Wisconsin Badgers legendary head coach and now athletic director will wear the headset on the sideline one more time, as the Badgers face life without a head coach right now. As Wisconsin’s brass went to Tampa Bay to discuss the Outback Bowl matchup, Barry Alvarez let the public know what was long speculated — he was going to coach this team against the Auburn Tigers.
The impetus for this happening is similar to that of Alvarez coaching in the Rose Bowl following Bielema’s departure in 2012. The seniors came to Alvarez and asked him to coach them given all the instability and uncertainty on the coaching staff.
He obliged one last time.
“A number of the seniors met with me on Wednesday after our team meeting and asked if I would consider coaching the team,” Alvarez said. “I told them I would have to sleep on it. After thinking it over and meeting with some of the seniors again this morning I have decided to coach. I feel this gives our assistants an opportunity to concentrate on getting the team ready for a very good opponent in Auburn. My goal is to make sure our players, especially the seniors playing their last game, have a memorable experience and we do everything we can to prepare to win the game.”
It’s a bit ironic for Alvarez, because he’ll be returning the bench to face the opponent he faced when he made the initial decision to turn over the keys to the program to Bret Bielema following the 2005 season.
The No. 18 Badgers took on the heavily favored and No. 9 Auburn Tigers in the 2006 Capital One (now back to Citrus) Bowl. Instead of folding against a heavy favorite, the Badgers hoisted Alvarez on their shoulders, victorious in 24-10 fashion.
Of course, Alvarez returned for the 2013 Rose Bowl and that wasn’t a happy memory, as the Badgers lost the third-straight Rose Bowl in 20-14 fashion to Stanford.
This bowl game will be the last opportunity to see Melvin Gordon in a collegiate uniform, as he announced for the NFL earlier this week like everyone expected.
Considering everything that has gone down in Madison, Wis. this week having the steady influence of Alvarez at the head of bowl preparations should make for a very interesting matchup against the Tigers.