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Barry Alvarez is a former American football player and coach and currently the Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He served as the head football coach at Wisconsin for 16 seasons from 1990 to 2005, compiling a career college football record of 118–73–4. He has the longest head coaching tenure and the most wins in Wisconsin Badgers football history. Alvarez stepped down as head coach after the 2005 season, remaining as athletic director. Alvarez was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2010.
Head coaching career
In 1990, Alvarez was named head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers. He inherited a program that had not had a winning season since 1984, and had only won seven games in Big Ten Conference play in that time.
After three less-than-distinguished seasons rebuilding the awful program he had inherited, including a 1–10 record in his first year, the Badgers steamrolled through the 1993 season, notching a 10–1–1 mark and their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1963, along with only the second bowl win in school history. During his tenure, the Badgers won or shared three Big Ten titles and won three Rose Bowls. He also led the Badgers to 11 bowl games; before his arrival they had been to only six bowls in their entire history. The 1998 team notched the first 11-win season in school history, while the 1999 team won the school’s first outright Big Ten title in 37 years.
Alvarez concluded his coaching career at Wisconsin with a win over the Auburn Tigers in the 2006 Capital One Bowl, bringing his all-time record at Wisconsin to 118–73–4 (.615), making him far and away the winningest coach in school history; his 118 wins are almost double those of runner-up Phillip King. It also brought his record in bowl games to 8–3 (.727).
Alvarez is the only Big Ten Conference coach to win consecutive Rose Bowls and one of six coaches, regardless of conference, to win at least three Rose Bowls (1994, 1999, and 2000). Of these six, only two are undefeated at the Rose Bowl: Alvarez and John Robinson. After the 2012 Rose Bowl, Alvarez remains as the only Rose Bowl winning coach in the history of the Wisconsin football program, with three Rose Bowl losses prior to his arrival (1953, 1960, and 1963) and subsequent losses in the 2011 and 2012 Rose Bowl Games.
Alvarez is the only Big Ten coach with consecutive wins over the Ohio State Buckeyes during Jim Tressel’s coaching tenure there; those came in 2003 and 2004. Barry finished his career with a 3–1 edge over Tressel.
Alvarez had six seasons with at least nine wins at Wisconsin. Prior to his arrival, the Badgers had recorded only four in nearly 100 seasons (1897-1899, 1901). (Wisconsin has only played a 9+ game per season schedule consistently since 1942, so 9+ wins per season wasn’t always possible prior to that time.)
Life after coaching
Alvarez replaced Pat Richter as athletic director in 2004 while retaining the head coaching position. After the 2005 season, Alvarez stepped down as head coach. Due to his continuing role as athletic director, Alvarez had the rare opportunity to choose his successor. Alvarez eventually selected former defensive coordinator Bret Bielema.
During the 2006–07 bowl season, Alvarez worked as a color commentator/analyst for Fox Sports. He worked both the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and 2007 BCS National Championship Game as well as select NFL games.