Observing the Wisconsin Offensive Lineman: A Study of the Big Ugly

Mark CrosbyContributor IAugust 8, 2012

A herd of Wisconsin Big Uglies in their natural habitat.
A herd of Wisconsin Big Uglies in their natural habitat.

The Wisconsin Badger football team has been heralded as an offensive linemen factory, and with a high quality product to boot.  What is often overlooked is what the Madison campus looks like with the “Big Uglies,” as Coach Bret Bielema calls them, roaming the isthmus.

An isthmus is a narrow strip of land with bodies of water on two sides, connecting two larger areas of land.  Madison is an isthmus, leaving little room to avoid seeing the lineman around campus. It becomes even more difficult as a student who is taking some of the classes renowned for the attendees’ athletic abilities. 

I recently finished my undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and could not be more proud.  However, the manner in which I finished was less than amazing.  I fell one credit short of requirements after my fourth year and was forced to take a summer class.  The only one credit class offered during the summer is known by all as “Clap-for-credit” because of its relative ease.   Not surprisingly, the reputation of the class has found its way into the athletic facilities around campus and is used as a filler class by many athletes.  This means the class is full of athletes.

By full I mean half the seats are taken. By half the seats are taken I mean all the seats are full. Confused? Go ahead and try to sit between a couple of Wisconsin linemen.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Can’t find two linemen to take this challenge with?  That’s fine; try sliding between your mattress and your box-spring instead. Same idea, less sweaty. 

Your mattresses, however, fail to do one thing the linemen never miss. While hopelessly looking for a seat one was almost always met with a, “there’s a spot here” from one of a pair of giant human beings doing their best to fit into a small lecture hall chair.  Like a Bullmastiff that thinks it’s a Pomeranian, the Wisconsin lineman has no idea he is too large to sit next to, or at the very least too large to comfortably sit next to. 

One of my favorite aspects of the UW campus was seeing a barrage of linemen come down University Avenue on their scooters. At least I’m told they were on scooters. It was hard to see what tiny machine they were flying down the road on. For all I know they were riding atop Volkswagen Jettas. 

All of this pales in comparison to the amount of time these guys spend together and the way they think because if it. They finish each others sentences, laugh in synchronization, and all look alike whether they try to or not.

They travel in packs, usually following an averaged size person. This is a phenomenon I have not been able to figure out as I’ve been too busy laughing at 300-pound ducklings walking in unison, single file, behind a backup placekicker. 

I never knew what it meant to "laugh heartily" until I heard four starting linemen laugh at a miserable joke told by the fifth.  The world could use more happy groups of 300-pound men telling jokes and laughing at themselves.

The point of all of this: Madison, Wisconsin is the land of the Big Ugly. A gentle giant that has no idea quite how out of place he looks among the throngs of regular sized people.