ORLANDO -Coaches Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin and Mark Richt of Georgia have been named head coaches for The Villages Gridiron Classic College All-Star Game, director Matthew Sign announced today. Alvarez will be the North team head coach and Richt will lead the South squad. The Villages Gridiron Classic will be played at The Villages Polo Stadium, in The Villages, Fla., on Saturday, January 31, 2004. Kickoff is slated for 12 noon (EST) for the ESPN televised contest.
"We are extremely excited to have such successful and highly-regarded coaches as Coach Alvarez and Coach Richt," Sign said. "Their presence will enhance both the quality of the players and the game."
Alvarez, the winningest coach in the University of Wisconsin's history, is in his 14th season at the helm of the Badger program. One of only two active coaches to have won more than one Bowl Championship Series game (Bob Stoops), Alvarez has compiled a 7-1 record in postseason games. With an overall mark of 98-62-4, Alvarez is currently two wins away from being just the tenth coach in the history of the storied Big Ten Conference to total 100 career victories.
Richt, in his third year at the University of Georgia, has compiled a remarkable 26-6 record in his first two and a half seasons in Athens. After an 11-year stint at Florida State University, Richt took over at Georgia before the 2001 season. Since the beginning of that season, Richt's Bulldogs have won more Southeastern Conference games than any other school. Last year, Richt led UGA to its first SEC championship in 20 years appearance and a win over Florida State in the Nokia Sugar Bowl.
During its first five years in existence, the college all-star game has been a success in terms of giving charitable contributions as well as offering NFL hopefuls an opportunity to display their skills in front of pro scouts. The primary benefactors of more than $750,000 in charitable contributions achieved by the game have been the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, The Rotary Foundation and the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation.
The Gridiron Classic has seen 109 alumni of its game drafted into the National Football League, while more than 225 players have signed NFL contracts as free agents. The previous format of the game pit college football seniors from the state of Florida against seniors from the rest of the nation, but this year's contest will feature a North vs. South team setup.