That was one of the weirdest Badger football seasons I can remember. We've had years where things have gone wrong, and we've had years where we've caught all the breaks. There were seasons where we were winning games on blocked punts or miracle fumble recoveries. I liked to think that I'd seen it all.
How foolish of me.
Heisman Finalist Montee Ball adds an accent to his name, gets arrested, blocks me on Twitter, gets beat up, and then ditches the accent in his name.
A big deal was made about bringing in another ACC QB transfer, all to have Danny O'Brien be more Allan Evridge than Russell Wilson.
A loss at Oregon State was followed up with what should have been the most embarrassing home loss in recent memory against Utah State, but their kicker missed a chip shot to ice us. I distinctly remember not saying, 'Hey, there's a school with a coach who really gets it, I hope he comes to Wisconsin some day.'
Two weeks into the season, Bielema fired the offensive line coach he hired himself months earlier.
Against Nebraska, we benched DOB and started freshman Joel Stave, only to have him replaced by DOB on the last drive. No biggie, DOB changed the play on 4th and 1, didn't tell anyone, fumbled, and we lost a game where we had a 17 point lead.
The next 8 games? Win by 17, win by 24, win by 25, loss in overtime, win by 48, loss in overtime, loss in overtime, and win by 39.
Add that all up and what did we get? A spot in the Rose Bowl? REALLY?
Oh yeah, almost forgot: Bielema bolted for Arkansas after dismantling Nebraska in Indy. Most of the coaching staff took jobs elsewhere, leaving a program en route to its third straight BCS Bowl in shambles. How was all of this possible?
By the time we got to Pasadena, I was exhausted. I imagine this was the sports fan's equivalent of flying from LA to Sydney with nonstop turbulence the entire time and no trip to a magical island in the middle*. Stanford came out, hit us in the mouth, and was about to leave us for dead before UW battled back and made it a ballgame. 4 minutes to go, ball at your own 25, down 6... for a team that didn't 'deserve' to be there, we sure couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. Unfortunately, after a few first downs, great story but not-such-a-great quarterback Curt Phillips tossed a terrible interception, essentially ending Wisconsin's tumultuous season.
Where does that leave things for UW Football going forward? We have a new coach. Most of his staff is in place. A BOATLOAD of talent is returning next season. Almost every recruit has reaffirmed their commitment to Wisconsin. Things are still looking up.
It was a weird fucking year, and a year that leaves all Badger fans wanting one thing: Stability. That's a hard thing to stuff under a Christmas tree, but I'm confident Coach Andersen will steady the ship and maintain our spot as perennial BCS contender. Drink in the optimism, it always goes down smooth.
*It's impossible for me to get on a plane and not play the 'if we crash on an Island, which LOST character is every person gonna be?' game. This is one of those times where being the really fat guy on the plane works out to your advantage, because being the Hurley is AWESOME. You get buckets of sweet, sweet Dharma ranch, a love interest, wicked sideburns, exclusive membership to the island golf course, keys to the only working car, the ability to communicate with dead people, AND you get to be the island's protector when it's all said and done. Not like you have anything to yearn for back at home because everyone around you died after you won the lottery, so might as well chill and be king of the island. I can think of many worse ways to go out, like drowning. Drowning is so scary. Also, I kinda maybe miss LOST a little bit.