One of the great scenes in college football is seeing a team rush to the opponent’s sideline to claim a rivalry trophy. Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen is eliminating that possibility this week by storing Paul Bunyan’s Axe in the Wisconsin locker room. The reason? To avoid a potential postgame brawl.
Wisconsin maintained possession of the coveted rivalry trophy for a 10th straight year with a road win at Minnesota last season. As Wisconsin players rushed to the end zone to “chop” down the goal post, Minnesota’s players stood guard around the goal post and prevented Wisconsin players from approaching the goal post and following through on the tradition. This, as you might have predicted, led to some hot tempers and some not-safe-for-work language between the two sides. Rather than allow a rivalry celebration lead to a show of poor sportsmanship by either side, Anderson’s decision to keep the trophy out of sight may not be a terrible decision, although it is a shame for the rivalry and college football in general.
“Last year was unfortunate,” Andersen said Monday. “I don’t think [Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill] and myself liked the way it went down and it ended a year ago. I don’t think it is good for college football and I don’t think it is good for our kids.”
If Minnesota does beat Wisconsin for the first time since 2003, Paul Bunyan’s Axe will be delivered to the Minnesota locker room. At that time, the Axe may return to the field for the traditional chopping of their losing team’s goal post. Here’s hoping whatever happens at that time remains civil and avoids crossing the line of poor sportsmanship.
As long as Minnesota doesn’t go taking Paul Bunyan’s Axe to the visiting locker room, in an out-of-control fashion as UNC did at Duke, we should be OK.
Helmet sticker to Bucky’s 5th Quarter.
UPDATE (9:06 pm.): Anderson has released a statement to clarify the plan for the axe. The Axe will be presented to the winning team in the end zone after the game. The following statement form Andersen was released Monday evening:
“I would like to clarify our policy in regards to the post-game presentation of Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The only change is that the Axe will not be staged in the bench area. Instead, it will be presented in the end zone, closest to the winning team’s locker room. I support this policy that has been put in place by our administration and was put into action during our game with Nebraska. It is important for us to maintain the traditions of our trophy games while also doing what we feel is in the best interests of the student-athletes.”