Dec 17, 2013

Whitley Writes: Plenty To Cheer About During Orlando Bowl Week

A strange thing happened after last year’s Rose Bowl game. Thousands of fans from the losing side didn’t want to leave.

That’s not routine at 123 of the 124 NCAA Football Subdivision schools. It’s a tradition at Wisconsin, and Orlando is about to be reminded why.

The Badgers are coming to town for the Capital One Bowl. Just as importantly, their band will be with them.

Granted, it’s probably more important that the football team show up Jan. 1. But unless you’re a coach, bowl games aren’t just about who wins and loses. Not long ago, bowls were for fun and amusement.

In that tradition, we’ll let Gary Andersen worry about the Xs and Os. You probably already know most of the football angles of the Capital One and Russell Athletic bowls, anyway. But did you know other tidbits, like who Gary Andersen is?

He’s Wisconsin’s coach and a stand-up guy. When he was hired last December, Utah State players were gone for the holidays. Andersen called every one of them, supposedly 106 in all, to tell them about his decision. Insert your own Bobby Petrino or Lane Kiffin joke here.

Now that you know who coaches Wisconsin, can you name South Carolina’s coach? Not that you need a hint, but Gainesville sure misses him these days.

It’s hard to believe Steve Spurrier has been at South Carolina nine years now. The Capital One Bowl will mark their first meeting with Wisconsin, so South Carolina fans may wonder what the deal is after the game.

Win or lose, the Wisconsin band usually takes the field for its “Fifth Quarter.” The tradition started in the 1970s, when Badgers fans didn’t have much to cheer about. The band played a couple of post-game songs and the student section got involved.

Before long, band members diversified their usual act. They’d play standing up, sitting down, lying down and standing on their heads. The show can go on for 45 minutes, and usually features songs like “Tequila” and “The Chicken Dance.”

Everybody seems to enjoy it, except maybe Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola. When the band was waiting to play at a Packers game this season, Raiola started berating various trombone and piccolo players.

Nobody’s sure why, other than Raiola went to Nebraska and perhaps felt some Big Ten animosity. Whatever his problem was, Raiola was fined and had to apologize for being such a music snob.

Speaking of music, if the football and marching bands aren’t enough to get you to the stadium on New Year’s Day, our friends at Capital One have brought in none other than CMT Artist of the Year Hunter Hayes to perform a free concert during pre-game fanfest and in-stadium at halftime.

As for the Badgers’ opponent, no South Carolina story would be complete without at least one reference to Jadeveon Clowney. That leads us to “The Hit.” This will mark the one-year anniversary of when Clowney burst through the Michigan line and pulverized running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl.

The video of Smith’s helmet flying off and Clowney scooping up a fumble has been viewed almost 5 million time on YouTube. Unless he decides he can wait another year to join the NFL, this will be Clowney’s final collegiate game.

He’s had a disappointing season, so you know Clowney would love to leave with another YouTube moment on Melvin Gordon or James White. And if you don’t know who they are, NFL scouts certainly do.

Speaking of which, there will be plenty of them at the Russell Athletic Bowl to look at Teddy Bridgewater. You probably know he’s Louisville’s quarterback. But did you know he might have been the other team’s quarterback?

Bridgewater committed to Miami but backed off when Randy Shannon was fired. That was before the Hurricanes hired Al Golden, so we can’t blame Bridgewater’s decision on an aversion to neckwear.

Golden has done a nice job reviving the Hurricanes, but he’s still most recognized for the starched white shirt and those orange or orange-and-green ties he wears on the sideline.

Golden’s mother taught him to dress well for special occasions. Practice is one thing, he says. But Saturdays are different.

“Honor the game,” Golden said.

Bill Belichick could not be reached for comment.

Speaking of ties, Louisville coach Charlie Strong has quite a few in Florida. That explains how he snagged Bridgewater and four other players from Miami Northwestern alone.

The Cardinals have 39 players from the state, including 26 from the Palm Beach/Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area. That’s almost as many as the Hurricanes have.

More trivia:

  • Miami has zero players from the Louisville area.
  • Wisconsin assistant coach Chad Kauha’aha’a’s (don’t try spelling that on your iPhone) brother, Kendall Grove, is an MMA fighter and won “Ultimate Fighter 3.” Too bad he wasn’t there when Raiola started picking on the band before the Green Bay game.
  • ESPN character and Orlando resident Lee Corso coached Louisville from 1969-72. He went 28-11-3 and never once put on the Cardinals’ mascot head before a game
  • Wisconsin safety Tanner McEvoy originally signed to play quarterback at South Carolina. He was redshirted as a freshman and saw how stacked the Gamecocks were at QB with Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. So he transferred to community college and then to Wisconsin, where he moved from quarterback to wide receiver and now safety.
  • Louisville’s cheerleading squad has won 15 national championships.
  • Clowney was born Feb. 14, 1993. Other famous people born on Valentine’s Day – Jack Benny, Michael Bloomberg and Florence Henderson, none of whom ever played in the Capital One Bowl.
  • Wisconsin’s home field, Camp Randall Stadium, has been around since 1895, making it only slightly older than the Citrus Bowl. I mention that for one simple yet stirring reason. The Capital One Bowl will be the last game played in the stadium. Demolition crews will quickly move in and start a more than $200 million renovation. So this will be the last chance fans have to utilize plumbing installed during the FDR Administration.
    • That’s 77 years of flushing. Between that, Clowney, Bridgewater and Golden’s tie, it should be a memorable bowl season in Orlando. And don’t forget to stick around for the band.

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