University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will coach the football team in the Rose Bowl, the State Journal has confirmed.
A source close to the UW football program said the team's captains reached out to Alvarez and asked him to coach the team. Alvarez said he would be "honored" to do so.
A news conference has been set up for 10 a.m. Thursday in which Alvarez will address the departure of coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas and the team's plans for Pasadena.
Alvarez made his first public comments on both topics Wednesday in an exclusive video interview with the Wall Street Journal. While he avoided specifically answering whether he would coach at the Rose Bowl, Alvarez said, "I'll have a coach in place that they'll be able to identify with -- someone they'll enjoy playing for."
Alvarez, who retired from coaching following the 2005 season, has a 3-0 record in the Rose Bowl, with the wins coming in 1994, 1999 and 2000.
"They might finally win one," Bielema joked at his introductory news conference on Wednesday in Fayetteville, Ark., about Alvarez leading the Badgers against Stanford on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.
Bielema has an 0-2 record in the Rose Bowl, having lost the previous two seasons to Texas Christian and Oregon.
UW has been the target of some national criticism because it carries an 8-5 record and advanced to the Big Ten Conference title game after finishing third in the Leaders Division because the teams ahead of the Badgers, Ohio State and Penn State, are ineligible for postseason competition.
Alvarez was firm in his belief that the Badgers belong in Pasadena, because they did what was required: beating Nebraska to clinch their third straight league title.
"I'm not apologizing; I wouldn't apologize to anybody about us being in the Rose Bowl," he told the Wall Street Journal. "I think we're a good football team, we've been competitive all year ... as a coach, you sit back, you know the rules, you play by the rules, and then go from there. The rules say the winner of that league championship game goes to the Rose Bowl. I'm not apologizing."
Meanwhile, some names are beginning to surface in the coaching search to replace Bielema.
Search for new coach
Another source close to the UW Athletic Department said Alvarez has been in contact with Boise State coach Chris Petersen and an interview could happen as early as Monday.
Both UW sources spoke on the condition of anonymity, because they have not been cleared to speak publicly on these issues.
Petersen, 47, is the winningest active coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, with an 83-8 record (.912 winning percentage) over seven seasons. He makes $1.7 million this season, according to reports.
Boise State is 10-2 this season and will face Washington on Dec. 22 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Petersen is regarded as one of best offensive minds in the country. He was the offensive coordinator at Boise State for five years before being promoted to head coach after Dan Hawkins left following the 2005 season.
Boise State is currently a member of the Mountain West Conference but is scheduled to join the Big East, along with San Diego State, as football-only members in July.
Both schools reaffirmed their commitment to the league after Rutgers recently announced it was leaving the Big East for the Big Ten Conference. But with the future of the Big East up in the air and more defections possible, the time could be right for Petersen to consider leaving.
The Chryst factor
Multiple sources have suggested former UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst would be UW's ideal candidate, but several factors are working against that and the timing does not appear to be right.
Chryst has a $6 million buyout in his contract, a college football source confirmed. That source also spoke on the condition of anonymity, because the source was not cleared to speak publicly on the matter.
UW will receive $1 million from Arkansas for the buyout in Bielema's contract. The $5 million difference might not be prohibitive for the UW athletic department if it really wanted to go after Chryst.
But there are indications it might be difficult to pry Chryst away from Pitt.
Chryst issued a statement Tuesday night, saying he was "committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh."
The Pitt assistant coaches started contacting recruits and telling them Chryst isn't going anywhere.
Quarterback Tra'von Chapman, who is one of Pitt's top recruits for 2013, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he received a phone call from secondary coach Matt House, telling him Chryst is not leaving.
"He said they are not going anywhere," Chapman said in the Wednesday edition of the Tribune-Review. "They are not going to Wisconsin. He said, 'Spread the word. The rumors are false.'"
Pitt will play Mississippi in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5. Chryst is supposed to be in Birmingham, Ala., the site of the game, on Thursday and is expected to take questions from the media.
He will almost certainly be asked about the UW job, so more clarification could come after that.
Chryst has numerous ties to Madison. He grew up here before moving to Platteville, where he attended high school.
He played for the Badgers as a tight end and spent eight highly successful seasons as an assistant coach: the tight ends coach in 2002; the co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach in 2005; and then offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Bielema from 2006 to 2011.
Paul and Robin Chryst have three children and the middle one, JoJo, is a senior at Edgewood High school and currently living with her grandmother. JoJo Chryst has signed to play soccer at Pitt starting in 2013.
When Paul Chryst was an assistant coach with the Badgers, he turned down numerous chances to leave, frequently due to family considerations.
So, it has always been tricky to try to predict what he might do, but he could be reluctant to leave Pitt after just one season.
Chryst met with his players on Wednesday and told them he had not been contacted by UW. He also read them the statement he issued the previous night.
Also in the mix
If attention shifts away from Chryst, two other potential candidates, according to multiple sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, are Miami (Fla.) coach Al Golden and Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph.
Golden, 42, is in his second season with the Hurricanes after five years as the head coach at Temple.
Miami is currently under NCAA investigation and facing major sanctions, so the timing could be right for his departure. Golden's name also came up in the coaching searches at Tennessee and Boston College.
The link between Golden and Alvarez is former UW associate athletic director Shawn Eichorst, the former athletic director at Miami who has been named to succeed Tom Osborne in the same role at Nebraska.
Eichorst didn't hire Golden but knows him well and would be a valuable resource if Alvarez elects to go in that direction.
Rudolph, 40, was an offensive lineman with the Badgers under Alvarez and a former UW recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach under Bielema.
Although short on experience, with only one season as a coordinator, he is an outstanding recruiter and highly regarded by Alvarez.
Alvarez took a chance on another young coach when he hired Bielema, who was 36 years old in his first season as head coach in 2006.
— Andy Baggot contributed to this story.