ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO: STANFORD v WISCONSIN
December 29, 2012Richmond High School
Q. How does it feel being back in the saddle these past few weeks?
BARRY ALVAREZ: It feels good. I've really enjoyed my time?? this is a great group of young men. They've followed the plan that I've given them. They've practiced hard. They've done everything we've asked them to do, so I couldn't be more pleased. I think our staff has really been very professional in a difficult situation for them, but we've gotten about as much done as we possibly could in practice, so it's really been fun for me.
Q. You said that they're young men. This coaching change, how is that likely to be a distraction through all of this?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, this is a very?? this group of kids has been?? they've been through a lot. They're very resilient. They haven't allowed anything to affect them. We made the transition about as easy as it could possibly be, and I don't think they've missed a beat.
Q. You come in and just continue to steer the ship or make changes of any sort?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, it would be foolish for me to come in and change things we're doing offensively and defensively. We've got excellent coordinators. I've always been a manager. I'll manage what we do, how we do it, but to come in and change what they do would be foolish, and change everything. So I put the onus on the coordinators to manage the game plan. I'll manage the game and call what I want and do the things that I want throughout.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, I was honored. It really hadn't crossed my mind to do it. As a matter of fact Bret said something to me about why don't you coach the team, and I said I wouldn't feel right doing that. But when the players ask you, it's a different situation, and I was flattered and I was honored. But come on, coach one game, the Rose Bowl? That's the most fun game I've ever coached. There's nothing like it. I mean, it's like giving me an early Christmas present.
BARRY ALVAREZ: It wouldn't diminish any of the other victories we've had here. This would be good because I'd love to see these kids go out on a win with the adversity that they've had throughout the season. It would be great for them.
Q. Have you given any thought to the history you could make with a fourth Rose Bowl win?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Not really. I just?? I'm trying to do everything I can to see if we can't figure out a way to win the game. All that other stuff, I really don't pay much attention to that. I'd really like to see these guys play well and have a chance to win the football game because they've been through so much.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, you know, I still get chills thinking about it, and any time I take the field, and I've said this probably many, many times, there's nothing like taking the field at the Rose Bowl. It's the most beautiful venue in all of sport, I think. I'll be just as thrilled as the first time I took it when I take the field this time.
Q. Has this been reinvigorating for you?
BARRY ALVAREZ: It has been. I look forward to every day. It's been exciting for me, it's been fun for me. It gets my juices going. It has been invigorating.
Q. You've been doing this a long time, and everybody is expecting a grind it out sort of game. Would it surprise you at all if some other phase of the game ends up winning this one?
BARRY ALVAREZ: I'll talk with our kids, but I think the special teams could play a big part in this game. Watching Stanford, they're similar to us. They're very physical, they're not going to make a lot of mistakes. You have to beat them. I think we play the same way. You'd better bring your big?boy pads for this game. I happen to like games like this.
Q. You said you had a hard time sleeping just thinking about the game.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I still get up very early because I have so many things to do, but that's just the way it is. I'm just excited about it.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I really felt that we could get much more efficient in our practices. I've always respected players' times. I don't want to keep them out there just to keep them out there, so I eliminated all the breaks within practice. I started practice quicker, I eliminated a lot of the flexibility things that I thought was wasted time. But we get right to work. They've been physical practices. I told them when we came out here, we scrimmaged our second day here. I just felt like we had to set our pads. I've always believed in that, done that at every bowl game we've been to. Normally I do it the first day because of how we practice and our time, I did it the second day, and I think there were some wide eyes, but I'll tell you, they responded. I wanted to do something the speed of the game.
Q. Have you had to refer to old notes to remember how to get through all the distractions of bowl week?
BARRY ALVAREZ: I switched chairs. I'm very flexible (laughter), make a move on the run. Yeah, you know what, I have gone back, even had a good conversation with my friend Lou Holtz the other day, and we were just talking about some things and different approaches that we've taken. Dr.Lou was at his finest.
Q. You've used the wrist bands before. What made you go back to it?
BARRY ALVAREZ: You know what, I think?? I try to make them earn the wrist band, but if you have that wrist band on, that's 10 days, 12 days that it's a reminder that you have a game, and what the band is about?? and I think it helps you stay focused and keep your mind on the game. It's just a little thing that I've done maybe once a year throughout my coaching career in a big game, and it's always seemed to be effective.
Q. Tell us about being accountable to your teammates. That's the message, isn't it?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, it's not just that you're all in, but you're going to be on and you're going to play well. And the other guys can count on you to play well.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I don't like to waste time, and that's the way I learned how to practice, and I learned how to play the game is to move from segment to segment, do it on the run, get into practice, get a lot of repetitions. You don't have to be out there a long period of time and drag out a practice. I think a lot of coaches do it for their own ego, it just makes them feel better. But they're not practicing.
