Alvarez to step down as UW football coach

Badgers' winningest coach will finish 16th season, retain athletic director's position; Bielema to take over as head coach in 2006

Barry Alvarez, the winningest football coach in University of Wisconsin history and one of the winningest in Big Ten history, announced Thursday that he is stepping down as the Badgers' football coach, effective at the end of the 2005 season, but will retain his position as athletics director. Alvarez took over the athletics director position from Pat Richert on April 1, 2004.

Alvarez also announced Thursday that defensive coordinator Bret Bielema will take over as the head coach in January 2006. Bielema is entering his second year at the UW. This season, Alvarez said, the only change in the coaching staff will be that Bielema will be the recruiting coordinator.

One of 18 coaches hired by Division I programs in 1990, Alvarez is the only one who is still with the school that hired him. In 15 seasons at UW, Alvarez is 108-70-4. Only nine coaches have won more games at a single Big Ten institution.

Alvarez inherited a program that was 46-67 in the 1980s and 9-36 in the four seasons preceding his arrival. But after a 1-10 inaugural campaign and a pair of 5-6 seasons, Alvarez led the Badgers to their first Rose Bowl berth in 31 years and UW's first ever Rose Bowl win.

Since 1993, Alvarez is 97-48-4, with 10 trips to bowl games (UW is 7-3 in those games) and only two losing seasons. The Badgers won back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1999 and 2000, making Alvarez the first and only Big Ten coach to ever win consecutive Rose Bowls. Prior to Alvarez's arrival at UW, the Badgers had played in six bowl games, winning one.

Alvarez's Rose Bowl and Big Ten Championship teams are the three winningest teams in school history: 11-1-0 in 1998; 10-1-1 in 1993; 10-2-0 in 1999. The Badgers were ranked in the top six in the nation at the end of each of those seasons.

UW has won nine games five other times in history, twice during the Alvarez era: the 9-3 mark last year and a 9-4 season in 2000. (The Badgers went 9-1, 9-1, 9-2 in three consecutive seasons from 1897-99).

Alvarez has coached 29 All-Americans, including seven consensus first-team selections. UW has 54 NFL Draft picks since Alvarez took over, including nine first-round choices.

His pupils have included the NCAA's all-time leading rusher and Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, Jim Thorpe award winner Jammar Fletcher, Ray Guy award winner Kevin Stemke and last season's Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Erasmus James.

Before Alvarez arrived on campus, it was not just the football program that was in disarray. The entire athletics department was striving for new life. Under the direction of Richter and others, and with Alvarez's football program providing a financial engine, the UW athletics department has enjoyed an unprecedented period of growth and success. This is exemplified in new facilities such as the Kohl Center and Goodman Diamond and the newly remodeled Camp Randall Stadium, where every seat has been sold before the season began for the second consecutive season.

See also - Alvarez dons a second cap (April 1, 2004)

Barry Alvarez biography on UWBadgers.com


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