No one any younger than Joe Paterno (and not even JoePa himself) will be surprised to learn that the student sections at major college football stadiums are not the place to be if one wants to hear clean, polite, sportsmanlike King's English. But the language at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium has now become so foul that no less an authority than Badger head coach Bret Bielema himself has stepped in to try and clean it up.
Bielema and Badger athletic director Barry Alvarez co-signed a letter sent to student ticket holders Thursday "asking you to end the vulgar chants at our home football games." While praising the students for helping create the loud, intimidating atmosphere that contributed to the Badgers' 48-17 throttling of Nebraska, the letter -- available in its entirety here -- also shares a number of written complaints (from both Badger and Husker fans) sent to the Wisconsin athletics office:
"During the course of the game, the student body was led in a very obscene cheer consisting of echoing 'Eat [bleep]' and '[bleep] you'. I was pretty appalled considering that not all the spectators were 18 years or older. It was not the sort of thing children should be hearing."Bielema discussed the problems further at his Thursday meeting with reporters, saying that visiting recruits and their families have been moved away from the student section in order to distance them from the stream of profanities.
“I recorded the game at home. You can hear the students chant 'You [bleep]ed up' when another player commits a penalty. I can’t imagine that’s the image we want for UW.”
“I was absolutely appalled by your students. I have been to about 15 other campuses, and I have never experienced worse students than I did at Wisconsin. In all of the venues I’ve been to, I’ve never dealt with students with less class than I did at your school.”
“If you come into the stadium for the first time and you've never heard it, it's kind of shocking,” Bielema said, adding that "the ones that get me are when it's a parent who has a small child that now has to explain what's being said or try not to explain what's being said."
Nebraska legend (and athletic director) Tom Osborne also weighed in on the Wisconsin students on his radio call-in show this week, saying they fell short of being "decent." And by way of explanation, Osborne sent a not-so-subtle shot across the bow at the Badgers' historical fortunes vis a vis his Huskers' (emphasis added):
"I was on a golf cart with three folks who were over 90 years old," Osborne said. "We were trying to get them up to some seats. We had some rather unpleasant names called."
Osborne said he hopes Nebraska fans set the bar higher.
"I think there are probably some venues in the Big Ten that will treat people pretty well, and there are some we've been to before, and it isn't necessarily going to be that way," he said ... "I think, usually, schools with good tradition, that have won a lot in the past, are fairly tolerant. The ones that have won just lately sometimes don't know how to handle it very well."
But of course, those Wisconsin students aren't going to give the first [bleep] what Osborne thinks. Could it be different with Bielema? Will hearing directly from the man who -- after a Rose Bowl season and dominating 5-0 start -- is likely now more hero than coach in that Camp Randall student section actually bring about change?
Knowing these are 18-22 year-old college students we're talking about here: [bleep] no.