Underrated Wisconsin era gets its Hall of Fame due, Pat Richter unveiled as part of the Camp Randall 100 and more
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Today is Thursday, May 25, and this is what’s for breakfast.
An overdue honor
Wisconsin won’t officially announce its Hall of Fame Class of 2017 until later this year, but assistant basketball coach Howard Moore let one of the names out of the bag this week, revealing that his former teammate, Tracy Webster, would be among those honored.
— Howard Moore (@Howard_Moore) May 24, 2017
Webster’s inclusion is overdue. He left in 1994 as the school’s all-time assist leader, among the best to have played at Wisconsin. But it was a second tweet from Moore, one in which he wrote, “[Badgers basketball,] as it stands today, began with [Webster] coming to Madison,” that hammers home the impact the Illinois product and that era of Wisconsin basketball had on the future of the program.
Too often the lion’s share of credit for what Wisconsin has become is given to former coaches Dick Bennett and Bo Ryan, when in fairness the push started before either of them were hired. It actually began with the recruitment of Webster, Michael Finley and Rashard Griffith. That trio, with Stu Jackson as coach, took the Badgers to the NCAA Tournament in 1994 for the first time in 47 years.
That drought is now long forgotten thanks to a 19-year streak of making the tournament, but the success Bennett had, and then Ryan took to another level, began in the early 1990s. It’s refreshing that Webster will join Finley in the UW Hall of Fame as representatives of an era that never seems to get the credit it deserves for the quality product Wisconsin fans have come to expect on a yearly basis.
Who else may get in?
As for some other candidates for the 2017 class …
Alando Tucker (basketball)
The forward’s inclusion is just a matter of time and is likely being pushed off until he retires from playing pro basketball overseas. The school’s all-time leading scorer, Tucker finished as runner-up to some guy from Texas named Kevin Durant for National Player of the Year in 2007. It was in that same season that he helped the Badgers to their first-ever No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25.
Joe Thomas (football)
At a school known for producing offensive linemen, Thomas may be the best of them all. A three-year starter at left tackle for the Badgers, Thomas earned consensus All-American honors as a senior in 2006 and won the Outland Trophy, which goes to the best interior lineman in the country. He was a first-team All-Big Ten pick his final two years in Madison before being drafted with the third pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Chris Borland (football)
A contributor from the moment he stepped on campus, Borland was an absolute terror to deal with for opposing offenses. Despite being undersized, the Ohio native was the complete package at linebacker, with the ability to rush the passer, stuff the run and handle guys in coverage. As a senior in 2013, Borland became just the fifth player in school history to be named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Gabe Carimi (football)
Thomas’ replacement at left tackle, Carimi was a four-year starter for the Badgers, including on their 2010 Big Ten Championship team. A co-captain as a senior, Carimi was a consensus All-American and joined Thomas as the only Wisconsin players to win the Outland Trophy.
Travis Beckum (football)
After playing defense as a freshman, Beckum switched over to tight end and was nearly unstoppable when healthy the rest of his career. He ranks No. 1 in school history in catches and receiving yards for his position and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior in 2007.
Special mention: Frank Kaminsky (basketball) and Melvin Gordon (football)
With their careers in Madison ending so recently, it’s unlikely they’ll be enshrined anytime soon. That said, both are guaranteed to have their names among the greats in school history at some point after what they did at Wisconsin, with Kaminsky the consensus National Player of the Year in 2015 and Gordon the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2014.
Other potential candidates:
Montee Ball (football)
Jared Abbrederis (football)
Brandon Williams (football)
Tom Burke (football)
Jordan Taylor (basketball)
And it begins
Wisconsin kicked off its Camp Randall 100 campaign in appropriate fashion on Wednesday, paying homage to one of the most decorated and important people in the stadium’s history right off the bat.
Hall of Famer
Director of Athletics
— Wisconsin Badgers (@UWBadgers) May 24, 2017
Nine-time letter winner and former athletic director Pat Richter became the first of 100 individuals who will be highlighted in the next three months for how they shaped the stadium’s first 100 years.
A star on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond, Richter is the rare person that not only starred at the stadium built on the site of a former Civil War training ground but also played a vital role in making it the 80,000-seat cathedral it is today.
Hear from UW AD Barry Alvarez and our first honoree of the #CampRandall100, Pat Richter.
— Wisconsin Badgers (@UWBadgers) May 24, 2017
When Richter took over as athletic director in 1989, the department was more than $2 million in debt, about to come under investigation for not being Title IX compliant and it’s two most visible sports — men’s basketball and football — were laughingstocks. Through difficult decisions (including cutting the varsity baseball program) and smart hires, by the time Richter handed the keys to current athletic director Barry Alvarez in 2004 the department had a budget surplus, two sparkling facilities in the Kohl Center and a renovated Camp Randall, and the money-making programs were yearly Big Ten contenders.
There will be 99 other people named in the lead up to the beginning of the 2017 football season, but few will be able to eclipse the impact Richter had on Camp Randall Stadium as an athlete and an administrator.
- As part of its celebration marking 100 years of Camp Randall Stadium, every Wisconsin home game will feature a retro-themed ticket.
- Wisconsin made official what was reported earlier in the week, that the Badgers will host Xavier as part of the Gavitt Games in November.
- Wednesday was National Brothers Day, and few schools can claim a better trio than Wisconsin can with the Watt brothers