Former head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez will be on the sidelines for the Wisconsin Badgers when they take on the Stanford Cardinal in the Rose Bowl. Although Alvarez is no doubt excited about returning to coach, he wanted to make it clear that it will only be for this one game. He has already begun taking steps to find a replacement for Bret Bielema who left earlier this week for Arkansas. Alvarez also added that he wants the focus to be on the players and their quest for a Rose Bowl victory, as opposed to his return.
Bielema leaving the school was quite the shock for many people around both the Wisconsin area and the nation, including Alvarez. Apparently Alvarez was unaware that Bielema was even in discussions with Arkansas until he was informed that the coach would be stepping down early on Tuesday. The move was even more stunning considering that Wisconsin had just come off a dominant 70-31 win over the then 14th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big 10 title game. The victory put Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl for the third straight year, which is a school record.
Alvarez has compiled a 118-73-4 record in 16 seasons coaching the Badgers, but perhaps more importantly is that he has never lost a Rose Bowl. He is 3-0 in Pasadena and in the Badgers history those victories are the only ones they hold in eight trips to the Rose Bowl.
Having Alvarez on the sidelines will also help to limit distractions that a departure of a head coach can certainly create. Linebacker Mike Taylor said Alvarez is at every practice and knows all the players, and they are all comfortable with each other. Bielema was also picked by Alvarez as his successor, so coaching styles and system will remain the same for the Badgers.
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