This is the first of a four part series where we exchange five questions with Adam Hoge of SBNation's Bucky's 5th Quarter. This week we take a look at the impact the Rose Bowl will have on both TCU's and Wisconsin's football programs. To see the questions I answered for B5Q, click here. The series will run every Thursday until the Rose Bowl.
MWC: It has been just over a decade since Wisconsin's last Rose Bowl on January 1, 2000 when Ron Dayne ran all over Stanford in route to a 17-9 Badger victory. What does this years Rose Bowl bid mean to the Wisconsin football program and fan base, and is there any disappointment that the Badgers will square off against the Horned Frogs instead of the fighting trees of Stanford?
B5Q: There's no question the excitement around the UW football program is the highest it has been in the last decade. Usually by this time of year the attention has shifted to the basketball team and while fans still care about the bowl game, there's not a whole lot of talk about it until the game arrived. This year, everyone is talking about the Rose Bowl and pretty much everyone I know is headed to Pasadena. Meanwhile, the basketball team is 7-2, but I'm not sure I've received more than five questions about Bo Ryan's squad this season. There's been a huge upswing for the Badgers in recruiting ever since Wisconsin beat then-No. 1 Ohio State in October and a Rose Bowl win would be huge going into the final month of the recruiting year. This is an important game and I'm not sure Badger fans care who they are playing. Sure a traditional Big Ten-Pac 10 matchup would have been nice, but the Badgers have a lot of respect for this TCU team. If there is any hesitation about playing TCU, it's that fans are worried the Frogs have a chip on their shoulder and have a lot to prove.
MWC: As a current member of a conference that doesn't have a golden ticket in their possession like the rest of the "Big 6" conferences, TCU has long been trumpeting the need for a playoff in college football. Conversely as one of the most powerful conferences in the nation the Big 10 seems more than happy with the current system and the boatloads of money that comes with it. Ironically enough it would seem that this season a playoff would've been beneficial to the Big 10 as they ended the season with three 10-1 teams that never had a realistic shot at the title game. What is the general consensus from Badger fans on the eternal sports radio question of, "To playoff, or not to playoff?"
B5Q: I think the general consensus of all college football fans is that we need a playoff. Badger fans and all Big Ten fans fall into that mindset as well. When you talk about the Big Ten not wanting a playoff, you are talking about Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany who has been one of the louder voices against a playoff.
MWC: I know very little about Badger fans other than the handful of videos I've watched on this interwebs thing, and based on those I've come to the conclusion that you guys are a rowdy devil brigade. How off base am I and what can the Frog faithful expect from Badger nation in Pasadena? Can we expect lots of kielbasa and Old Milwaukee at the Wisconsin tailgates? What is the "5th Quarter?" Also how many fans will be wearing red in the Rose Bowl on January 1st? Okay this has turned into "twenty questions," but you Wisconsin fans intrigue me and I know literally nothing about you.
B5Q: Yes, Badger fans are crazy. And I guess it starts from the top down as UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has recently appeared in music videos such as "Teach Me How to Bucky" and "We're Smelling Roses". The old man in both of those videos is UW Marching Band Director Michael Leckrone. He leads one of the most entertaining marching bands in the country, a group that performs "The 5th Quarter" after every game, win or lose (unless fans storm the field, which happened twice this year). "The 5th Quarter" is just a number of fun songs that fans dance to, keeping the party going once the game is over. As far as how many fans will be there, the Badgers have sold out their ticket allotment although the exact figure is unknown. Delta Airlines has already added non-stop flights from Madison and Milwaukee to Los Angeles to accommodate Badger nation.
MWC: After losing to Michigan State in East Lansing on October 2nd what was the mood around the program? Did all hope seem lost or was their still a strong feeling that this was a Rose Bowl caliber team? Looking at the results of the season it would seem that Wisconsin's performance improved drastically on the back stretch of the season, what changed?
B5Q: I really believe the players still thought they were a Rose Bowl team. Michigan State played really well in that game and yet Wisconsin was still just one stop away from getting the ball back with a chance to win the game. Still, the fans were convinced this was just another typical Wisconsin season where a very good team was going to come up short of a BCS bowl game. That's the story we have seen most years since 2000 and with Ohio State and Iowa still on the schedule, it didn't look great. But it's obvious that loss was the best thing that could have happened to the Badgers as they got it together and realized they couldn't make any more mistakes. From there, the Badgers were one of the least penalized teams in the country and rarely turned the ball over. That was a formula good enough for the Rose Bowl.
MWC: Conference expansion and "super-conferences" are all the rage this year and the Big 10 kicked things off by adding Nebraska. What is your take on the addition and the overall future of the conference, also will the name ever change or are you the "Big 10" for the foreseeable future?
B5Q: It's hard not to like the addition of Nebraska. You're talking about one of the winningest programs in the country and it makes the Big Ten even better. I hate the divisions though. In an effort to make the divisions "historically competitive" they managed to make them "presently uneven". Making East and West divisions would have actually made them more even and preserved more rivalries. As for the "Big Ten" name, I don't think they will change it and I don't think they have to. The brand is too valuable and changing it would be too big of a hassle (the Big Ten Network would have to change its name, studio, graphics, e.t.c as well).