Zak: 2013 at Camp Randall will have different feel

first_imgStudents are about to peace out for the summer. Of the 40,000-plus that currently call themselves Badgers, a healthy amount will graduate or go home or head overseas or mosey on back to the kitchen of their local pizza parlor. Of the group, nearly everyone has a summer destination.A large section of campus is leaving to do non-academic things (thank goodness — it’s been a long year) but it’s inevitable that the same large section will come crawling back to campus just a few months after departing. It’s a beautiful thing, too.In August, the veterans of UW will undoubtedly find their campus remarkably warm and sweating with newness from a few thousand unaccustomed, baby-faced freshmen. Those freshmen will likely be begging for booze and the slightest sign of an invitation to a house party. They’ll also be waiting for their first chance to Jump Around, do the wave, toss profanity back and forth and get goosebumps while U2 sings. That comes Aug. 31. It’s only 115 days away.It’ll be memorable for all the incoming students, which depends a little on their alcohol intake that Saturday. The same thing goes for the rest of the season; only this season likely won’t be nearly as great as that of any of us veterans, the students who have already experienced a season between sections J and P at Camp Randall.The 2013 season is sure to be unlike any other, which goes without saying. In his first stint, head coach Gary Andersen will do his best to maintain the many traditions of Wisconsin football. But a new pair of shoes will always make you walk a little differently, at least until they’re broken in.Unfortunately for next year’s crop of incoming students, the new shoes will be broken in without a home night game. This realization came through a series of announcements, one last week from the ESPN and ABC conglomeration and one this week from the Big Ten Network.Last Monday, ESPN announced that UW’s only game to find prime time on its network would come at Ohio State, roughly 500 miles from the Wisconsin campus. The Big Ten Network followed up Monday, announcing Wisconsin’s only night game to air on its network will be the bout at Illinois, just 250 miles through the long state to our south.So Camp Randall won’t host a night game in 2013, and it’s too bad. Some of the very best moments known to the Wisconsin venue have come at night games. There’s something weird about how the sun going down brings the vivacity up.A few years back, the Badgers toppled an undefeated and top-ranked Ohio State team in a moment that even sobered up the kids blacked out from too much Bacardi. ESPN opened its telecast, the city of Madison lit up from the ambiance of its stadium centerpiece and former wide receiver David Gilreath brought Camp Randall to a sound level once thought unimaginable. The game ended, but the night never seemed to.Less than a year later, Wisconsin opened the season for the rest of the nation as UNLV traveled to Madison. One of those incoming students I’ve referred to was playing quarterback. His name was Russell Wilson, igniting excitement around a Wisconsin team that actually began to seem legitimate.A few weeks later, the Badgers opened their door to Big Ten newbie Nebraska and then shut them down forcibly with a 48-17 thrashing of the bewildered Cornhuskers. That was another night that never seemed to end as cardinal and white poured out of the stadium into its surrounding locales.Unfortunately, the only reason to use the lights at Camp Randall in 2013 will come at the outset of a 2:30 p.m. game that simply goes too long. And even then, that might not be as great as similar games of the past. The Badgers’ home schedule in 2013 is very much less than fantastic.  Badger football has plenty of great things, but Badger football matched up against a quality opponent has plenty more. In 2013, Wisconsin gets the pleasure of hosting Massachusetts, Tennessee Tech and Brigham Young in the nonconference slate. Barnstorming excitement there. On the conference side, UW will entertain the heinous grouping of Purdue, Northwestern, Indiana and Penn State. Riveting. Camp Randall will never frown, but it may take more for it to smile this season.Although 2012 witnessed a pair of heartbreaking overtime losses to the darned Spartans and Buckeyes, having fans on the edge of their concrete-sustained seats is a much better scenario than fans climbing that concrete in exiting form after House of Pain shouts through the loudspeakers.Alas, don’t fret too much. In the end, night games provide just a sliver of the fun known at 1440 Monroe St. throughout the fall.You might be able to take the prime time away from Camp Randall, but you’ll never be able to take Camp Randall away from a prime time. That’s what every single Saturday is.Sean Zak is a junior studying journalism and communication arts. Does a schedule without a night game concern you? Let him know at [email protected] or on Twitter @sean_zak.last_img read more