The second-worst* thing someone can tell you is not to panic. It generally means the situation is worse than anyone wants to let on, but acknowledging it and reacting accordingly is not an option. But the only reason someone ever says the word "panic" is if they've thought of it first.
And hey, wouldn't you know it, here's Barry Alvarez telling Wisconsin fans not to panic, per the Wisconsin State Journal:
On Sunday, the UW athletic director — who will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl while he conducts a search for Bret Bielema's replacement — assured the program's supporters that things will turn out OK.
"We're spoiled here because we were probably one of the most stable programs in the country with me being here 16 years (and) elevating an assistant (Bielema) for seven years, but this happens around the country," Alvarez said after a practice.
"I'll hire a good coach and this program will continue being very good. So, for those that are panicking, don't panic. We'll take care of business here and this program will be in excellent hands."
It's entirely possible that there is in fact no reason to panic, and we did write earlier that if Alvarez wanted to wait until after the Rose Bowl to name a coach, that wouldn't even be a bad thing. We'd like to stick to that.
It's just that Alvarez is not waiting until the Rose Bowl to pursue a coach, and with every further denial of interest in the Wisconsin job and every further departure of an assistant coach, the Wisconsin job looks less and less like an attractive destination.
And rightly or wrongly, Alvarez's reassurances that everything is fine come across as, well...
How much trust do you have in Barry Alvarez to make a good hire?
C'mon, did you really want Mike Riley from Oregon State? He's only seven years younger than Alvarez—and Alvarez retired into administration (you guessed it) seven years ago.
For one, the assistants leaving is inevitable, since Alvarez is obviously not going to promote from within for the head coaching spot. So whenever a "new guy" comes in, the first things to go are the assistants anyway. Wisconsin's assistant coaches are just making sure they all get 2013 jobs lined up ASAP. If they were really abandoning a sinking ship, they wouldn't all still be coaching in the Rose Bowl, after all.
Secondly, it's not as if all the good coaches are gone or otherwise out of the picture. Alvarez could still pick up Darrell Bevell, the former Wisconsin QB turned Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator. There's also Jacksonville Jaguars DC Mel Tucker, another Badger from the early '90s who enjoyed great success under Alvarez.
Both Bevell and Tucker are young and among the brightest of the coaching minds in the NFL. It's basically the same formula as Bill O'Brien, but they've actually got connections to Wisconsin—crucial to keeping a coach in town when better offers start flying in.
So no, this is not Defcon 1 in Madison. Alvarez is still doing fine.
For now, anyway.
*The worst thing to hear, of course, is that you should panic.