Big Ten Teleconference: Barry Alvarez

Wisconsin coach addressed the media Tuesday

Opening statement

"We had a good win against Northwestern. Really liked the way some of my young players stepped up in taking over for some injured defensive players. It is good to get out of there with a win and we couldn't have drawn up an open date any better than this week. We needed to hopefully get some guys back and get some guys healthy and give it a little extra time to prepare for Minnesota."

In your dual role as a traditional football coach and now a modern-day athletic director I wanted to get your thoughts on Ohio State and Michigan adding a title sponsor to their game?

"I guess I didn't know anything about that. It's interesting"

They signed up SBC for a couple of years…[Editor's note: the deal will pay Michigan and Ohio State Universities $530,000 over the course of a two-year contract, branding the game the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic this year and the SBC Ohio State-Michigan Classic next year].

"Good for them, without putting a whole lot of thought into it I think everyone is looking for new revenue sources. That's certainly creative. Good for them."

In the last two weeks there have been almost as many stoppages for replay and more calls overturned than there were in the first six weeks combined. I wondered if you thought that might be a sign that replay officials are getting more comfortable with the system and maybe less reluctant to correct their brethren down on the field.

"I think that probably is exactly right. Going into it I think everyone was on pins and needles not knowing exactly how it was going to work. I would guess that the officials—I know our last scrimmage I asked the officials of the mechanics and how it would work. They were just trying to put it together and they weren't quite sure and some had different views than others. We had the first two reviews back-to-back. I think it's gone much more smoothly since then and I think just understanding the mechanics, what you're looking for, when you would stop the game. Just the discussion, the experience of it, has got to help."

In light of the Ron Zook midseason firing, has the Internet and the 24-hour cable and all of that decreased the tolerance for losing and does this cut down on the number of seasons or games you might have to implement your own program.

"I don't think there is any question. So many people have a voice now. You have to please so many people. Anyone can be very critical. That really has changed our game. I think it has put a tremendous amount of pressure on coaches and players. It has affected our recruiting and everything else. Absolutely it has affected us."

Are you happy that when you first started at Wisconsin there wasn't this scrutiny?

"I am."

Do you think that would have changed anything about the way you went about things?

"It wouldn't have because I wouldn't have known how to go about things any other way."

A lot of undefeated teams still left in college football. With it a lot of speculation, controversy as to how the whole thing will shake out. Do you see knot of teams surviving as undefeated or do you think it will work itself out?

"There is a lot of football to be played yet. A lot of things are going to happen. It's way too early. I haven't put a lot of thought into it and tried to figure out and look at schedules because historically all those things seem to work out. There is just a lot to be played."

How difficult is it to go undefeated now-a-days?

"I think it's very difficult with parity and the number of scholarships. People don't have the depth that they once had. Losing a couple key people can really affect a football team. You are all going to have games, everyone's going to have games where you are not emotional or you are not sharp. All those things. Then you tack on injuries. The quality of your football team can really change."

Do you think it is easier for you to get walk-ons at Wisconsin because of the tradition and the pedigree of playing at Wisconsin?

"Well the one thing that has helped us with walk-ons here: we're the only Division I school in the state. That's who we target. We try to target our in-state players. We try to identify them. The ones that may be close to being offered a scholarship by us. We encourage them to walk-on and I think our history shows that we've been very fair with our walk-ons. That they have had a tremendous amount of success here. Every championship team that we've had, we've had a handful of starters that were walk-ons and two of the captains that were initially walk-ons. I think they see all those things and there are certain kids that want the opportunity, like a Jimmy Leonhard, to taste Division I and then have the opportunity to play against the best in big stadiums and a great conference. That's who we try to target."

What do you expect out of your walk-ons?

"It is hard to put a finger on each one and say this guy is going to make it, this guy can be successful in two years, this guy in three years, this guy can help us immediately. If you knew that, if you knew that they could help you you'd scholarship them to start with. You try to get someone who has a legitimate chance, like a Jimmy Leonhard. Jimmy, his size was his issue. He could run, he was a playmaker. He played a different position than we would have recruited him as. But we knew he was athletic enough and then what those guys bring to the table. The good ones, the ones that stick with the program and make it are the ones that are just persistent. They just do everything you ask them to do. When they get their opportunity they cash in on it."

Barry there has been talk on this call off and on all season about instant replay. When you sit down to talk about it at the end of the season with the coaches and administrators, if there is anything you would tweak, what would it be?

"I want to play out the season. I want to go through the season and go through. I have a few issues that I have, a few things that may help. I think it is a little premature to talk about those right now. I think we are making corrections as we go and I think we are on the right track and I know we could make it better but I'll reserve that until this season's over."

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