|SMU freshman quarterback Kyle Padron threw for a school-record 460 yards in the Hawaii Bowl.|
If Wisconsin beats Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, Hurricanes fans may have an unlikely figure to blame: University of Miami president Donna Shalala.
Before she served as President Bill Clinton’s health and human services secretary, Shalala was the University of Wisconsin chancellor who helped turn an embarrassing football program into a perennial Big Ten contender.
Some are calling Tuesday’s matchup in Orlando between No. 14 Miami and No. 24 Wisconsin “the Shalala Bowl.’’ Shalala, for her part, isn’t making any predictions.
“I knew this was going to happen eventually, but I hoped it would be for the national championship,’’ she said of the matchup of her current and former schools.
A bowl appearance was a dream for Wisconsin fans when Shalala arrived in Madison in 1988.
In her first two seasons as chancellor, Wisconsin had a combined 3-19 record (including a 51-3 home drubbing to Miami in 1989 in the schools’ last meeting) and finished last in the conference.
The athletic department had a multimillion dollar deficit. Even farmers wrote Shalala letters asking for change and state pride was suffering.
And so, in 1989, Shalala fired athletics director Ade Sponberg and three-year football coach Don Morton. Shalala said firing both men was risky because, while change was necessary, some doubted academically strong Wisconsin would ever succeed in athletics.
The two seniors were classmates at Cleveland’s Glenville High School. Freshman wide receiver Duron Carter, the son of former Ohio State and NFL great Cris Carter, was declared ineligible last week shortly after semester grades were released. Tressel also said that walk-on running back Bo Delande would not make the trip, also for an unspecified team rules violation. Small is the fastest player on the roster, a deep threat as a receiver who averaged 27 yards on kickoff returns and 8.3 yards on punt returns. Small, third on the team with 15 receptions for 175 yards, has frequently been in Tressel’s doghouse through his four years in the program.
It was a triumphant return to the postseason for the Mustangs and second-year coach June Jones, who left Hawaii after nine seasons and has revived a dreadful SMU program (1-11 last season) that suffered decades of losing after it was crippled by the NCAA death penalty handed down in 1987. Padron completed 32 of 41 passes, two for touchdowns.