ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Drew Olson
By DREW OLSON
I visited to the Department of Motor Vehicles last week and, for the first time since I was 16, I enjoyed myself.
I have nothing against the fine folks who work at the DMV and the melting pot of patrons that they assist. I just don’t like filling out forms, waiting in line, getting my picture taken or wading through bureaucratic red tape -- which are the three most common activities at the DMV.
Once you procure your license, a trip to the DMV brings a sense of duty and dread rather than eager anticipation.
Last week, though, was different.
After finishing the New Rider’s Course at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson in Oconomowoc, I knew that my new (or “renewed”) license could have an “M” endorsement. I just had to fill out a form, present proof that I’d completed Rider’s Edge and -- in an interesting twist -- complete the test to get my “temps” -- or motorcycle learner’s permit.
I sat at a computer in front of a touch-screen monitor for about 10 minutes. Thanks to the Rider’s Edge course, I breezed through the questions. With my “temps” in hand, I went to the window and received my new license. Well, I received a piece of paper that will stand for my license until the actual card shows up in the mail in another week.
But, it was an exciting, rewarding trip to the DMV. How often can you say that after you are 16?
(Unrelated tip: The DMV service center located at 2701 S. Chase Ave., is one of the quicker facilities in the state. I think the location Downtown is good, too, but doesn't offer the full menu of services like the one on Chase Ave.)
Is America ready for a reality show about Packers fans?
Is America ready for another reality show?
What if the show was about Packers fans?
According to this story at RealScreen.com, TBS is developing a show -- tentatively titled "Cheeseheads," -- that will "take viewers into the hilarious subculture through the eyes of a group of proud Wisconsinites as they navigate life in the only way they know how – loud, proud and with lots of beer.”
A fan version of "Hard Knocks?" What do you think? Will you watch?
By DREW OLSON
Here were are, well into the month of May, and I’m pleased to report that I have fulfilled one of my New Year’s resolutions.
I learned how to ride a motorcycle.
It wasn’t that difficult, either, thanks to the wonderful folks at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson in Oconomowoc. I took part in their New Rider’s Course, passed, and will be getting my motorcycle endorsement soon.
The big question I’ve been getting from friends and family members: Are you going to get a bike?
The answer? I don’t know yet. But, I sure am glad that it’s an option.
For years, I’ve been wanting to “test drive” motorcycling as a hobby. Many of my friends and family members are into it. I worked alongside my good friend Tom Haudricourt for years and he’s an enthusiast (currently without a bike, which we may have to rectify in search of a group discount).
As stated earlier, I’ve always been intrigued by the history and culture of Harley-Davidson, and I’ve always thought about starting to ride. I’ve also thought about learning Spanish, brushing up on my guitar skills, transferring old photos to a safe digital hard drive AND the cloud, and losing 20 pounds.
Alas, those resolutions will probably carry over into 2014. Learning to ride, however, is checked off the list.
By no means do I consider myself an “expert.” I’m barely a novice. But, the New Rider’s Course was a fantastic introduction. I think I’m better prepared to drive a motorcycle today than I was to drive a car when I got that license a million years ago.
I took the course in the span of one week. We met for three hours on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Then we hit the motorcycle range all day Saturday and Sunday and were done.
I could write about 10,000 words about the total experience, but I know most Web readers today are pressed for time so I’m going to drop a few bullets here. If you want more details about my experience, e-mail me or catch up to me out and about and I’ll be glad to tell you.
* This course teaches you about motorcycles from the bottom up. If you know absolutely nothing bikes or the mechanics of riding, you will learn quickly. You don’t have to be strong, coordinated or know how to drive a stick-shift vehicle to learn quickly. Although it’s designed for beginners, there were a couple of “veteran” riders in my eight-rider group that told me they learned plenty of valuable lessons -- and broke some bad habits.
* Our instructors, Tom Stresing and Kelly Wagner, could not have been nicer. They were patient, encouraging and made the experience enjoyable for everyone. Learning a new skill -- be it riding a motorcycle, hitting a golf ball or playing a harmonica -- can be frustrating at times. Like most things in life, riding a motorcycle is harder and more involved than it looks. Repetition, muscle memory and “saddle time” are the only ways to smooth things out. Tom and Kelly urged everyone develop at their own pace. It’s not a competition, after all, and that helped.
