A Dane County farmer is giving the University of Wisconsin’s new football coach, Gary Andersen, a big welcome. Really big.
Don Schuster, of Schuster’s Playtime Farm in Deerfield, hitched a GPS device to his lawnmower last week and carved a maze in the shape of Andersen’s head, along with the message “Welcome to Camp Randall,” into an 8-acre plot of corn.
The process — Schuster said the industry term is “maze-itizing” — takes seven to eight hours to complete.
He’s one of about 300 farmers across the country who work with a company called The MAiZE to create intricate corn maze designs.
He and his wife, Theresa, have owned the 220-acre farm for 20 years and have been making their corn mazes for the last 14, he said.
Although the maze is usually designed around a charity, this isn’t the first time a Badgers theme has graced the Schuster cornfield. Schuster said Bucky Badger has been the design focus three times.
Schuster, not surprisingly, describes himself as being in the “top 10 percent” of Badgers fans in the state. He’s a season ticket holder for Badgers men’s basketball, but not football because it overlaps too much with his work schedule.
“I have to make a living, after all,” he said.
Don and Theresa graduated from UW-Madison, where Don was a sports photographer on the sidelines for the university, and he still fondly remembers the first Badgers football game he went to in 1972, when he was 12 years old.
“My son went to Iowa State for college, and it almost killed me,” he said. UW doesn’t offer a major in aerospace engineering, his son’s passion.
Plans for the design this year came down to either Andersen or Bo Ryan, the men’s basketball coach who this year was named the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year. They decided to go with Andersen only after being prodded by people at The MAiZE.
The MAiZE, by the way, is based in Utah, where Andersen coached before leaving to join the Badgers.
“They said they sure were sorry to lose (Andersen),” Schuster said.
The Andersen maze will open to the public on Sept. 21.