Who will coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl?

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Who will coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl?

From Comcast SportsNetMADISON, 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."

Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

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Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

Peter Chiarelli may be long gone from Causeway Street, but his spirit lives on. 

If someone can explain to me the Bruins' fascination with bottom-of-the-roster veterans with average talent, then I'd love to hear it. I used to think it was the problem of Chiarelli, the B's former general manager. But now I have to wonder if it's just in the water down there. And current GM Don Sweeney is chugging it.

I have no other explanation for the team's decision to sign defenseman Kevan Miller to a four-year (four!) extension worth $10 million yesterday. Miller is a nice role piece. But how that translates to four guaranteed years when he will turn 29 early next season and the Bruins have massive holes throughout their roster is beyond me. 

What's more, the B's already have nearly the identical player in Adam McQuaid, who is roughly the same age, same size, same shot (right), same injury history (poor) and plays the same role (bottom pairing, right side). McQuaid is a little less skilled than Miller, so of course, using Bruins logic, he makes a little more ($2.75 million). But McQuaid also got four years when he re-signed prior to last season.

Certainly, contracts worth $2-3 million annually aren't going to ruin your cap in a vacuum. But start adding them up you see how the Bruins got into trouble in the first place. Combine McQuaid and Miller's hits and you have $5.25 million of valuable space chewed up against the cap. Basically, that's the price of a solid, top-4 defenseman, which the Bruins need ten times more than a depth piece.

Scary. The Bruins currently don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2 defensemen. (Sorry, Bruins writers, Zdeno Chara belongs on a second pairing right now.) Yet they have decided to lock themselves up with a pair of No. 6 guys who basically duplicate each other. Again, why do the B's continue to overpay the bottom of the depth chart when the top is so lousy?

It's one thing for Chiarelli to overcommit to the likes of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Dan Paille, Greg Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg, etc. Those guys at least helped you win a Cup and get to another final. From an emotional standpoint, you can explain those mistakes. But Miller? He's been a part of one of the worst defense corps in the league the last few years. He's been on a team that has failed to make the playoffs two consecutive seasons. How do you fall in love with that guy?

Please don't tell me that Miller would have gotten that contract on the open market. I mean, it's true; he probably would have. But what does that matter? Does that mean it's a good deal? Just because Colorado was willing to pay Carl Soderberg just under $5 million a season, does that mean the B's should have paid the middling centerman that money last year? Of course not. Use your head. Just because someone else gets stupid doesn't mean you have to.

You shudder to think what's coming next. Loui Eriksson is still out there as a pending free agent. Ditto for Torey Krug. On a good team, the former is a third liner and the latter is another third-pairing guy. Neither have been good enough to lift the B's above the playoff line the last two years despite playing prominent roles. Both are about to get overpaid on the market . . . unless the B's step in first and insist on being the team that gets stupid and overcommits first.

Given what we've seen with Miller, how can anyone be confident that the B's will be smart enough to pass? My confidence level on this is somewhere around 0.0.

Which is exactly how much cap space the B's will have left with this approach.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN. 

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

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Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former Major League Baseball player is running for governor in Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union party, which bills itself as nonviolent and socialist.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells WCAX-TV voters will "need umbrellas" if he's elected, because "it's going to be raining dollars," referring to money trickling down from the wealthy.

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lee says he's a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker." He supports legalizing marijuana, a single-payer health care system and paid family leave.

Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find relief help?

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Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find relief help?

Jared Carrabis joins Sports Tonight to discuss the news that Carson Smith will undergo Tommy John surgery, and whether he has faith that Dombrowski will be able to find bullpen help.