Wisconsin, UCLA set home-and-home series for 2029, 2030

MADISON — Wisconsin has added another Power 5 team to its future schedule.

The school announced Tuesday a home-and-home matchup with UCLA in 2029 and 2030, with the first game taking place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the second one in Madison at Camp Randall Stadium.

“UCLA is one of the premier programs in college football,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “We had some memorable bowl games when I was on the sidelines but this is a great opportunity for us to play them at Camp Randall. Non-conference scheduling is always a challenge but the folks at UCLA have been great to deal with and we look forward to the series.”

Unless they face each other in a bowl game before 2029, it will be the school’s first time playing since the 2000 Sun Bowl, a victory for the Badgers. Wisconsin also beat the Bruins in the 1999 and 1994 Rose Bowls. Overall, the teams have played 11 times with UCLA owning a 7-4 record.

The addition of the Bruins to the schedule comes just more than a week after the school announced a series against Notre Dame in 2020 at Lambeau Field and 2021 at Soldier Field.

Here is the rundown of non-conference Power 5 opponents now on Wisconsin’s future schedules:

Notre Dame – 2020, 2021
Syracuse – 2020, 2021
Washington State – 2022, 2023
Virginia Tech – 2024, 2025
UCLA — 2029, 2030

Like he did with Barry Alvarez, former coach Lou Holtz made an impression on the current Badgers

MADISON — Lou Holtz has been one of the biggest professional influences in Barry Alvarez’s life. The Hall of Fame coach hired Alvarez to oversee the linebackers at Notre Dame in 1987 and then had him run his defense the two years after that. The lessons learned and the advice gained during that short time together stayed with Alvarez during his 16 years as the head coach at Wisconsin and his 14 years as the school’s athletic director. So when Alvarez offered to have Holtz come speak to this year’s team, current coach Paul Chryst was receptive to the idea.

“Certainly there’s a lot of the philosophical foundational pieces that Coach Alvarez got from him, and I certainly have gotten from Coach Alvarez,” Chryst said of the points hammered home by Holtz. “The game is a vehicle we can use to teach and help these young guys grow. It was a good message.”

A majority of the players these days know Holtz more for his time on TV than as the coach of six different college programs, including his 11 years with the Fighting Irish where he led the program to its 11th national title in 1988. Yet, despite the nearly 60-year age difference between Holtz and most of the Badgers, his message to them of knowing their role on the team, and the need to embrace it, hit home with several players.

LISTEN: CB Derrick Tindal says it’s time the UW secondary gets some respect.

“Don’t be the guy that [doesn’t] accept your role,” cornerback Derrick Tindal said of what stood out to him. “Everybody can’t be a superstar. Everybody can’t be a starter. If your job is on special teams, and we need you to block, do that to the best of your ability.

“You think I like going out there to block on punt return sometimes? [No.] But I’m going to do whatever to help the team. I don’t care if it’s punt return, kickoff, kick return. They can put me on the front line if they want to. If they feel like that’s what is going to help the team, that’s what I’m going to do.

“I thought [coach] Holtz did a good job of [getting that message across].”

In recent years, injuries have forced Wisconsin to adapt on the fly and go deep into its roster to find replacements. And it’s worked well because players haven’t fallen into the trap of just going through the motions when they know they’ll likely be back on the bench when the first-team player returns. Instead, they’ve seen an opportunity and pounced on it, sometimes with stellar results.

LISTEN: UW coach Paul Chryst says the backup QBs are still very early in their development.

It was that type of work that led to the rise of linebackers Jack Cichy, Chris Orr and Ryan Connelly in the last two seasons, while also giving wide receiver Jazz Peavy the break he needed when guys at his position went down. Wisconsin’s football history is littered with similar examples.

“Embracing your role on this team and never being content with anything that you’re doing,” Orr said of his biggest takeaway from Holtz’s speech. “I think that was a good message for young guys and old guys [to hear].”

For nose guard Garrett Rand, whose high school coach played for Holtz at Notre Dame, the overriding theme was to focus on holding up his end of the bargain and expect his teammates to do the same.

“Even for the guys that aren’t playing as much, do your job,” Rand said. “[If you do] your job, everything else will be fine.”

Wisconsin names Chris McIntosh as deputy athletic director

MADISON — Barry Alvarez’s contract as Wisconsin’s athletic director runs through January of 2021, but it’s looking like he might already have a replacement in mind.

On Wednesday, the school announced that Chris McIntosh, currently the associate athletic director for business development, had been promoted to deputy athletic director, the No. 2 job in the athletic department, replacing Walter Dickey.

