As the football Badgers prepare to begin a new era under a new coach, we can only hope that Gary Andersen has better luck than Alvin Kletsch. Not many fans remember Kletsch. Not many should. But he was the coach of the UW’s first recorded football team, and back in 1889, he led the squad you see here to a winless, pointless season.
Literally pointless: that year’s team didn’t score even once.
In Kletsch’s defense, the 1889 season was only two games long, and neither was played in Madison. The first took place on November 23, in Milwaukee, against that city’s Calumet Club, a social organization for men. The Calumet Club’s team included former athletes from eastern colleges, and it beat the UW 27-0. Wisconsin’s second game, at Beloit College, was a 4-0 loss.
In the ensuing years, the Badgers gained a measure of revenge against Beloit. They played the Buccaneers in sixteen more games and beat them every time. But they never played the Calumet Club again.
Kletsch didn’t coach another game for the UW — or, evidently, for any other college or university.
Good luck, Coach Andersen — we’re confident you’ll have more success than Kletsch.
Published in the Fall 2013 issue
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