Player reaction: John Stocco

Comments from the Badgers' starting quarterback regarding Barry Alvarez's retirement announcement

Barry Alvarez announced Thursday that he will step down as UW football coach following the 2005 season, but that he will retain his role as athletics director.

Quarterback John Stocco said that UW will use Alvarez's forthcoming retirement from coaching as incentive this season:

"A lot of guys feel like we want to send him out on a good note and I think that's really going to push us to get better and push us to have a really strong season."

Alvarez also announced Thursday that defensive coordinator Bret Bielema will take over for him as head football coach in 2006.

"Bret's not only a great coach but he's a great guy to be around," Stocco said. "Personally, just getting to know him last year, he's a great guy, very motivational and I know I like him and a lot of the guys like him as well."

Would the decision have been a distraction if he had waited until the season began to announce it?

"Like Coach Alvarez said, that's the reason why he wanted to get it out and I agree with that. It's just good to have it done with before we get into camp so we can just focus on football."

How will it affect Stocco to have a former defensive coordinator as head coach, with a hand in the offense?

"As far as affecting me this year, I think the only thing it will affect is it will give us more motivation to send Coach Alvarez out on a good note and have a strong season. As far as down the road, I can't think about that. I really don't know what's going to happen but I'm just glad they decided to do it now."

Was the announcement a surprise?

"I was very surprised, actually, because he called, we had a meeting this morning and we all thought it was going to be about getting ready for camp, something like that, then he announced that he was going to do this at the press conference and I was very surprised. Like I said, as far as last year, I know he had a lot of other responsibilities but nothing changed football-wise and we didn't do anything different."

Was Alvarez emotional when he spoke to the team?

"Yeah, he was emotional. It's got to be hard for him, it's got to be a tough choice. He's been doing this for so long but you've got to respect his decision."

How would you describe Bret? How do you think he's going to step into the kind of footsteps Alvarez has left? Do you think he'll be intimidated?

"I don't think he'll be intimidated. Like I said, he's been a great guy to be around, he's a great coach, he knows how to handle us as players, he knows the right things to say, he's a great motivator…

"He's got a lot of fire, he's got a lot of fire, so that's good. But he's good with us players too."

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