The Wake-Up Call: Barry Alvarez sticking around, D’Cota Dixon forgives
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This your Sept. 8, 2016 Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
Let’s get started.
Alvarez signs on for more
Barry Alvarez is sticking around for an additional three years after Wisconsin announced Wednesday that the athletic director had signed a contract extension through Jan. 31, 2021.
This isn’t a huge surprise by any measure. Though there had been some talk in recent years about when Alvarez might step away, it’s clear he’s still interested and energized by a job that pays him in excess of $1 million per year. Many have scoffed at the salary, especially with the significant increase in athletic department staff around him since he took the job in 2004, but it’s hard to argue with the results.
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 7, 2016
Though the two coaching changes in football had to be embarrassing to an extent — as well as how basketball coach Bo Ryan decided to end his tenure last December — Alvarez has overseen a lot of success in his time, especially in the major sports, which is what funds the department. Three Big Ten championships in football and a pair of Final Four appearances in basketball over the last six years, have Wisconsin riding high, and the opinion of Alvarez even higher.
Alvarez, who won more games as Wisconsin’s football coach than anyone else, still rules Madison. When he enters a room or a building, it’s still him that all the people are looking at. If people can either hear him talk or hear football coach Paul Chryst talk, they’ll take the 69-year-old Alvarez every time. It’s the same when it comes to basketball coach Greg Gard.
Despite not having coached but two football games since 2005, Alvarez is still the face of Wisconsin athletics. And the fact that he could be around another five years is a very good thing for fans of his teams.
Dixon is a forgiving man
D’Cota Dixon is a better man than most.
He was the victim of a late hit after grabbing the game-winning interception last Saturday in Wisconsin’s 16-14 upset of then-No. 5 LSU. The man who delivered the hit, LSU guard Josh Boutte, was suspended for one game as a result.
On Wednesday, Dixon was asked whether he thought the one-game suspension was enough for what many were calling one of the worst cheap shots in recent memory.
“I wish he wasn’t suspended, in all honesty,” he said. “And I wish people wouldn’t bash him so much in the media. People have no idea what it’s like to be in a situation like that, a game-time situation.
“People handle their frustrations differently. Obviously I wouldn’t handle mine like that, but it’s OK. You live to fight another day. I was OK. He’s OK.”
Dixon said he spoke with Boutte, and he felt the senior was sincere in his apology. He even added that they had built a bit of a friendship over the incident.
His reaction is much different than how many players would handle it, and he should be commended, but he’s wrong. Boutte definitely deserved to be suspended. Though most of us have never been in that situation, the fact is thousands of football players have been, and it’s rarely turned out like that.
While Boutte was charging at Dixon, his teammates were either walking toward the sideline or expressing frustration as the result of another wayward Brandon Harris pass.
What Boutte did wasn’t normal or excusable. He got less than what he deserved for the hit.
Chryst gets awarded for team success
A bevy of awards came the Badgers way in the wake of their upset of No. 5 LSU last weekend, including kicker Rafael Gaglianone being named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. It continued on Wednesday when Chryst was tabbed as the Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week.
Congratulations to @BadgerFootball's Paul Chryst—Week 1's Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week!
— The Dodd Trophy (@DoddTrophy) September 7, 2016
Though it’s considered an individual award, it’s really honoring the work of the entire Wisconsin coaching staff for what they accomplished. What they did on defense against a talented LSU squad was impressive, and they clearly outplayed the Tigers on special teams. But Chryst’s biggest impact on each game is the offense. And to be fair, that performance doesn’t deserve any type of coaching award.
The second-year coach, who calls all the plays, was responsible for an offense that struggled to score despite good field position for much of the game. They turned the ball over three times, including two interceptions from his quarterback.
At least some of the lack of success on offense can be attributed to the stout defense that LSU plays. But if the Badgers struggle again this week against a much weaker opponent in Akron, the concern level for fans should increase significantly.
Koenig primed for big senior year
ESPN’s college basketball preseason series, where they ask questions and answer them from the view of the teams in their Way-Too-Early Top 25 poll, continued on Wednesday when they asked what the biggest roadblocks for each team would be.
For No. 8 Wisconsin, Jeff Goodman wrote:
“Last season was a roller coaster, on and off the court. The Badgers started slow, then Bo Ryan abruptly retired, Wisconsin got rolling and interim coach Greg Gard got the permanent gig. Gard’s biggest challenge will be to get the most he can out of the duo of Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes. The two need to feed off one another and play like a pair of first-team Big Ten guys.”
Hayes came back to Wisconsin after a flirtation with the NBA draft, but Koenig has been the more intriguing one this offseason. A starter for much of the last two years, the senior has apparently been putting in a lot of time getting his body in better shape for his last go-around in college.
— Clint Parks (@Brotherhood05) August 27, 2016
Koenig, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer to send Wisconsin to the Sweet Sixteen last March, is the Badgers’ best shooter. If he has added the quickness that those close to the program say he has, the potential for a third Final Four run in four years is a real possibility.