UW Health Sports Medicine 

The Voice: Thanks for a season to remember

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgAs we have often heard, maybe especially this season, a game and even a season can come down to a handful of plays. For 11 of the first 12 games of this just-concluded football season, those few plays broke Wisconsin's way. On New Year's Day at the Rose Bowl, they did not.

After Saturday's gut wrenching 21-19 loss to TCU, it is easy to wonder "what if" or play "coulda shoulda." A key penalty here, a missed connection on a pass play there. Settling for a field goal after a promising drive stalled. While it is only natural to wonder about that and more, it also can drive you nuts.

Let's remember the Badgers won two games in part because of blocked extra points. Think the folks at Arizona State and Iowa wonder about that? What if Scott Tolzien doesn't hit Nick Toon on a key third-down pass against Ohio State, allowing the Badgers to keep a drive alive while protecting a three-point lead? The momentum was about to completely shift the Buckeyes' way, but that pass helped lead to a critical fourth quarter score. Suppose they wonder about that in Columbus?

For the Badgers, the script almost played out perfectly. For TCU, it did. What fans witnessed on Saturday was a tightly contested game between two superb programs. It was not about David vs. Goliath.

It was not the big bad Badgers against the little old Horned Frogs. It simply was two very good, very well-coached teams playing a down-to-the-wire game that makes Rose Bowls special.

For me, all that talk about an undersized TCU team seemed a bit overblown. By last Thursday's media day, it became laughable. I had seen plenty of game video, but that was my first up-close look at the Horned Frogs.

News flash -- they have big boys too. I asked Rimington Award-winning center Jake Kirkpatrick about playing the underdog role. Even he chuckled when he told me that is just the way it works under Coach Gary Patterson. I guess it works pretty well, but remember TCU was the higher-ranked team and a field goal favorite in Pasadena.

In football, the term "non-automatic qualifying conference" can be as annoying to those folks as basketball programs being labeled mid-majors. I suppose Butler is still considered a mid-major hoops program, but if I remember correctly, the Bulldogs played in a rather important basketball game last April, and came within one shot of winning the NCAA title. Perhaps the parity that seems to be in play in that sport can apply to football as well. After all, the "non AQs" have won four BCS games in their last five tries.  

Little guy? I don't think so.

So what is next for the Badgers? Bret Bielema will have at least one assistant to replace. Good luck to Dave Doeren as he becomes the head coach at Northern Illinois. See you in September at Soldier Field.

J.J. Watt and John Clay have decisions to make about their football futures. No doubt both are getting plenty of free advice. Watt sure did during last Thursday's Party at the Pier in Santa Monica. "One more year! One more year!" was the chant.  

While emotions can run deep, this is a time when both Watt and Clay move into the role of being businessmen. Gather the facts as best they can about their draft positions, and then make a very personal decision. For some, just being drafted is good enough. For others, maybe mid-first round is a minimum to leave school early. I wish them both the best of luck with their decisions. As much as Badger fans would love them to stay (and feel free to hang around fellas!), they must do what is best for them.

Whatever the case, the Wisconsin program appears to be in very good shape. Fans have watched a young head coach grow, and they have seen a team of talented, low-maintenance players excel on and off the field.  It has been one terrific season.

I must disagree with one thing J.J. said after Saturday's game. He apologized to fans for the Rose Bowl outcome. Personally, I feel terrible for him, his teammates and his coaches, but J.J., apologize for nothing.

Actually, Badger fans thank you and your squad for giving them a season to remember.


my son, who didn't speak a word for nearly 20 hours after the loss and is possibly the single biggest badger fan, admitted yesterday that beating OSU made his season and the energy and excitement at Camp Randall for that game was off the charts. He smiled when he said it. That's what I remember from this year. Thx to a great team.

I thought Matt Lepay's comments were right on the mark. Sometimes we cannot have everything we want in a season, and I know the coaches and players wanted a win as bad us fans. I complement our coaching staff on fielding a quality team that had an oustanding year in my eyes. Being at Rose Bowl was one of the greatest experience of my life and something that I will never forget. Yes it was a disapointment not to win the game and to be a part of the celerbration, but it was still a great season with alot of rememberalbe games. Again thank you to the coaches and the players for great season and On Wisconsin!

A True Fan Forever

I'm a die hard badger fan and alumni. The loss in the Rose Bowl hurt. But, after the dust settled, I was happy to see the Badgers capture a Big Ten crown the last season before going into expansion. Afterall, it's all about winning the Big Ten. This was a great season.

I have been attending Badger Football games since 1968. Spending 5 days in the sun with NO snow is the cake (my 4th rose bowl). To win the Rose Bowl is always the icing. The Badgers will be back. I LIVE for Wisconsin Football, Thanks for a great season.

Kudos on such a well written and heart felt Blog. This team is the epitome of teamwork and selflessness. All season long they played with passion and a sense of purpose and they should be proud of all of their results on and off the field.

Thank you coaching staff for your season of excellence in x's and o's and more importantly in cultivating these young men in the lessons of life. They will treasure your leadership and cherish your interest in them on and off the field.

Your made the "W" nation proud.

Agreed, Todd Olsen. Also, Matt LePay is a class act and we are very fortunate to have him. He and Lucas are second to none. Badger football and basketball wouldn't be nearly as entertaining without them.

I'm a big TCU fan. I did not go there but my daughter did and was the horned frog. What an honor to play Wisconsis in the Rose Bowl. We were so lucky to win. It was thrilling beyound imagination to us. The Wisconsin team was amazing and the fans were awesome. It is no secret that at the end of the season Wisconsin was billed as the best team in the nation and man do I know why. It was well known that of all the top ten teams we could have drawn to play everyone was the most afraid of Wisconsin. I think everyone at TCU felt we could play with anyone more easily than the Badgers. What an experience for us to get to go to the Rose Bowl. Congradulations and remember there is always next year.