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December 6, 2012
MADISON, Wis. - Barry's coming back.
After seven years of retirement, Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach Barry Alvarez is stepping in to coach the Badgers against Stanford in the Rose Bowl following Bret Bielema's departure for Arkansas.
In a press conference Thursday, Alvarez said Wisconsin's captains and team leaders reached out to him to see if he wanted to coach the team one last time. Alvarez said quarterback Curt Phillips and linebacker Mike Taylor both got in touch with him late Tuesday to gauge his interest.
"Mike said he and the captains and the leaders of the team have discussed the fact that they would like me to coach them in the Rose Bowl," Alvarez said. "I told him I would be honored to coach them, and I wanted them to understand that if I was going to coach we weren't going to screw around. We were going to go out there and win."
Alvarez said that while he's stepping in to help the team in what would be his fourth Rose Bowl game, he's not looking to become the next permanent head coach and is still working hard to find Bielema's permanent successor. Alvarez said that other schools contact him every year to see if he's interested in returning to the sideline, but he enjoys working as Wisconsin's athletic director.
"When I stepped aside I had no second regrets," Alvarez said. "I really enjoy the job that I have. I like the people I work with; I have an outstanding staff and a great group of coaches."
Alvarez said stepping in as an interim head coach for the Rose Bowl game didn't cross his mind as an option until the players asked him earlier this week. He said promoting a current assistant had the potential to distract them from their normal game duties, and his decision will allow them to remain focused on creating a game plan and making sure Wisconsin's incoming recruiting class stays together.
"I don't want this to be about me, I want it to be about the players," Alvarez said. "I want to give them as good an opportunity to win the Rose Bowl as we possibly can. I thought it would be best to allow the assistant coaches to do their job."
Alvarez said he has already started the process of hiring Bielema's replacement, and he expects in-person interviews to start next week. But for now he's focused on making sure the third time is the charm for the Badgers, who will defend Alvarez's perfect record in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 against Stanford.
"There's no venue prettier in all of sports than the Rose Bowl," Alvarez said. "I feel it's a special place. I love the atmosphere. I love the week leading up to it. There isn't anything I enjoy more. I will enjoy every second of it."
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.