Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Badgers unveiled their Camp Randall 100 celebration. From a website dedicated to its history and iconic moments, to honoring 100 individuals who molded the stadium into the popular destination it is, to home game tickets designed off of old game programs, the university is counting down the days to the 2017 season the right way.
We asked some of our writers to chronicle their favorite memories—both game and non-game—from the historic stadium.
Dylan Deich: Unlike many other writers on this site, I was not lucky enough to attend the University of WIsconsin-Madison. Instead, I took my talents down I-90 to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I cherished the weekends where I could pack up my things and immerse myself in the nation’s best college football town. After a long search for tickets that included several stops with anonymous Craigslist sellers, the weekend of Oct. 16, 2010, quickly turned into one I will never forget.
Many things about that weekend were perfect—my roommates and I made it through the Craigslist transactions unscathed, the weather was beyond perfect, and Friday night alone made for a weekend’s worth of fun. We even left the pre-game tailgate early to get a decent spot in Section O. From the time we found our seats until Drew Basil’s kick was sent into the Madison nightsky, an inexplicable mix of feelings overcame me. The excitement of hosting the No. 1 team in the nation and the electricity of a Camp Randall night game were all present, sure. I was also irrationally nervous; I’d seen some disappointing games at The Camp over the previous few years. That nervousness was replaced with off-the-charts hysteria shortly after kickoff:
By the time David Gilreath reached his own 30-yard line, Camp Randall Stadium erupted. As he sprinted to the south endzone, I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and not being able to hear myself or my roommates though they were just inches from me. It’s a moment I think about all too often and that still gives me the chills nearly seven years later.
The rest of the night was pretty cool too.
Jake Kocorowski: My favorite moment isn’t one game as a fan, actually. To be fair, I’ve maybe gone to a handful of games in the stands, as I didn’t have the money to afford season tickets as a student at UW-Madison.
The contest etched into my memory, and one I’ll tell my kids and grandkids, is as a media member covering Melvin Gordon’s historic “408” game in mid-November 2014 for Bucky’s 5th Quarter. Never before have I seen a game where one player had the electricity and potential to break a run at any moment like the current Los Angeles Chargers back did in that Big Ten contest. Wisconsin was down before racking up 56 unanswered points up on a dazed and bewildered Nebraska defense. It was simply incredible that the Kenosha native pulled off six runs of 42-plus yards, including two of 62 yards or more, and even earned himself a Tecmo Super Bowl parody in his honor.
There are moments where you don’t try to write, don’t try to tweet, but just take in the sights, the sounds, the atmosphere of what you’re covering. I walked down to the field with other media to get a glimpse of what became of Camp Randall—a winter wonderland with goal posts 120 yards apart, a sea of red waves of fans cheering and enveloping the stands, and snow falling ever so peacefully throughout the stadium. Despite the lopsided score and the fact it had been nearly a full quarter since Gordon was pulled from the game, students and fans alike stayed and cheered until the end to see the final seconds tick off in what was then an unprecedented feat.
This game also resonates with me on a personal level. My wife and I were expecting twin boys, and earlier that fall, she went into preterm labor at under 23 weeks. After a scary night in September where doctors prepped us for worst-case scenarios, she was put on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy (our boys are two-and-a-half and healthy and wonderful, and thanks to Luke Mueller for covering most of those home games thereafter). I returned for the birth of the Chevy Bad Boyz against Maryland, yet the Nebraska game will forever stand out to me. The energy in Camp Randall, combined with the emotional and exhausting journey of the two months prior, was nearly too much for me to handle. I walked towards the media room, tears nearly swelling as I trird to subdue them in order to not alert others to the rollercoaster boiling inside me. Maybe as a member of the media I shouldn’t admit that part, but that performance will never be forgotten and always hold a special place both personally and professionally.
Jon Beidelschies: September 24, 2005: Wisconsin 23, No. 14 Michigan 20 under the lights. My first Big Ten game (and first night game at Camp Randall) was a doozy. After an epic back-and-forth, John Stocco scrambled for the game-winning score with less than 30 seconds to go.
Memory is a funny thing. I remember this game being cold, but it was late September (not that the two things are necessarily mutually exclusive in Madison). I remember the winning score being a goal-line push. Stocco ran it in from the five. Regardless, as a gateway drug to Big Ten fandom, it hooked me for life.
I’m also partial to the finish of the Crazylegs Classic. Running through the tunnel (particularly in rainy years) is fraught with peril, but hitting the field after the long run around Madison always gives me a jolt. #clydesdale
THE RETURNING Phil Mitten: I’ve been to a lot of games at Camp Randall Stadium in my time, from high school and Wisconsin football to a truly classic Badger hockey game. I started attending football games sporadically as a freezing lad wearing hot packs in my shoes to stay warm in the Field House end zone’s bleachers, but I also survived four years in the student sections. Since graduation, I have made occasional forays into better seating, plus enjoyed the privilege of a press box pass.
Favorites moments are hard to pick, but some images and feelings never fade. When the students rushed the field after beating Michigan in 1993, I witnessed the Camp Randall Crush incident from my silent perch in the upper deck. A bit happier are the memories of Ron Dayne breaking the NCAA’s all-time rushing record, helping create the Jump Around phenomenon in 1998 when House of Pain first blared on the sound system, and spoiling Drew Brees’s own record-breaking performance during an epic night game.
You know it’s a great stadium when even being outside the walls is memorable. When David Gilreath famously took the opening kickoff to the house versus No. 1 Ohio State, I was waiting in an insane line to get into the Stadium Bar only to be overcome with the colossal volume of the roar emanating from the actual stadium next door. You really could feel the decibels.
In fact, for many, that night would easily be the top memory of Camp Randall. Me? You’re not going to believe this, but I’m going to turn this into a basketball story.
Perhaps my most memorable evening at the Camp came as March 25, 2000, turned into March 26. Dick Bennett’s group of lunchpail underdogs had just clinched an improbable Final Four berth with a win over Purdue and flew immediately home from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The team went straight from the Madison airport to the stadium for a late pep rally. My friends and I were just a few of the reported 30,000 fans who arrived to greet the team. As we waited, I hopped the fence separating mere mortals from the playing surface, did my best Heisman trophy impression and ran about 10 yards into the north end zone and dove over the goal line. Then I was gently "removed" from the playing field. Worth it. Although, I'll admit, the old turf at Camp Randall was not conducive to soft landings. My shoulder kinda hurt the next day.
Everyone assumed Bennett was drunk when he finally got on the mic because of how slurred his speech was, but no one could blame him. (He later attributed this to audio feedback.) It was a monumental victory, and fortunate fans got to celebrate up close and personally with a group of players who were exhausted, yet so jacked up. Just another unforgettable night under the lights.