BN: Coach Alvarez said that his most clear, positive memory from that season was actually after the game against Michigan State, being in Tokyo, just because of how different that was as far as celebration goes. What did that feel like? One, having to go Tokyo to clinch the Rose Bowl, and two, that feeling of actually being there and it being real—actually earning a trip to the Rose Bowl.
McCarney: It was amazing. I get goose bumps just sitting here talking about it, I really do. I mean it was just so meaningful. When you do something that hadn't been done since the early ‘60s and you take a program from 1-10 to 10-1, it just doesn't get any better than that. But it was strange. We walk in and they passed out 30,000 red-and-white pom-poms and they passed out 30,000 green-and-white pom-poms. Half for Michigan State, half for Wisconsin. Most of the people there were Japanese, and great hosts and hostesses, but they didn't really understand the game. The band played the whole game—it didn't matter of the quarterback was trying to audibilize or it was a timeout or it was between quarters—it just played the whole game. The fans are going crazy up there even though I'm not sure a lot of the time whether they knew what was a good play or what was a bad play. To celebrate, we really had ourselves and a handful of fans that made the trip. For the most part it was just each other here clinching the Big Ten championship and clinching the Roses, capturing the Roses over in Tokyo. At that time it didn't matter whether we had just each other or thousands of fans. It was an unbelievable, euphoric feeling. I do remember that very well and the time that we spent and we relived how far we had come that night as we went out to get something to eat and celebrate a little bit. I'll never, ever forget, as we traveled back. When we landed in Chicago to bus from Chicago back to Madison, that is really the first time that I really realized the impact of what we accomplished because there were all kinds of Badger fans all over the airport when we had landed. Then when we got on the buses, Jim Bakken, who was an associate athletic director, was waiting and he had copies of the Wisconsin State Journal for all of us that he was passing out on the buses. And here were these pictures of downtown Madison, on State Street and all over, just a sea of fans and people hanging in the trees and climbing everywhere and it really sunk in what we had accomplished in Tokyo. It was an amazing feeling.
BN: How does that feel looking back, ten years later, at everything that has happened to Wisconsin's football program since then, how much of a turnaround that proved to be?
McCarney: It was obviously something that I will never forget, I will always cherish. No doubt it helped catapult Barry's program into the national scene and it has been there forever. It has been there since and it will always be there as long as he is the head coach at Wisconsin. They are a factor in Big Ten race every season, but you have got to be the first. Somebody has got to do it first. When you go to the Rose Bowl like we did and win it and do something that has never been done in the history of the University, it just doesn't get any more meaningful than that. I will never forget it, I will always cherish it. I loved the time that I had there with him. Boy was it fun when I came back. We were in spring ball when Barry had the reunion, that spring game weekend. I flew in just for the reception that Friday night and the tremendous turnout of those kids. Two things I came away with. One, how great all of them looked, 10 years later, because I have been to a lot of 10-year reunions where there wasn't so many guys that still looked physically in that great of shape. You know, the biggest of big guys, not just the skill guys and receivers and running backs and DBs always seem to be in shape but physically everybody just looked fantastic. And then just how much character was on that team. The class and the character of that team was just amazing. It just really refreshed your memory getting back and being around those guys. It was the lunch pail bunch—nothing fancy, just roll your sleeves up and go to work and they were the epitome of that. It was one of the most enjoyable years of my whole life as a player or coach.