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Monday, January 02, 2006

Thank You Barry!

A long time ago I became a college football fan. Unfortunately, my team the University of Wisconsin Badgers sucked, badly. Then a guy named Don McClain showed up, and brought some years of decency to the team, including bowl games in 1981, 1983 and 1984.

But his sudden death in the spring of 1986 brought in Interim Coach Jim Hiles, and a 3-9 season, and the three year disaster of Don Morton and the veer offense, with a 6-27 record. Bucky had nothing to cheer about. Just a few short years after there was hope, there was dispair in the nearly empty stands.

Then the new athletic director Pat Richter hired Barry Alvarez, fresh from winning seasons as a defensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

Some questioned the hiring of Alvarez, because he didn't have head coach experience. What he brought though, was an incredible work ethic, and a desire to succeed. He wasn't very successful the first three years, but the team started to look like they were coached to play again, not to fold, even though they were 1-10, 5-6 and 5-6, they were staying in games.

In 1993 and again in 1994, Alvarez took Wisconsin to Rose Bowls and won both, underdogs both times. The third Big Ten title in 1999 was unexpected, and followed by another Rose Bowl victory.

3 Big Ten Titles, 3 Rose Bowl victories, 8 total bowl victories in 11 trips and 118 wins in his 16 year tenure, Barry brought winning football, and sports in general, back to the Badgers. Because of the success on the football field the stadium was renovated, a new field house built for the resurgent basketball program, and numerous other improvements.

Today, in his final game as head coach, the team sent him out with a victory. With a 24-10 thrashing of 10 point favorite Auburn. They got the final monkey off of Barry's back, he'd never won a bowl against the SEC.
Today they destroyed Auburn, making the #9 defense in the country look like Division II wannabes as they ran up 538 yards of offense. Wisconsin looked faster than the speed team from Auburn, they played with emotion missing from the other team, and layed the lumber to them. They sent the coach out in definite style, showing their appreciation for him with the game ball.

Thank You, Barry Alvarez, for bringing some glory back to the University of Wisconsin Football Program. Thanks for being a class act for 16 years, and always representing the state in a manner we have been proud of.

This Cheesehead, with a home in Illinois, and a job in Virginia will always consider himself a Badger fan, thanks for making that something to be proud of again.
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Blogger Michele said...

Seems to me that it should only be a matter of time before a TV movie is made about his success.
they done if for basketball and hockey....football should be next.
Sounds like he was a great role model on many levels.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Peakah said...

I've been a huge Badgers fan since my cuz decided to go there in '92. Thankfully they were decent by then!

Alvarez was an awesome coach and well respected by everyone in the football community.

I wouldn't be suprised to see him walking the sidelines in the NFL although he claims to be finished coaching...

We'll see if the tempting allure of NFL dollars will bring him back. If not, he left an incredible legacy for every cheesehead to be proud of.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Peakah, I doubt he'll head to the NFL now, he was courted pretty heavy by Green Bay before they brought in Sherman, and Miami a few times, and talked to by other teams. His heart is with the college game. I wouldn't be surprised to see him show up as a coach in college again in a year or so, though.

Michele, he didn't kill anyone, so a TV movie is out, at least this season. If stories of hard work, and ethics become popular again, then he should be.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Yikes! That's a cynical comment.
Even in this climate, there's a place and a need for his type of story. It may end up as an Indy, but that's OK. A lot of times, they're better storywise for it.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

You are right, it was cynical. Mostly because of the junk coming out of Hollywood. Though I will admit I kind of enjoyed "The Family Stone" which my wife and I saw a few weeks ago. A movie with a story line, weird.

9:15 PM  

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