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Issue link: http://catalog.e-digitaleditions.com/i/143421
BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ • UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S 'Overachievers' achieved special things I t sure doesn't seem like it has been 20 years since our first Rose Bowl team. Seems like yesterday. I still think back to all the kids that we recruited in that first class. They were a tough group. I was taping a show for the Big Ten Network with Ohio State's Eddie George and Orlando Pace and they told me, "Coach, we hated to play your teams. We knew it was going to be a fist fight.'' They both started laughing and said, "Hey, do you remember that '93 game? You had two guys doubling Big Daddy Wilkinson. "You had your guys block him 10 yards downfield and someone speared him at the end. We were just howling in the film room when we saw that.'' Our players used to really get upset with me whenever I would mention to the press that they were a bunch of overachievers. They liked to think that they were pretty good, pretty talented. I knew they were pretty good, pretty talented. But I wanted them to play with a chip on their shoulder because that's when they played best. I didn't want them to feel too good about themselves. I wanted them to always have that edge that they had something to prove. A lot of them weren't highly recruited. But they ended up being very good players. Before the '93 season started, I went through every position on 8 » VARSITY JULY 11, 2013 the team and we didn't have a weakness. We may not have been the best at any one position in the league, but there wasn't a position on the team that was going to hurt us. Joe Panos kind of brought them all together. He was kind of the policeman. I knew (our players) were pretty good, pretty talented. But I wanted them to play with a chip on their shoulder because that's when they played best. We had an issue in the summer where the guys that Joe was living with had a party and somebody went into one of the bedrooms and stole some stuff, some CDs or something. Joe came in and told me about it. He didn't have to get involved but he wound up policing the team by tracking the player down and I ended up suspending him. Panos was really a good leader. If you ask me what I remember most about that season, I'd say winning the Rose Bowl over UCLA has to be number one. But going to Tokyo and clinching the trip to Pasadena is a close two. We just had a better plan than Michigan State. Since there was a 15-hour time difference, our trainer, Denny Helwig, researched how to best handle the jet lag. He consulted with a couple of UW professors whose specialty was sleep disorders. These professors had been consultants with NASA, and I think it reassured everyone that we were getting the same care and treatment as the astronauts in the space program. We had them in sunglasses and staying up longer and we had them believing that they had a big edge on the Michigan State players. And they did ― they were better than them. After we returned from Japan, I remember the bus caravan from Chicago to Madison. Everybody was wound up. Even when you're tired, your adrenaline can keep you running. We had just achieved a goal that we had set four years earlier and there was pride in that achievement, especially because of the magnitude of it. What was really gratifying was the response from our fans from the time we hit the Illinois-Wisconsin border. They were lined up on the interstate and on overpasses and honking their horns. There were over 10,000 people waiting for us at Camp Randall Stadium. To honor our players that way was overwhelming to me back then. It still is today, 20 years later.