Barry Alvarez now wears two hats as the Badgers prep for the Rose Bowl. But how soon does he need to find Wisconsin's next head coach?
Bret Bielema walked away from Camp Randall for the land of pig sooie nearly a week ago now. He's probably comfortable singing that unbearable chant by now, but things here in Madison remain unresolved. What exactly has happened in the coaching search process? We have heard names and bantered about possible candidates, but this search is developing much too slowly for my liking.
I recognize that AD (and interim head coach) Barry Alvarez wants to make the absolute right hire. After all, this is really the first actual coaching search that has occurred at Wisconsin in over two decades. Fans find themselves in unchartered waters -- having to sit and wait to see who will be the next coach is an unsettling position to be in and understandably so.
But I just don't like the idea of Alvarez trying to wear two hats -- that of the athletic director and head coach -- at such a critical juncture for not only the current team, but for the future of the program hanging in the balance, as well. There are two sides to this coin.
Alvarez ultimately made the decision to come down and coach the Granddaddy of Them All. If he is going to commit to that, then his sole focus should be on the current team and helping them finally experience victory in Pasadena. Losing a third consecutive Rose Bowl would be painful for the players and fans in Badger Nation. Not to mention, I don't think the Legend himself would find it acceptable.
Now consider the years ahead. This hire is... well to sum it up quickly, it's huge. There is no denying that. Wisconsin football has never been better and everybody around Madison knows that has to continue. This year's team has 31 juniors that will return to this squad after the game against Stanford, and they realize the potential of next year's team. The current class of signed recruits (who make up a Top 30 class) has to be on edge about who the next coach will be. Throw in the fact that this is peak recruiting season and it would be prudent for Wisconsin to hire quickly. That way, recruiting questions would be taken care of by the new coach and Alvarez's responsibilities would shift exclusively to Rose Bowl preparation.
I also have some concern why more coaches aren't jumping at the opportunity to throw their hats in the ring as a possible candidate for the Wisconsin job. The previous head coach already left the third best gig in the Big Ten for a middle-of-the-road SEC school, which was a solid blow. It worries me further that names have come up, yet those possibilities have seemingly voiced a lack of interest. This team is headed to Pasadena for a third consecutive year -- doesn't that merit a substantial amount of interest? Certainly more than has been shown thus far.
The events of the past week have left many fans feeling restless and anxious about the Rose Bowl and beyond. Of course, fans and the players themselves are excited about Alvarez coaching and the epic storyline that has been created. But this man holds the reigns for the present and future. Is there is a guy more capable of handling such responsibility? No, probably not. I'm still uneasy about things nonetheless.