“I am always looking to put people into positions and give them responsibilities that are in the best interests of the department,” Alvarez said in a statement. “We are fortunate here to have a lot of staff who are very experienced and committed to seeing our student-athletes succeed on and off the fields of play.”

McIntosh played for Alvarez at Wisconsin in the late 1990s, earning All-American honors at left tackle as a senior in 1999 when he captained the Badgers to a second-straight Big Ten title and another Rose Bowl victory. He returned to his alma mater in 2014 in an administrative role and has quickly moved up the ranks.

Alvarez, who will turn 71 in December, has not given a timetable on how much longer he wants to serve as athletic director.

Boosters play underappreciated role in UW’s success

MADISON, Wis. — Some might attribute the growth and success of the University of Wisconsin athletic department to the renaissance of the football program. But behind the scenes, athletics boosters provide the resources for those programs to thrive.

When it comes to boosters, few have provided as much stability as Ted Kellner, Chairman and CEO of Fiduciary Management in Milwaukee. In 1980, the UW alumnus founded FMI, an investment firm which handles over $25 billion in assets. His professional success allowed him to donate $10 million to his alma mater, which was used to construct faculty offices at Camp Randall which now bears his name.

Kellner said it was important for him to provide future generations of students and student-athletes with top-notch facilities so they could reach their academic and athletic goals.

“Just look around the campus,” Kellner said as he began to make mental note of other major donors. “The Kohl Center — [former U.S.] senator [Herb] Kohl gave $25 million, “Ab” Nicholas gave $10 million, our family at the time chipped in $2.5 or $3 million. That building was basically built with private support.”

And that support is seen in other facilities on campus as well. Boosters helped finance the weight room at Camp Randall and the McClain Center, which Kellner said was a big reason athletes come to Wisconsin.

So it’s no wonder the University has plans to provide over $105 million in upgrades across campus. The UW’s “Master Plan” is a document containing possible upgrades and repairs to major facilities over the next 10 years. Among those proposed upgrades is the addition of a $43.1 million sports performance complex on the south corner of the Kohl Center.

Those proposed upgrades don’t currently include any plans for a baseball complex, an idea Kellner says has a very slim chance of ever happening. But Kellner says if Wisconsin continues to operate its finances on the current trajectory, he envisions the Badgers being a national powerhouse for a long time to come.

Wisconsin announces new fan behavior and carry-in policies for sporting events

MADISON | Last week, Wisconsin officials said they’d have updated policies and procedures in place by this weekend for their different sports venues after a fan wearing a President Barack Obama mask and a noose around his neck was seen at Camp Randall Stadium during a game last month. On Wednesday, those revised policies were announced.

Among them, include the barring of “nooses and ropes” from venues, with Wisconsin saying those will now be treated as weapons that constitute a threat to safety.

“Any person who engages in violent, threatening, abusive or otherwise disorderly conduct which tends to provoke a disturbance or incite violence will be ejected from our events,” the new policies read. “Threats include statements, actions and behaviors that could reasonably be foreseen as having a purpose to inflict physical harm, even if the person making the threat doesn’t have the ability to carry out the threat. Disorderly conduct does not require that a disruption actually occur. Any spectator carrying a prohibited item may be refused admittance or may be ejected from the venue.”

The new policies were the result of UW administrators, students and community leaders coming together over the past week to shore up perceived weaknesses.

“What happened at Camp Randall two weeks ago goes against everything we stand for,” athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “I am very pleased that we all were able to work together to improve our policies. I greatly appreciate the collaborative spirit of our meetings with leaders in our community. It is great to be able to talk, and even more satisfying that we took action.”

The policies also reiterate that any kind of disrespectful conduct towards others, including racist behavior, won’t be tolerated.

“This policy change is an important step in ensuring that our sporting events are free from offensive conduct that has the potential to create a disturbance,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement. “I have asked the Office of Legal Affairs to work closely with the Division of Athletics in the next several weeks to review facilities use and other policies to clarify conduct rules at all of our sports facilities. We fully intend to include campus and community stakeholders in that process as well.”

Here are the complete changes announced by Wisconsin

CHANGES TO FAN BEHAVIOR, CARRY-IN AND TICKET POLICIES
Effective immediately, the following changes are made to existing policies:
1. Items prohibited from our facilities include nooses and ropes because they are weapons and they constitute a threat to safety, as do replicas of weapons.

2. Any person who engages in violent, threatening, abusive or otherwise disorderly conduct which tends to provoke a disturbance or incite violence will be ejected from our events. Threats include statements, actions and behaviors that could reasonably be foreseen as having a purpose to inflict physical harm, even if the person making the threat doesn’t have the ability to carry out the threat. Disorderly conduct does not require that a disruption actually occur.

