Big Ten teleconference: Barry Alvarez

Wisconsin football coach discussed returning to Iowa, Kinnick Stadium and Anthony Davis' legacy

Opening statement

"We'll have to bounce back from a very difficult defeat. Michigan State did an outstanding job against us, played very well against us. Certainly have our work cut out for us this week against an excellent Iowa team. Kirk Ferentz and his staff have their team playing very, very well and have always been a very impressive defensive squad. They are doing some things offensively, I think Drew Tate has really grown as a quarterback and it's been very impressive to watch his development during the year and know that playing at Kinnick Stadium always is a tough environment."

Are there similarities between being an athletic director and a football coach?

"I think the similarities are in both situations you are in a problem-solving mode. As a football coach certainly with the number of players and number of different areas that touch your program, there are issues and things, problem that you have you solve. And there are totally different types of problems but they're still problem solving and personnel issues that you deal with on the director's side. Even though the areas are different I think how you manage your business is relatively the same."

How long do you think you want to continue in this dual role? Do you have a timetable in mind?

"I really don't. I've really enjoyed adding the director's—some people say, ‘Why would you want to do that?' This is something that I've always had in the back of my mind. I played for Bob Devaney at Nebraska. He did this. It's just been something that as a young coach and sitting down and looking and setting goals and what you wanted to do and the direction you wanted to head, I always wanted to move in this direction. Fortunately had this opportunity. It was the right opportunity. I have excellent people with me or wouldn't even have tried it. I've got excellent senior administrators and a wonderful deputy director that works with me. He and I stay in constant contact so I know what's going on. Naturally I can't be at all the meetings. I can't be at every place with both roles but I can still keep my finger on everything. I really don't know. As long as I feel as though I'm doing a good job at both and feel good about it then I'll keep doing it."

As we go into the final week of the season, I was wondering if you could give me your impressions of instant replay and what tweaks if any you would like to see.

"I really think it has gotten better, I think just the communication and just the mechanics of it have improved. I think going in initially there was a lot of question, no one had ever done it before. When do you do it? How will it work? Just how do you manage it. I think we've gotten better. I really would like till this last week is over. I think then all the coaches can get together and the officials and we can throw this around and see how it can be tweaked. All of us probably have an idea or two. I think it's been good. I think in some cases where you've had some plays that have been overturned it can help the game. If it makes a difference in one football game than it certainly is worth it. I think we're on the right track. I think we can make it better. I'm anxious just to sit down and get everyone's thoughts and how we can improve it."

What in particular is the toughest thing about Kinnick Stadium?

"Having coached there and played there as a visitor, it's naturally not the largest stadium yet I think it probably is the stadium that is closest to your bench. You really feel as though you have a very tight fit there and the crowd is close to you. I think it can get very loud and I guess most importantly their fans really get into it."

Does that create problems communications-wise with your players out on the field?

"I think that's always an advantage…a good home-field advantage makes the visitor, the visiting quarterback, have to manage the crowd noise, the communication always is a potential problem, if you want to audible, you want to change signals. Sometimes it can get so loud the lineman can't hear the snap count. Their moving on the movement of the ball, which takes away their advantage. Yeah, certainly you have an advantage with that type of noise and the home-field advantage."

When was it when you first realized what you had in Coach Bielema and what has he brought that has made such a difference to your program?

"I followed Bret's career. I felt that he was a good, young coach and had a very bright future. Everyone that I had talked to and guys that I had worked with who had worked with him said nothing but positive things about him. The thing that really has impressed me is he's really an excellent teacher. He's got tremendous enthusiasm. I think everyone can see that. But he's an excellent teacher. The players have took to him very quickly and he has a good football mind. He's very thorough, hard worker, he's got whole the package. He's done a tremendous job for us."

This will be Bret's first time in this situation. Can you remember back to your first time and what kind of feelings he might experience?

"He and I were just talking about this yesterday and in both cases we were separating for about three years, from Iowa, which makes a little difference. I think probably, I can't exactly remember the first game I played there but we weren't very good so I didn't feel the Iowa people were very threatened. It wasn't very hard and we didn't have much of a chance. I don't know. You get into the game as a coach that changes jobs like that. You are into the game. You're focused on the game. You've got headsets on. You don't hear the crowd, you don't hear anything else. You just coach your guys."

With this final regular season game, what has Anthony Davis meant to your program?

"Anthony is a four-year starter for us. This year he's really taken a leadership role. I think his numbers speak for themselves as far as a player but he's been a tremendous leader and someone that sets an example off the field. I believe this last semester he had a 4.0 grade-point average and just been an unbelievable young man and someone that all our players can look up to and we can use as an example."


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