Posts Tagged ‘Rose Bowl’

Rose Bowl loss in photos

January 1, 2011 Comments off

Rose Bowl loss an emotional one

January 1, 2011 Comments off

PASADENA — Asked how tough a two-point loss in the Rose Bowl was to deal with, J.J. Watt took a moment before answering, trying to collect himself and his thoughts.

“We know how much this means,” Watt began before his emotions got the best of him.

Teary-eyed, Watt attempted to regain his composure and finish his answer.

“To everybody. To everybody involved,” Watt continued, his voice now audibly revealing the fact that he could not stop from crying. Another deep breath, as some sniffles now accompany the tears.

“We work 365 days a year for this,” Watt said, powering through the emotions, tears and sniffles. “And then we come out here and don’t execute, and we…”

Finally, it was all too much for the junior defensive end. Watt sat back, and covered his face, attempting to hide the tears streaming down from his eyes. For seven seconds, everyone in the room sat silent, watching the display of emotion from Watt, and waiting for him to finish his answer.

Watt did not, and could not finish his thought at that time. But he didn’t have to.

If there were any question about how devastating a two-point loss was after working so hard to get to the Rose Bowl for the first time in more than a decade, Watt’s tears made it clear.

The Wisconsin Badgers didn’t come to the Rose Bowl just for the experience, they came to win, and fell short of their goal.

“It’s pretty tough,” left guard John Moffitt said. “It’s not really something you can describe that easy. I mean, I don’t know. It’s tough.”

Moffitt, having played his final game in a Wisconsin uniform, summed the loss up pretty well, by not summing it up. How can you put into words the disappointment that comes from such a heartbreaking loss on such a big stage?

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Despite TCU’s status as the three-point favorites, the Badgers were billed as big, bad BCS team ready to end the Horned Frogs’ run.

Cinderella stories, by definition, are supposed to end when the clock strikes midnight, not make the game-winning play on the two-point conversion well into the early morning hours.

But therein lies the problem, TCU is no Cinderella.

“Give all the credit in the world to TCU, that is not just lip service,” UW head coach Bret Bielema said in his opening statement. “That is a very good football team. They’re undefeated for a reason.”

Even so, that hardly takes the sting out of the loss for Wisconsin. They put together one of the best seasons in program history, but came up short when it mattered most.

They’ll always own a share of the 2010 Big Ten title, but the 2011 Rose Bowl belonged to the TCU Horned Frogs.

But through the disappointment and frustration, the tears and the anger, the Badgers remain focused, and focused on the same thing that got them to the Rose Bowl in the first place. Wisconsin is prepared to take this loss, evaluate it, learn from it, and get better heading into next season because of it.

Even Watt, who had broken down just moments earlier, was not going to sit and sulk.

“The Wisconsin Badgers will be back to the Rose Bowl,” Watt said definitively. “I haven’t made my decision, but if I’m back [or] if I go, the Wisconsin Badgers will be back to the Rose Bowl. I don’t know if it will be next year, but Coach Bielema is an outstanding football coach, the Wisconsin football program does things the right way, and Coach Alvarez leads the athletic department the right way.

“No doubt about it, the Badgers will be back. They’ll be back better than ever, and when they come back, they’ll win.”

Missed opportunities costly in Rose Bowl

January 1, 2011 Comments off

PASADENA — Many times, in talking about what his team did to get to a share of the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl bid, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema went back to their Oct. 2 loss at Michigan State.

As he saw it, Bielema’s team managed an 11-1 record with big wins over then No. 1 Ohio State and on the road at Iowa because of what they learned from the Badgers’ loss to the Spartans. Had it not been for that game, they wouldn’t be where they are today.

Ironically enough, nearly three months later, the issues that cost Wisconsin in its only regular season loss were much the same problems they had in the Rose Bowl against TCU. The Badgers couldn’t get off the field on third down and left plenty of points on the board through missed opportunities in the close loss.

“I don’t think anybody can beat us but ourselves,” said left guard John Moffitt. “I think we beat ourselves today. We didn’t do what we needed to do.”

From the beginning — literally as Montee Ball ripped off a 40-yard run on the first play from scrimmage — the TCU defense struggled to stop the potent Wisconsin offense. It was the Badgers themselves that did most of the work in keeping points off the scoreboard.

