Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - April 18, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Page 15 of 62

BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ • UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S Changes keeping spring in players' steps G ary Andersen has done some neat things breaking up the routine this spring for our players, including a danceoff. I also heard that he had the team singing "On, Wisconsin'' after a practice. I like the fact that he has been trying to keep things interesting by changing things up. He has let the kids have some fun ― it's not all pounding and football ― and he's getting to know them better. It's not like, "I'm your coach and I'm going to drill you on the same things: keep your outside arm and leg free on defense and hold the ball high and tight on offense.'' Gary has even opened up a couple of practices to the public. I can't remember ever doing that when I was coaching. It's all a little bit different. But he's still making it competitive for the kids. The spring game is another way to compete, and I'm hoping we have a decent day on Saturday. I've always talked about the importance of playing in front of a crowd as far as a learning experience. It's another environment that players have to get accustomed to during their development; especially if they haven't gotten on the field for us yet and had that crowd reaction. I never really drew any conclusions from the spring game. I can't think of any specific example where someone separated themselves from others at their position. But there can be a big jump in 16 » VARSITY APR I L 18, 2013 physical maturity from the spring to the fall, particularly with the younger guys. I've seen them change their bodies and come back totally different in August. It would be nice to draw a good crowd Saturday. We've tried everything imaginable to increase our attendance for the spring game. But our fans have too many others things going on. I like the fact that (Andersen) has been trying to keep things interesting by changing things up. He has let the kids have some fun ... and he's getting to know them better. There are some places where there's nothing else to do. Earlier this week, I had the privilege to serve on the selection committee for the College Football Hall of Fame as a voting member of the National Football Foundation's Honors Court. I was invited to join the Court this year along with Charles Davis, the Fox sportscaster; and Steve Richardson, the executive director of the football writers association. Charles and I go way back. I worked alongside of Charles and Thom Brennaman on the Fox telecasts of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship game. I knew most of the guys on the selection committee, including the chairman, Gene Corrigan, who was the Notre Dame athletic director when I was on Lou Holtz's coaching staff. During our meetings in Atlanta, we evaluated 77 players and a handful of coaches on the ballot. I really enjoyed the process and the people involved in the voting. It was a good group of guys. It was kind of funny. During a break you might hear someone say, "You know, he was a helluva player.'' And the reaction was predictable, "No kidding.'' All of them were first-team All-Americans. On Monday, I was sitting with former Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo ― we have been friends for a long time ― when news of the Boston Marathon bombings came on the news. Gene, of course, went running out of the room and called his family and made sure everyone was OK. The rest of the day his phone lit up with people checking with him. Someone else in the room got a call from his son, who asked, "Dad, what happened?'' It's so sobering, and you ask yourself, "Why? Why did it happen?'' It was so senseless, it made me sick. Sometimes we get upset with security restrictions ― this, that and the other ― but it only takes a tragedy like this to heighten everyone's awareness.

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