Los Angeles - Media day at the Rose Bowl is something like media day at the Super Bowl, except that the fewer-in-numbers horde granted entrance to the former is confined to a hotel ballroom as opposed to a stadium.
That doesn't mean the questions get any smarter.
For example, the uniforms to be worn Monday were trotted out for public consumption Friday morning.
Wisconsin's, to be expected, are conservative, befitting the program's image. Except for a couple of minor tweaks and imperceptible gewgaws, they are the Badgers' typically modest costumes.
Oregon's, as one would also suspect, look like a duck hit a semi windshield on the I-5 sprint down from Eugene. Oregon is gaudy that way because it can be. Neighboring Nike gives the school a lot of money for the football team to dress like a designer running shoe.
So, naturally, somebody asked UW quarterback Russell Wilson if the shiny Ducks helmets might cause the Badgers to become.
. disoriented? Wilson handled that one the same way he handled pretty much everything else during his whirlwind free-agency season in Madison.
"You know where guys are, you know where they're going to be," Wilson said without a trace of condescension.
"It won't be a problem." If ducks are unflappable, so is Wilson. For a big-deal quarterback who put up monster numbers in three years at North Carolina State, left to play pro baseball and then put himself on the market for one last shot at college football , he has never self-applied the star treatment.
Even out here in La-La Land, where the idea is to enjoy the spoils, Wilson was nowhere close to Jack Nicholson when he and some of the Badgers took in a Lakers game Thursday night. "We were sitting in the middle of the nose-bleed section," Wilson said. "I could see the whole court. It was pretty cool." And that was enough for one of the most celebrated Wisconsin football players ever, short-timer or not. One of the reasons he was at the point of an 11-2 season was his acceptance that Russell Wilson was going to fit around the Badgers, not the other way around.
Not just any outsider gets elected captain after a couple of days on campus. It took a special personality for the first legit quarterback in years to blend in seamlessly at Tailback U. "It means a lot because I've been with this group for six months and it's been so special, so magnificent every day," he said.
He couldn't help get the team that had almost everything except a quarterback to the BCS championship game. But the Rose Bowl is the next-best thing, an extraordinary accomplishment in and of itself, because there was never a guarantee that Wilson and the Badgers - outside last-second losses at Michigan State and Ohio State - would fit quite like this.
"It's definitely one of the reasons why I came here," Wilson said. "I came here because of the tradition, the atmosphere, the head coaches, playing a pro-style offense and being part of something special.
"When I first got to Wisconsin in July, I told the guys, 'I want to be a part of something special.' We did some great things this season.
We had some hard times losing two in a row. But we got the chance to win the Big Ten championship, the first one ever (in a championship game). We embraced history, now it's time to capitalize on another great opportunity." It is, after all, the Rose Bowl, one of the reasons Wilson chose to make Wisconsin his final college stop. Chances are his last game for the Badgers will be as fitting as those modest uniforms.
"The atmosphere, the history behind it, the fact that so many players have played in this game in terms of Hall of Fame players, guys like Drew Brees and Charles Woodson who have had long, long careers," Wilson said. "It means a lot. You want to show up and have the best possible game you can play." Send email to email@example.com
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Copyright, 2011, Journal Sentinel, All Rights Reserved.