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Highlights from Barry Alvarez's appearance on 'Pardon My Take'
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Highlights from Barry Alvarez's appearance on 'Pardon My Take'

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Barry Alvarez sees the ideal number of College Football Playoff entrants at eight and still is irked about the Badgers men’s basketball team’s loss in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

UW coach Paul Chryst describes what he sees when analyzing the Notre Dame pass rush and if key senior defensive backs will be available this week.

Alvarez, the University of Wisconsin’s former athletic director, was a guest on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast Friday and shared thoughts on a variety of college football and college sports subjects. “Pardon My Take” — hosted by UW alum Dan “Big Cat” Katz and Eric “PFT Commenter” Sollenberger — is the No. 1 sports podcast in the country.

The full episode can be found here.

Here are some highlights of Alvarez’s appearance on the show, edited for length and clarity.

Katz: We’re leading up to the Notre Dame-Wisconsin game on Saturday. So let's start there. You actually had a lot to do with planning this game and getting it scheduled. What’s it like when you're trying to figure out how to plan these nonconference games, what goes through an athletic director’s head, what goes through a football program’s head of like, "Hey, we want to schedule big games. We also don't want to hurt ourselves playing too many big games in a single season."

Alvarez: Yeah, there has to be a good fit in there and some common sense used as you lay out your schedules. Having to play nine conference games when the Southeastern Conference, Big 12 or in the ACC, they’re only playing eight, you put another burden, an excess burden on your players.

You have to be smart. But you know, I think it's fair to our fans. I know our players like to play in big games. When you have an opportunity to play someone with a tradition, rich background like Notre Dame, I just felt it was something that our players deserved, our fans deserved.

Katz: Obviously you're not the AD anymore, but the situation Wisconsin’s in, Paul Chryst is a fantastic coach, but you also have an incredible defensive coordinator, Jim Leonhard, who obviously played for you. How does Wisconsin go forward in an era now where assistants are getting paid an insane amount of money? Do I need to donate? Do I need to make more money and donate? What do I have to do?

Alvarez: Yeah, we've been waiting for that. … We've tried to take care of Jimmy. He's going to chances — he had one opportunity this year to take a head coaching job, and it was a very good head coaching. I told the person who called me, I said, "If he wants to be a head coach, he’ll be a good head coach."

He's got three young kids, they're happy here, they're happy in school. If you go to the NFL sometimes as a head coach, you're going to be bopping around. I think Jimmy likes to have his roots settled, he played (10) years in the league. He's been very good with his money, he’s got a beautiful home and lifestyle right here. When you're happy, it's tough to buy happy. Hopefully we try to take care of him and keep them here. Hope that that works and we can keep him a long time because he's really a good coach.

Sollenberger: So looking back at your career, which of these stats do you think you're most proud of: The 120 career wins, the 9-4 record in bowl games, or the 1,272 hours of unused vacation time that you retired with?

Alvarez: (Laughs) I know which one my wife liked. One of the local writers asked me, "How do you build up that much time?" I said, "Coaches don't take vacations. We don't punch a clock." My vacation was always during semester break, Christmas vacation and semester break, that was it.

That's a good question.

Katz: You were on the selection committee for the (College Football Playoff). The hot topic, it seems like every year that pops up is, what does a Group of Five team have to do to break into the big boys club? Maybe UCF was close, but was there ever a chance that you sitting on that committee where a team from the Group of Five had a legitimate chance or is it impossible until they expand?

Alvarez: It'll be very difficult until you go to eight or 12. I'm trying to think back … I would think this year with Cincinnati’s schedule — they have Notre Dame ahead of them, they played Indiana … and then the way they played Georgia in the bowl game, I think you'd have to give them consideration.

But I can't say honestly that in my tenure there that there was anyone close to the top four. I wasn’t there when Central Florida was good.

Sollenberger: Are you in favor of expanding to eight or 12 teams?

Alvarez: I like to expanding to eight, eight is my number. I think 12 … if you look at the number of games, and I think coaches would manage that — the FCS plays, they have a playoff. They get through it OK. But I think 12, selfishly, for our league eight is better. I think it's fair for the players. You can guarantee all your conference champions get in, you have at-large teams that have an opportunity to get in and that opens the gate for more. And it just doesn't carry on into the second semester.

Katz: The way college football is set up right now, it definitely feels like there's three or four programs that are so far ahead of everyone else that it's hard to break in. Do you think this is a cyclical thing? Or do you think this is kind of how it's going to be for a while and it’s Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, those teams, Oklahoma if you want to throw (it) in there. They're going to recruit better guys, they're going to keep it rolling. And it's going to be pretty much impossible for other teams to break into that party.

Alvarez: Yeah, I'd like to think it was cyclical. But other than last weekend where there was some scares, a couple of those teams don't look quite as dominant as they have. But all you have to do is look since we've had the CFP, it’s the same three schools the majority of the time. That's why I’d like to go to eight. I wish it were cyclical, but … I don’t know if I see that next cycle.

Sollenberger: You’re the special adviser for football to the Big Ten commissioner, what’s your day-to-day like?

Alvarez: The commissioner and I have regular visits. We talk about future scheduling, we talk about TV, we talk about the CFP. Just the different issues that come up in football. He bounces things off of me. I've been in the league since ‘79, other than three years at Notre Dame, and been involved in a lot of the committees. I'm just a good sounding board for him.

Sollenberger: You’re a lifetime Big Ten guy, and conference realignment is a thing that’s happening, like it or not. How do you balance protecting the conference right now with the future of the schools that are involved in the conversation?

Alvarez: Well, you have to evaluate what they bring to the table. What does this specific school bring to the table? How do they match our philosophy? Are they broad based in their thinking as far as sports? In our league, it believes in a broad base, not just football, broad base for sports with Olympic sports, etc. Academically, we want somebody that fits.

Plus we need eyeballs, you know? Somebody that draws, that has a following and has viewers, that brings something to the table as far as our TV package.

Sollenberger: Hypothetical situation for you here. Let's say this Saturday, you're getting ready for the game. Paul Chryst gets stuck in traffic, the entire coaching staff gets stuck in traffic. Your phone rings, and they’re like, "Barry, we don't have any other options. Our entire coaching staff is not going to be able to make it to the game. We've got a chopper for you in your lawn right now. We need you to step up and interim coach one game." Could you do it?

Alvarez: Again? Hell yeah. (Laughs) It’s like riding a bike, boys.

Katz: Have you gotten over the Duke loss (in the 2015 men's basketball national championship game)? Because I have not. … Are you over it? Maybe you being over it could get me over it?

Alvarez: I’m pissed because the officials changed how they called the game from first to second half.

That’s part of coaching, I give credit to Coach K (Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski). … Coach K worked the refs hard and they changed how they called the game. And I will say that to my dying day.


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