UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Tauscher's journey still unbelievable

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Tauscher_99.jpgIf Mark Tauscher didn't have a fateful day at the track - the Kentucky Derby - the former UW offensive tackle would have been fighting long odds to have a "Mark Tauscher Day'' in Wisconsin.

Had it all played out differently, in fact, he would have wound up playing his final year of college eligibility for Jim Tressel at Youngstown State, not Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin.

That came to mind Friday when Gov. Scott Walker declared a Mark Tauscher Day in conjunction with a Green Bay Packers function: the Greg Jennings celebrity golf tournament in Waukesha.
Nobody is more deserving than Tauscher, who will turn 34 this week. Not only did he overcome the odds as a UW walk-on, but he survived 11 years in the NFL after being drafted in the seventh round.

But there's a unique backdrop to Tauscher being the 224th player taken in the 2000 draft: Tauscher gave up his fifth year with the Badgers because no one knew he had one, including Alvarez.

Let's start from the beginning.  Tauscher gained more notice as a high school basketball player - as a member of a state championship team that won 51-straight - than a football player at Auburndale.

That led to a walk-on invitation from Alvarez, who liked the way he moved his feet. For three years, Tauscher was primarily utilized as a backup left tackle behind Chris McIntosh, an All-American.

In 1998, Tauscher got playing time whenever the Badgers shifted to an unbalanced line, which put McIntosh on the opposite side of the formation next to starting right tackle Aaron Gibson.

Upon the completion of that season, Tauscher was honored with the seniors. After completing work on his undergrad degree in May of '99, he considered his graduate school options.

To this end, he thought about continuing his education at Youngstown State, a Division I-AA program which would have also allowed him to play one season for Tressel, then the head coach.

"Quite frankly, I didn't realize he had a fifth year," Alvarez later confessed.

But he became aware of it when someone bumped into Tauscher at the Kentucky Derby. Teased Alvarez, "He had turned into a cigar and wine aficionado ... living the life."

Countered Tauscher, "I was at the Derby and there's a possibility that I did have a stogie; a cheap stogie. I don't have the budget for a big-time stogie but I do know I wasn't drinking wine."

Alvarez got in touch with Tauscher and began the process to get Tauscher into the UW grad school thereby bringing him back to campus and the football program for one more season of eligibility.

During spring practice, Brian Lamont and Ben Johnson had shared reps at right tackle. Both were young and unproven. Tauscher came back and started - replacing Gibson, a first-round pick of the Lions.

The rest is history - NCAA history. On tailback Ron Dayne's 31-yard run which broke Ricky Williams' career rushing mark, Tauscher threw a key block, locking up Iowa's Anthony Herron.

In short, Tauscher was an important cog on an O-line that created running seams for Dayne. From left to right, the UW featured McIntosh, Bill Ferrario, Casey Rabach, Dave Costa and Tauscher.

The '99 Badgers went on to win a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl. And Tauscher went on from there to a memorable run with the Packers for more than a decade; living the NFL life. His horse came in.

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