While Bret Bielema may soon find out that the grass is not always greener, the Wisconsin Badgers will get a familiar face to coach them for their Rose Bowl game against the Stanford Cardinal. Following Bielema’s departure, as their former head coach has agreed to take the same position with the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Badgers turned to another former head coach and current Athletic Director, Barry Alvarez, to coach the team on January 1.
This is not a full time return to coaching for Alvarez. It is a one day special. Alvarez will let many of the Badgers’ current assistants prepare the team for the Rose Bowl, as he takes on more of a supervisor role going into the planning for this big game. After the Rose Bowl – win or loss – Alvarez will resume his full time duties as A.D. while the Badgers seek out a new head coach.
Alvarez is still so well respected by current players and coaches and alumni, that it was reportedly the players who asked him to coach them in the Rose Bowl against Stanford. The Badgers earned this bid by annihilating the Nebraska Cornhuskers in last weekend’s Big 10 Championship Game, only after reaching that game due to the NCAA sanctions and postseason bans placed on the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions, both of whom finished ahead of the Badgers in the conference standings in 2012. But give Wisconsin credit, as they were able to take advantage of a great opportunity.
The Badgers are no strangers to the Rose Bowl, as they have been one of the best teams in the Big 10 for many years now. They have not had as much success in the game as of late, however, dropping the last two games. Wisconsin lost a shoot out to the Oregon Ducks last season, and were shocked by the TCU Horned Frogs the year before that in a low scoring affair. This will be their third straight appearance in the game, although they have not won it since 2000, where they actually won it for the second straight season.
Alvarez was the head coach in both of those games.
Alvarez is a College Football Hall of Famer who led the Badgers to three Rose Bowl wins. He retired in 2005, turning the program over to his handpicked successor, Bielema. To whom he turns the program over this time remains to be seen. But first, he will focus his attention on helping Wisconsin win this season’s Rose Bowl while showing recruits that this is still a top notch program, regardless of who is coaching the team moving forward.