]egarding the QB from Michigan, not sure if you know this but Michigan State picked up a VERY early commitment (months and months ago) from a very highly regarded QB named Keith Nichol. He's a top 100 rated, Elite 11 QB. I'm not sure that they would have been interested in another QB this year. I don't follow MSU recruiting, so I can't say, but I have to imagine that landing Nichol so early changed their thought process some.
Good to know. Like I said, Stallons is smart; the only worse fate for a capable quarterback than attending Michigan State is being a capable quarterback and warming the bench at Michigan State.

In other (actual?) news, the Big Ten has a cyclopean situation on its hands: a ref has been fired for only having one eye. Zounds! I'd be interested in seeing which games this guy officiated.

CFN continues its worst-to-first ranking of all 119 D-IA football teams, and whaddya know: more Badger opponents have appeared. Bowling Green is #99 under the amazingly euphemistic headline "Probably Rebuilding." The SDSU Aztecs check in at #71 as a "Dangerous Sleeper," where they're described as "hardly a complete enough team to win the Mountain West title." Inspiring! And just to note how hilarious the "Dangerous Sleeper" designation is: the Fighting Illini are in there at #77.

For those who are hurting for actual Wisconsin sports news, I'll close with this article about the World Championship Cheese Curd Throwing Contest that took place in Colby last weekend. Thanks to Jib for this post at the Badger Blog Alliance.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Incoming lineman Carimi gets hurt

Apparently twisted his ankle during the all-star game on Saturday. Between the injury and the fact that the game took place on a day where the high temperature was in the mid-90's, you can see why so many people just hate these high school all-star games. There's no need to put our precious recruits in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, CFN has previewed the Buffalo Bulls, and it is ugly. They've been ranked #117 out of 119 in Division I-A. Fortunately that's not the easiest game the Badgers have this year; D-IAA Western Illinois takes that honor. And that team managed to place exactly zero players on the "Top 25 D-IAA Players to Watch" list.

But hey, those tickets will cost you the same amount of money as the Penn State game. If you want to be a Badger, come along with me.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

UW picks up QB commit

As I've said before, I'm no recruiting junkie. Even if I was, though, there's not much chance I would've known a lot about the newest Badger: Macomb, Michigan's James Stallons. According to offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, Stallon's the next Jim Sorgi. What I take that to mean is that he's got limited mobility but is the epitome of the term "pocket passer" -- he's confident and accurate and an above-average deep-ball thrower. Fine by me. That definitely works. Hopefully the next commit will be the Evans to Stallon's Sorgi. Plus, he's smart. How do we know? The key quote comes from the Milwuakee Journal-Sentinel article:

Stallons committed to UW without bothering to wait for a possible offer from nearby Michigan State

Good man, Jimmy.

In other news: we get a brief couple of paragraphs on incoming super-WR Lance Kendricks from the State Journal, two post-mortems on the Pavelski defection, and for the people who like a little variety in their sporting interests, a feature article on the Wisconsin Wolves, Madison's new women's professional football team.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday links salmagundi

Articles about incoming recruits abound! In anticipation of tomorrow's Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star game, the Wisconsin State Journal has profiled two Badgers who are likely to redshirt this year: defensive end (or possible tight end) Kirk DeCremer and offensive lineman of the future Gabe Carimi. Note the headline of Carimi's article; he also brings a tremendous intensity to the team, he has that blue-collar work ethic, and he'll be an immediate impact player when he hits the gridiron.

In hockey news, the San Jose Sharks have made Joe Pavelski an offer he couldn't (or at least didn't) refuse. The other shoe is scheduled to drop at a 2 pm press conference at the Kohl Center this afternoon. Possibly next on the chopping block is Jack Skille. The fact that his future lies with the Blackhawks might inspire him to stay with the Badgers for another year, but at this point, it seems that jumping ship is the popular thing to do. Skille does seem to be sincerely and thoughtfully considering both options.

Zounds! The estimable mgoblog has posted a comprehensive Badger preview, and it's well worth a read. Most of the assessments are spot on (or, at least, I agree with them); this year's Badgers are tough to put a finger on. We've got a good quarterback and an offensive line that can protect him, but does he have anyone to throw to? Is there anyone who can take a handoff and run? The defensive line is solid, but if they don't snuff a play in the backfield or sack the quarterback, how much pain and suffering is the patchwork secondary going to endure? Or does our brilliant, young, defense-minded coach have a solution to these problems that we, the fans, didn't foresee? He IS brilliant, right? I'm loath to say either way, personally; I'll expound upon my Bielema-related hopes and fears in later postings.

Oh, and the CapTimes has "revealed" the Blue Moon's burger secret, if you're interested. Knew you were.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thursday link salmagundi

Even though it's been up for a while, the CFN Wisconsin preview hasn't yet been linked here. Their prediction: rosier than I'm letting myself believe. 10-2 and a conference title? That would be nice. As I'm sure astute readers have come to realize, I'm not sold on Bielema yet, and I think the team loses a game or two because of our tyro coach.