* The folks at the dealership couldn’t have been nicer. As part of the course, they walked us through the various departments and showed us different bikes, accessories, clothing, helmets, etc. Everyone at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson is knowledgable and approachable. If you have what you think is a ridiculously stupid question, they’ll answer it. (Chances are, they’ve already done so a hundred times.)
They aren’t going to chuckle at you or make fun of you when you leave. These people aren’t “snobbish” about their hobby. They want you to learn to love it as much as they do and will do whatever it takes to make sure that you find a bike, helmet, jacket, pair of boots or anything that will make you comfortable and confident out on the road. It’s interesting that Tom Stresing, our instructor, is not a Harley-Davidson rider. He has a BMW and a Japanese sport bike. But, he’s been teaching for 30-some years and he says that Harley-Davidson dealerships are unique in the way they make sure that the bike you buy fits. They’ll tweak handelbars, seats, windshields or anything else to make sure that everything is great when you pick your bike up at the showroom. Tom said other companies don’t do that, which I find amazing.
* Taking the course has made me a much better driver… in my car. By thinking like a motorcyclist, I’ve become more acutely aware of road conditions, weather conditions, my lane position, following distance and dozens of other factors including potential hazards like OTHER DRIVERS. It’s almost a state of hyper-vigilance. I’ve even found that I’m paying more attention to braking, accelerating and going through curves because of the skills we practiced on motorcycles. It’s a state of hyper-vigilance and heightened awareness and I like it because I’m positive it has made me a better driver. My daughter is 12. When she turns 16 and gets her driver’s license, I think I’ll have her go through the New Rider’s Course -- not to jump on a motorcycle, necessarily, but to become a more alert car driver.
* One offshoot of my “awakening” as a more aware driver -- I’m paying more attention to motorcycles. I was always conscious enough to look for them in my rear view mirrors and give them room on the road (even the crazy bastards who ride between lanes on the freeway). Now, though, I’m looking at the actual bikes and riders in a different way. What kind of bike is that? What modifications have been made. How is the guys’ turning technique. Would he get a correction from Mr. Stresing on the course? What kind of safety gear is the guy/girl wearing? (It boggles my mind that anyone would ride anywhere without a helmet or proper boots/jackets/etc.)
Taking the New Rider’s Course has opened this window and many others for me. If you’re thinking about getting a bike -- or even if you already need one and want to sharpen your skills -- I can’t recommend it enough.
With the weather warming and Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary approaching in a couple months, now is a perfect time to get started.
Badgers legend Ron Dayne will enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
By DREW OLSON
Former University of Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne, joined by current Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez, met reporters Tuesday after the announcement that Dayne was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Here is the transcript of his press conference in Madison:
Q. Most of us expected you would get in this year. Did you think about it? Did you have any expectations? What was your reaction when you found out?
RON DAYNE: Well, I didn't really think about it too much. I was excited about making the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. That was the biggest thing for me.
It was just crazy that I was getting calls a couple days before I guess because I was on the ballot. People were like, 'Congratulations, congratulations.' I'm like, 'For what?' Finally came.
I got the football a day before, but I found out this morning, which I was supposed to know a day before. I was just so excited, I didn't even know what to do.
I called my daughter first. She said, 'Congratulations, dad, for making the Hall of Fame.' She had texted me this morning. I was like, 'Okay, thanks.' Then I told her I made it. I sent her a picture of the football. She sent the text back, 'Whooooooo.' So we were excited.
Q. Barry, what does it mean for you to see one of your players go into the Hall of Fame?
COACH ALVAREZ: I'm very proud of Ron's accomplishments. I happened to be on that Selection Committee, saw all the people. If you see the other nominees, you realize there were at least three other Heisman Trophy winners on that ballot.
