For the first time in our lifetime, the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers will not engage in their annual border battle on the gridiron. Regardless of what the result of Saturday’s game at Camp Randall Stadium would have been, fans of both programs are disappointed to see one of the greatest rivalries in college football take a hiatus.
Because misery loves company, we’ve invited Bucky’s 5th Quarter manager Drew Hamm to commiserate with us and share his perspective on the bitter rivalry.
The Daily Gopher: Minnesota and Wisconsin will not compete against each other in the sport of football for the first time since 1906. How bummed are you about this?
Drew Hamm: I am extremely bummed! Wisconsin and Minnesota should always play in football every season and I am upset that they are not going to this year. While I did not grow up in the Midwest, I have always been a Wisconsin fan (due to my father attending there) and playing Minnesota was always something we looked forward to. This year, which in case you haven’t heard has been a bit “different” than other years, a battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe would have presented a sliver of normalcy and it sucks that COVID-19 took that away from all of us.
TDG: How much does the Axe mean to you as a Badger fan? Obviously the rivalry has been lopsided (in the direction of Wisconsin) for most of the 21st century, but that seems to have done nothing to dull the hatred that Wisconsin fans have for Minnesota.
DH: It means a lot! First of all, it is one of the coolest trophies in sports and the pictures you get when your team is chopping down the goalposts are always instant classics. Secondly, it means a ton to the players, fans, and the state of Wisconsin as a whole. It is a point of pride to win it and it is a victory that the whole state can share. Thirdly, it shows that the state of Wisconsin is completely different and better than their neighbors to the west who are basically a different species (citation needed). Hating Minnesota football is a great pastime, as I’d imagine hating Wisconsin football is for Gophers fans, and losing out on that as well as the Axe game both sucks and blows.
TDG: Is there a game in this rivalry that is of personal significance to you? Perhaps a cherished memory?
DH: I went to an Axe game at the Metrodome 14 (it’s hard to say) years ago and sat in the student section with some buddies and was absolutely in AWE of the lawlessness of it all. There were kids passed out in their seats, beer bongs being done in plain view of everyone, and all of this was for (I think) an 11 a.m. kickoff. Having beer sold in the stadium was such a wild change for me, but it was clear the Minnesota students were used to it. Whichever game it was, the Badgers won, but I don’t remember the score. I will always remember the beer bong though.
TDG: I have to ask you about the Slab of Bacon. Minnesota was the last team to win it in 1943, before Wisconsin “misplaced” it and then “found” it more than 50 years later in a storage closet in Camp Randall Stadium. Does the Slab of Bacon not rightfully belong to Minnesota, or do you endorse this chicanery?
DH: Under advice of counsel I’ve been told that my official statement is a, uh, question: “what Slab of Bacon?”
TDG: Say something nice about P.J. Fleck. I dare you.
DH: ::grits teeth:: He... is very energetic.
TDG: You’re a Badgers fan, but you live in Minnesota and you loathe Spotted Cow. I think you can infer what I’m getting at. When are you going to stop this foolishness and abandon your ties to Wisconsin? This is a safe space, so you can speak freely.
DH: Look, Spotted Cow is fine for what it is but New Glarus makes so many better beers and the lionization of Spotted Cow just infuriates me. While I love living in Minnesota and think the greater Twin Cities area is one of the best places to live in the country and have even adopted one local football side (go Loons!), my ties to Wisconsin run quite deep and I will not abandon them ever! EVEN IF THERE’S A FIRE!