I want them fresh, I want them to know what they're going to do, I want them to be able to play fast. Being out there over a long period of time doesn't necessarily do that. We get everything I want done in probably a half hour to 45 minutes less than what they're accustomed to. But it's long, it's?? they've played 13 games. That's a long season. These guys will get you, I know that. So now it's just a matter of us teaching them and making sure that they can react and feel comfortable in reacting. But we do have snappy practices, but we get everything we want done and probably get at least as many reputations if not more.
Q. How do you get that point across?
BARRY ALVAREZ: You talk about finishing everything you do, finishing a drill, finishing a play, finish practice, concentrate through practice, play the end of practice as well as you played the first part of practice. If it's emphasized enough, you'd like to think that there's carryover.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I will. I will. And the thing that I'll emphasize to him, I don't need any super?human efforts. I just want our guys to play well. We just have to be the best team in the stadium, we don't have to be the best team in America, we just have to be the best team in the stadium at the Rose Bowl.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, Montee is one of the best ones that ever played the game. To rank him with my other guys, he's right there with all of them. They're all great players. Ron Dayne was the MVP out here twice in the Rose Bowl, Brent Moss was the MVP, Terrell Fletcher was a great player, Anthony Davis, we had a lot of great running backs and Montee is right there with them.
Q. Do you think the game has changed?
BARRY ALVAREZ: I don't think the game has changed at all. You have different formations. The game is cyclical. Right now everybody is spreading the ball out and going fast paced. I think that'll change. I think people will catch up to that. The one thing that hasn't changed is it's still about fundamentals, it's still about blocking and tackling and making plays. So I don't think really the game has changed that much.
Q. When you retired from coaching did you envision something like this happening?
BARRY ALVAREZ: (Laughing) I never thought it would happen because it never has happened. No one has ever won the right to go to the Rose Bowl and not coached in it. So it never crossed my mind that it would happen.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, I think every coach is different. I talked to coaches about our job. There were coaches that were loyal to their schools, so you can't just throw a blanket over all coaches. There are coaches that are very loyal.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, that's not just football. The conference realignment is for all sports. But there's nothing that says that change isn't good. I worry about the?? being an administrator, the rising costs and how salaries are going out the roof. That really concerns me. How are you going to pay for it?
Q. Is it just part of the culture that these things are happening now?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, you know what, there's been a lot said about that. I think it's been unfair. I see schools firing guys after one year, firing guys after two years, three years, where you really haven't had a chance to put a program in place.
So there's no loyalty there, either. I think it goes both ways. This is a very volatile position. People expect you to win, alumni expect you to win. There's a lot of pressure on administrators to have a successful program because if you don't fill the stadium, your whole athletic department is in trouble.
I think it goes both ways.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I just?? I don't think you can make a blanket statement, as I said, and put all coaches in the position where everybody is ready to leave because I know that's not the case. There are some coaches that I contacted to see if there was interest in our job, and they were very loyal to their schools. That's not the case with everyone.
Q. What's the biggest difference between Stanford 13 years ago and Stanford today?
BARRY ALVAREZ: You know, Stanford was a very good team 13 years ago. As a matter of fact, they were a very similar team. They're a physical team. We really struggled moving the ball, running the ball against them. I thought they were coached very well then. They're coached very well now. They're sound.
You know, I think they play similar. They ran the ball well the last time around, they could throw it, they were balanced. I think they're very similar teams. Both excellent football teams.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I don't know what an old?school Big Ten team is. Does that mean that you play hard?nosed football, that you're physical?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, that's football, and even the spread teams try to do that. I happen to think that's how you play football. And yes, most of the teams in the Pac?? although Oregon State, they're very similar to us and very similar to Stanford. Southern Cal is the same way, you know, the Oregons are?? a number of teams. I think Washington is similar to what we do. Oregon's different, they're a different style, fast?paced, open. It's just a little different philosophy. But it still comes down to being physical and tackling and being sound in what you do.
BARRY ALVAREZ: You know, it's not the system. That's what people have to understand. It's how well you execute the system.
Q. Your Rose Bowl memories, how do they line up? When you recollect your three victories, is there??
BARRY ALVAREZ: Yeah, you know what, we took the job at Wisconsin in 1990, and the program was flat on its back, and our goal or our vision was some day to get to the Rose Bowl, and the first class that we recruited got us there. To have so many people work so hard and commit themselves to one common goal and to accomplish it was pretty special, the first one. And then not just get there but win it against a very good UCLA team, and in our case, I think we were huge underdogs that year.
