Which do you root for when two of your favorite sports teams collide? I'm going to have that difficult choice on Jan. 2 when the
and Western Michigan
University Broncos square off on the Cotton Bowl football field. University of Wisconsin Badgers
I started backing the Badgers in 1953 as a student at UW. The main attraction was watching Alan "The Horse" Ameche run over and around opponents. Contributing to my interest in Wisconsin
Ameche, the first Wisconsin player to be named an All American, led the team to its first post-season game, a visit to the historic Rose Bowl. In recent years, bowl appearances have become old-hat for the Badgers. This year's contest will be their 15th consecutive bowl game. About half of them have been "major" bowl contests.
Led by a young, enthusiastic coach,
Michigan has fired up folks where I live by going undefeated. Two
of the 13 victories were against Big Ten teams ( Illinois and Northwestern) so nobody can
claim the Broncos rolled up all the wins against minor opposition. Western has
appeared in eight bowls over the years, but this one will be special because
the Cotton Bowl is one of the Big Six. No question, it is a "major."
Why am I unsure about which team to cheer for? I've been rooting for both all year. Since moving to southwest
Michigan I've become acquainted with many
Western grads and several faculty members. It's been fun joining them in
pulling for the Broncos. The team's winning streak has had positive effects on the Kalamazoo community,
including people who previously had zero interest in football. A page 1
headline in the local newspaper summed it up: "Cotton Bowl Bid Ties City
I've always been amazed that success in sports, especially following years of mediocrity by local teams, actually could inspire a whole city or area. But it can. The city-wide celebrating in
Chicago when the Cubs finally won a baseball
pennant is a good example. In my youth, when the Braves arrived in Milwaukee to
make the city "major league" business pretty much came to a
standstill on game days as everybody was at the ballpark or listening to the
radio. That happens nowadays in Green
Bay when the Packers play at home.
The same kind of pride on display in those cities has been appearing in
of late. Management of a large movie theater announced yesterday that it will
provide free seating for those who want to watch a closed circuit broadcast of
the Wisconsin-Western game. Other merchants and organizations are sponsoring similar events or other types of recognition of the importance of the game. A Broncos' win in the Cotton Bowl would be a big deal.
The bottom line is I would like both teams to win on Jan. 2. That is impossible, so I would appreciate a tie. That can't happen either. Although tie games were fairly common throughout the first 125 years of American college football, those players, coaches, and fans who found them unsatisfying finally prevailed. In 1995, the rules were changed and ties became impossible. Teams tied at the end of regulation time must continue to play until one becomes a clear winner.
But, please, football gods, won't you allow just one more tie? It would make this Badger-Bronco backer very happy.