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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 2 (Nov. 1968)

Miller, Glenn
On Wisconsin,   p. [2]


Page [2]


ON WISCONSIN
Arlie M. Mucks, Jr. / Executive Director
          The editorial page is given over this month to what I think is
a most
          worthwhile piece of writing by a fellow alumnus, Glenn Miller '48.
          Glenn is sports editor for The Wisconsin State Journal, and this
article
          appeared in his daily "Fair or Foul" column last month.-A.M.
                 Nursing a Live Horse
  I suppose they wish we would just shut up.
  I suppose the people most concerned with Wisconsin's
lack of football fortune-the team, the coaches, and the
Athletic Department-wish all the rest of us would calm
our outrage and let them quietly go about trying to do
better.
   The thing is, the-rest-of-us means students, alumni,
Madison townspeople, residents of Wisconsin, even
sports writers. And we all have a stake in Wisconsin
football.
   We know we often almost kill the object of our affec-
tion with kindness. We offer bad advice, unasked-for
help, unneeded counsel, and too-hearty slaps on the
back. We are painfully helpful. We would like to call the
third down plays and map offensive strategy inside the
20. We second-guess. That's what we do.
   But we know we do this. And the love and loyalty
behind it constitutes the right in itself to do it. It is part
of football and sports.
   As long as a team wins, this interest is called spirit
and offends no one. Only when a team loses, does it
become biting and edgy and painful.
   So Wisconsin is losing. So the questions being asked-
and answered-are "What's happening to Wisconsin
football?" and "What ought to be done about it?" I heard
nothing else this week.
   So we must say to those close to Wisconsin football
that we can't, won't, and probably shouldn't shut up.
We aren't kicking a dead horse to make him get up and
go. Indeed, we earnestly hope the horse isn't dead. We'd
like to find a spark of life. We'd like to get him back on
his feet. And we'd be glad to steady him as he takes his
first steps back on the road to health.
               So Come A long With Me
   I believe my horse-nursing credentials are in order.
I love my university. I have graduated from it, taught at
it, backed its budget, and defended it in tough times. I
am a life member of its alumni association.
   On sports, I am a Bucky Badger type of supporter. I
have always been a Badger. I am now a Badger. I want
to be a Badger...
   So come along with me, by the bright shining light of
the moon, as I throw out a few thoughts on what ought
to be done to help Wisconsin football:
   The Students-They ought not to be playing it so
cool, hanging back from the loser to await the winner.
Win or lose, a student body of 35,000 ought to buy
more than 12,000-plus football coupon books-22 per
cent fewer than last year. There ought to be some old-
fashioned, rah-rah loyalty.
   This is, indeed, one of the ways the many good kids
can minimize the bad image of the university student
body created by the few's violence, drug traffic, and
nudie shows. That image is hurting Wisconsin's recruit-
ing. Make no mistake about it. Good-kid athletes are
going elsewhere.
  The Faculty-High academic standards are praisewor-
thy. It is a small thing-with a tiny drop of righteousness
in it-but that faculty insistence that a freshman have
a two-point* to play freshman football stands out like
a red flag. It gives credence to an image of a Wisconsin
faculty that is anti-football.
  Such an image exists-and it hurts. I am not even
sure it is true. But if it is not, more pro-footballers ought
to get to the faculty meetings where policy is made.
               It's Hard to Turn Corner
  The Administration-One of the most-frequent
charges I have heard about the football failures is that
the university administration is soft on football. The
usual line is that the administration is content to let a
financially-weak Athletic Department and defeat-weary
football staff struggle along. If death comes-good
riddance.
  I can't believe this of Fred Harvey Harrington. He is
just too smart. He knows that some of the money in that
super-budget he will try to get through a governor and
a Legislature is for aid to athletics. This money won't be
cut. Indeed, a winning football team could have helped
the whole budget.
  I do not think college presidents need to palsy-walsy
with football coaches as is done at Michigan State and
Purdue. But Wisconsin's administration needs to attack
its anti-football image with a positive "what-can-we-do-
to-help?" attitude. So far, it has offered only a little pump
priming and suggestions on how to cut expenses.
   The Legislature-Since that august body has been
brought up, let it be noted that fewer than ever of its
members are using their legislative scholarships to bring
in football players. This hasn't helped either. In some
states, legislators have been known to pass laws waiving
out-of-state tuition for athletes.
   All of us-We would all do well to remember that
probably the No. 1 reason for what is happening to Wis-
consin football is simply that it is so terribly hard to turn
the corner, to stop the downward momentum, to brake
it, and to start things back upward again. Winners win.
Losers lose. It is hard to change the pattern. Patience-
and grim-jawed loyalty-may be our best contribution.
   You have noted that I have not mentioned the team,
the coaches, their recruiting, the Athletic Department,
or its director. They have taken an awful beating. Still,
some of the problems may be theirs.
   But it is mid-season. Let us just say that the team
ought to keep trying. Even one victory would halt the
plunge. The coaches ought to keep inspiring. The great-
est test is adversity. And the Athletic Department ought
to be strong, standing up to the administration and de-
manding what help is needed to make Wisconsin proud
again. *
    * This requirement was changed by the faculty at its November meeting.
The rule is now 1.7, in keeping with Big 10 schools.
-Ed.
Miller


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