Wisconsin Badgers vs. Fighting Irish?

By Melissa S. Wollering
It has been less than three months since non-academically affiliated fans of the Fighting Irish won our founder’s version of the TSB Douchebracket Regional Championship. This week, those insufferable fans are talking football as University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez talks with Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick about the possibility of a non-conference game between the two organizations.

During a 1070 AM radio interview here in Madison, Alvarez discussed a window between 2012 and 2015 when both organizations may consider scheduling non-conference game(s). He says Notre Dame’s AD Jack Swarbrick is considering removing Purdue from their annual schedule and playing them less frequently. That could open the door for an occasional Badger/Irish duel.
UW and Notre Dame have united over the pigskin 16 times throughout the schools’ histories but haven’t played each other since 1964. Nine of the 16 games were played in Madison, Wisconsin, four in South Bend, Indiana, two in Milwaukee and one in Chicago. The Fighting Irish have had the most ‘luck’, leading the series 8-6-2.
The last time Notre Dame won a national championship was in 1988, under Lou Holtz. Ironically, Barry Alvarez was an assistant on that staff.  Less than two years later, Barry was named head coach at UW thanks to the infamous Donna Shelala and Pat Richter.

The Irish’s football program has been fighting throughout coach Charlie Weis’ first four seasons. After a combined record of 19-6 over his first two seasons, Weis went just 10-15 over the last two seasons in South Bend.
Irish fans learned to luau in the 49-21 victory over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl last season.  That win snapped a string of nine consecutive bowl losses. Historically, Notre Dame has the second best winning percentage in NCAA history (.736) behind Michigan (.738).
Meantime, the Wisconsin Badgers are coming off of five consecutive bowl appearances, the last two of which have been losses. UW has made 20 bowl appearances since 1952 with an overall winning percentage hovering around 56% (604-462-53).
What would the match up mean for UW’s program? Probably more national television exposure on NBC, considering the Irish have an exclusive contract with the network. UW’s Athletic Department could take advantage of increased ticket sales, not that they need them. UW has one of the highest season ticket renewal rates, certainly in the Big 10, with a 96% renewal rate for the 2009-2010 season.
Currently, King Barry likes to mandate at least 7 home games at Camp Randall.  When considering Notre Dame, Barry says he wouldn’t mind hosting 8 home games per season, which certainly has the potential to impact season records as well as non-conference and conference match ups/schedules.
Barry also returned to the discussion of expanding the Big 10 conference to encompass twelve teams.  Notre Dame has been brought up in previous conversations about this before. Alvarez says he believes it should probably be an East Coast team, in order to take advantage of what Penn State has brought to the conference.  He believes, from a media perspective, Penn State truly put the Big 10 on the map and another East Coast addition would increase Big 10 visibility on a national level.

Lastly, the idea fuels the Irish fire.  If your school has fans with no legitimate connection to you, the likelihood they will travel to a city such as Madison is quite high.  The good news: Madisonians don’t rolling out the red carpet so you can spend your money, drink on State Street, stay in our hotels and fill Camp Randall.  The bad news: just remember that your green and gold will only be small specks in our sea of cardinal and white. Plus, we have every intention of re-nominating you for next year’s TSB Douchebracket Tournament.