Wisconsin's Director of Athletics and interim head coach met with the media on Sunday afternoon. His message regarding this protracted coaching search? Don't panic.
Barry Alvarez didn't reveal much new information in his meeting with the media on Sunday afternoon. Wisconsin's Director of Athletics and interim head coach did, however, develop one central theme -- don't panic.
"I'll hire a good coach, and this program will continue being very good," Alvarez said. "So for those that are panicking, don't panic. We'll take care of business here and this program will be in good hands."
Since former head coach Bret Bielema abruptly left for Arkansas on Dec. 4, Wisconsin fans have endured a coaching search that has seen the number of candidates dwindle while current assistant coaches take jobs elsewhere. Bielema has already taken three assistants with him to Arkansas and two others have left for other jobs, forcing the Badgers to replace five in total one year after six assistants left following the 2012 Rose Bowl.
Alvarez referenced feeling "good about the due dilligence" he's taken in speaking with various candidates.
"I have one more to visit with and then we'll sit down and decide on the best person," Alvarez said. "I feel good about the candidates we've interviewed."
Alvarez indicated that while he understands the coaches needing to find stable employment for the sake of their families, he would've liked opposing head coaches to not give his assistants strict deadlines on accepting jobs.
"They couldn't delay their decision because the other coaches were putting pressure on them and giving them 24 hours to make a decision," Alvarez said. "I'd like for them to stay, but they had to protect their families. A coach says, 'You've got 24 hours to make this decision or the job isn't there,' they have to do something. I couldn't promise them that the next coach would retain them."
The Badgers are waiting to see the consequences the deluge of coaches leaving on their recruiting class, though Alvarez cited the current recruiting "dead period," as well as a successful weekend of hosting recruits in the weekend after Bielema left.
But losing so many assistants so quickly clearly took its toll on Alvarez, who said he was "so emotionally zapped" that he considered coaching in 2013 to keep the current staff together.
"I was thinking of doing it myself just to keep them," Alvarez said. "But if I did it for a year, we'd be in the same situation next year. It was unfortunate. I hated to do it. I couldn't have sped the process up.
"I have to get to the people that I want to talk to. I just have to do it right. I feel bad for losing some very, very good coaches. They've been very professional throughout this. Their main concern is the kids and getting them ready for the game. They've given us everything as far as preparation, game planning and practice."
Tom Lea of ESPN Wisconsin has posted a full transcript of Alvarez' media session, as well.