How not to make an argument against Barry Alvarez

A lot has been made this week about Barry Alvarez's comments after Wisconsin's 31-18 win over Ohio State Saturday.

If you missed the very innocent, but somewhat confusing words from UW's Athletic Director, here they are:

"We play football here; we don't play basketball here.  Basketball is basketball; football is football. We play football. And I love it."

From just reading the comments you might think he is actually talking about basketball, but if you were there when he said it, you would know he was actually making a comment about Wisconsin's style of football, compared to the flashy, spread-it-out style that some have called "basketball on a football field."

Granted, the comments were kind of confusing, but it was nowhere near as confusing as this pointless, misinformed rant by somebody using the alias "younglefty" on a web site called Sparty and Friends.

The story -- if that is what you want to call it -- has the headline "Barry Alvarez is Out of Touch", but considering this is just another random story written by an annoymous writer who can't even use his real name -- the only info in younglefty's bio is that he is a "lifelong Braves fan that had the good fortune to be born into a Georgia Tech family" -- I think it is safe to say that the author is the one who is out of touch with Alvarez, Bret Bielema and anyone or anything else related to the Wisconsin football program.

After referencing the above quote, the author starts with this:

"Ignoring the obvious slight Alvarez laid upon head basketball coach Bo Ryan, let's examine this statement a little more in depth."

Considering the statement had nothing to do with Bo Ryan or the UW basketball program, calling Alvarez's quote an "obvious slight" towards Ryan is just clumsy and completely false.

He/she then goes on to write:

Apparently Barry Alvarez thinks that there is one way, and only one way, to play football (straightforward, I formation power football).

I'm really not sure how the author could assume all this from a quote in which Alvarez simply said, "We play football. And I love it."

At no point did he say there was "only one way" of playing football and I'm pretty sure a former head coach who is about to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame knows that there are actually plenty of ways to play football. In fact, Wisconsin currently does a lot more than just "straightforward, I-formation power football". I'd say Wisconsin uses the I-formation on less than half of their offensive plays and they often mix in shotgun formations on third down.

Basically what the author did here is the exact definition of putting words into someone's mouth.

Now I could continue to break down every single sentence written by this author that tries to prove a meaningless point with widespread assumptions that do nothing but show "younglefty" knows nothing about the Wisconsin football program, but let's just take a broader look at how he tries to prove that Wisconsin is falling behind other programs that use more exciting offenses, despite that fact that UW is headed to its 16th bowl game in the last 18 years.

It appears the author is trying to show that Alvarez's way of playing football is inferior to the more exciting offenses that have been successful over the last 18 years. He/she correctly mentions that Alvarez had five seasons under .500 when he was head coach, but fails to mention that three of those seasons were in his first three years at Wisconsin while he was in the midst of successfully turning around a program that had only been to six bowl games EVER before he got to Madison.

But recognizing how bad of an argument that would be, maybe that's why the author took the unthinkable approach of trying to prove his/her argument by looking at Alvarez's three Rose Bowl seasons when Wisconsin had a combined record of 31-4-1. (Tip: If you are trying to show a head coach's philosophy doesn't work you might want to use the bad seasons as evidence.)

He/she points to the teams that won the National Championship in those three Rose Bowl years -- Florida State in 1993-94, Tennessee in 1998-99 and Florida State again in 1999-2000 -- but the problem is, the author admits that the 1998-99 title game between the Seminoles and Volunteers involved two teams that ran "traditional Power I offenses."

So far it seems like the author is doing a pretty good job of proving that Alvarez's style of football has been pretty successful.

I have a feeling that what he/she was trying to prove is that since the 1990s, football has evolved and Wisconsin has fallen behind. That's fine, but I'm not sure how breaking down three successful Rose Bowl seasons and diving into how many points the Badgers scored in those years has anything to do with the last decade of football.

If the author wanted to break down the last decade in which Wisconsin has not been to the Rose Bowl, then maybe that would have been a better argument. Unfortunately, I think he/she realized that Alvarez was only the head coach for just over half of the past decade and that argument wouldn't fly either.

And just one more thing. The author did what most Alvarez-bashers do when they are desperate: bring up the fact that he never won a National Championship. Barry Alvarez's record speaks for itself. He remains the only head coach to ever win three Rose Bowls and comparing those Rose Bowl teams to Florida State and Tennessee is pointless because when you do so, you ignore the fact that those National Championship teams were filled with five-star and four-star recruits and Alvarez's teams were filled with three-star and two-star recruits.

For whatever reason, Alvarez is not well liked by college football fans across the country, but these misinformed rants by anonymous writers on the internet are getting old. He was a great coach and there's really no way to prove otherwise. His style of football was and continues to be successful, as proven by Wisconsin's win over Ohio State last Saturday.

So if people want to take a completely innocent post-game quote out of context from an Athletic Director who just saw his successor win his biggest game since he took over the program, then that's fine. But claiming Alvarez thinks Wisconsin's way of playing football is the "only way" or the "perfect way" -- which is what the author wrote -- is just wrong and idiotic.

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