MADISON — After Bart Houston was replaced by redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook earlier this season, many thought Hornibrook had the job for good. Despite the statements from head coach Paul Chryst staying that both quarterbacks would have to be ready to play each week, Houston was dismissed.
Now Wisconsin has a two quarterback system at play, not in the traditional sense, but more in a baseball kind of way.
“I don’t know, it didn’t work a couple years ago but this year it might work,” Houston said, speaking of a two-quarterback system. “Obviously it worked this last weekend. I came in like a relief pitcher for Alex I guess and then he was right back into the game. We won the game, so.”
Normally what happens in a two-quarterback system is that one of the players separates himself from the other. During the Georgia State game, in which Houston had a disastrous game, Hornibrook came in, leading the team to victory and seemed to separate himself.
Apparently though, Wisconsin sees an advantage to, at the very least, have a package of plays for Houston to come in and use against opponents. This leads us to a full-fledged, maybe, kind of, two-quarterback system. Uncertainty like this can sometimes spell trouble for team chemistry and the locker room atmosphere, but Houston thinks otherwise.
“This team is full of a bunch of cats who aren’t selfish, they’re very unselfish people and whoever is in at quarterback, it doesn’t matter,” Houston said. “Heck we had eight offensive lineman this past weekend and that didn’t strike anybody either. Eight guys catching the ball didn’t mess with anyone either. It’s whoever can help the offense move the ball forward, that’s really all that matters.”
On and off the field of play though, Houston is having a positive impact on this team at all times. He has fun and wants everyone else in on the fun.
“That’s something we all talk about,” senior receiver Rob Wheelwright said. ” Coach Chryst really speaks on just having fun. Work hard, do what you’re supposed to but have fun doing it regardless. And Bart is a prime example of that.”
Wheelwright couldn’t be closer to the truth. Houston will be the first to admit that he still doesn’t know how this system will work exactly.
“There’s a little package for me, cause it’s a run-pass option,” Houston said. “Apparently I can run, kind of, so it’s awkward but I can do it. I could either run the ball or pass the ball there. That’s part of my package…whatever that means.”
But on the sidelines or in the game, Houston has become an integral member of this team and how they strive to approach playing the game.
“I think anybody will tell you Bart is a fun guy to be around,” fullback Austin Ramesh said. “Which is kinda who he is, kind of keeps everyone spirits high. If we get into some tough downs he’s there to cheer everybody up and remind everyone why you play the game, to have fun.”
After 15 years of playing football, this year might be his last and Houston has used that as motivation to stay positive through all the tribulations of the season. For Houston, it has become less of a question of why and more of a question of why not.
Why not give it your all and why not have fun doing it? That is a response you could expect from Houston if asked why he approaches the game the way he does.
So come game days, you’ll see Houston doing the gunslinger hand movements, you’ll see him keeping his teammates in high spirits and you’ll see Bart being Bart, having fun.
“You just kinda do it and I think it comes with my personality. I’m a gungho, let’s do it guy, just kind of guy. And I like having fun along the way so, that’s just how I was raised and my personality. I don’t know about the guns anymore though.”
“There’s a funnier one. I threw on the move, my dad sent it to me and my arms were going like this [insert wild hand movement] pew pew pew. That one’s funnier.”
All of this positivity and joy towards the game of football comes from a player who didn’t even think he would see the playing field again.
“[I] didn’t really think so, but also I didn’t know what they meant when that happened,” Houston said. “So now I kinda know what it means, they’re going to just throw me into the fire whenever they feel like they want me to do that.”
And nobody is more happy to be thrown into the fire than Bart Houston. As long as there’s a football in that fire.