30.12.09

A FAUSTIAN BARGAIN. In the Champs Sports Bowl, Wisconsin made Miami (a correspondent suggests issuing them orange uniforms) look over-rated. Miami had to resort to some trick plays to get their points, and to depend on some Wisconsin errors to keep things close. For the most part, though, Wisconsin dominated the game.

They were very physical, aggressive, punishing, relentless and dominant, which is to say they were once again 100% Wisconsin. They were all over the Miami quarterback. And even when they did something silly - a turnover here, a personal foul there or a surrendered onside kick - they quickly made things whole in a most redemptive end to 2009.

"I can't explain why it didn't go our way," Miami coach Randy Shannon said.

I can. The Badgers kicked your behind all the way back to Coral Gables.

Or back to reform school.

The back story to this game, however, is the presence of Donna "Queen of Clubs" Shalala, the high priestess of political correctness who brought in the personnel to strengthen the athletic department while the academic programs declined, as president of Miami, where the academic programs have yet to reach a height where decline would be regrettable.

"I say to people, 'If you go to Wisconsin and you walk into a bar and you mention my name, they'll buy you a drink,'" Shalala said by phone the other day. "I'm remembered more for what I did with the athletic program, and I think we had a very good academic strategy while I was there, too."

Shalala is now president at the University of Miami, which plays her old school next week in the Champs Sports Bowl. That puts her in a very different place these days, a private school that leads with a dominant football program.

She's done some work to clean up the football program, although there have been problems, and skepticism of her efforts, and good reason for Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez to not go there.

Meanwhile, celebrating diversity takes on a new meaning in Madison. We've been following the social stratification in which rich Coasties confront Wisconsin residents for some time, and that confrontation has taken on a harsher tone of late.

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