UW Health Sports Medicine 

The Voice: Saturday's lasting image came before kickoff

Not long after last Saturday's electrifying game at Camp Randall Stadium, one of the players asked me where I would rank it. "Well, it is certainly on the short list of the all-time best," I responded. Now that truly is insightful analysis, isn't it? 

No doubt my broadcast partner and UWBadgers.com writer Mike Lucas would have another chapter to add in the book he wrote a few years ago, The 25 Greatest Moments in Camp Randall History.

In the days leading up to last week's game, I was trying to compare the hype with the 1999 matchup against Iowa, when Ron Dayne broke the NCAA career rushing record (another book plug -- Justin Doherty's The Dayne Game -- pick it up at your favorite Madison area bookstore), or perhaps the 2003 tilt with Ohio State, when the Buckeyes came to town as the defending national champions and owners of a 19-game winning streak (to my knowledge, there is no book about that game).

What struck me last week is how the media world has changed in the last decade. In the days leading up to the '99 game, the fans were giddy at the chance to see Dayne break the rushing record, and oh by the way, see the Badgers win another Big Ten title.

It was a crazy week, but the game was a regional ABC telecast, and we had no idea about this thing called HDTV. The ESPN College GameDay crew was elsewhere, in part because it already made a visit to Madison several weeks earlier for the conference opener.

Since they handed out a championship trophy after that Iowa game, I still lean to that day for genuine atmosphere, but what might put last Saturday's game as "1-A" on my list -- at least for now -- is the number of cameras and media folks in the stadium.

By midweek, the TV trucks were outside both the north and south ends of Camp Randall Stadium. Early Thursday afternoon, I walked into the stadium to see a small army of technicians setting up cameras, both for the HD as well as the 3D broadcasts.  

Late Friday afternoon, I arrived at the stadium to conduct a brief interview with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. The scene was more of the same, only by that time ESPN Radio's version of GameDay had its area set up outside Camp Randall, while inside there were some Ohio TV crews and yet another ESPN reporter waiting for Tressel.

Throughout the week, I just kept thinking that this is pretty wild. I just hope it is a good game.

Now that it is over, one thought keeps popping into my mind. David Gilreath's 97-yard kick return to open the game? James White's critical 12-yard TD run in the fourth quarter? John Clay doing his thing? Blake Sorensen's game-sealing interception?

Great moments, but there is one memory that I will take with me forever, and it goes back to ESPN's GameDay program and the story of Jaxson Hinkens, the young man who is winning in his battle with cancer.  

As many Badger fans are aware, quarterback Scott Tolzien has become good friends with the Hinkens family. ESPN's Tom Rinaldi put together a wonderful piece on the team's relationship with the young man. At the end of the feature, Rinaldi told the audience that Jaxson had a request for J.J. Watt -- sack Terrelle Pryor.  

J.J. Watt did him one better, he got two.

Anyone who attended the game will always remember the atmosphere and who won. Years from now some of the details will fade from memory, but I will never forget that ESPN story, and I will never forget how the Badgers made sure that Jaxson's wish was granted.