Ryan Sondrup swears he still has the notebook buried somewhere, the Magna Carta of Camp Randall cool. On it, the former Wisconsin tight end had scribbled down a list of popular songs that’d been brainstormed in the fall of 1998 with former Badgers football teammates during a free night at Wando’s, a local watering hole.
Sondrup, now a real estate man in greater Denver, had just started interning in the athletic department’s marketing side some 19 autumns ago — and one of his first tasks was to put together a new stadium playlist for home football tilts to present to his boss, Kevin Kluender. With some loose change and the use of Wando’s jukebox to test ideas in the field, Sondrup picked the brains of buddies Eric Grams, Tim Rosga, Chris McIntosh, and Erik Waisanen, who was also bartending there at the time. (Other players may have joined the discussion, but most versions of events usually involve these five.)
One of the songs on that original Sondrup list, the 1992 House of Pain classic Jump Around, today is one of the centerpieces of the Camp Randall Stadium experience — the highlight of the interval between the third and fourth quarters for nearly two decades now. The tradition turns 20 next October, which means it’s almost old enough to legally drink.
Which is sort of perfect, given that the whole shebang started in a bar.
Erik Waisanen, former Badgers defensive lineman and 1998 letterman: We’d always talk about how the music [at Camp Randall] sucked. We’re trying to get ready for a football game, and they’re playing Brown-Eyed Girl and all kinds of other stuff.
Eric Grams, former Badgers tight end and 1996-98 letterman: You were at the mercy of whatever was on the jukebox. We just kept on plugging it and asking them to play Jump Around. I remember, in high school, you’d play it on warm-up tapes before a game.
Waisanen: Grams had always been a big House of Pain guy and into Cypress Hill. Sondy, who I love to death, he’s a Colorado boy who listened to Big Head Todd and the Monsters. And I’m the middle-class guy who liked some rap but was just using some common sense.
Ryan Sondrup, former Badgers tight end and 1995-97 letterman: I remember looking at [the list] and that came on and that was kind of it. It was kind of, ‘Hands down, yeah, that’s it.’
Waisanen: Nothing really resonated and Jump Around came on. And I wish I could say that the place started jumping around, but they didn’t. But definitely, the vibe of the bar changed and people got excited. We said, ‘Put it on the list.’
Sondrup: We were just kind of brainstorming stuff and the song came on and I kind of circled that one. And they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’ll be cool.’ I didn’t think we’ll be able to do it, though. I thought I had a better idea on that sheet. I had some good stuff on there.
When the Badgers hosted Purdue on October 10, the Boilermakers and quarterback Drew Brees were driving toward the student section, the north end zone, as the third quarter came to an end.
Kevin Kluender, Wisconsin’s assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions: I wanted to play a song that would get the students to make some noise, create some atmosphere, make it hard to hear. At the time, I didn’t really think much of it.
I had my back to the students and I was going over my notes and things for the fourth quarter. And [suddenly] people in the box were pointing out and down and I said, ‘Look at that.’
Kluender: I remember thinking it looked like popcorn to me.
Sondrup: The timing was perfect.
Grams: And the place is going nuts. And we looked at each other like, ‘Are you kidding me? This is nuts.’
Tim Rosga, f ormer Badgers special teams ace and 1995-98 letterman: That was insane.
Sondrup: It was a mixed bag. People really liked it, but boy, we got a lot of calls of people who didn’t like it. It was the first time we’d really played any rap music. It was interesting, the back-and-forth on it. As they continued to play it, the stadium started getting into it. Not just the student section. It was really crazy.
Kluender tried it again during the next home game, an 11 a.m. kick versus rival Minnesota. Same popcorn. Same insanity.
Kluender: Going into the next season, you know, I remember we had talked about, ‘Well, we still don’t know if we had anything.’ Because now it’s a year later, starting with another conference game, would it feel different?” So the first game of ’99, the reaction continued, and I’m like, ‘Well, we might have something here.’
The tradition was put on hiatus early in the 2003 season by then-athletic director Pat Richter, fearing safety concerns, then brought back for good following student complaints and a review that found Camp Randall to be structurally sound enough to handle the stomping.
