Before Wisconsin hired Barry Alvarez as their head coach, the Badgers had been to the Rose Bowl 3 times. They went in 1952 under coach Ivan Williamson who had a moderate amount of success. They went again in 1959 and 1962 with Milton Bruhn calling the shots.
But, they were mostly an insignificant program. A man would come that would change the Wisconsin Badgers forever.
After a playing career at Nebraska under Bob Devaney, Alvarez became a high school coach in Nebraska. Being Barry Alvarez, he was a high school assistant coach for only 3 seasons before
getting a head coaching job in Lexington, Nebraska.
He was only in Lexington for 2 years before he got another job as a head coach in Mason, Iowa.
In Mason, Alvarez impressed enough to gain notice. There are always people watching, right?
Alvarez got his big break in 1979 when the Iowa Hawkeyes hired Hayden Fry. Alvarez was hired as Fry’s Linebacker coach.
He coached Linebackers at Iowa for 8 seasons, before he was hired by Lou Holtz before the 1987 season for the same job at Notre Dame.
After the 1987 season at Notre Dame, Barry Alvarez was promoted to Defensive Coordinator and it was just in time for the national championship season in South Bend. Alvarez had 2 successful seasons at Defensive Coordinator when Wisconsin took notice.
The Badgers were miserably suffering 5 losing seasons in a row when Alvarez was hired and he promptly led them to a 1-10 record in 1990.
The Badgers powers that be must have been shaking their heads after two 5-6 seasons in a row.
But, that all changed in a hurry in 1993 when the Badgers finished in impressive fashion with a 10-1-1 record and a win in the Rose Bowl.
It wasn’t a dynasty at Wisconsin after that, but over the next 12 seasons, the Badgers made 10 bowl games including 2 more Rose Bowls.
Alvarez retired after the 2005 seasons with 16 seasons as the big boss for Wisconsin. It was his only head coaching job and he posted a 118- 73 -4 record.
Not only did Alvarez put the Badgers on the map, but he also opened the door for other coaches to
come in and have success. Wisconsin was known for stout defense, big Offensive Linemen and great Running Backs. This paved the way for future recruiting success and especially Running Backs and Offensive Linemen.
Bret Bielema replaced Barry Alvarez after the 2005 season and he led the Badgers to a 68-24 record. When, Bielema shocked the nation and left for Arkansas, the Badgers hired Gary Andersen who won 19 games and lost 7 in his two seasons in Madison, Wisconsin.
Andersen also raised a few eyebrows when he suddenly left for Oregon State.
Under Bielema, Paul Chryst had been the Offensive Coordinator. Chryst left to take on the head coaching challenge at Pittsburgh, but he’s a Wisconsin kind of guy. He took over for Andersen after the 2014 season.
In 2015, the Badgers posted a nice 10-3 record and then last season they were 11-3.
The Wisconsin Badgers are now something of a national powerhouse and a household name in college football.
There’s not another college in the state of Wisconsin and there’s only the Green Bay Packers. The Badgers will never take the spot of the Packers in the state of Wisconsin, but thanks to Barry Alvarez they are something of a big deal now.
Barry Alvarez should be elected Governor of Wisconsin.