Over the past decade-plus, there have been a few published books that Wisconsin Badgers fans should have on their bookshelves. From Justin Doherty and Brian Lucas's Tales from the Wisconsin Badgers Sidelines to Barry Alvarez's and Mike Lucas's Don’t Flinch, along with Patrick Herb's Make 'Em Believe and Matt Lepay’s Why Not Wisconsin? From Barry to Bo: Broadcasting the Badgers from the Best Seat in the House, many have illustrated some of the most important moments in Badgers history.
Fans should now also add the latest Wisconsin-inspired book, Jesse Temple’so 100 Things Wisconsin Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, to their collection. And do so as quickly as possible.
Ever since I found out Temple was publishing this book, I've been excited to read the finished product. Temple, who's currently at ESPN.com after covering UW athletics for Fox Sports Wisconsin, is a talented reporter who can capture moments unlike many in our field. One that instantly comes to mind was his recap of Wisconsin defeating Arizona to head to the Final Four in 2014. That article earned him second place in a 2014 U.S. Basketball Writers Association awards contest. One of my personal favorites is his feature on the bond between former Wisconsin linebackers Marcus and Michael Trotter.
Triumph Books has released similar books for other fan bases in recent history. One-hundred topics about any storied sports program or organization is a daunting task to fit into 70-80,000 words or a 300-page book, but Temple weaves in and out of the most important subjects and events of Wisconsin Badgers history with ease and in great detail.
With so many topics to dive into, being succinct while still providing enough of the story is critical. Temple does that with each chapter. He brings back recent memories of Melvin Gordon's 408-yard performance against Nebraska in November 2014 and stories from the men's basketball team's back-to-back Final Four berths. He showcases the Rose Bowl appearances, the key figures in the resurrection of the football and basketball programs, but he also pays proper due to events and players of years past, such as Wisconsin's boxing dominance from 1933-60, the life of All-American end Dave Schreiner and the history of the men's and women's hockey programs.
Within the main sports of football, basketball and hockey, there are some great stories that many Badgers fans don't know. Bo Schembechler and Bobby Knight could have been coaches for the men’s football and basketball teams, respectively? A government official wanted to replace Bucky Badger, the mascot of Wisconsin athletics, with a cow? No really, that's true.
It's not just the main sports that Temple dives into, either. Snippets of legendary track and field coach Ed Nuttycombe, Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton, wrestler Lee Kemp and UW's outstanding tradition with Olympic rowers highlight just how successful the university's been from an athletic standpoint.
Temple doesn't forget the traditions of UW, either, explaining the origin of "Jump Around," the Wisconsin marching band and the Fifth Quarter, and (maybe most importantly?) taking in the Memorial Union Terrace on campus.
From the beginning of the book and its warm introduction (a touching tribute to the late Tom Mulhern), to the end making you lust after a Spotted Cow at the Terrace on a summer evening, you'll find yourself immersed in the book. What may be a quick skim of a chapter may end an hour later and 100 pages in. If you need to, you can always stop and start it again. The format allows for both, and depending on your work/life schedule, you can't go wrong either way.
100 Things Wisconsin Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die combines the rich tradition and history of Badgers athletics with Temple's exemplary writing. Wisconsin fans and enthusiasts won’t be disappointed.