The Wisconsin Badgers will play in their 10th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1 when they take on the No. 6 Oregon Ducks.
To commemorate the accomplishments of the program both past and present, AllBadgers.com presents its "Rose Bowl Recall" series. We've asked former players either about one moment or one experience that stands out from their time out west in Pasadena. It could be from the game itself, it could be from one of the various annual pregame festivities that take shape, or it could be from after the clock strikes zero on the scoreboard.
To note, and something I did not realize until I was four interviews into this idea, was that the Wisconsin State Journal published a similar series in December 2010. However, AllBadgers.com has more expansive answers from the players with a follow up question or two. In addition, there will be players from the 2010-12 teams that clinched those trio of berths in "The Granddaddy of Them All."
Fullback Bradie Ewing
We kick off the series with a former Wisconsin walk-on fullback turned captain and two-time Rose Bowl participant, Bradie Ewing. The former Badger player and 2015 assistant strength and conditioning coach reminisced about a talk he had with then-offensive coordinator (now current head coach) Paul Chryst as a member of the 2011 team.
"Probably something, I might actually have talked about it on [WOZN's "The Wisconsin Football Roundtable"] a little bit. It's funny. You look back at the game, and to me -- everyone's a little different, but to me -- it's more about who you're on that journey with and not necessarily just the destination. To play in the game was just fantastic and the history that comes along with a game like the Rose Bowl. What really that sticks out to me is just that journey that just got us to that point. Most specifically, you remember that week of preparation leading up to the Rose Bowl. Going to the Lowry's Beef Bowl, the comedy club, all of these different events and some of the people that you're doing it with, whether it's sitting with guys like [wide receiver] Jared Abbrederis at the Lowry's Beef Bowl and seeing how many pieces of prime rib we can eat."
"You know, all that fun stuff along the way, but I'd say the moment that jumps out to me the most when I look back is picture day. So they, I think it's Thursday before the game, depending on what day the game falls, but a couple of days before the game they do the picture right there at the Rose Bowl. Then they get In-N-Out burger for everybody, and they bring a food cart. I'm not a huge In-N-Out fan -- I'm a Culver's guy all day myself -- but what I remember the most about that is sitting down and actually Coach Chryst and I just having a conversation. After we did the picture day, we're sitting there eating our In-N-Out burger, and just kind of having a one-on-one conversation.
"A guy that's from Platteville, Wisconsin that recruited to me, came to my parents' house, was the offensive coordinator throughout those four years, was a great mentor, obviously a great offensive coordinator. We weren't even talking about football or the game, it was more just life stuff. Long term goals, family, and just catching up and just having that intimate, personal moment with somebody that had played such an integral role of support through my college career and was along the journey with all of us as a team was pretty special.
"So many different moments, but I'd say that's one that has always stuck out to me which is that moment of connection with Coach Chryst and just the great conversation there at the Rose Bowl eating In-N-Out burger and just getting done with the team picture."
Follow-up question: How different is Paul Chryst in the locker room and talking to players during your time as a Badger compared to what we see now during press conferences and availability?
"He has moments where he's quite similar. I'd say Coach Chryst is pretty consistent for the most part. He has his moments where he picks and chooses his battles I think as far as getting fiery and can be a great, incredible motivator as well. I think he's just a good mentor. He truly cares about his players. I think that's the biggest thing that I sense when he was our offensive coordinator is he truly is invested and cares about the people around him. Whether it's his redshirt freshman receiver that is doing nothing for him currently or his senior starting quarterback that's a captain, is that he truly wants what's best for you and your family and is incredibly genuine with that. At least what I respect in a leader is somebody that has those attributes and so I've always looked up to Coach Chryst for that, and it was a joy to play for him and then coach alongside him for a year or two at UW. I think it was shown in that moment at the Rose Bowl."
Above photo from Kirby Lee of USA TODAY Sports