Long-time Wisconsin athletic director and football coach, Barry Alvarez announced that he was stepping down on June 30th. This comes after a very accomplished 31-year career at the University of Wisconsin. Alvarez was much more than just an athletic director or football coach; he was a guide for the university and its athletic department. Before Barry Alvarez arrived, the Badgers were a far cry from what it is today.
Prior to arriving at Wisconsin, the Badgers football program was in shambles. Although they went to three bowl games in the early 1980s, the Badgers went 46-67-1 during that decade. The 80s for the Badgers included just nine wins from 1986-1989, three different coaches, and the erosion of public interest.
Super Barry To The Rescue
When Barry Alvarez first came to Wisconsin, he famously said
“They better get their season tickets right now, because before long, they probably won’t be able to.”
After three trying years, Alvarez guided Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl victory in 1993 and made the Badgers Big Ten contenders. He would compile a school-record 120 wins; including 1-1 as an interim head coach when Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen departed. Wisconsin would only miss a bowl game in just two other years during Alvarez’s tenure. Alvarez laid the foundation for future football success with a strong emphasis on in-state recruiting, great rushing attacks and superior defensive play. This foundation has enabled the Badgers to appear in 19 straight bowl games under Alvarez and his eventual successors.
Barry Steps Down
Though he stepped down as head coach after the 2005 season; he put the program in the great hands of coaches like Bret Bielema and Paul Chryst. Despite not being on the sideline, the Badgers have won 144 games, three conference titles, five Big Ten divisional shares, eight bowl games, and finished in the top ten five times.
Alvarez also kept a coach’s eye on the program and made sure the foundation stayed intact; This was evident when he let Gary Andersen leave for Oregon State after just two seasons. Seeing how the Gary Andersen era played out in Corvallis and after; definitely a great call.
Under Alvarez’s leadership, Wisconsin has become the Big Ten’s premier football program. Alvarez resurrected a floundering program and turned it into gold. He promised to turn the Badgers around and over-delivered. His legacy will forever live on at Wisconsin. As for those season tickets, you can’t get them and individual vouchers are hard to come by as well.