Speaking of the coach, here's a fine little piece from the CapTimes: Bielema on Fitzgerald. This is a neat look at how the paths of the two youngest head coaches in Division I-A have crossed. One gets the impression that Fitzgerald would have been a great addition to the Badgers' coaching staff. It's going to be interesting to see how the Northwestern game plays out this year -- both coaches are young, energetic, and defense-minded, and the Wildcats have managed to win three of the last five matchups against Wisconsin, even though the Badgers have been consistently more talented year in and year out and have posted higher win totals every season since 2000.

Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy has been named to the Hendricks Award watch list. Hopefully he's healthy and turns in an award-winning performance this season. Oddly, he's still listed as second in his position on the depth chart. has named the women's hockey title the #3 greatest sports moment of 2005-6. You know you had a good year as a department when a national championship comes in third place.
Are you amped for the CLASH IN CLEVELAND!?!?!

From the looks of this video, some eighth-grader from the greater Bowling Green area with a h@xx0r3d copy of Flash sure is!!

Badger football loses two players

One pinprick, one stab wound.

The players in question are LB Jammar Crane and WR recruit Daven Jones. The CapTimes says it all in their headline: Badgers lose linebacker, highly regarded receiver. Crane was a redshirt sophomore who was thought to be best suited as a weakside linebacker, coming in third on the depth chart behind fellow sophomore Jonathon Casillas and the injured Ryan Flasch. It seems that this was not what Crane had in mind when he chose UW and he is now exploring his options elsewhere. Best of luck; he'll get plenty of playing time wherever he goes, no doubt. It's sad that what will probably turn out to be a second-string gig at a Big Ten school isn't good enough for him, but there may be other factors in play. One can't be certain of anything when the head coach has no track record to follow.

The other, more pressing loss comes from the WR corps: recruit Daven Jones won't be showing up this fall. Coach Bielema didn't provide a reason, but that ever-present bugaboo, academics, is rumored to be the reason, as he "previously reported a 2.8 grade-point average and a 14 on his ACT."

Study up! WR is the position at which the Badgers can least afford to sustain a loss, and being without a player who was supposed to make an immediate impact further weakens the Badger offense. If a more-than-serviceable running back doesn't emerge from the Hill/Rowan/Walker triumvirate, this season could get ugly fast for the Badger offense. Until then, though, it looks like the fine folks at Camp Randall won't have to worry about preparing for Daven Jones' locker. (HAR!)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday link salmagundi

Trouble for hockey: rumors that center Joe Pavelski is close to going pro have surfaced in the mainstream media. Pavelski was the top points producer for the Badgers last season and accounted for 23 goals (to team leader Robbie Earl's total of 24). The article notes that Pavelski's departure would mean that the Badgers will have lost their top five scorers. Will the Badgers repeat as national champs? At this point it's looking more likely that Barry Alvarez will sprout an afro.

Good news for hockey: Brian Elliott, by all accounts, will return. Bonus: the bottom third of the article is recruiting speculation, for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

Cleveland rocks: the football game "at" Bowling Green, originally announced as a 1 pm kickoff, has been moved to prime time. The 7 pm (Eastern) start means that Badger fans traveling to Cleveland will have a few extra hours to fuel up for the game. Odds are that they'll take advantage of that.

If you don't have football tickets yet, you can buy some on July 17. That's when the remaining unsold tickets will be made available to the public. However, those purchasing tickets will either have to be (a) very excited about seeing that Badgers take on the Buffalo Bulls in mid-November, or (b) willing to travel to exotic locales like Bloomington or West Lafayette.

Tough ticket? Yessir! Maybe after all this success, UW will finally think about expanding and renovating Camp Randall. Oh wait.

UW Football has a new official t-shirt -- and it's terrible. This year features a changing-of-the-guard motif with departing coach Barry Alvarez on one side of the famous Camp Randall arch, and new chief Baron Sengir on the other. Trite, tacky, and worst of all - red on white. It's not tough to see that last year's design was superior in every way.

Convert third and long: put a +1/+1 counter on Coach Sengir

Finally, NCAA basketball tournament action will return to Wisconsin in 2010 at the Bradley Center. Hopefully UW draws their #1 seed and gets to play close to home.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Wisconsin love

You can just feel it -- from your ears down to your cob.

Best wishes.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

More Badger baseball

Andy Baggot has big ideas for Wisconsin baseball - use the Big Ten Channel money to pay for it. An interesting idea for sure, and one that is made attractive in the last couple lines of the piece:

Just like that, UW becomes the first Division I school to restore a men's sport it previously dropped.

Just like that, Alvarez has a final triumphant chapter for his autobiography.

Interesting. The question that keeps nagging at me, though, is this: can Madison support UW baseball AND the Madison Mallards? There's not much overlap between the two seasons (a necessity, give that the Northwoods League is populated with college players), and the UW campus and the Mallards' home field at Warner Park are far enough apart that they might just attract two separate groups of fans.

Would fans turn out to watch baseball on the UW campus in the very early spring? Or would they hold out for warm weather and the Mallards - especially with that delicious Great Dane beer on tap? Does UW even *need* to attract fans to the baseball diamond?

Lots of stuff to consider here. I just hope that Athletic Director Alvarez *is* considering it.