I know at one point we took a break. A couple of us were standing around the water fountain. Every guy that comes up, our first comment is redundant. Everyone says, 'He was a helluva player.' Well, they're all great players. All of them had to be first team All-Americans or they wouldn't have been nominated.
No one is more deserving than Ron. I said that in that meeting. To have rushed more than anyone in the history of college football. He's minus 800 yards they didn't count for bowl games. He's very deserving. It's an honor for me to have coached him. I'm thrilled for him.
Q. Ron, what is it like to have your name on the list, in the company of all the other players in the Hall of Fame?
RON DAYNE: I don't know. I can't stop smiling. I'm excited and happy, especially for me and my teammates. We worked on it. We worked on it as a team.
All the stuff that I'm getting, the stuff that I got, it was from teamwork. It's just great to be able to come back and still get awards. That's one of the things that my cousin called me this morning, 'Man, you're still getting awards and you ain't even playing football.'
It's just great. I can't stop smiling.
Q. Barry, what are those Hall of Fame discussions like? Pretty lengthy? Do they get heated at all?
COACH ALVAREZ: No, it's not heated. There's no one really politicking for anyone. We have a manual about that thick with information, stats, on every person. We go through one at a time. Gene Corrigan is the chair. Whenever that person comes up, he'll read some of the stats. If anyone is familiar with them, whether they coached him or were in the same league, played against him, the panel consists of some players, former players, administrators, some coaches, so people would just talk about that particular person. Everyone takes notes. Then we go back through and take a ballot.
Ron, by the way, was a unanimous choice.
You go back through, you keep weeding it out. It's not heated at all. It's very professional, very congenial group that all love college football.
Q. Ron, you mentioned all the awards you've won, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Where does this honor rank to you out of all those you've won?
RON DAYNE: I'm not sure yet. I just got this one, so I kind of got to let it soak in and see what people talk about when they come up to me.
COACH ALVAREZ: It's hard for it to sink in exactly what Ron has just achieved, what he's been named to. I don't think it really sinks in until you show up in New York in December and see the magnitude of the celebration, of the induction, and you see the other people who are inducted with you, their credentials. Then the former players. Then I think it sinks in how big a deal this is.
I heard today ... I hate to say this, throw these numbers out, you can maybe help me ... over five million people have played college football. There's like less than 1% that have gone into the Hall of Fame. .02% of all the people that have played college football are in the Hall of Fame. That gives you the magnitude of this honor.
Q. Barry, was there any doubt in your mind that Ron was going to get in? In addition to that, you know the game goes in cycles. Right now the spread is the offense, it appears. If he were a high school senior today, would he be as successful and as valuable over the next four years as he was when he first came here?
COACH ALVAREZ: Yeah, Ron would be smart enough to go someplace where they'd give him the ball, more than not where they're throwing it every snap. There's still some schools that do that. We're one of them.
You look at a lot of the spread teams. Don't be misled by them. Many of them line up in the spread to run the ball. If you're going to defend all the receivers, not leave many in the box, they're going to hand that ball off. Some of your better rushers come from spread teams.
But Ron would be just as valuable today coming out and be just as effective today.
Q. Was there any doubt in your mind that Ron was going to get in?
COACH ALVAREZ: Well, as I said, there were a number of Heisman Trophy winners. One Heisman Trophy winner wasn't elected. I had a very good feeling that he would get in. I thought the person that pleaded his case did a good job. But you still don't know till the ballots come in.
Q. Ron, I know you get this a lot. Nobody has come close to challenging your rushing record since you retired. Do you think anyone ever well?
RON DAYNE: Maybe if they get a coach like Coach Alvy that is going to let you carry the ball, handle as much as you can handle.
Like coach said, a lot of teams are still running the ball. Hopefully a guy has an opportunity, now that they count the bowl games for the guys, can go and pass the ball off or something.
Q. We can look at the numbers and see where Ron ranks in a certain thing. For you, where is Ron's place in college football, his legacy?
COACH ALVAREZ: I think it's pretty simple. As we said, there are a lot of guys that played this game and no one did what he did. He was durable. I told a story in the meeting that there was a stretch when he was a true freshman, an 18 year old freshman, he carried the ball 49 times, 51 times, 47 times. We played Minnesota when he was a freshman, he carried the ball the first 17 plays of the game.
