Barry Alvarez’s Place in Wisconsin Sports History is Unique & Unlike Others
Barry Alvarez stepped down as Wisconsin’s Athletic Director today. He will be done on June 30th and ride off into the sunset. A successor has not been named, but Alvarez will not be featured in cutaways at games this fall at Camp Randall Stadium. Alvarez leaves behind an incredible legacy. He built the Wisconsin football team from the ground up then became the athletic director where success continued in football. In other sports like basketball and women’s volleyball, things trended upwards. Alvarez is likely the most important figure in the University of Wisconsin’s athletic department. That said, the place in Wisconsin sports history is hard to quantify.
Alvarez’s impact cannot be understated. He took a dead program and made them into a Rose Bowl worthy team that could contend with the blue blood of the Big Ten like Ohio State and Michigan. He made Wisconsin football into the program it is today. People could look at that and say Alvarez is one of the most important figures in Wisconsin sports history. But it is unique in nature because not everyone roots for Wisconsin football and Wisconsin athletics. While a majority does, it is not in the same category as the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, or Milwaukee Bucks.
For the Wisconsin fan base, alums and non-alums, he is diety. For others in the state, I think there is a level of respect for what he did but they don’t kiss his feet like they do Brett Favre or Robin Yount. That is an interesting contrast because in some worlds where the Badger blood courses through their veins, Alvarez is probably the most important figure in their lifetime. While for others, he is a footnote, and a reason why so many people like Wisconsin football. If not for Alvarez, kids likely do not grow up in the state playing football and wanting to go to Wisconsin.
No matter what you think of Alvarez, he is one of the most impactful coaches in Wisconsin history. Not many coaches had to build from the ground up and got to the near mountain top. The production of top talent is also something to admire along with the ability to move on. Alvarez didn’t stick around, although, he never left because he moved to the athletic department. It’s incredible that Alvarez never left. He never tried out something new. There were job offers yet he stayed at Wisconsin. This deepens the loyalty Wisconsin fans have towards Alvarez
The goal moving forward at Wisconsin is pretty simple. Stay the course that Barry paved.