Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin’s Director of Athletics and head coach for the upcoming Rose Bowl game against Stanford, met with the media Sunday after practice and assured everyone that the Wisconsin football team is not in panic mode.
“I feel good about it,” Alvarez said. “I feel good about the due diligence and the people that I’ve talked to.”
The winner of three Rose Bowls went on to say he still has yet to interview everyone, but says his last one is coming shortly.
“Then we’ll sit down and decide on the best person,” he said. “And I feel good about the candidates that we’ve interviewed.”
The worry comes chiefly from the departures of five assistants. The Badgers saw six assistants leave after last year’s season.
Defensive coordinators Chris Ash and Charlie Partridge have followed former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas. Matt Canada, who is just finishing up his first year as offensive coordinator, will be heading to North Carolina State to reunite with Dave Doeren, the former Wisconsin defensive coordinator.
Canada served as offensive coordinator of the Northern Illinois Huskies in 2011, which was Doeren’s first year as head coach of the program.
Zach Azzanni (wide receivers) and Andy Buh (linebackers) have left for Tennessee and California, respectively.
“I feel bad for losing some very, very good coaches,” Alvarez said.
But if it wasn’t for some stiff standards put forth by the head coaches that have taken away the UW assistants, the UW coaching staff could’ve looked very similar next season.
“The other coaches were putting pressure on them and giving them 24 hours to make a decision,” Alvarez explained.
“I was thinking about [coaching] myself just to keep them,” he added. “But we’d be in the same situation next year.”
Alvarez mentioned several times how hard it was to see the assistants put into such situations.
“I’m frustrated that the coaches put them in that position,” he said. “I’m not frustrated with [our assistant coaches]. They had to do what they had to do. I just don’t like to operate like that.”
Ash—who is in his third year at Wisconsin, with the last two being at the co-defensive coordinator position—acknowledged how tough of a situation it is, as well.
“Especially for the guys that have only been here for a year,” Ash said. “That makes it even tougher.”
Despite being under heavy scrutiny throughout the season, Canada led a Badgers offense that finished fourth in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 30.8 points per game and scored more than 60 on two occasions.
“I came here with the intention of being here for a long, long time,” Canada said. “That’s what we came here for, that was the plan. Sometimes the plans change and you have to trust that and move forward.”
“This is a special place, and I’m sure whoever [Alvarez] hires will appreciate that.”