One of the other members, Roy Kramer, the old commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, said, What did he carry, 1.9 a carry? But he was durable. It's not just about yardage, it's about consistency over a four-year period, staying healthy.
So I think he goes down as one of the greats that ever played college football to this day.
Q. Ron, what do you hope your legacy is? What do you hope it is?
RON DAYNE: Like I said, like coach said, I just wanted to be a great running back. Everybody had me down as a fullback. Now I can say I'm one of the great running backs. Coach took the 'fullback' out of my repertoire. He helped me out of that. Like I say, I'm one of the top running backs, and that was because of coach.
Q. Ron, what do you miss the most about football?
RON DAYNE: Being around the guys. Really just being around the guys. Just doing everything together, going through the pain, the sweat. The camaraderie of the sport.
COACH ALVAREZ: I think that's one of the things Ron always did, was praise his linemen, praise his teammates. It was never about him. You guys covered him. You were all here when he played. It was never about him. It was about winning the game and the guys around him, his teammates.
Q. Ron, where do you think your career would be as a football player without Coach Alvarez?
RON DAYNE: I don't like to think about that. Coach really helped me. It was like a blessing. He was like a father to me, he still is. He's been like that since day one. That's not something I even think about.
I'm just happy that coach took the chance, grabbed me, treated me like a son from day one.
Q. Ron, is it hard to find a replacement for the competition when that becomes such a big part of your life? Is your life fulfilled?
RON DAYNE: I like running around, see my kids. It's crazy. They're in all kinds of sports. My daughter is a freshman. She's on the varsity team. My oldest son is in seventh grade. He's playing baseball, football, basketball, everything. Then my youngest boy, he does everything, too. He's running around and playing soccer, basketball, baseball, flag football. It's kind of fun when I get to see them, kind of compete with them.
I told them I'm going to beat them till they're 18. I have to stay in some kind of shape, running around, shooting. I got to fake Jada out now because I think she's almost right there as fast as me. I told her when she can beat me in the 40, she'll get a car. She's almost there. She's working on it (laughter).
Q. Ron, you got a football. Can you explain about getting the football and that was the first time you knew you had made it.
RON DAYNE: Well, this morning I got a text from Mike (Unitan). He texted me, 'Did you get a package?' I was like, 'No.' I didn't get back to him.
Then this morning I got up and saw it again. 'No, I didn't get a package, Mike,' I texted him back. He was like, 'Are you sure? You need to go check, call somebody, go check.'
So my girl went downstairs. She said, 'Yeah, this box came last night. I just threw it to the side.' Then like 15 minutes after I opened it, 10 minutes later Coach Alvy called me. I'm already in shock.
I sent pictures to my mom. It was 10 minutes later that coach called me, 'Did you know you made it?' I just found out 10 minutes ago. The ball said 'Ron Dayne,' had Ron Dayne on it. I have a picture on my phone that I'm keeping, the front of my phone now. It said, 'Ron Dayne, 2013, coming to the Hall of Fame.' I was just super excited. It could have been red, since we're Wisconsin, but it was blue.
Q. Barry, you talked about Ron's impact on college football overall. How about on the Wisconsin program now that you've had some perspective, how would you measure that?
COACH ALVAREZ: I think anyone today that follows college football, when you mention Wisconsin, I think they picture Ron carrying the ball and us running the ball. I think that describes the brand of football that we established here, and that's how everybody pictures it.
Much like if you say Ohio State, you think of Woody Hayes, three yards, a cloud of dust, which hasn't existed for many, many years. But I think that's how people envision Wisconsin football, is Ron Dayne carrying the ball.
Q. Ron, have you decided who your presenter will be? When does that decision get made?
RON DAYNE: I'm not sure. They said you didn't have to talk or anything. I think it's one of the guys out of the group gets up and talks for the whole group.
But I would have picked coach, though.
