UPDATE, 6:15 p.m. CT: Wisconsin has issued the following clarification on Saturday's plans for Paul Bunyan's Axe:
Head Coach Gary Andersen: "I would like to clarify our policy in regards to the post-game presentation of Paul Bunyan's Axe. The only change is that the Axe will not be staged in the bench area. Instead, it will be presented in the end zone, closest to the winning team's locker room. I support this policy that has been put in place by our administration and was put into action during our game with Nebraska. It is important for us to maintain the traditions of our trophy games while also doing what we feel is in the best interests of the student-athletes."
This policy mirrors what was done during the Nebraska game with the Freedom Trophy. The Axe will be brought to the field late in the fourth quarter and staged near the goalpost of the winning team. The winning team will then be allowed to celebrate on the field with the Axe as has been the tradition.
Wisconsin and Minnesota will meet Saturday afternoon in Madison for their annual Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, and while the Big Ten West division title is up for grabs and quite clearly the larger priority, there will be one notable change to the rivalry game's usual proceedings: the Axe will no longer be on the sidelines during the game.
Rather, as head coach Gary Andersen discussed in his Monday press conference, the Axe will "disappear" during the game and be brought to the winning team's locker room afterward. Players will still be able to bring the Axe back out onto the field to celebrate with fans and, presumably, still "chop" the losing team's goal post as tradition.
The change, according to Andersen, has been made to ensure post-game safety on the field. Last year after Wisconsin's 20-7 win in Minneapolis, a skirmish broke out on the field during the typical Axe festivities.
"Last year was unfortunate," Andersen said. "I don't think [Minnesota head coach Jerry] Kill and myself liked the way it went down and it ended a year ago. I don't think it is good for college football and I don't think it is good for our kids.
"Our kids handled it far from perfect. There's traditions, there's things that are important and then there's things that are over the top."
Andersen said he has not yet discussed the policy with Kill this week. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is in support of the decision, Andersen said.
The Badgers and Gophers will kick off 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin has won the last 10 matchups against Minnesota dating back to 2004.
We'll have a full recap of Andersen's press conference later this afternoon, but in the meantime here are some additional tweet-quotes regarding this Axe change.
Gem from Andersen on last year's skirmish being close to getting worse: "Who are you going to bring in, the National Guard?"— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) November 24, 2014
Andersen on swinging the Axe: "Maybe I'll take a swing if I'm lucky enough to have the chance once everyone is off the field."— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) November 24, 2014
GA said he has not talked to Minnesota's Jerry Kill about change in Axe protocol. Plans to present similar trophy plans to Nebraska & Iowa.— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) November 24, 2014
GA said Barry Alvarez was in full favor of the change in Axe protocol. Protecting the kids and preventing a riot priority No.1— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) November 24, 2014