Badger Bits: Big Ten Football and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Penn State fans took the streets after the school fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night. The outrage is only the latest black eye for the B1G conference, which has been in crisis mode since before the season began.

I need to say something about Penn State because the whole thing has been bouncing around in my brain for several days now, and every time I think it is about to leave my synapses some new fascinating, terrible and bizarre development takes place and then I'm forced to rethink everything I knew. Of course I have an opinion, but this probably isn't the best place to share it. If you really care what I think, I'm relatively Googlable. I will say that today I can't be more glad that I am a Badger fan, because every time I accidentally place myself in the shoes of a Penn State fan I feel nauseous.

There should be a book written about this year in the Big Ten football. It will kick off with what was at the time business as usual, the conference losing five of eight bowl games, with its one marquee win clouded by what now look like rather quaint allegations of free tattoos received by several Buckeye stars. Remember how furious you were? I was pissed, but Christ if it even matters any more. Since, B1G fans have been forced to contemplate their own mortality while BTN announcers struggled for words as Jerry Kill was taken to the hospital with 20 second to go in the New Mexico State game. Ohio State fans found out how deep the rabbit hole really went. Michigan fans received a 448-page lesson in dishonesty, betrayal and downright incompetence. I'm pretty sure William Gholston tried to kill Denard Robinson. Iowa fans had to pronounce rhabdomyolysis. And then there's Penn State, a story you would be sick of hearing any more about if only you could look away.

Wisconsin escaped the worst of the Saw-like trials assigned every team by the sadistic greater power currently overseeing this conference. Badger fans learned that heartbreak is around the corner, ready to pounce if you dare let your guard down. Consecutive road losses burst the bubble on a season that reached an untenable fever pitch following a dominating win over Nebraska. It's a tough pill to choke down, but I can only be thankful that I don't have to deal with the soul-shaking quandaries that those in Happy Valley must ponder. That is, if they've recovered from the tear gas.

This is where I mention that this is why sports are important, because of the moments that transcend the game itself and teach us something about life and fairness and winning and losing, et al., etc. But this season just seems like an unfair sucker punch to so many people who naively invested so much of themselves into their favorite teams because at one point it was really fun. This isn't fun. Great drama, a fascinating novel with too many enigmatic characters to count, yes, but certainly not fun. Three weeks left in the regular season. Wisconsin is still in the Rose Bowl hunt, but more than anything I just hope the worst is over. For everyone.


Thursday's Links:

Badgers are playing Minnesota this weekend. They have a new head coach named Jerry Kill, who has had a rough go of things so far

Wednesday practice notes: Aaron Henry is feeling better by the day, David Gilbert practiced but struggled.

Welcome Sam Dekker, you have a bright future as the biggest bball recruit to come through Madison since Joe Krabbenhoft. You are in good hands, if Jordan Taylor's progression is any indication.

The State Journal has an interesting piece on the drying well of in-state offensive lineman, and its ramifications.

Brian Lucase at UWBadgers does some sleuthing and discovers an extra win for Wisconsin in the Minnesota rivalry.

James White, hoping to get back on track this season, volunteered for gunner duty on special teams last week.

Curt Phillips says he'll be ready for what should be a fascinating QB battle in 2012.

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