Unfortunately for the Big Ten champions, they followed Ball’s big run — which brought them form their own 32-yard line to the TCU 28 — with a false start penalty on Nick Toon. When the drive came to an end, the Badgers put three points on the board on a 30-yard Philip Welch field goal, which came on 4th-and-8 at the 13-yard line.

On the previous play, Toon added a second mistake, dropping a pass over the middle. Had he not been called for the false start penalty, however, the Badgers would have been in a 1st-and-Goal situation on that series, rather than 1st-and-10 at the 15.

“What got us here was clean execution and clean disciplined football,” quarterback Scott Tolzien said. “We didn’t do that today all around, myself included.”

Tolzien, normally as efficient a quarterback as you’ll find, went just 12-of-21 for the game, passing for 159 yards while getting sacked twice.

On their first drive of the game, Wisconsin left a potential touchdown drive out there, but managed to salvage it with a field goal. When they opened the second quarter with another long drive, they weren’t so lucky.

After moving the ball down the field from their own 23-yard-line to just outside the red zone, Wisconsin faced 4th-and-3 at the TCU 22-yard line. Trailing 14-10, Bielema sent Welch out once again for the 39-yard attempt. He missed it, wide left, for another three points left on the board.

“I just think we missed out on a lot of opportunities that we had,” left tackle Gabe Carimi said. “It’s really just missed opportunities through and through.”

The missed opportunities and sloppy play were not limited to the offense, either.

A pass interference call on Devin Smith played a role in TCU matching Wisconsin’s early field goal with a 10-play, 77-yard touchdown drive that took less than 4 1/2 minutes off the clock.

Later, on what was perhaps the worst pass of the day from TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, free safety Aaron Henry couldn’t come up with what could have been a game-changing interception.

On the first play following Welch’s missed field goal, a pass intended for Jeremy Kerley went through Henry’s hands over the middle. While he broke up the pass effectively, it was a very catchable ball for Henry.

Whereas the Badgers continually missed out on opportunities and left plenty of points on the board, the Horned Frogs always seemed to make the right plays at the right time. In the end, that made a big difference in a game decided by just two points.

“It is definitely unfortunate man, but sometimes that’s just the way the ball bounces,” Henry said of the loss. “They made a few more plays than we did. But this team fought hard every step of the way, and hats off to my teammates. But TCU, they did a tremendous job and unfortunately, they just made a few more plays than we did.”

Gilreath ready to battle TCU’s Kerley

December 21, 2010 Comments off

MADISON — Tiptoeing down the sideline after making a would-be tackler miss, Jeremy Kerley appeared to have run out of room at the 16-yard-line. No matter, he simply stopped in his tracks and headed left.

After backtracking a few yards to avoid another defender, Kerley found a huge hole and cut back through it to his right, finding the end zone on a 69-yard punt return touchdown.

When asked Sunday about that punt return, which came on Oct. 17, 2009 as TCU blasted Colorado State 44-6, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema admitted he had seen it several times, and could not think of a better one he’s seen.

“The thing that you see, which he has, with great returners it’s almost like they can see the field before it begins to happen,” Bielema said. “They can feel coverage and break to a certain part (of the field). I think it’s something that is a gift that’s just given to them.”

Kerley, a finalist for the Hornung Award, which is given to college football’s most versatile player, certainly would seem to have that gift. While he had not found the end zone on a punt return since that spectacular performance against CSU, Kerley has a big impact on every game for TCU.

On 30 punt returns this season, Kerley has picked up 388 yards for an average of just under 13 yards per attempt. That number is below his career average of 13.8 yards per return. Kerley also has 17 kickoff returns on the year, picking up an average of 28 yards. That number is actually higher than his career average of 27.3 yards on 35 attempts.

Within the TCU offense, Kerley has contributed 13 touchdowns, including two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown at Utah. He also has 50 receptions for 517 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“He’s a beast,” said senior David Gilreath. “I’ve been watching him for the last couple years.”

While he had high praises for his counterpart, Gilreath has done something Kerley has not: return a kickoff for a touchdown. Kerley does, however, have a 2-to-1 edge on punt return touchdowns.

