Barry Alvarez: Search committees come to me

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday December 06, 2012

Posted by: Chris Vannini on December 6, 2012

Barry Alvarez has made his return.

As for whether or not it will be a triumphant one is yet to be seen, but the former Wisconsin head coach and current athletic director will return to the sidelines to coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl against Stanford.

Alvarez is returning because Bret Bielema blindsided him by accepting the Arkansas job on Tuesday.

While trying to decide on an interim coach, he received some messages from current players about coaching the Rose Bowl, including a call from senior linebacker Mike Taylor.

"I told I would be honored to coach them and I wanted them to understand that if I was going to coach, we weren't going to screw around," Alvarez said. "We were going to go out there to win. At that point, I called my wife, and she was thrilled to get me out of the house."

Alvarez's return is a one-game deal, so this isn't going to be a Bill Snyder situation.

Alvarez said he wasn't contacted by Arkansas at all about speaking to Bielema, and Bielema didn't tell Alvarez he was interested in the job until he had already accepted it.

But moving forward, Alvarez says his short list of potential candidates are current head coaches. He didn't rule out assistants, but Alvarez made it clear he want a proven head coach.

Will that include Paul Chryst, Wisconsin's former offensive coordinator who just finished his first season at Pitt? No. Alvarez said he pulled a lot of strings to help Chryst get the Pitt job, and it wouldn't be appropriate to go back on that.

Will there be a search firm?

"I won't use a search committee. Most search committees use me," Alvarez said. "I get calls from coaches that call about athletic directors, I get calls from athletic directors about coaches. I get search firms that call me. I won't pay a search firm. I think that's what they pay me for."

One point Bielema had fought over at Wisconsin was salaries for his assistant coaches. It was something he mentioned at his introductory presser at Arkansas. Alvarez defended Wisconsin's compensation for assistants.

"I think our pay scale for assistant coaches is more than competitive and fair," Alvarez said. "As the athletic director, I have to make decisions. I know what people are making, and every time someone has a hint that they may take another job, it's not prudent to jump and throw a pile of money at them. We all see what the salaries are. I know what the salaries are, I get charged with them. We're more than competitive, and not only that, we have a great place."

Alvarez coached Wisconsin from 1990-2005. He went 1-10 in his first season, and 10-1-1 in 1993 with a Rose Bowl win. He won all three of his Rose Bowl appearances, and this will be No. 4, although under different circumstances. Asked if he's taking over a program better than he left it after 2005, Alvarez was careful with his words.

"It's not worse. It's at least as good," he said. "I don't want to compare them. I like our program. We have a lot of young kids in the program. I thought it was very good when I handed it over. I handed over a 10-win team that won 12 (the next year), so it wasn't in bad shape when I turned it over to Bret. But it's in very good shape."



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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