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Trippin' With the Badgers (Dec. 27)

Trippin' With the Badgers (Dec. 27)

Justin Doherty (Assistant AD for Communications)


I found out a number of things I didn’t previously know when I attended the Tampa Bay Lightning-Montreal Canadiens hockey game tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum.

First, the Canadiens’ fans represent. Montreal won the game, 5-2. Each time the Habs scored, the eruption of cheers inside the arena made you think the home team had scored. There were tons of fans in Canadiens sweaters. I asked around a bit and it sounds like there are a lot of Canadians with winter homes in Florida, in addition to those who may have just been following the team or here on vacation.

Second, among the 40 or so of our players (as well as coaches Chryst, Bostad, Alexander and Doeren) that went to the game was fullback Bill Rentmeester. Turns out Bill is a former defenseman, who played varsity hockey at Beaver Dam High. Bill told me he started skating when he was around four years old and still gets on the ice occasionally with youth teams back home. Beaver Dam made the state tournament his sophomore year, but apparently ran into a Verona team and a guy named Jack Skille.

Lastly, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is a fountain of hockey knowledge. Paul coached for a time in the Canadian Football League and was discussing with me the Quebec Nordiques move to Colorado in the 1990s. Here’s a funny story … each week, when we have network TV in town to do our games, the announcers will meet with Coach Bielema and our coordinators (usually on Friday). One Friday earlier this season, Paul was meeting with the network talent (I believe it was Tom Brennaman and Charles Davis from the Big Ten Network) and somehow, in the midst of discussing our two-deep for the next day’s game, the conversation turns to hockey. Next thing I know, Paul and Charles Davis are attempting (successfully, if I recall correctly) to name the Original Six NHL teams (Detroit, Montreal, N.Y. Rangers, Boston, Chicago, Toronto). Hilarious.

Tonight was fun for me because I’m such a hockey fan, but I think our players enjoyed it, too. Most stayed through two periods and many others stayed for the whole game. OK, enough pucks. Good night from Tampa. We’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Feel free to e-mail me at jmd@athletics.wisc.edu


The team conducted its second practice of the trip this afternoon (20 periods) and followed that up with an amazing lunch at Boizao Steakhouse, a Brazilian steak place just up the street from the Jefferson High School stadium where UW is holding its workouts. If you like meat and you’ve never been to one of these Brazilian steakhouses, check it out. You won’t regret it.

Athletic director Barry Alvarez was at practice as well as lunch. Many of you know that Barry is going to serve as an analyst on Fox’s telecast of the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl game between Virginia Tech and Kansas on Jan. 3. It’s kind of an interesting twist for him because he played in the Orange Bowl at Nebraska on New Year’s Day in 1966 and coached his final game at Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1990. Now, he’s going back to Miami to help call the Orange Bowl.

“I’ve always loved the Orange Bowl,” Alvarez said. “As a kid growing up in the north, I remember watching that game and later when I played there we stayed right down on Miami Beach. I’ve been there a few times since and spoken at some of their events, too.”

Barry recalled the game he played there as if it were yesterday. Nebraska was ranked third and Alabama, coached by Paul “Bear” Bryant, was ranked No. 4. Top-ranked Michigan State and No. 2 Arkansas had lost earlier in the day, leaving the Orange Bowl winner as the likely national champion. That winner ended up being Alabama, by a 39-28 count.

Nearly 25 years later, Alvarez, then defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, helped lead the Fighting Irish to a 21-6 victory over top-ranked Colorado on Jan. 1, 1990. The next day he was in Madison being introduced as the new head coach at Wisconsin, just missing his goal of becoming a head coach by the age of 42 (he turned 43 on Dec. 30).

Barry will be joined in the booth on Jan. 3 by Kenny Albert and Moose Johnston. He will fly down to Miami for news conferences and team practices on Dec. 30 and will be back in Tampa later that day to celebrate his 61st birthday. He’ll then take in the Badgers’ Outback Bowl game against Tennessee before heading back down to Miami.

Feel free to e-mail me at jmd@athletics.wisc.edu


Something I’ve always enjoyed is hearing our student-athletes speak in public. They do so at banquets, news conferences, community service events, as well as on other occasions. This morning I got another chance to hear one of them. Paul Hubbard, our senior wide receiver from Colorado Springs, was a featured speaker at a breakfast put on by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Paul, who spoke along with UW head coach Bret Bielema, Tennessee head coach Philip Fulmer and Tennessee’s Inky Johnson, may have a future in public speaking. He looked comfortable as he delivered a personal message about questioning and regaining his faith at different points this season. Paul talked about a close friend who was killed prior to the season, as well as the knee injury he had to overcome. He also revealed the death of a cousin that occurred just 11 days ago. I know Paul’s talk touched a number of people at the breakfast because it took him a while to get to the bus afterward due to the number of folks who shook his hand, asked for his autograph and wanted to take photos with him.

Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, I think Paul (who accepted the opportunity to speak after Coach Bielema asked him if he’d like to) brought forth a message of perseverance and focus that is always beneficial. It was cool to see him do it so well.

Feel free to e-mail me at jmd@athletics.wisc.edu

Appears in Bowl Central Blog

Tagged with Football Blog, Bowl Central

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