Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - March 14, 2013

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

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BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ • UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S Music at practice? I like the sound of that L ast Saturday, I was one of the speakers at a retirement party and tribute to Tom Osborne in Omaha. Bill Snyder, Bobby Stoops and Barry Switzer were among the coaches honoring Tom. It was a nice tribute, and I had a chance to visit with some old teammates and friends, including Shawn Eichorst, my former deputy here at Wisconsin, and John Melton, who recruited me to Nebraska. Because I was on the road, I didn't get to watch our first spring practice. But I went online and read the reports on it. I already had a sense of what we were going to see. Gary Andersen had talked to me about the tempo of practice and all the things that he believed in ― how you practice and what you're trying to get out of your guys. We also had talked about the music. Gary and I were riding someplace and he said, 'Coach, what kind of music do you like?'' I like all kinds of music; all you have to do is look at the channels that I play on satellite radio. I'll listen to everything from Kiss to soul to The Groove. Now, I admit that I've never heard music played throughout a football practice. But I was impressed with what I heard Monday. I really enjoyed it, quite frankly. I was even more impressed with what I saw. 18 » VARSITY MAR CH 14, 2013 It kind of reminded me of watching a Bo Ryan practice. The coaches know exactly what they want, and they know what they're going to be doing on offense and defense. And that's what they're practicing. There's no wasted time, no wasted drills. One of my messages to young coaches is, "Don't drill just to drill.'' You have to make sure whatever you do carries over to the field and the players understand it. Watching the defense, I saw techniques taught on man coverage that carried over into one-onone drills against receivers, then the team period. Your individual plays into the group, which plays into team. They coached hard. This is a young group of assistants and they're enthusiastic. They've had success where they've been, and they all feel like this is a great opportunity for them. I saw people coaching on the run and teaching and making a lot of corrections. If you're a coach, I've always believed that there has to be some type of feedback after every play. During team drills, you're talking to the players prior to the snap about what they should be thinking. After the snap, good or bad, you talk to them about how they can get better or what they did well. I really liked the energy and pace of practice. Everybody is moving, even the injured guys. They aren't standing around or sitting on a bag. Whatever they could do physically, they were doing. You don't have to practice real long when you practice at that pace. When they stopped and gave the players a break, it wasn't a full five- or 10-minute break. Instead, it was two to three minutes to get your water and get settled down and "Here we go again.'' I thought that Gary's practice was very well thought out. The time was used wisely. While I was there, a lot of the kids came over to me and said hello. I feel much more connected to the players after having coached the team in the Rose Bowl. I think they were halfway intimidated to say anything to me before. They didn't know me and I really didn't know many of them outside of some of the local players or the ones I met through recruiting. It was during Monday's practice that I learned that Bo Ryan had been named Coach of the Year in the Big Ten. It was well-deserved. The last couple of weeks, I've spoken at some of our alumni events, and I've said several times that I think this has been Bo's best coaching job. To lose your point guard and win 21 games ― 12 in what was the strongest league in the country ― and to once again finish among the top four teams speaks to your system and consistency. I'm couldn't be more proud of a coach.

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