MADISON, Wis. — Barry Alvarez didn’t anticipate repeating the role he played two seasons ago.
After Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen left for Oregon State on Wednesday, it took members of the senior class — spanning two meetings — to convince him to dust off his clipboard again.
Like he did for the Rose Bowl two seasons ago, Alvarez — the athletic director and former coach — will man the Badgers’ sideline for the Outback Bowl against Auburn on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Florida.
“The seniors were unbelievable,” Alvarez said.
This year isn’t exactly the same, though.
While Alvarez coached UW from 1990 to 2005 before retiring, he hadn’t experienced a situation like he was faced with two seasons ago — with assistant coaches in limbo while the program searched for another head coach.
Transitioning back to the sideline under those circumstances couldn’t have been easy.
“Coaching the game, I did learn a few things last time, as far as communicating with the staff,” Alvarez said. “Giving them more expectations of what I want, what my role will be and what I expect their role to be. I tried to be very clear-cut [Friday]. A few of the guys weren’t there. They’re not back from recruiting yet. But I was very pleased. The coaches were very receptive.”
Alvarez now knows what to expect, and he hopes that will lead to a victory this time around. The Badgers lost 20-14 to Stanford when Alvarez previously took over interim coaching duties.
In the final game before Alvarez’s retirement, he also played Auburn in a Florida bowl game (Capital One), one the Badgers won 24-10 as 10-point underdogs.
Alvarez will also have the added challenge of motivating a roster of players who were shocked by Andersen’s departure, a development that even Alvarez had no inkling of until hours before it became official.
“I’m going to try to catch them in a meeting right now about some of my expectations in the bowl and try to get them focused, and also get them focused on finals,” Alvarez said Friday afternoon. “We’ll be jumping practices around and just be available to answer any questions.”
Alvarez isn’t taking on this extra responsibility for financial reasons.
He was paid $118,500 for coaching the Rose Bowl two seasons ago, and it remains unknown whether the athletic department will give him a pay bump this month.
But any extra pay that comes his way this year, he said, will be donated to need-based scholarships.
“I wasn’t even concerned with that,” Alvarez said. “Everybody’s going to do their job in building a good game plan and preparing the kids for a good bowl experience.”