The Wisconsin Badgers will not be led by former head coach Bret Bielema into the Rose Bowl, but a familiar face will be running the show versus the Stanford Cardinal.
According to Wisconsin State Journal reporter Tom Mulhern, former Badgers head coach, and Wisconsin's current athletic director, Barry Alvarez will coach the team on Jan. 2:
University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will coach the Badgers football team in the Rose Bowl, the State Journal has confirmed.
A source close to Alvarez said the team's captains reached out to Alvarez and asked him to coach the team. Alvarez told them he would be "honored" to do so.
Considering the circumstances, this makes a lot of sense. Rather than create a lame-duck scenario, Alvarez can come back and coach the team without any expectations for the future.
According to Mulhern's report, Alvarez will address the specifics at a 10 a.m. press conference Thursday in Madison.
The Badgers will enter the game as underdogs to the No. 6-ranked Cardinal, but Alvarez's esteemed presence could provide just enough inspiration to spin things in Wisconsin's favor.
Alvarez was Wisconsin's head coach from 1990 to 2005, going 118-73-4 over that time period. He owns a 3-0 career record in the Rose Bowl as well, which bodes well as he enters that familiar territory.
Putting the school's all-time-winningest and longest-tenured coach on the sidelines will create an interesting atmosphere for the BCS bowl. Bielema's departure came as a shock to most college football fans, but Alvarez should instill some stability.
Even though Alvarez hasn't actively coached the team since 2005, he's remained close to the program as the university's athletic director. He isn't entering the game blind, and his previous success speaks for itself.
Wisconsin will still face a tough challenge, but this makes things more interesting from an emotional standpoint. Alvarez's temporary return will have players giving everything they have, especially because the team's captains were the ones who reached out to him in the first place.
The Badgers won't miss a beat with Alvarez running the show.