|Barry Alvarez will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl. (US Presswire)|
It should come as no surprise that Wisconsin AD and former head coach Barry Alvarez announced on Thursday that he would coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
The decision makes sense for a host of reasons beyond the fact that Alvarez is 3-0 in Pasadena and has a sterling 8-3 record in bowl games as the head coach of Wisconsin.
In the wake of Bret Bielema's startling departure to Arkansas on Tuesday, Alvarez's bold decision buys himself time to find a new head coach instead of hastily implementing one with less than a month before the Rose Bowl.
“I'm not in a big rush [to hire a new coach],” he said at Thursday's press conference. “I've reached out to some people. I'll start [formally] interviewing people next week."
Alvarez was a bold, outspoken coach who never was one to run from the limelight. Alvarez even said some of Bielema's success was based off of the foundation he inherited.
“Bret used my game plan to win," Alvarez said. "The coach I hire will have to understand who we are and how we go about our business.”
The Rose Bowl is a perfect opportunity for Alvarez, who hasn't coached since the 2006 Capital One Bowl, to enhance his legacy and win with Bielema's team, which had lost the last two Rose Bowls.
There is a comfort factor with the Wisconsin players who all seem genuinely excited about the opportunity to play under Alvarez, who's a fixture at Badger practices.
"[Barry's] at every practice and watching and observing. He's really familiar with all the kids and talks to everyone. It's the best option," senior LB Mike Taylor said.
Quarterback Curt Phillips added: “If anything, this gives us a better chance to win the Rose Bowl. He gives guys a chance to rally around him.” A number of players took to their twitter accounts when the news was announced, including RB Montee Ball.
Looking forward to being coached by one of the greatest of all time In my last game as a badger! Let's go get em! #onwisconsin— Montee Ball (@M_Ball28) December 6, 2012
In terms of logistics, Alvarez said he would delegate the game planning to his coordinators on both sides of the ball. For his part, Alvarez said he would oversee practices and manage the game itself.
Wisconsin fans have historically travelled well to bowl games and the past two years' Rose Bowls were no different. Alvarez's return could entice Badger fans to head to Pasadena despite the team's 8-5 record.
As many times as Alvarez emphasized that student athletes should be the central focus of the game, it's tough to get past how perfect a setting it is for the man who helped transform the Badger football program into a Big Ten contender.
“There's no venue prettier in all of sports than the Rose Bowl,” he said on Thursday. “I feel it's a special place. It doesn't get a bit old to me.”
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.