In 1995 Barry Alvarez interviewed for the job when Dennis Erickson left the program and was targeted again in 2001 to replace Butch Davis.
Could the third time to be the charm for the two?
Alvarez was credited with the revival of the Badger football program in Madison. He guided Wisconsin to three Big Ten and Rose Bowl titles and ended his career as the winningest football coach in school history. He is the only Big Ten coach to win back to back Rose Bowl games and he led Wisconsin to six nine win seasons when the program only had four before that.
Getting Alvarez out of Madison will be a tough job for Paul Dee. Alvarez stated many times that Wisconsin would be his last job and he is heavily entrenched in the Universities future as athletic director. The move wouldn't be at a discount rate either, with number to be at least around two million dollars a year for his services.
The opportunity here is plentiful for Alvarez though. Having Donna Shalala as President at Miami will certainly be a selling point if the Canes pursue the Badger legend. Shalala was Wisconsin's chancellor when Alvarez was brought in to resurrect the program and the relationship between the two could have some pull.
Alvarez has stated in the past Miami's location and recruiting possibilities would be enticing. With so many coaches coming out of retirement in the game today, a year away from the sport may have burning to come back already. Given his past interest in Miami, it is safe to say they are one of the few programs he would change his minds for.
What would Alvarez bring to the Canes?
Well his two principles are first running the ball, and second, stopping the run. Under Alvarez, a standout running game was the trademark of Wisconsin football and that philosophy carries on still today. For Javarris James and whichever Miami running backs stay for next season, that is good news.
Alvarez will most likely look to install a zone blocking running scheme that will require slimmer, quicker offensive lineman to be successful. The zone stretch play and inside zone plays were two dandies for him at Wisconsin.
One thing I expect from Alvarez is to let his assistants do a good amount of the work. Alvarez has shown over his career that he usually lets the offensive coordinator have the true reins of the system and he won't get in the way much. The same can be said on the defensive side of the ball. Alvarez isn't anti-passing game but believes the run can help set up the pass.
His teams traditionally like to use play action once establishing their base run plays. Late in his career at Wisconsin, Alvarez brought in offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to advance the teams passing attack. Alvarez ran the spread offense a few years while he was at Wisconsin as well. History shows he likes to use the strengths of his assistants, he will look at their background and really tries to incorporate the knowledge of each into his systems.
His teams are very well managed and he will likely install passing and run game coordinators.
What kind of hire would he be? That answer really depends on what Paul Dee is looking for. Alvarez hasn't been an elite coach but if they are looking for someone who is stable and who brings considerable head coaching experience, Alvarez isn't a bad selection. The deciding factor on how well he would do at Miami is who he selects to be his assistant coaches.
Alvarez has his principles on what he wants done but he is more flexible than people give him credit for. The ideal situation would be to let Alvarez be in a team management role. Bring in an all-star cast of assistants and let them run the show on both side of the ball.
The concerns about Alvarez would be if he has the energy needed to rejuvenate the program. He isn't the type of offensive mind who can come in and totally transform the Canes into a machine like they once were. Alvarez has always been a solid recruiter but it is still unknown whether he can be an elite recruiter and being at Wisconsin he is a new face to most of Florida.
Overall there isn't a big risk factor here but the upside may be limited.
Possible Coaching Candidate: Barry Alvarez
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