UPDATE: On Tuesday, Andersen clarified that the Axe will no longer be staged in the bench area, and instead presented in the end zone, closest to the winning team's locker room. The winning team will still be allowed to celebrate on the field with the Axe.
The trophy awarded to the winner of the annual rivalry game between Minnesota and Wisconsin is the six-foot Paul Bunyan's Axe. When you combine a deadly weapon with a heated rivalry, things can go badly. That's why Badgers coach Gary Andersen has decided to keep the axe in his team's locker room during Saturday's game.
Traditionally, the winning team runs to the sideline to grab the axe and pretends to chop down the opponent's goal post. Last year, when Wisconsin went to chop down the Gophers' goal post, the Minnesota players blocked their path. There was plenty of pushing and shoving before Andersen and strength coach Evan Simon broke the fracas up.
"Last year, it was this close to going south in a lot of different directions," Andersen said Monday, according to FOXSports.com. "You're going to have kids not play the next week. You're going to have kids get hurt. You're going to have a bad spot because who's going to protect them? Are you going to bring out the National Guard? Because it ain't me. Last year, there was me and Evan Simon, and we ain't stopping one of those kids on that sideline on either side."
A spot in the Big Ten championship game is on the line Saturday, so tensions could be especially high.
- Dan Gartland