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Badger Bits: Mel Tucker or Door No. 2

Barry Alvarez indicated that the mass exodus of assistant coaches caught him off guard. He isn't panicking just yet, however, and neither should you.

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Scott Cunningham

It may be meaningless to many reading this, but I was a coxswain on the rowing team at UW. Our coaches always talked about adhering to "Plan A". At the national championships, boats had to navigate a successive series of heats and semifinals to determine their spot in the third-level, petite or grand finals. The idea was to simplify a complicated system. Just win, and you don't have to worry about heat times, lane placements and repechages. Beat the five other boats lined up next to you, and eventually you will get your shot at a gold medal in the grand finals. Take 2nd place or below and you could find yourself in Plan B. That's when you had to think.

There's nothing wrong with Plan B, on the surface. An indelicate seeding system often put boats in unfair heats, and plenty of teams bounced back from bad early races to medal on the final day of competition. To do so they had to stare down the specter of outright failure, however. Athletes can wait over 24 hours between races, and in that time the mind can get lost contemplating a future where one missed opportunity foretold a lifetime of underachievement. Your mind goes to awful places when you're a bored, nervy ball of tapered energy.

Wisconsin football is in Plan B. That's what I took from Barry Alvarez' press conference yesterday, where he indicated that he was "emotionally zapped" from the exodus of assistant coaches leaving for a familiar face and a guaranteed paycheck. Forced to endure the loss of all but four assistant coaches so far -- only Thomas Hammock, Eddie Faulkner, Bart Miller and Ben Strickland remain -- fans have become understandably restless, spending their days shivering at the thought of Brad Childress in a cardinal windbreaker.

The process is frustrating. That feeling is compounded by time, and I shudder to think what this place is going to look like when Dec. 19 rolls around. Just, if you can, please try to remind yourself that Plan B is as much a glimmer hope as it is a peek into your mortal self.

Mel Tucker is still on the ticket. So is whatever is behind Door No. 2. Behind them is an experienced coaching staff, and a world of unrealized potential, good or bad. Let's not lose our cookies just yet. Fortunately, Alvarez remains as cool as they come. On Sunday, he said everything he had to say, and said it as well as anyone could.

"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."

Just stick to the plan, even as it changes.


Brandon Kelly has been granted a sixth year of eligibility, bolstering an already deep returning defensive line for next season.

Joel Stave is still aiming to be healthy by the Rose Bowl, but has yet to be cleared for contact.

Jeff Potrykus tells Alvarez to call Paul Chryst, in a bit of unsolicited advice.

Barry Alvarez has been sympathetic to the dilemma Wisconsin's assistants face as they decide whether they or not to stay with the program.

Solid read on Montee Ball's love-hate relationship with Thomas Hammock.

Dave Huxtable will be joining Dave Doeren at NC State next season.

Ted Glover gives a God-honest defense of Jim Delany ...

... and gets upstaged by the only defense ever of "The Christmas Shoes", via Progressive Boink.