Wisconsin finished the 2008 college football season with a 7-6 record after being trounced by Florida State in something called the "Champs Sports Bowl." Since then, the Badgers' record is 31-7, including 1-1 in bowls. No other team in the Big Ten has 30 wins over that span, not even the traditional heavyweights like Ohio State (29-9) and Michigan (22-15). Currently top-ranked Louisiana State is just one game better (32-6).
That record, along with the arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson on campus, had many fans adopting a "BCS title or bust" mentality after the Badgers dominated Nebraska in the conference opener. This was Bucky's year to elbow his way into the national championship conversation typically reserved for teams from the Southeastern Conference. Consecutive losses to Michigan State and Ohio State translated into a bust for those fans.
At his Monday press conference, Badger basketball coach Bo Ryan wasn't talking about whether this football season has been a success or a disappointment. But he directed a point toward fans who are desperate to see Wisconsin mentioned among the country's elite college athletic programs.
"In order to be in the conversations that you're talking about, those are for the ones that think that the game is only about the trophy," he said. "Chasing one is okay. It's a lot of fun."
More than a few fans remain sour about those two losses and are still looking for somebody to blame. They post to message boards, call talk radio and send me emails, apparently unaware that there's still a chase under way. There's only one Big Ten football game this weekend and Wisconsin is in it. Why not enjoy watching it instead of moaning about ifs and buts?