Gilreath’s touchdown, a 97-yard sprint on the opening kickoff against Ohio State came just under a year after Kerley’s impressive punt return performance. While the win over the top-ranked Buckeyes was more impressive than TCU blowing out the Buffaloes, both scores sparked their respective teams in the victories.

“I’ll always remember it,” Gilreath said of his return. “I was just watching it on YouTube the other day. Somebody said something, and I was like, ‘Well, come check this out, man.’ I try to always give credit to the blockers because I ran, but that hole was huge.”

Just as Bielema admitted to seeing Kerley’s return several times, Gilreath acknowledged he’s watched himself start that game off with a bang many times in the last two months.

“I try to take myself back in the moment a little bit because I still think it’s unreal,” Gilreath said. “It went by so fast, and I look back watching it and it’s still unreal to think about how that happened in that moment against the No. 1 team.”

Both returners will be remembered for their thrilling return touchdowns, and both can change the momentum of a game with the ball in their hands.

While the true challenge will be on the Badgers’ coverage units to stop Kerley, facing another elite returner is an exciting challenge for Gilreath as well.

“Any time I get to go against a good return guy, I pride myself on competing against them and trying to have a better game,” Gilreath said. “No. 85 for Northwestern, he got me that game, but I try to compete out there and see what I can do against another good returner.”

As he referenced both Kerley and Venric Mark of NU, Gilreath called them both by number: No. 85. It just so happens that the same number appears on his jersey as well.

Is the key to return success, as he sees it, having an ’85’ on your jersey?

“Yeah, yeah, pretty much,” Gilreath answered with a smile. “That’s the key.”

Media ethics, Rose Bowl tickets and naming names

December 16, 2010 Comments off

I’ve been required to write another ethics paper this semester, and I thought I’d share it right away this time. Enjoy.

It seems it is not a true semester at the University of Wisconsin until The Badger Herald creates some form of controversy, which then results in some form of uproar on a campus-wide, local or national scale.  Mark down Dec. 5, 2010, on your calendar as the date on which the Fall 2010 semester became official in Madison.  It was on that day that the Herald published the names of more than 30 students who had, within hours of the tickets selling out, posted Rose Bowl tickets for sale at prices well above face value.  Such actions were deemed outrageous by Kevin Bargnes, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, who penned the article, while opting not to put his name on such a story (likely for fear of ridicule from those whose names were listed).  So punishable were the decisions made by the accused that Bargnes, with no one in a position of authority above him to advise against it, subjected these students to undue criticism and ridicule through Facebook and via e-mail, while (sort of) avoiding it himself by not putting his name on the story.  Not only did Bargnes draw attention to the subject of the UW Athletic Department’s ticketing policies, he also garnered a lot of national media attention to the newspaper, some of which supported his position (Deadspin, for example)  and some that did not (nearly everyone else).  After the editorial piece quickly became the most commented story on the newspaper website, including many inappropriate comments, the comments section was closed, the wording of the story was edited, and the Herald’s editorial board realized it was a situation it must address.  In doing so, however, they did not stand against Bargnes’ unilateral decision to post the names.  At the same time, the newspaper decided to remove the names, citing a lack of resources to post names for everyone selling tickets, rather than acknowledging the mistake it had made.  Throughout the entire process, the Herald failed quite miserably to uphold one of the major portions of the code of ethics followed by the Society of Professional Journalists, that of minimizing harm.

In the SPJ code of ethics, it says, “Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect,” and that, “Journalists should show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage.”  In printing the names of nearly three dozen students who had posted Rose Bowl tickets for sale on the Facebook marketplace, Bargnes and the Herald paid no mind to this portion of the code of ethics.  If it had been considered, especially with the way the original story was worded, Bargnes should have realized that by printing these names — which he had easily found on Facebook himself — the Herald would subject these students to an unwarranted barrage of negative commentary from other students, some of which went as far as death threats on the students and their families.  Regardless of whether the threats were serious or credible, they’re certainly not something to be taken lightly.  While such threats were likely quite a surprise to Bargnes and the Herald staff, that is not a viable excuse for giving people the opportunity to make such threats.  Had those names not been posted in the newspaper, those students likely would have been able to profit from such sales in peace, without a crusade of enraged Wisconsin students accusing them of being the “worst people on campus,” as suggested by the headline of the editorial.

