Thursday, May 29, 2008
An amalgam of thoughts.
By the time the Hodags had capped their second straight College Championship, the only thing truly surprising was how easy they made it seem in finals. Florida breezed through the tourney and crushed in the bracket on Saturday, Wisconsin rallying late against Stanford and stumbling out of the blocks early in semis vs Colorado.
Hold on a sec. In case you're just stumbling to my blog for the first time, you should know two things. I played for Wisconsin and this is my blog. I will be fair, and honest, and self-critical, and consistent, but this is my blog and I played for Wisconsin, and I thought you should know. It makes absolutely no sense to me why on mssui.com Cyle Van Auken insists on signing everything he writes as "The Editorial Board", similarly to how when he was running collegeulti.com his name wasn't anywhere near it. Is it to maintain some semblance of impartiality and journalistic ethics? So people don't think he's biased toward the team he was playing on? Seems shadier to me to leave it unsigned than to just put your name on it and allow the reader to determine its fairness for themselves, no? But I digress...
I enjoyed those who, after Wisconsin's abhorrent losses to Michigan and Pitt at Centex, wrote them off as an inferior version of their 2007 selves and began scouring for other teams to seed above them at nationals. People talking about placing Michigan above them, as if the team that had torn through everyone pre-Centex had ceased to exist. That was a time of real soul-searching for Wisconsin. Down, no longer the awed and unanimous #1, looking frighteningly vulnerable as they frantically saved their regionals against Iowa, they had to decide if they still where that team.
Thing is, of course they were still that team. That didn't go away during the loss to Pitt. As we sat in a circle, the elder Hodags and I, celebrating their victory at Stanford in March, we discussed the possibility of an undefeated season. The outcome of the Superbowl a month earlier still weighed on my mind.
"I don't care how many games you lose, as long as you win your last six," I told them then. Yesterday we sat around the Hodag House in Madison discussing whether they'd have been able to close the deal had Centex ended in another undefeated Hodag victory. I'm not so sure. These baby blues were a collection of people conscious of their own skill and ability, and with that awareness comes all the questioning of whether they truly posses it. "Are we really as good as we thought?" they seemed to ask themselves after Centex. Those voices of doubt, their volume loud enough to allow Elis to beat Toms, would have made themselves heard clearly on Sunday had they gone undefeated. Wisconsin '08 was a team with a lot of talent, so much so that the idea of failure was strong enough to get in the way of their execution at times.
That aside, other random thoughts.
Where can one see the final vote tallies on the Callahan race this year? I for one am curious as to the numbers. Also, at a first glance it seems that anyone with a valid .edu address and upa ID could vote, not limiting it to current college-eligible members. I remember a debate a while back about giving Charles Kerr, the person who owns the award, larger access to the UPA's member database so he could corroborate voters' current status. They said no then, but now the UPA probably not only has a vested interest in the award but in also gaining control over it. For now Charles Kerr hold to it, soldiering on. The UPA, long having slept on the recognition of worthy college players before Kerr came along, waits.
Also regarding the Callahan, disturbing if the rumors prove true that the requirement of a .edu email address barred Canadian participants in the UPA series from voting on their candidate. Would that have been enough to change the final outcome?
That will soon be a moot point, considering that in two years the College and Club series will be strictly limited to US teams. In club, that opens two spots in the open and women's division: Furious and Goat in open and Capitals and Traffic (although they didn't qualify this year!) in women's. In college the lady Thunderbirds got their hardware just in time. Match better hold on to that Furious jersey I saw him wearing in Boulder. How do people feel about this? I guess it was only natural as the UPA grew in size that it eventually focus inwardly of the development of the sport at the national level exclusively. Still, the Championships without Canadian teams will exhibit a drop in talent for the immediate future, and it'll just feel weird to be at "Natties" without Furious. When your time comes, Canada, you'll be missed.
I am pleased, at least in Madison, of the legwork done to get the word out about Ultimate and Wisconsin's successes. This year we also got the ESPN guy to show up, CBS lent the Hodags a camera for their documentary, and the UPA College's Championship was woven into the fabric of the Collegiate Nationals. We seem to be moving in the right direction for those that want to see Ultimate more widespread and acknowledged mainstream. But is it enough? There seem to be exacting standards for the position of media director at the UPA. The last two were fired and the one before that left under inauspicious circumstances. How many more heads roll before it it's no longer a coincidence? Kelly Kneib, I'm rooting for you. You can do it. All my love hon.
Region Redraw, please. Club and College regionas should match. 7 regions, 2 bids per region, two strength bids. Let's do this. Give me some real revolution. How long have we talked about this? It still makes sense.
The latest round of Hodag tattoos have been inked to skin. A new project has begun to form. Coming soon, in the summer '09, team Dark Mark. The Green Berets of elite Wisconsin Alumni. Must have tat to play. "This is what nightmares are made of."TM I can't wait. Alongside Dark Mark I am also proposing that the current Wisconsin and friends team, The Iceholes, undergo a name change and become World's Largest Brat Fest. Same great people, new shirts and colors.
Thing is, everywhere I look Wisconsin is blowing up. We're far from where we were 8 years ago at my first Club championships. Ron Kubalanza finally won his championship. Will Henry captained Sockeye. Bravo made finals with three alumni, Sub Zero played a close quarters with a bevy of Wisconsin players. We've got a male Callahan in Heijmen, a female Callahan in Kiesow. Kendra Fredrick is blowing up Slow White. The seeds planted and carefully tilled through years of program development, most sans coach, are beginning to bloom, and Wisconsin is looking tasty in any part of the nation where competitive ultimate is in season.
More thoughts to come, but for now, On Wisconsin!