While No. 4 Wisconsin prepares for its first Rose Bowl appearance since 2000 against No.3 TCU on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif., former coach and current UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez is one of 14 players that was inducted by the National Football Foundation into the College Football Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City Tuesday.
"As I listen to the other inductees, the one thing you hear from each one is that they are honored and humbled," Alvarez said. "We all love this game and to be put in this situation is truly special. When you have the opportunity and you're in this situation, the first thing that comes to my mind is all the people that had something to do with it. It's not an individual award as much as it is a team award. It's about coaches, players that played for you, but going back to the coaches that coached you and motivated you. It's all the people that supported you throughout your career. I couldn't be more flattered, proud and honored to have this award. This is very meaningful to me."
To qualify for the Hall of Fame ballot, a head coach must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games; have at least a .600 winning percentage, and be retired from coaching for three years.
Alvarez accomplished all of that as the Wisconsin head coach from 1990-2005, going 118-73-4 in his career, but it's how he did it that earned his stripes. Wisconsin football won six games in the previous three seasons, but Alvarez led the Badgers to a conference championship in his fourth season. That season ended with Wisconsin's first Rose Bowl win, but Alvarez took UW further, becoming the first Big Ten coach to lead his team to back-to-back Rose Bowl titles over highly favored UCLA in 1993 and 1999.
Alvarez retired following the 2005 season and his 8-3 record in bowl games carries the best winning percentage in NCAA history among coaches with at least 11 bowl appearances. He is one of only 12 head coaches to win at least 100 games at one Big Ten school. He was a two-time national Coach of the Year and coached 62 first-team All-Big Ten selections, 59 NFL draft choices, 34 All-Americans and nine NFL first-round picks, as well as a Heisman Trophy winner (Ron Dayne).
"Barry Alvarez took a program that had won six games in the three seasons prior to his arrival and turned them into a perennial powerhouse for more than a decade. There was never a doubt that he was headed to the Hall of Fame," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "He's the ultimate competitor, recruiter and tactician, and he's been a great mentor to a slew of current head coaches. We look forward to the tremendous honor of traveling to Camp Randall Stadium to hear the crowds cheer his name in appreciation."
When he transitioned into the school's athletic director in 2004, Alvarez handpicked UW coach Bret Bielema to replace him in 2006, and has watched the former Iowa defensive lineman slowly gain his football, turning a disjointed 7-6 team two years ago to an 11-1 squad that won a share of its first conference title since 1999.
Alvarez, who has also been inducted in the state of Wisconsin Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in the past year, is the ninth person with UW ties to enter the Hall: joining coach George Little (inducted in 1955) Dave Schreiner (1955), Pat O'Dea (1962), Bob Butler (1972), Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch (1974), Alan Ameche (1975), Pat Harder (1993) and Pat Richter (1996).
The other players announced as part of the 2010 group are North Carolina State defensive lineman Dennis Byrd, Arkansas linebacker Ronnie Caveness, Texas A&M defensive lineman Ray Childress, UCLA offensive lineman Randy Cross, USC running back Sam Cunningham, Duke wide receiver Clarkston Hines, Navy defensive back Chet Moeller, LSU running back Jerry Stovall and Colorado linebacker Alfred Williams.
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