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Could the best replacement for Bret Bielema already be employed by the University of Wisconsin? Andy Baggot says it's a possibility.
UPDATE, Sat. 11:45 p.m: Well, let's throw this out there:
Talked to a source today who thinks Barry Alvarez may be seriously tempted to stay on as Badgers HC after Rose Bowl.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 16, 2012
Man, it's been a crazy week-and-a-half since Bret Bielema announced he was leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas Dec. 4th. It's only been 10 days, but it feels like it's been 10 months.
Rumor after rumor has popped up, whether it be Chris Peterson, Al Golden, Mike Riley, or any of the other 20 plus names that have been associated with the open Wisconsin position. And to this point all the names mentioned have been just that, rumors.
A number of coaches have said publicly that they're happy where they're at and are not interested in the Wisconsin job. A lot of Badger fans are becoming concerned that they're not going to find an elite candidate for the job.
What if the guy for the job already works for the university?
Yes, I'm talking about Barry Alvarez. It's been kicked around before, but no credible media source has seriously given much credence to the thought of Barry staying on for longer than the Rose Bowl.
Well, that's until the Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot was on the Mike Heller show on The Big 1070 on Thursday and gave serious backing to the thought that this is a serious possibility.
Here's a link to the audio. Baggot joins the show around the 23:30 mark. A transcript of Baggot's thoughts are below.
Andy Baggot: "It's my belief that if Barry doesn't get the guy that he has number one on his list, that Barry will be the next coach."
Mike Heller: "Go ahead and say that again?"
Baggot: "I said that, I believe Barry has someone in mind for this job, and if that does not work out, that Barry will coach the Badgers next year."
From there, Baggot continues on why it's a possibility that Barry may stay on for another season as head football coach at Wisconsin.
Baggot: "I believe that Barry is on the short list--his own short list. I believe that's an option for him. I saw the energy that he had talking about this. I've seen the energy of the players that he's had that have had two practices underneath him. I've seen the look in his eye when he's looking perhaps at the roster and sees all the veterans coming back next year and what a good team that could be. And if it came down to making sure some of these assistant coaches stayed here, and he liked the makeup of what he had here, I could see him coaching. I know it would take a lot of energy from a guy who's going to be 66 later this month, but if there's anyone that can do it, it's Barry."
Baggot: "There aren't many athletic directors out there with Hall of Famer's on their short list. Is this going to happen? I don't know. I just know that it's an option for Barry if he doesn't get who he wants. I could see someone out there that might be young, might have the makings of a good coach, that Barry staying for a year might be the bridge to that person's tenure. I think of Joe Rudolph as a possibility in that regard. To me it is not be as farfetched as maybe some people might think that Barry could be the coach of the Badgers next year. I go back to the athletic board meeting of a week ago when I said, ‘Can you envision any scenario where you could be on the sidelines next year?' He didn't say no. He didn't say, get out of here. He didn't say, you're an idiot, although I'm sure he probably thought that. He just said, ‘I'm not going to go there.' And I know what he said at the press conference, he said he's one and done. Since then, people have bought tickets to go Pasadena to see him coach. They've sold tickets because of him and his return. I think it speaks to his ability to coach, I think it speaks to his ego, I think he's intrigued by this, and I believe that him coaching next year is a possibility."
My first thoughts were that it makes a lot of sense if you can't find the right candidate for the job. The last thing that Barry wants to do is hire someone just to hire someone. If you bring someone in to coach the team, that's at least a three-to-four year commitment at minimum. If you don't like any of the available candidates, why not coach yourself for one season as a bridge until you find your next coach?
Obviously Barry has a great pedigree as a Hall of Fame coach, and you could see in his press conference after he announced he was going to coach the Rose Bowl how excited he was. The guy loves the Wisconsin and I have no doubt he'd put the team in a great position next season to make its fourth straight trip to the Rose Bowl.
Why it won't happen
It would make recruiting a nightmare. It would be a challenge of epic proportions to go on the road to recruit for the 2014 class and look kids in the eye and tell them they should come to Wisconsin, but we don't know who that coach is going to be yet when they eventually make it to campus.
Same thing with the current commits for the 2013 class. Why are they going to sign letters of intent not knowing who their head coach is going to be after their freshman year?
The only way it could work is if Barry announced a coach in waiting for the following season. Baggot brought up a name like Joe Rudolph. If Barry brings him in next season and mentors him for a season like he did with Bielema, while making it publicly known that he's going to take over the program for the 2014 season, then it could work. If he goes into this any other way, they're going to have huge issues recruiting players.
Anyway, what do you think? Is Barry a realistic possibility to coach next season if he can't find a suitable replacement for Bret?
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You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)