Barry Alvarez says he hit a 'home run'
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ORLANDO, Fla. During the final days of the University of Wisconsin football season, a familiar scene has played out repeatedly involving athletic director Barry Alvarez.
One by one, members of UW's large senior class have gone to Alvarez to thank him for hiring Gary Andersen as the football coach.
And then the kicker, which helps reinforce for Alvarez how he made the right move 12 months ago to bring in Andersen, who had spent the previous four years as the coach at Utah State.
"I can't tell you how many of the seniors have come up to me, to thank me, then to say they wish they could play for him another year," Alvarez said.
"When the kids have that attitude and you see the product on the field, yeah, I feel like we hit a home run."
Andersen might have been a little premature in suggesting this was a great team prior to losing the final regular season game against Penn State. For this to be considered a truly successful season, the Badgers (9 Peyton Manning Jersey 3) probably need to beat South Carolina (10 2) on Wednesday in the Capital One Bowl.
But 12 months after former UW coach Bret Bielema shocked everyone in the program by bolting for Arkansas, it's fair to say Andersen has been a great fit.
"I don't know if I've ever seen anybody work harder to get to know the players, and vice versa, than he and his staff have done," Alvarez said.
Andersen came in with a reputation as a player's coach, but that's a title that is earned, not given. Asked what has impressed him the most about Andersen's first year, Alvarez said, "I just think how everyone has embraced him. What you see is what you get. It's very straightforward.
"Being a player's coach, there's no lip service. It's legitimate. He truly listens to the kids and lets them have input. Yet, he still holds them accountable."
That was evident recently when Andersen removed freshman cornerback Jakarrie Washington from the team for multiple team violations.
"I think some people think being a player's coach means you're soft," Alvarez said. "That's not the case. He holds kids accountable.
"If some of the kids haven't lived up to his standards, they're not around long. He's not going to allow somebody to be deceitful with him. He's not going to allow anybody that's going to embarrass the Womens Peyton Manning Jersey program, and he's going to act on it."
Andersen might not have been Alvarez's first choice, though that's not a path the athletic director cared to venture down.
"I'm not going to get into that," Alvarez said. "I had a short list. I probably talked to six people. It doesn't make any difference what choice it was. He was on my short list to start with."
Among the coaches that sources said Alvarez likely contacted were Miami (Fla.) coach Al Golden, Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, Oregon State coach Mike Riley, Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson (now at Wake Forest) and DeMarcus Ware Jersey former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, a Wes Welker Jersey former UW defensive back who played under Alvarez and is now the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.
"You go through and some people, because of their situation, aren't interested," Alvarez said. "They don't want to leave their Womens Wes Welker Jersey situation. (Andersen) is the only one I offered the job to."
However it came about, it seems apparent now Andersen was the best choice.
"I have no qualms," Alvarez said. "If I had it all to do over again, I'd go right back and hire him."
Not only has Andersen quickly fit in with the players, he has developed a strong relationship with Alvarez.