To make things worse, the article said there was a “special place in hell” for those who scalp Rose Bowl tickets, while also asking fellow students to “ridicule the ever-loving shit out of the above people.”  Bargnes and the herald can claim that the articles was a joke all they want, but when people do exactly what was suggested, there’s only one place to look for whom to blame in this case.  As bad as those portions of the editorial were, the Herald’s remedy for such language in the article only made matters worse from an ethical standpoint.  First, closing the comments section — a portion of the website that has regularly gotten the newspaper in trouble in the past — was a mistake.  Sure, it may limit the number of inappropriate or derogatory comments that get through on the story, but there should be something in place to limit those in the first place.  More importantly, though, it does not allow for the same amount of public discussion that helped get the story so much attention in the first place.  Coupled with the fact that the original wording of the article was changed to be more appropriate, and such actions make it clear the Herald had realized it made a mistake in publishing Bargnes’ piece.  Yet, the piece remained on the site, and for a while, so did the list of names.

Eventually, of course, the names list was taken down, leaving just a snarky editorial piece with an editor’s note that claimed the list was taken down due to a lack of resources.  Nearly every previous action taken to edit the original post on the website showed at least a small sense of remorse, and seemed to acknowledge that what Bargnes and the Herald had done was a mistake.  Rather than admit it, however, the newspaper chose to brush it under the rug, accept the attention it had gotten (both good and bad) and move on with the final two weeks of the semester.  But because it was published in their print edition and distributed across the world wide web, those names are not really gone.  And even if they were, the effect on those people whose names were listed in the article certainly was not lessened by the fact that they were no longer listed as one of the “worst people on campus.”  Another section of the SPJ code of ethics is accountability.  In this section, it says that “Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other,” and that they should “admit mistakes and correct them promptly,” while they should also “abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.”  In this case, the Herald corrected its mistake, but did not do so promptly.  More importantly, though, the paper and its editor never admitted to its mistake.  Instead, they used an assortment of excuses, claiming it was a tongue-in-cheek joke, citing a lack of resources as the reason for taking down the list, and refusing to ever admit that what it did was wrong.  In fact, the closest it the newspaper came to apologizing for what it did was to apologize for the results of the story in the editorial board piece, while still maintaining that publishing the list of names was the right thing to do.  It also came close to apologizing without actually doing so in saying that it was not fair to list nearly three dozen names on the website when so many others were doing the same thing. That argument is part of what makes the article so questionable in the first place.

In the comments section and in many other published responses to Bargnes’ piece, the debate of economics, capitalism and scalping dominate the discussion that is not related to the appropriateness of naming names.  In these comments, some accuse Bargnes and his staff of not truly understanding economic and capitalistic principles.  In the newspaper’s defense, others say there is a difference between scalping and economics.  In reality, however, there is not.  It may be seen as an unethical act by some, but in a simple supply-and-demand environment, when tickets are only available to season ticket holders and donors, it makes simple economic sense to resell such tickets to those that are willing to pay high prices to get them.  But that’s beside the point of why it’s inappropriate to run such an article with the names of those selling tickets at inflated prices.  While they certainly drew attention to the subject of the ticket distribution practices of the UW Athletic Department, Bargnes and the Herald overlook another simple fact: tickets are scalped at every major sporting event.  Why not list the names of those selling their full-season tickets for major profits at the beginning of each semester?  Or call out those that sold their tickets to the Ohio State game this past October for more than what they paid for all seven games in the first place?  The answers to both, of course, are the lack of resources cited by the Herald.  Additionally, it makes sense from a marketing standpoint to put yourself on as big a stage as possible, and the Rose Bowl certainly qualifies as that.  But from a journalistic ethics standpoint, it’s certainly not fair to print such a small number of names when considering how many people scalp tickets every year.  As a member of the media, I get a season pass to football games, but that doesn’t stop me from using my ability as a student to buy season tickets and sell them for profit, which I’ve done each of the past two years.  In her response article on, Jemele Hill admitted the following, “If there’s a special place in hell for someone who re-sells a ticket to a sporting event for more than face value, then hell is going to have an extensive waiting list. And I’d be on it.”

