Former Badgers react to Barry Alvarez stepping down as athletic director

MADISON, Wis.– Every current Badger athlete only knows Wisconsin as a sports powerhouse. It’s been that way their whole lives, but former players and those around the program know Barry Alvarez truly helped make it that way.

“Coach Alvarez, he’s such an inspiration for a lot of us,” former Wisconsin Badger Brian Calhoun said.

An inspiring person who had already built a legacy by the time Calhoun arrived on campus in the mid-2000’s.

“It’s a legacy of success. It’s a legacy of hard work,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun transferred back to his home state, playing under Alvarez in his final season as head coach, but Calhoun said Alvarez’s coaching stayed with him beyond his time at Camp Randall.

“That whole mantra of smart, tough, dependable, that kind of came from him trying to change the culture of when he first got there in the early 90s,” Calhoun said.

James Hoyt was on UW-Madison’s Athletic Board when the University hired Alvarez in 1990.

“As a football coach, he built the program. As athletic director, he sustained the program,” Hoyt said.

At the time, Hoyt said the football team was in desperate need of leadership.

“I don’t think anybody had a good understanding of how quickly it could be done,” Hoyt said. “I think the expectations were run an honest program, provide academic support, as well as athletic support, recruit athletes who recognize that, and let’s see how it goes.”

Hoyt said Alvarez met and exceeded those expectations. He said the coach’s ability to recruit players is what impressed him most.

“He wanted to learn about the institution and he wanted to understand how he could best use UW to help recruit athletes, to get quality football players that were good student athletes,” Hoyt said.

Student athletes, like Calhoun, are inspired to this day by a man whose legacy will continue to echo for years to come.

“It’s something that I will always take with me. I know a lot of players owe a lot to him, just because of the way he mentored them,” Calhoun said. “I’m just happy that he’s able to retire on top and go out the way he wanted to go out.”