BARRY ALVAREZ: You know, that's interesting you say that. I had that conversation with this team. I did. This is their third time out here. That doesn't happen. When we came our first time, it was 31 years since Wisconsin had been there, and it goes so fast, and then it's over, and you're?? these guys, the seniors are going off on their way, a lot of them going into the NFL, a lot of them moving on in life. The other guys, they're going home for break. You don't really appreciate it until it's all over. I'm reading articles now being written about my former players talking about their experience, and I guarantee you they didn't enjoy it probably as much as they should be when they were here. I encourage them. I let them do everything. I want them to get involved in all the activities that we provide for them, and I want them to soak it all in. That's part of the experience, part of the education.
Q. When a team hasn't played in a month, do you worry more about having lost that rhythm, or is it good to have the freshness?
BARRY ALVAREZ: I think there's a fine line there. That's why I scrimmaged the other day. I think you have to get the speed of the game back. The last time we played?? when we played Stanford my last game here, we had 50?some days. Our bye week was before Thanksgiving. So we finished a week before Thanksgiving?? no, two weeks before Thanksgiving.
So it was 50?some days since we had played. I had a senior?dominated team. I did not want to scrimmage, and we were flat and we played very poorly in the first half.
Since then I've always?? that's why I wanted to scrimmage these guys, get the speed of the game. We go good against good every day, and I hope that carries over for the game.
Q. So less is more?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Yeah. Yeah.
BARRY ALVAREZ: You know what, I get a chance to spend it with some of my closest friends and my family. We always?? every year, every bowl game we go to a nice restaurant and get a private room and have a few yuks and have a good time. That's what it's about for me.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, I told you, I believe it's hard to prepare?? everybody says it's hard to prepare for the spread teams. Just put yourself?? if you practice with a spread team all year and you're not involved in physical play, how do you prepare for a team that's going to come out and smack you? It's harder to do that than it is to prepare for somebody that's spread out all over the field.
I just think that that's?? I see the game, I've studied the game my whole life. You see the wishbone, you see option football, you see no huddle, you see?? it just keeps changing and evolving, but there's one constant, and that's when you play?? when you can run the ball, you can stop the run, you're physical, you're sound. I like to be balanced, and I'm not just saying run the ball. I think people are misinformed. They think it's Woody Hayes, and three yards and a cloud of dust and throw it three times a game. That's not what we're about and that's not the teams you're talking about. We've been balanced up until the last few games, we've been a balanced team. Our last few years were balanced. But it's still physical football. I just believe in that.
That's the way I was taught the game, and I wouldn't want to change it.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Yeah, you know what, I'm very proud of the work he's done. It was difficult. Basically you wasted five weeks. You wasted three weeks of camp, two weeks during the season, where those guys weren't doing and weren't practicing what we want. And then once he took over?? you only get two work days a week, Tuesday and Wednesday are your work days, and you saw improvement every week, and by the end of the year our guys were coming off the ball doing the things that we wanted.
I give it all to Bart. He did it by himself. He didn't have any other help. The kids love him, they want to play for him, they don't want to let him down. That says a lot about a coach.
Q. When you look at your program the last few years, winning close games has been (inaudible)?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Yeah, you know what, that's been my emphasis. I always try to address things. I only had a few weeks with this team, but one of my first emphases was let's finish, and that's a mantra that carries on?? you start it with every drill, and then it carries over to starting and finishing practice. Everything that you do, you finish. So hopefully that carries over to the game.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Is it hard for me to do that? That's what I do. That's what I've done for a living. I've got a group of kids that respond. They practice how I want them to practice. I have an outstanding group of coaches that understand what I want, the tempo that I want, and I get it.
So what we've done in the past, what I've done in the past has been successful. I think?? I try to be fair with the kids, I try to be sensitive to what they need, try to have them peak on game day, so they've had a physical preparation up until today. Today I'll back off. Today is like a bonus day for me. If it's raining we'll go inside and walk through?? it'll be a mental day. If we can get outside, it'll be mental and timing.
I have a plan in all this so that they're prepped and they're ready to play when the game comes around.
Q. So do you feel the chemistry??
BARRY ALVAREZ: We have great chemistry on this team, and I've told them that. With all the adversity that they've had, if they didn't have great chemistry and didn't like each other, this team would have fallen apart. There are just too many things, to lose three overtime games, to lose five very games, to lose an offensive line coach the second game into the season, to lose your head coach before a bowl game, if they weren't resilient and if they didn't have great chemistry, this team would have fallen apart.
BARRY ALVAREZ: No, you know what, I was close enough to this team. I saw enough practices. I was close enough to understand. This is really?? and all those coaches, six of these guys are brand new. They just came in this year. They all said the same thing. This is a group of kids, when you talk to them, they look me in the eye, they try to do what you want them to do. Knock on wood we haven't had any issues with these guys off the field. They know what they're supposed to do, they know how to work. I expected that, I saw that, but it's been reinforced to me.
