Capitals

Wisconsin turns to former coach for the Rose Bowl

201212061044386470760-p2.jpeg

Wisconsin turns to former coach for the Rose Bowl

MADISON, Wis. (AP) When Wisconsin linebacker Mike Taylor was a kid, he used to watch the Badgers and dream of playing for Barry Alvarez.

He's finally getting his wish.

The Badgers are going retro for the Rose Bowl, talking Alvarez - their former football coach-turned athletic director - into returning to the sidelines on New Year's Day against Stanford after Bret Bielema bolted for Arkansas this week.

``It's the best thing that could happen,'' Taylor said Thursday after Alvarez's return was announced. ``He's familiar with what we do and he built this program. That's why kids like me come here.''

But this is a one-night-only gig, Alvarez insisted. He's already looking for a replacement for Bret Bielema, and plans to begin interviewing candidates next week.

``No one likes change, but you can grow through change and there's opportunity through change,'' Alvarez said. ``I want the seniors to go out the right way, and I want the young players to understand that I will put a coach in place that they'll be pleased with.''

It won't, however, be Paul Chryst.

The first-year Pitt coach was considered the favorite to replace Bielema, a former Badgers offensive coordinator who is from the area, has many ties here and remains a popular figure at Wisconsin. Alvarez pulled some strings to help get Chryst the Panthers job last year, and said it wouldn't be ``appropriate'' for him to hire Chryst back such a short time later.

Chryst says he is committed to the Panthers, who are preparing for the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5.

``I think he should be committed to Pitt,'' Alvarez said. ``I wouldn't think it would be right for him to leave after one year. I wouldn't feel right, and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to hire him back after I asked someone to do me a favor and help him get that job. So Paul's going to stay at Pitt.''

But there is no shortage of interest in the job, Alvarez said. His phone was ``blowing up'' as soon as word spread that Bielema was leaving, and Alvarez said he's already talked to a few potential candidates. He will not use a search firm, joking that ``most search committees use me.''

A current head coach is his preference, though Alvarez would not rule out hiring an assistant. Wisconsin ties are not required, but Alvarez said the new coach needs to be familiar with the program and its history.

``I think anyone that's competitive understands this is a good job,'' Alvarez said. ``They're not going to worry about my legacy or what Bret left behind or anything else. They know this is a good job and they can come in here and continue to win. We've got new facilities coming. This is a pretty special place.''

And Alvarez is largely to thank for that.

Wisconsin was little more than a Big Ten bottom feeder when Alvarez arrived in 1990. The Badgers had all of six winning seasons from 1964-89, and went 19 years without another bowl appearance after losing to USC in the 1963 Rose Bowl. They were such a sorry bunch that the Wisconsin band's postgame show was the main attraction at Camp Randall, with students rarely bothering to show up until halftime or later.

But Alvarez came with stingy defense, a power running game and a massive offense line - ``those big palookas up front,'' he said Thursday - that would soon become the standard in both college and the pros. The Badgers had a Big Ten-record 10 straight seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher under Alvarez, and Ron Dayne became the school's second Heisman Trophy winner in 1999.

Four years after taking over, Alvarez led the Badgers to a 10-1-1 record, a No. 4 ranking and the 1994 Rose Bowl. Wisconsin has had only two losing seasons since then.

Alvarez's 118-73-4 record in 16 seasons includes a 3-0 mark in the Rose Bowl - Wisconsin's only victories in eight trips to Pasadena. He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2009.

``It's a special place,'' Alvarez said. ``I love the atmosphere. I love the week leading up to it. There isn't anything that I enjoy more. With this being our third (straight) appearance and the Hall of Fame, this is my fourth year in a row and I love it. It doesn't get a bit old to me. I will enjoy every second of it.''

As will the Badgers.

Bielema's departure was a shock, coming just three days after Wisconsin earned a school-record third straight trip to the Rose Bowl with a 70-31 rout of Nebraska in the Big Ten championship. The coach even told players at a Monday night meeting not to believe rumors he was going somewhere, quarterback Curt Phillips said.

Once Bielema left, there was no question who the Badgers wanted as their interim coach.

``Looking forward to being coached by one of the greatest of all time In my last game as a badger! Let's go get em!'' running back Montee Ball said on Twitter.

Alvarez has been something of a coach emeritus the last seven years. Bielema was his hand-picked successor, and he stuck close to the framework Alvarez had established. Alvarez attended most practices, and often helped to woo recruits.