Q. Any thoughts about the rest of your class that you're going in with?
RON DAYNE: Not really. I know a couple of the guys, I still talk to them when I go back to the Heisman. That will be kind of neat see them. We see each other at different events, things like that.
I didn't know a lot of the other guys, but I knew the two Heisman guys that were there.
Q. Ron, do you think Montee (Ball) will eventually get into the College Football Hall of Fame some years out?
RON DAYNE: Maybe if the touchdown record stands up for a while, without a doubt I think he'll be able to get in there.
By DREW OLSON
Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a trend. People ask me “How are you doing?” and I answer, almost reflexively:
“Busy. Very busy.”
Things are pretty hectic these days. We just wrapped up the Wisconsin Sports Awards. The Brewers are on a winning streak. The Bucks are in the playoffs. The Packers are getting ready to draft a handful of new players and likely will sign quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a record-breaking contract at some time soon.
It’s a busy time, but when isn’t it a busy time? I’m certainly not alone in this department. Everywhere I go, I see people glued to their smart phones, scrambling to answer an e-mail while getting their kid to soccer practice, music recitals, etc. We’re all stressed. I’m not complaining. I love what I do and am well aware that there are thousands of folks who would love to get paid to talk about / write about Wisconsin sports.
I’m lucky. I know it. But, I’m also a little bit on edge. I need to add a little fun and relaxation into my weekly routine. I need a change of pace.
Fortunately, the folks at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson in Oconomowoc are ready to help.
On Thursday night (April 25), I’m going to take attend “Motorcycle Boot Camp” at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson, which is located on Highway 67. That event, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m., will serve as a warmup for a New Rider Course that I’ll be taking in a couple weeks.
That’s right: I’m going to motorcycle school.
The last time I rode, I was probably 11 or 12 years old. My buddy brought over a mini-bike, I took it for a quick spin in the subdivision and had fun, but my mom freaked out. She told me she didn’t want me riding and told me to find new friends. (SIDE NOTE: About 20 years later, my mom worked at a dental practice owned by one of the bigger Harley-Davidson enthusiasts I know. The office is decorated with leather and wooden accents, the walls are adorned with tanks and it almost seems like a dealership.)
Back to the story...
As I headed into my teens, I focused my attention on basketball, baseball, track and “traditional sports” and didn’t think about getting back on a bike until years later. I worked along Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel, who owned a Harley-Davidson and helped introduced me to the culture. My father-in-law is a motorcycle guy. Many of my friends are, as well. They rave about the freedom, relaxation and fun that comes with going for a ride after work or on the weekends. I’ve often thought about checking out their hobby, but there was always another game to cover, another story to write, another TV show to tape…
That ends this week.
As a lifelong Milwaukee resident, I’ve always been fascinated by the history of Harley-Davidson and the camaraderie shared by people who own the bikes. I’ve been to the block parties. I’ve been to the bars. I've been to anniversary parties (I saw Springsteen, but missed Elton). I’ve visited dealerships. I've been to the Harley-Davidson Museum. But, I’ve never thrown my leg over a bike.
Now, I’m ready to do it and I want you to join me.
Come to the Boot Camp on Thursday night. You can register here http://boot_camp.eventbrite.com/ by Thursday. There is no cost. There is no obligation. It’s not going to be a high-pressure sales pitch. It’s just a low-key way to learn some motorcycle basics, check out the different bikes and see if you have interest in taking a new rider’s course.
If you can’t make it Thursday, check back here because I’ll be blogging about my experiences. Lisa, aka the ESPN Milwaukee Promotions Queen, is coming along for the ride.
The journey starts Thursday night, and we’d love for you to join us.
By DREW OLSON
At the Brewers-Cubs game on Saturday night, folks were still talking about the play from Friday night -- when Milwaukee rookie Jean Segura "stole" first base.
The rule / scoring implications were fascinating.
It's one of the great things about baseball. On any given night, you'll see something you've never seen before. Maybe even something historic that has never been done before.
This is a play that -- I'm almost certain -- we'll never see again.
How do I know this? Because guys like Bob Uecker, Davey Nelson and others with more than five decades in the game had never seen it before.
I don't think we'll ever see it again.