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Reaction Formation: Group Therapy

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Greg's back in the doctor's office after a pretty terrible week. Old habits resurface, but this time he's not alone.

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Author's Note: When the Badgers get demolished, it's time to head to the sports therapist office and sort out our feelings. Usually, it's best to reflect on your own. However, terrible circumstances are best suffered together. All are welcome to formulate their own reactions. Today's transcript gets a little tricky, so we're gonna be using full names, or in my therapist's case, [D]... for Doctor.

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I feel weird. Like if Super Mario suddenly realized he didn't see the world from his own two eyes, but rather from above and behind him.

[D] Greg?

I know I went to Indianapolis this weekend, but I'm not sure how I got back. It's all a blur, like a hangover, but not the alcohol kind... a worse kind.

[D] Greg, please.

Get it together, Greg.

[D] I don't normally allow visitors during scheduled one-on-one sessions but today, I think I'll make an exception. OK, everyone, why don't we go around the room and reflect our current moods by finishing the sentence, "I feel____." Don' be shy, and don't be scared. This is a circle of trust and there are no judgements here.

There are five extra seats in the office today. Five extra heads nod in agreement.

[Louis Bien] I feel like I'm on a treadmill that I can't stop and my legs are getting weak.

[Drew Hamm] Bad... and hungry... but mostly bad.

[Luke Mueller] Like I want amnesia. Do we have the technology to remove memories yet?

[Neal Olson] Sad that I only get Melvin Gordon for one more game.

[Andrew Rosin] I feel the pain of everyone. Then, nothing.

They all turn their heads to look at me. Oh shit, they're all waiting for me to speak? Just speak. Circle of trust.

[G] I feel like butter scraped over too much bread.

[D] Good. Now let's move forward.

[G] There is no forward. Not yet.

[D] OK, let's look behind then. Was Wisconsin just unlucky on Saturday or was the past month of football a mirage?

[Drew Hamm] Losing by 59 is not unlucky. It's not unlucky to step in garbage... you should have smelled it long before you set foot in it.

[Louis Bien] It had to be real. I saw it, I swear I did... I don't know... maybe Drew has a point... this past month has been so illusory. I don't know what's real. Doc, I don't know what's real!

[Neal Olson] Oh come on, no one wants to say it? Fine, I'll say it. This team was more average than we wanted to admit. They hid behind an easy schedule and the absolute transcendence of Melvin Gordon, and we didn't want to go looking for them.

Expectations. Fickle, shitty and always my own doing.

[Andrew Rosin] I'm with Neal. They never really faced a good QB all year. There were warning signs that we were expecting too much. Honestly, losing by 59 is unlucky in the same way that getting hit by a car is unlucky. The probability is just so low-

[Luke Mueller] It doesn't matter if the game was unlucky, it's the season itself that was lucky. I don't want to hear anyone rip the coaches, they're the magicians in all of this. We had one superstar and well... that's about it.

[Andrew Rosin] Ha! I absolutely can rip the coaching. Have we forgotten the name Andy Ludwig? If a self-deprecating blogger such as myself can see the flaws in his strategy after reading a couple basic books on running an offense? I think we have our answer-

[Drew Hamm] Fire him into the sun.

[Neal Olson]] Any time you hire a coach whose previous fanbases laugh and say, "Good luck with that," you're gonna have a bad time. His gameplan on Saturday was just... woof.

[Drew Hamm] What if the gameplan was so on purpose that it was FOR A PURPOSE?

[G] I don't follow.

[Drew Hamm] Barry Alvarez has Wisconsin take one for the conference. Tells Gary Andersen to go down early. Going down early causes Ludwig to "adjust". His "adjustment" is to have Joel Stave throw the ball-

[G] Forty-three times, which would all but guarantee a loss... and likely a blowout.

[Neal Olson] I'm willing to entertain any theory that justifies this outcome.

[Louis Bien] You guys don't think 408 was an inside job do you? I mean, that kid from Oklahoma beat the record the next week! The next week!!

[Luke Mueller] Oh come on, guys! Get a grip. You can't honestly believe that this Barry conspiracy would explain 43 pass attempts, three interceptions and not a single point on... the... board. My god.

[D] OK, gentlemen, if I may interrupt for a minute. Greg, I speak to you now. All our sessions, all our talks, what did they always come back to?

He's making me say it. He knows I know.

[G] Expectations and how to temper them.

[D] It wasn't too long ago you gave up on a Big Ten championship to play an ACC team in the Pinstripe Bowl.

[Drew Hamm] I still want that.

[G] I know. Subtract 21 from 59 and add that to 0 and we'd all be saying how proud we were of this team. I made predictions they would win, but in hindsight I knew we were too flawed. They may have gotten massacred, but at least they got the chance to be, ya know? Everything came up Ohio State. Before, during and after the game. But at least we weren't on the couch watching Minnesota. That means we would have lost to Minnesota.

I hear the words coming out of my mouth, but I know only half of me agrees with them.

[G] But you know what, Doc? That doesn't mean we don't get the right to be mad or upset. I believed in something on Saturday. We all did. It's hard not to feel deflated after something like this.

[Luke Mueller] It's just getting really tough to watch teams I love, on the verge of something major, fall flat on their faces. Every time I get my hopes up.

[G] Red makes a lot more sense than Andy Dufresne does in times like this.

[D] Ah, but what does Andy tell us, Greg?

[G] That hope is a good thing, and that no good thing ever dies.

[Andrew Rosin] Sports are an escape the real world. Sometimes it doesn't do the best job. Sometimes it does. Winning fixes everything.

[Louis Bien] But will things really get better? Seems like we're headed for more of the same.

[D] Things do get better, Louis. It might feel like the darkness is closing in, but the light is never far. You all felt the same way after LSU and Northwestern. But look what continued hope gave you, little by little; The emergence of the Arandaconda, Melvin's Heisman Moment, come-from-behind wins and a new decade with the axe.

Drew just smiled at the mention of the axe. I look at the faces of my friends here, and I realize that at the very least, I'm not alone.

[G] Yea, I think you're right. There were a lot of good things that came from this season. It's the doom and gloom of a month without redemption that's maddening.

[Andrew Rosin] The Badgers are in a three-game stretch where they play two playoff teams and someone who made the national title game last year. And that's good. We are forged through adversity.

[Luke Mueller] Rosin's right, if we can pick up one of the next two, we'll be singing a vastly different tune. Getting the bowl game monkey off our back would be nice-

[Drew Hamm] But so would beating Alabama.

[G] Maybe we don't have to choose.

[D] Just as Andy tells Red to come with him a little farther, I encourage you all to hope just a bit longer. Something tells me Melvin's Magic hasn't yet run out.