``When anyone around this program simply says `coach', you know who they're talking about,'' Chris Borland tweeted.

So for him to step back in for the Rose Bowl will mean very little change for the Badgers. Alvarez said he will oversee practices and manage the game, allowing the coordinators to focus on game planning against the Cardinal.

The assistants have told players they are committed to Wisconsin through the Rose Bowl.

``I think this is probably the best,'' Alvarez said. ``I felt this was the best way to go about it and give the players the best opportunity'' to win.

And, make no mistake, the Badgers intend to keep Alvarez's perfect Rose Bowl record intact.

More than a few people have said the Badgers have no business being in the Rose Bowl at 8-5. Wisconsin actually finished third in the Big Ten's Leaders Division, but Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions.

But Alvarez said Wisconsin has nothing to apologize for.

``I told (the players) I would be honored to coach them,'' Alvarez said. ``But I wanted them to understand, if I was going to coach them, we weren't going to screw around. We were going to go out there to win.''

Quick Links

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING PLAYOFF SERIES?

Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.

WHAT CHANNEL IS GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING SERIES?

Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING?

Capitals projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.

CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING GAME 6 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, offense

Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 21, one day before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Redskins player one-liners, offense

A few weeks ago, I did an early projection of the Redskins’ 53-man roster on offense and defense. As the team gets ready for OTAs here is a comment on each player expected to make the team on offense; the defense will be up tomorrow. 

Quarterbacks

—It seems likely that Alex Smith will jump right into the leadership role on the offense, unlike his predecessor, who often seemed to be a reluctant leader. 

—Since Smith has missed a few games with injuries here and there, the chances of the team needing Colt McCoy to come in and win a key game are greater than they were the past three years. 

Kevin Hogan has from now until the end of the season to show that he can be a viable No. 2 quarterback to help ensure that he has a job here in 2019. 

Running backs

—It’s been a while around here since expectations were this high for a player picked late in the second round but Derrius Guice will try to meet them. 

Chris Thompson could be ready to participate in OTAs but look for him to get a very light workload if he puts on a helmet at all. 

—If Rob Kelley wants to be a regular on the 46-man game day inactive list he will have to play a lot of special teams, something he has done sparingly in his two years in the league. 

—Since the team likely will monitor Guice’s workload as a rookie, Samaje Perine will get some carries in key situations this year. 

Wide receivers

—While Josh Doctson does need to get more chances to use his huge catch radius and take balls away from defenders, he also could benefit by working to get more separation on a regular basis. 

—Smith was one of the best deep ball throwers in the league last year and if he is going to maintain that status he will need to look for Paul Richardson at least a few times per game. 

—After his play leveled off in his second and third years in the league, will Jamison Crowder have a contract year breakout? 

—It will be interesting to see what Maurice Harris can do if he stays healthy and get some consistent playing time. 

—Will Trey Quinn be a project or will the last pick in the draft have some instant impact on the offense? 

Tight ends

—​Jordan Reed could be an All-Pro or he could be a cap casualty in 2019. 

—The numbers say that Vernon Davis needs to have Reed on the field to be consistently productive; he had no more than two receptions in any of the last six games. 

—​Jeremy Sprinkle will be relied upon to block and play special teams and anything he produces in the receptions department will be a bonus. 

Offensive line

—After making the Pro Bowl while dealing with a serious knee injury last year, who knows what Trent Williams can accomplish if he can, you know, practice during the week.

—Right now Shawn Lauvao is the Redskins’ starter at left guard but a trade or free agent signing could change that in a heartbeat.

—Jay Gruden has a great deal of confidence in Chase Roullier as the starting center and the hope is that he keeps the job for many years to come. 

—Will Brandon Scherff take the next step and attain All-Pro status?

—​Morgan Moses dealt with injuries to both ankles last year, but he was the only offensive lineman who didn’t miss at least two starts.

—If I had to bet right now I’d say that Ty Nsekhe will start the season as the backup tackle on both sides and not as the starting left guard. 

—As long as Nsekhe is the swing tackle, Geron Christin is likely to be inactive on game days. 

—​Tyler Catalina will have to battle his way onto the roster but his ability to play both guard and tackle will land him on the 53. 

—​Tony Bergstrom is the answer to the question, “Who is the Redskins backup center?”

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Tandler on Twitter

Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 22
—Training camp starts (7/26) 67
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 81

The Redskins last played a game 140 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 112 days. 

In case you missed it