The idea for this blog post comes to you from cruising altitude, on a succession of flights home from a bachelor party – from Austin to Albuquerque to Boulder, back to the Midwest – a same-plane-but-three-flight gauntlet that rivals a three-game stretch against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan in October.
The composition and dynamics of any bachelor party will be slightly different from the last one, or the next one, but there are a few consistent archetypes that stand out. These are the members of a bachelor party, as Big Ten schools.
The friend from high school – Nebraska
In any bachelor party with a roster mostly consisting of college buddies, there’s a good chance there’s also The Friend from High School. That’s admittedly a tough spot to be in, especially for someone (or some Big Ten West program) whose last semi-respectable run was about 10 years ago.
The friend from high school is living off of reputation and notoriety at this point. His addition to the group may have made sense at the time, someone whose history and connections might go as far back as anyone – and who was envisioned as a metaphorical peer of the Ohio States of the group – but ultimately, they cause a little too much trouble and underdeliver to the point where some in the group wonder if everything would be better off without them.
At a pool party in Las Vegas, the friend from high school might start dunking people in the middle of the pool, because that move worked at the community swimming pool 20 years ago. But it’s not going to win over any favors when everyone is there for Alesso’s DJ set and an afternoon of debauchery. The friend from high school, feeling an outsized sense of entitlement, might try to make some power plays, like offering to put his credit card down to rent a multi-thousand-dollar cabana that the rest of the group was divided on, and now they’re left footing part of the bill. He’s been known to order bottle after bottle of top-shelf liquor through bottle service, unbeknownst to the rest of the group, only to hand out free drinks like it’s mile 12 of the Chicago marathon.
That might work if you’re 12-0 Ohio State, but not if you’re 4-8 Nebraska, especially after months of bitching about the scheduling and perceived biases against you.
The finance guy who’s a world traveler – Michigan
The finance guy who doubles as a world traveler has been known to buy groceries for himself, based on his dietary needs – let’s say some gluten-free tortillas for less than $2 – then throw that cost on the group’s shared expenses on Splitwise at the end of the trip. Everyone then gets charged less than a quarter apiece for this soon-to-be hedge fund manager’s breakfast.
I, a humble sports blogger, won’t call you out in the moment. I’ll Venmo the $0.22 out of spite, complain about it in a few side texts and then blog about the experience later. Maybe that makes me, I don’t know, Northwestern?
Finance guy with a passport is sure to be a great time in any Uber or at any nice steakhouse because you can guarantee that if the driver or server offers even a hint of a foreign accent, the whole group is going to hear yet another story about finance guy’s time living abroad, or that backpacking trip in Europe, or that music festival where he may have trusted a stranger who offered an illicit substance or two.
There are major Michigan Man vibes with the finance guy who’s a world traveler. Objectively, the University of Michigan is a great school, and Ann Arbor is a cool college town, and the winged helmets are iconic, and walking into the Big House for the first time is a surreal experience, just like finance guy’s resume is impressive and he has traveled to enviable places and he has brought good stories back with him.
But it’s in the presentation, the personality, the attitude.
No one likes an unironic version of A Michigan Man.
The father of the bride – Rutgers
Look, I know this isn’t a common move on bachelor parties. In fact, I’m confident it’s very much an uncommon move to invite the father of the bride to tag along on a weekend trip that doubles as one of his daughter’s fiancé’s final weekends before the wedding. But it’s not unprecedented.
Much like the Big Ten’s addition of Rutgers, there’s a chance the father of the bride is there in large part to make the math work, both literally and figuratively. He might have an ungodly amount of hotel points or high-roller status with a particular casino. He might bring some additional money that makes the collective better off, which comes in handy when Nebraska (the high school friend) decides unilaterally to order three or four bottles to the poolside cabana that no one else was aware of until the next day.
In a case like that, it’s great that Rutgers is there, if everyone’s budgets and goals are now larger, even if Rutgers isn’t a primary beneficiary of that spending.
The father of the bride may have been able to hang back in the day, much like when Rutgers went 11-2 in the eight-team Big East in 2006. But being able to keep up back in the day comes with qualifiers. Rutgers had three eight- or nine-win seasons between 2007 and 2011, where it went just 3-4 or 4-3 in conference play in each season.
Likewise, maybe the father of the bride could hang at a dive bar or at the blackjack table in his prime, and maybe he’s capable of another good weekend, but he may not be much of an asset when you meet those British girls at the Vegas pool party.
The younger brother of the groom/bride – Wisconsin
Much like Madison, Wisconsin, or the style of play of Wisconsin football or men’s basketball, the younger brother of the groom or bride who gets invited on the bachelor party may not be flashy – they’re not there to steal the show from their brother or sister – but the results will be there. Like Wisconsin, they might be a relative newcomer to this level and they’re largely just happy to be there.
They may have been the one that planned the bachelor party and nailed the weekend’s schedule. They may have snuck away and bought a nice bottle of whiskey for the group to share.
They may not produce the wildest stories from the weekend, but they might finish among the top three or four people who had the best weekend, just like you can often pencil in Wisconsin to have a top-four finish in the Big Ten.