Barry Alvarez calls WTSO and gets serious

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Posted by on October 19, 2008 at 18:14:50:

UW football: Alvarez quiet about Badgers' struggles

People are probably wondering what UW athletic director Barry Alvarez thinks about the football program's recent struggles.

I know I was, so I requested an interview with Alvarez earlier this week.

Alvarez, through a spokesman, politely declined the interview request.

That may seem like an odd decision on Alvarez's part, especially when you consider that athletic directors at two other major programs -- Michigan and Tennessee -- answered questions about struggles in their football programs earlier this week.

Alvarez did call into Mike Heller and Owen Murphy's sports talk radio show on WTSO-AM/1070 on Wednesday afternoon. Heller and Murphy were discussing recruiting -- namely, why a lot of the blue-chip recruits end up at Southeastern Conference programs -- and Alvarez felt compelled to call in and point out that most of the top players end up at a school either in their homestate or at a border state.

Alvarez's point: Since precious few of the top high school players in the country are from Wisconsin and the states that surround it, it's difficult for UW to land the blue-chippers.

Later, Heller asked Alvarez about some of the fans' venom toward third-year coach Bret Bielema. By now, I'm sure you've heard that one fan even started a Web site devoted to getting Bielema fired.

Alvarez's response to the criticism of Bielema?

``It's foolish,'' Alvarez told Heller and Murphy. ``That shouldn't even be a conversation. That shouldn't even be acknowledged. The time spent even talking about that is ludicrous.''

Perhaps that answer helps explain why Alvarez declined my interview request. He doesn't believe back-to-back-to-back losses to Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State is cause for concern, so why make it a big issue by commenting publicly on Bielema and the direction of the program.

That's fair, but it still would have been an opportunity for Alvarez to let fans hear his support of Bielema hadn't wavered any.

(Jim Polzin, The Capital Times)

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