Kluender: It was certainly safe for fans to come to the football game, but there was a difference between attending the game and jumping, and I was asked not to play it and I didn’t. And the fans did not care for that.
“I got so many emails from students and parents saying, ‘Why did you do that? This is a right that they have.’ “
— former Wisconsin athletic director Pat Richter
The stadium was undergoing construction at the time, and given the horrors of the Camp Randall Crush of 1993 — in which a wave of students surging toward the field left 73 injured, six critically— Richter didn’t want anyone’s safety at risk.
Pat Richter, former Wisconsin end (1960-62) and athletic director (1989-2004): I said, “I’m not going to let them play it unless somebody gives me a letter of indemnity if something fell.”
E-mails and calls flooded Richter’s office and the office of Chancellor John D. Wiley. A safety study was commissioned, determined that everything was kosher, and Wiley declared that the tradition would return .
Richter: Oh, man, they went so nuts. I got so many emails from students and parents saying, “Why did you do that? This is a right that they have.”
Kluender: What I always felt was interesting, personally, was the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin put out a press release saying the stadium is fully safe and secure and Jump Around will continue. And the fact that it rose to the point where the chancellor felt compelled to put out a statement — again, it kind of was a moment that [said], to me, that this was more than just a song played at a football game. This is something that Badgers fans have taken ownership of.
Jump Around will have been played 125 times at Camp Randall when it drops during the Badgers’ home finale against Michigan on Nov. 18. It’s gotten into the blood, the soul, to the point where even visiting teams know what’s coming when that introductory horn riff blasts through the public address system.
Dare Ogunbowale, former Wisconsin tailback and 2013-16 letterman: There were a couple of times where we took a knee during the whole Jump Around part. The last couple years, we didn’t. I always tried to point to my family in the family section to see if they were jumping or not. One time, they were jumping because it was cold and they were trying to stay warm.
When I was [training], I had different guys from different schools — I was with a couple of guys I had played against at Camp Randall, and they always talk about how they wanted to be beating us [by] the time that Jump Around [was coming on]. That’s something that teams think about, at least now that I’ve been able to hear some guys talk about it. They wouldn’t want to be a team that was getting blown out at the start of the fourth quarter, so they were jumping all over the field, that type of thing.
Kluender: I think it is what it is because the fans, the students, have, at present, taken ownership of it and have made their own. That, I think, was the most interesting thing about the whole thing, was that the Badgers fans have embraced it, and made their own. And I think that’s why it is what it is today.
The tradition will reach 94 consecutive games in Madison for the hip-hop classic at the end of the 2017 regular season, Wisconsin officials say. Which means 2018 will mark both 20 years and the 100 th straight contest to feature the song.
Rosga: When every broadcaster says, “A time-honored tradition,” I say, “Gosh, it doesn’t seem like it’s that old.” I’m like, “Gosh, it wasn’t that long ago. I can still remember it pretty well.”
Sondrup: It’s one of those things where my wife always laughs. “Who would’ve thought you came all the way out to Wisconsin to start a song? You went to play football.” It’s fun to tell friends you were involved with this. You come back to Madison and see all the t-shirts.
Waisanen: When I was younger, I won a lot of cases of Jack Daniels because I told people I was part of its origination. So my buddies would always look at me and think it’s funny. And then you have my wife, who thinks my kids should go to Wisconsin for free and my mother, who thinks that I should collect some sort of royalties. I love that it’s blown up so much.
Rosga: I told my mom and joked with her that that’s part of my legacy there. That’s probably the most memorable thing. It’s one of those urban legends that everybody wants to claim, but I’ll take it.
Sondrup: It’s insane. There is so much tradition with that stadium and everything that goes into it. When they talk about Jump Around, there are so many other things, it’s really unbelievable. It’s really cool that it’s a part of the mix, just because there is so much history that we brought to it. It’s just a small piece of what made Camp Randall Camp Randall.
Waisanen: When I walk down the street and I see someone with a Jump Around shirt on, I get a chuckle out of it. I think it’s great. It makes me feel old.
Sondrup: I keep telling Wando’s they need to put up a sign over the jukebox: “The Birthplace of Jump Around.” Without that night, who knows what would’ve happened?
Waisanen: My wife always tells me it’s a dumb joke, but I tell her that it proves good ideas are started in a bar.
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