Dienhart: It's Alvarez for now, but who's next?

A third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl is something to celebrate for Wisconsin. But the euphoria is muted a bit by the unknown of who will be the next Badger head coach with Bret Bielema off to coach Arkansas after seven seasons and a 68-24 record.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez addressed the media today, commenting on a variety of subjects. First and foremost: Alvarez will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl after being asked to do so by the players. He will oversee things, letting the coaches assemble the game plan. Alvarez went 118-73-4 from 1990-2005 as Wisconsin coach with a 65-60-3 Big Ten mark and 11 bowls (three Rose Bowls), pulling the program from the ashes and making it nationally relevant.

Alvarez is 3-0 in Rose Bowls, leading Wisconsin to wins after the 1993, 1998 and 1999 seasons. In fact, he’s the last Badger coach to lead the program to a win in Pasadena, beating Stanford—this season’s foe, ironically–after the 1999 season. Bielema went 0-2 in Rose Bowls, losing to TCU and Oregon.

Here’s what else we learned from Alvarez.

  •   No search committee will be used to find the next coach, but Alvarez will lean on former Wisconsin A.D. Pat Richter.
  •   Having ties to Wisconsin aren’t vital.
  •   Head coaching experience is preferred.
  •   The team style won’t change. Wisconsin will continue to be built around physical offenses and huge lines.

Alvarez says he isn’t in a big rush to fill the spot, and he already has received ample interest in what is one of the top jobs in the nation. And, no, he won’t take the job himself, though Alvarez did say he is contacted every year by others to solicit his interest in returning to the sidelines.

Like everyone else, Alvarez was blindsided by Bielema’s decision to go to Arkansas, which never contacted him to request permission to speak to Bielema. Alvarez said Bielema was “like a son,” tabbing him to replace him beginning with the 2006 season in what at the time was a bit of a surprising move.

Bielema hasn’t said why he opted to leave. Some speculate he wanted to escape Alvarez’s shadow, that he was sensitive to criticism, that he had done all he could do in Madison and wanted another challenge. Whatever the reason, Bielema is gone and Wisconsin must turn the page on Bielema and find a coach to compete in a Big Ten that only figures to become more competitive.

The rumblings and murmurs about who will replace Bielema have begun to churn. But Alvarez shot down a big one when he said Wisconsin would not pursue Paul Chryst, the former Badger offensive coordinator and Madison native. Chryst just finished his first season at Pitt and recently publically pledged his allegiance to the school that is on its fourth coach since 2010.

If not Chryst, than who? Some names to watch:

Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, a former star Badger offensive lineman and a rising star who is a renown recruiter. Many say he’s a future head coach.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, a former Badger defensive back who also was defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns and was on Ohio State’s staff under Jim Tressel. A rising star.

Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The former Wisconsin quarterback has forged a nice career in the NFL pushing the buttons on a strong Seahawk attack led by ex-Badger Russell Wilson.

Boise State coach Chris Petersen. This is a “pie in the sky” candidate. Some say he has talked to Wisconsin. Other reports refute it. Seems like a long shot.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bobby Diaco. They guy is hot, leading one of the nation’s top defenses. In fact, he holds the same position Barry Alvarez held prior to coming to Wisconsin.

Miami (Fla.) coach Al Golden. With the Hurricanes seemingly poised for NCAA sanctions, Golden may be looking to escape. His style would play well in Madison and the Big Ten. But the former Penn State tight end has no ties to Alvarez.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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2 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (2 Comments)
Caleb H. on 12/6/2012 @ 8:45pm EDT Said:

As a madison resident and lifelong badger fan I can inform you why he left.
1. He was quite possibly one of the worst time managers of all time. Last years rose bowl for instance could have been won if bret wasn’t so horrible with the clock.
2. People around here aren’t very fond of bret. He is condescending and doesn’t seem like a great person overall.
3. He has a hawkeye tattoo.
4. ^^ He was never a real badger ^^
5. He won’t be missed. I mean what did he really do? Lost 2 rose bowls, bringing his bowl record to 2-4. But who needs rose bowls when you have the champs sports bowl?
*yes he “led” the badgers to a number of 11 win seasons, but lets not forget that the schedule was expanded when he joined. It was literally impossible for Barry to go 11-3, literally.

Sandy B. on 12/6/2012 @ 9:11pm EDT Said:

That being said Bret’s personality seems more suited to the Razorback nation. I don’t begrudge anyone for wanting more money or a better opportunity but Wisconsin football is a product of Barry A’s not Bret’s. Bret was just holding on and he may not be a bad coach but he’s not a great coach and he’s not Wisconsin material and I truly never understood what Barry saw in him. On Wisconsin!

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