By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 22, 2006 at 5:15 AM
Growing up, the brothers Wagner -- yours truly included -- often engaged in one argument or another. And Mother Wagner, a benevolent dictator if ever there was -- had a simple way of dealing with things when her two boys were being ridiculous.

"Just shut the hell up," she’d say. "The both of you are being idiots."

Those words seemed appropriate last week as discussions between Marquette and UWM broke down, all but quashing the hopes of the two schools meeting on the hardwood any time soon.

And while this column has admittedly been anything but pro-Marquette in the past, it’s also fairly ticked off at the good folks east of the river, too.

This outcome was a result of stubbornness, arrogance, and stupidity on both sides. For all the talk about giving the fans what they want, in the end it was the almighty dollar that drives both of these schools. Money and pride. That’s a dangerous combination.

First of all, to Tom Crean and his MU minions: Get over yourselves. Yes, you’re in the Big East. Yes, you went to the Final Four in 2003. Yes, you’ve won the Great Alaska Shootout twice in the last 5 years. All are noble accomplishments and worth bragging about, but you’re still a private school in downtown Milwaukee. You’re not Duke, Kentucky, or UConn.

Yes, the Panthers’ deal with Wisconsin may have set a precedent. But the fact is, Wisconsin has been in the prestigious Big Ten Conference for a long time and has established itself as the big-time state school years ago. Marquette is no slouch, and has some pretty significant tradition of its own. At the same time, both Bucky and the Golden Eagles have been to the Final Four three times and each has a national championship.

UWM, where Athletic Director Bud Haidet deserves the same credit Crean gets for building the Panthers into a legit program, isn’t guiltless in this mess, either. The Panthers need to stop playing the role of the poor stepsister. Nobody likes a whiner. If you really want to get treated with the respect you and your program think you deserve, go out and earn it. That is accomplished by continuing to win. Take the contract you got offered (with more guaranteed money that most of MU’s non-conference patsies get) and stick it to the Golden Eagles. It’s a pretty simple proposition.

If representatives of either school could take five minutes away from patting themselves on the back and stroking their over-sized egos, perhaps they could come up with some sort of solution to this problem.

On the surface, it seems that this comes down to one major issue, and another minor issue: money and location. So here, as a public service, is a possible fix to this mess.

MONEY: This has been written before, so why not try it again. You know what they say; the 3,985th time is the charm. There are a number of highly successful business owners and corporations in this town. Many who are, or employ, alums from both schools. Perhaps there is somebody willing to put the dollars up that would cover the rental costs of whatever facility the game is played in, as well as other expenses, allowing the schools to split the revenue.

Cincinnati’s fabled Crosstown Shootout between the University of Cincinnati and Xavier is sponsored by Skyline Chili, a local late-night specialty. Perhaps the good folks at George Webb could find a way to do the same. After all, how much of their annual revenue is generated by drunken coeds stopping off for a country style breakfast on the way home from North Ave. or Water St?

"The George Webb State Street Shootout," a nod to the street which separates the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Bradley Center, has a nice ring to it.

LOCATION: OK, so the Golden Eagles seem to feel that crossing the street to play at the Cell would be beneath them. UWM wants to get some more home games out of the deal. That, too, is understandable. So why not pick a neutral site?

A while back, Marquette expressed a faint interest in staging games at Miller Park. Why not give it a whirl. Sure, the vantage points would be horrible and the temperatures would be brisk. But wouldn’t it be a treat for fans to see the match up at the ballpark? On top of that, it isn’t hard to think that the schools could sell 20,000 tickets or more and split the proceeds down the middle. Add in the aforementioned sponsors and suddenly, it’s a win-win moneymaker for both schools.

Eventually, this game will be played. There has to be somebody in this town with enough common sense and the wherewithal to get it done. Until that day comes, people on both sides of the river need to just simply heed Ma’ Wagner’s words, keep their yaps shut and worry about their own team.

The time for pointing fingers and boasting passed a long, long time ago. For once, can’t a team in this town get something right?