While the ethical nature of scalping tickets — especially to an event like the Rose Bowl that is held so dear by Wisconsin football fans — is up for debate, it certainly is not illegal.  And it even more certainly does not merit one’s name being included on a list of the “worst people on campus.”  While his intent may have been admirable, Bargnes’ execution of his editorial piece was well off the mark, especially when the SPJ ethical standard of minimizing harm is applied.  To make matters worse, Bargnes and the Herald editorial board teamed up to fail to uphold the SPJ standard of accountability, giving it two strikes as far as the SPJ code of ethics is concerned.  The people listed certainly are not the “worst people on campus,” and the decision to run such an article was an ethical mistake, one that the Herald  and any other student journalists certainly ought to learn from in the future.

Works Cited:

SPJ Code of Ethics.” Society of Professional Journalists. Accessed Dec. 15, 2010.

The Worst People on Campus.” The Badger Herald. Accessed Dec. 5, 2010 through Dec. 15, 2010 (as updated).

Wisconsin Student Paper Names, Shames Students Re-Selling Rose Bowl Tickets.” Accessed Dec. 15, 2010.

No shame in selling Wisconsin tickets.” Accessed Dec. 15, 2010.


Ball would be starting running back right now

December 13, 2010 Comments off

MADISON — One of the biggest debates since the Badgers earned a Rose Bowl berth has been focused on the distribution of carries among three running backs.

Do you go with what’s working in Montee Ball and James White? Or do you rely on your veteran running back John Clay, who just happens to have a Big Ten offensive player of the year award to his credit?

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema may have answered those questions Sunday night, when he met with reporters.

“Right now, Montee would be our starting running back,” Bielema said, matter of factly. “John has to wait for a few other guys to get in. Montee’s playing as good of football as anybody. No question.”

Well that sure seems to clear things up. Or does it?

With three weeks remaining until the Rose Bowl, it would not be out of the question for Bielema to change his mind and put Clay in the No. 1 spot. After all, he did say “right now” when referring to Ball as his starter.

While all three running backs have clearly expressed their support for one another, they never stop competing for carries. The idea that they have to work in practice to touch the ball in the game is not lost on the players either.

“I’d like to get my spot back, like how we were in the beginning of the year,” Clay said. “But I’ve just got to work for it. The guys played a heck of a few games when I was out, so I’ve just got to prove it again.”

Another thing that people can’t help but notice when looking ahead to the matchup with TCU is the potential for Wisconsin to have as many as three backs with 1,000 yards rushing on the year.

“Hopefully we can all get to it in this Rose Bowl game,” White added. “I don’t think any school’s ever done that before.”

White leads the way with 1,029 after another big performance against Northwestern, with Clay and Ball not far behind. Even after missing so much time, Clay needs just 64 yards to give the Badgers a second 1,000-yard rusher.

Ball’s chances aren’t as strong, but 136 yards certainly is not out of the question for the sophomore. When you consider he’s rushed for 127, 167, 173 and 178 yards against Purdue, Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern, it would almost be a surprise for Ball to come up shy of the mark.

Add his apparent status as the starting running back and his chances certainly improve even more. It’s not really something that he’s focusing on, though.

“First and foremost, the goal is to come out with a victory,” Ball said. “But it wouldn’t be a bad thing to crack 1,000. It’s definitely something that’s in the back of my mind and it’s going to motivate me to run even harder.”

In an ideal scenario, a big first half by Clay and the Badgers could give Wisconsin a big lead, with two of three backs over 1,000 yards on the year.

If that were to happen, how would those two running backs feel about deferring to Ball, to let him become the third to reach the milestone?

“Oh yeah, get his 1,000 yards, too,” Clay said. “He worked hard this whole season, so we might as well feed him the ball.”

Bielema was not so quick to embrace the idea of boosting Ball’s carries to get him to the 1,000-yard mark.

With his focus on winning, and not just playing in, the Rose Bowl, he expected to do whatever was needed to win.

“It’s obviously very attainable, but it’s not on our game plan list,” Bielema said. “The awards we’re getting and the recognition we get is a byproduct of what we do, and that’s going to be one of those same things.”