There is a saying that the 3rd time is the charm, but yesterday that was definitely not the case for the Wisconsin Badgers as they went down to their 3rd straight Rose Bowl defeat, 20-14 to Stanford, yesterday. Just like the previous two times it was a case of close but no cigar and unfortunately for Badger fans everywhere we saw this start kill Bucky before this year – just look at at the Ohio State game for the biggest example.
It's something that even interim head coach Barry Alvarez noted following the game yesterday.
"I thought when you fall behind 14-0, I thought it was a microcosm of their whole season," said Alvarez. "They fought back, got in the ballgame. Again, the last possession they had themselves in a position where they had a chance to win the football game."
How many times have we heard that last sentence spoken in the past 24 months? At least nine times if I'm counting correctly and each one feels like a dagger in the side that cuts deeper and deeper. There's no doubting at this point in time something needs to change and looking on the bright side of a dark moment in Badger history this was the last gasp of air for the old era.
Today, January 2nd, 2013 begins a brand new era of Wisconsin football as head coach Gary Andersen takes over and maybe, just maybe that's exactly what Wisconsin needs to help get over what just transpired.
Can you imagine being a member of the Junior class at Wisconsin? All they've known is getting to the Rose Bowl, only to suffer heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss. Some say winning is a habit, but so is losing and after this season count me as one that's happy a new era is beginning because losing seems to be setting in way too often and in way too familiar of a fashion for many in Badger nation.
If I'm coach Andersen addressing this team for the first time – I'm going all sorts of Vince Lombardi in talking directly the the newly minted seniors of this team. Reminding them of one of the greatest quotes from the venerable coach himself – "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."
It'll help to remind this team that the sun comes up and sets again tomorrow and life will go on, but it'll also help to remind them that something new is in front of them and after heartbreak there isn't anything better than showing them that life goes on and a new day is upon them if you ask me.
Instead of preaching the same things and watching the wheels spin over and over again the players in the program can at least look forward to something new to avoid dwelling on the brutal way the past three season's ended.
Yes, there's no guarantee that Wisconsin is going back to the Rose Bowl under Gary Andersen, after all the Badgers will have to deal with a bowl eligible Ohio State from here on out, but at least there is going to be a new approach and a new message to Wisconsin football moving forward.
Wisconsin football needs a clean slate and coach Gary Andersen can provide them with just that here in the coming months. For me, there may not be a more important time in the recent history of Wisconsin football and how coach Andersen changes things or changes message will be key to moving this program beyond it's past failures and forward to actually winning football games that matter.