BARRY ALVAREZ: This has been easy. It's been?? just give me a whistle. I need a whistle, that's all.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, here's what I'd do: As a leader?? and I'd do it as an athletic director. I oversee everything. I hire people to do a job. I communicate very clearly what their job is. If they have any issues, they can come to me. But I let them do their job. When I was an assistant coach, I wanted to coach. I wanted Lou Holtz to let me coach, Hayden Fry, they let me coach. That's what I wanted to do. I didn't want anybody micromanaging me. I do the same thing with these guys. They've got a responsibility, I let them do their job, I tell them how I want, what I want, how I want it done, and they do it.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I haven't. I haven't. I've had to hire a coach, I've had to hire a volleyball coach, just work that all into my schedule.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I can't say it's the most busy. I think when I first took the job I had?? Pat Richter and I were speaking three and four different places a day, traveling around the state, getting to alumni, trying to sell our program. My days are full now, and it's a lot of different things. But I'm having a blast.
BARRY ALVAREZ: It is. I love big games. Nothing like it.
BARRY ALVAREZ: There wasn't any dust on it, but I did go back. I wanted to go back. I pulled out our plan, our itinerary. I wanted to see?? yeah, the last one. I wanted to see because the last one was like the one before that and the one before that. I came out with Coach Fry in '81, and we did everything wrong, and I watched Don James and his preparation and how well he?? what a great job he did, and I learned a lot from that. And then working with Lou Holtz, I thought his bowl prep was very good.
So when we came the first time, I had in my mind how we were going to do it. So I took what we've done the last two years, I looked at my old prep and worked my schedule into it. Simple thing is I told the captains, I originally moved hotels the night before a game like we do at home. The first two units would go to a hotel. I said, we don't have to do that, and I always take my teams to a movie. Bret never did it. We're going to go to a movie the night before the game, and there happens to be one right across the street from our hotel, so we'll walk across the street and go to a movie. Just my meetings as compared to what they're accustomed to. I wanted them to know we're going to do things a little differently.
Q. Do you actually have a folder that says Rose Bowl?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Yep.
BARRY ALVAREZ: No, I think those days?? that was bad. I mean, why punish them? These guys are supposed to be rewarded. This is a reward for a successful season. I want them?? when I took teams on the road, we'd play Stanford one year, I took them down to Fisherman's Wharf. We played Washington one year, I took them up on the Space Needle. We were in New York one year, I took them to a musical. That's part of the education. I want them to see places. You go to a bowl game, when we meet and when we practice, I want their full attention. But every day we're going to have some activity. I want them to go see it. I want them to do it.
Now, from now on, we're going to start squeezing things down. At night we'll have our curfew more?? we'll have curfews and we'll start tightening things down now, but up until now I want those guys to get out and see all the sights. I want them to have a good time. That's part of growing up. That's part of the education.
I don't know, who was it, Woody or Bo, take them out to the monastery, that's punishment. No wonder they couldn't win.
Q. Which movie are you going to see?
BARRY ALVAREZ: We're going to see the Reacher movie.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, I remember, first of all, we didn't have an indoor facility, so we came out and we were here?? if I'm not mistaken, it's either the 14th or the 17th we came out here. So we would get the kids up early in the morning, we'd meet, go to practice, hurry up through practice, leave at noon, hurry up, get dressed because we're going to go to Disneyland, we're going to go to Knott's Berry Farm. We're going to go someplace. After four days they're drained. Don James let them sleep all morning, no curfew, they're enjoying it themselves, doing it themselves, but they had good night's sleep and had good practices in the afternoon. There's a fine line between it all. You can overdo it, but like tonight, I wanted to let them sleep. If I had had my perfect day today, I'd have had this in the afternoon let them sleep until 10:00 because today for me is going to be a lighter day. Today is going to be a mental day and timing day.
BARRY ALVAREZ: He's in the game plan. He's??
Q. Has that been difficult to manage, the fact that he is healthy now and is in the game plan?
BARRY ALVAREZ: No, Matt Canada and I have talked about that. Staff a brings a little more to the table. He can throw the ball down the field. He brings a little more to it and gives us a little more ammo in the game plan.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Red pants? I don't think we've decided that yet. I'll talk to the captains. They've mentioned that earlier. Whatever they want to wear. We have the red pants here, we have white pants, we've got blacks socks, we've got white socks. Whatever they want to wear, that's what they can wear.
BARRY ALVAREZ: I think that's great. I love red pants. I'd put white shoes on?? I wanted white shoes, too. We couldn't get them.
BARRY ALVAREZ: We're going to work him in. We will do?? we'll work him inside of a series. We may go a series with him, but we're going to?? we're not afraid to put him in on 3rd down and work him within the series.