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."
BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.
It doesn’t appear likely that Beleskey is going to play Monday night vs. the Panthers, but it’s unknown what’s behind Krug’s absence from the skate.
Both Zdeno Chara and Noel Acciari took part in practice as they come back from injuries, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game.
Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:
K. Miller-C. Miller
With 5:52 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the Patriots and Rams, and with the hosts up 26-3, quarterback Tom Brady was back on the field to lead the Patriots offense.
It was a decision that had some scratching their heads. Why risk the health of your Hall of Fame quarterback in a game that's essentially been decided? Particularly at this point in the year? Particularly just days after the team lost it's most dynamic offensive weapon to season-ending back surgery?
"Well, after the game turns out, it's easy to go back and make those suggestions," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on a conference call Monday. "I've seen a few games in this league. Seen those double-digit leads evaporate in a minute or two. I know that's not a big concern when it does happen and then when it does happen it's a major crisis and [there's] a lot of second-guessing about what should've been done or what shouldn't have been done. Trying to win the game."
The Patriots held the ball for a little over two minutes before punting it back to the Rams. By the time the Patriots got the ball back for the final time with 1:15 remaining, Brady was on the field to take two kneeldowns and wipe out the clock.
He told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning that he wasn't looking for an early hook. The Rams have been accused of dirty plays in the past, and their coaching staff has a reputation for encouraging a reckless style, but Brady explained why he wanted to remain in the game late.
"All these games are close. I know yesterday, 26-3 at one point, but we’re playing for a lot here," he said. "i don’t think it’s ever right to take your foot off the gas pedal. We could use as many reps as possible, all the guys out there. There are different situations that come up in every game. You only get 16 weeks a year to try them out. You try them in practice, but there’s not the speed. There’s not the urgency. It’s not the decision-making because it’s unscripted.
"In practice you go and talk about these are the plays you’re going to run, these are the defenses you can get. Then you go into the game and they it’s all about decision-making really under pressure with everything on the line, so the more reps you can get with Malcolm [Mitchell] and [Chris] Hogan and Martellus [Bennett], guys that I haven’t played with, the better it gets."
Brady escaped his late-game reps no worse for the wear -- he completed three of four passes for 14 yards on his team's second-to-last drive -- but he did take one shot earlier in the game that had him ticked. Rams safety TJ McDonald got into the Patriots backfield untouched and drove Brady into the ground during a second-quarter drive. Brady got the ball away, but he was walloped, and when he got up he sought out McDonald for a few words.
"I think it was pretty emotional," Brady told Kirk and Callahan. "I didn’t see the replay yet, but he made a good clean hit. They were blitzing us. I knew we didn’t have him picked up and he put a little extra something on.”
Asked if the threat of a play like that late in a lopsided game bothered him, Brady said no.
"I said to my wife as I was driving home, she was like, ‘What was that?’ She wants to know about all these things and I was like, ‘I think it is all fair on the football field.’ You put yourself out there," Brady explained. "You’re up 20, you’re down 20. Everyone is playing hard and whatever happens out there is on the football field. I don’t think it was a dirty play.
"Guys love going in there and hitting the quarterback. They’ve been trained to hit the quarterback their entire careers, especially on defense. They get paid more hitting the quarterback. Their team is 4-8 so they are going to play hard 'til the end no matter what. They haven’t been in a lot of games this year so they are going to play hard to try and set them up for next year. I had no problem with that hit. I thought it was a real clean play. I was pretty pissed off for the most part yesterday because we weren’t executing as well as we could and that probably had something to do with it as well."