A legend for the both of us: Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch
It's not often that two schools can claim the same College Football and Pro Football Hall of Famer, but Hirsch donned both the Cardinal and White as well as the Maize and Blue during his college playing career. He started in Madison, playing the 1942 season as a triple-threat halfback. There, he began his storied college career and gained his nickname following a long touchdown run that Chicago Daily News writer Francis Power described as follows: "His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck." Following his single season at Wisconsin, he joined the Marine Corps to serve in World War II, which forced him to transfer to Michigan. As a Wolverine, he became the only Michigan athlete to letter in four sports in a single season. Reflecting on his arrival and time at Michigan, Hirsch wrote in 1968:
But I was to learn a far more important thing about Michigan. It's not something you can hold or see ... but you sure can feel it. I'm speaking about the great Michigan tradition. Corny you say? Not on your life. It's there ... it engulfs you.
Go here and read the rest of what he wrote in 1968 as well. He tells a story that "might explain it better," with "it" being "Michigan tradition." It's a special read. But even though the Wolverines can claim Hirsch as one of their own, he was a Wisconsin man at the core. He grew up only a couple miles from the school and following his playing days, returned to Wisconsin to be their Athletic Director from 1969-87. Following Hirsch's death in 2004, Pat Richter - Wisconsin's A.D. at the time - summed up his impact on Wisconsin: "There has never been a more loved and admired ambassador for Badger sports than Elroy Hirsch."
A Herculean Mascot: Bucky Badger
Iowa's Herky the Hawk may be named after the Greek divine hero Heracles, but Bucky Badger shows off strength like old Herc every Saturday, doing as many pushups as Wisconsin has points after every score. Take, for instance, the Badgers 83-20 blowout of the Hoosiers in 2010. Bucky performed 83 pushups in a row as well as 573 pushups throughout the entire game. Yes, his form is crap during those final 83 but even 83 half-pushups in a row is hard, not to mention doing all of them with a huge, furry, Badger mascot head on the whole time.
Bucky started out as a cartoon figure sometime in the '30s, and he came to life in 1949. He's one of the classic college football mascots, evidenced by him being a charter member of the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006. He's gone through many variations since his inception (like all mascots), but I think my favorite has to be the boxing version of Bucky from the '60s.
Post-game party: The Fifth Quarter
Win or lose, the Badgers faithful party at Camp Randall Stadium after home games. It started in 1969 when the Badgers were suffering through a 24-game losing streak. Wisconsin's marching band leader and athletic director (the aforementioned Elroy Hirsch) came up with the idea to have a fan event following home games. The marching band plays a bunch of songs everyone knows the words to and all in attendance have a grand ol' time. Sounds like fun.
Yelling expletives: EAT (POOP)! (FUDGE) YOU!
Fans don't use poop and fudge (guess what they really say!), and during games the student section starts yelling these phrases back and forth. It's nothing special, but I find it kind of funny, and I like it a lot more than Michigan's "You Suck" chant. I'd rather playfully yell at each other.
Some people you should know if you don't already: Look them up
- Alan Ameche (the first Heisman winner for Wisconsin)
- Barry Alvarez (the winningest coach in Wisconsin history and current A.D.)
- Ron Dayne (won about every award possible in 1999, including the Heisman)
There's more to know about Wisconsin football traditions, but I direct you to Kevin's article from earlier this week to learn more about the marching band and "Jump Around." He also mentions the fact that Wisconsin and Minnesota used to battle over a slab of bacon, which I talked about as well a few weeks back when we were previewing Minnesota.