3. The University of Wisconsin and the Big Ten Conference promotes good sportsmanship, appropriate fan behavior and a welcoming atmosphere for all fans at all athletic events sponsored by the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. Racist and other offensive behavior is not appropriate for our venues.

4. Any spectator carrying a prohibited item may be refused admittance or may be ejected from the venue.

UW AD Barry Alvarez issues statement in response to student-athletes calling for change in dealing with racism

MADISON | Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez has responded to calls from student-athletes to enact change to the way the University fights racism on campus.

In a statement posted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, Alvarez indicated his support for the students and their push for change.

“I could not be more proud of our student-athletes who have the courage of their convictions to speak out about their experiences and about societal issues that are important not only on our campus but all across the country,” Alvarez said in the statement. “I look forward to meeting with our student-athletes in the hope that, together, we can take action to create positive change.”

The response from Alvarez came less than 24 hours after an essay was tweeted out by at least 25 student-athletes of color on the Wisconsin campus that laid out different forms of racism they face on a regular basis, and calling for more to be done about it by those in administration positions, including Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

Wisconsin to host a Friday night game in 2017

MADISON — Friday night football is coming to Madison next fall.

The Big Ten announced Tuesday that Wisconsin will be among the first to host a game on Friday when they welcome Utah State on Sept. 1, 2017 to Camp Randall Stadium. It’ll be the Badgers first home game on a weekday since opening the 2011 season against UNLV on a Thursday, and its first Friday night game since 2002 when they beat Fresno State.

“As a former high school and college coach, I have great respect for the tradition and importance of Friday night high school football in the state of Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement last week when it was first announced the Big Ten would be playing on Friday. “As a conference, we felt it was the right time to explore additional opportunities for exposure on Friday nights on a limited basis.”

Alvarez made clear that while the school was more than willing to host games before Labor Day weekend, they have not committed to hosting Friday night games at any other time.

Fri., Sept. 1 Washington at Rutgers
Fri., Sept. 1 Utah State at Wisconsin
Fri., Sept. 8 Ohio at Purdue
Fri., Sept. 29 Nebraska at Illinois
Fri., Oct. 13 Northwestern at Maryland
Fri., Oct. 27 Michigan State at Northwestern

New fan policies expected at Camp Randall Stadium in the wake of ‘repugnant’ costume

MADISON | There will be new fan policies in place the next time Wisconsin plays a home game at Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin athletic directory Barry Alvarez, along with community leaders and students, held a workshop Wednesday where ideas were exchanged to avoid an incident like the one that saw a fan wearing a President Barack Obama mask with a noose around his neck at last Saturday’s game against Nebraska.

“I am deeply troubled by the incident from last Saturday’s game and I am sorry for the harm it caused,” Alvarez said in a statement. “I am determined that nothing like this will happen again.”

A picture of the fan’s costume went viral during the Badgers’ 23-17 win over the Huskers, and the University drew criticism for only asking the fan to take the costume off as opposed to being ejected, with officials citing the man’s right to free speech.

The meeting yesterday, that included Boys and Girls Club of Dane County President and CEO Michael Johnson, was designed to discuss new policies regarding fan policies, and those will be presented prior to the Badgers next home game on Nov. 12 against Illinois.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with a number of community leaders and students (Wednesday) afternoon to discuss our stadium policies,” Alvarez said. “Our plan, before our next home football game, is to have a revised policy in place. Our department is committed to working collaboratively to make our stadium a great and safe place for fans to watch a football game.”
 

The Big Ten will start playing football games on Friday night in 2017

MADISON — Big Ten football is coming to Friday nights.

That was the message from conference leaders on Wednesday when they announced that starting in 2017 they will play six Friday games spread through September and October.

“There has been a lot of dialogue within our conference about the feasibility of playing a very limited number of Friday night games,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “As a former high school and college coach, I have great respect for the tradition and importance of Friday night high school football in the state of Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest. As a conference, we felt it was the right time to explore additional opportunities for exposure on Friday nights on a limited basis.”

The news was received differently throughout the conference. Illinois and Northwestern were reportedly open to hosting games, while Michigan flat-out said they wouldn’t, citing the impact it would have on its fan base. Others, like Iowa and Ohio State, have said they are willing but with restrictions.

That’s the same tact that Alvarez took when addressing Wisconsin’s openness to hosting games.

“At Wisconsin, we are open to hosting games at Camp Randall on the Friday night prior to Labor Day weekend in selected years but have not committed to hosting Friday night games at any other time.”

Barry Alvarez is still upset over Wisconsin’s loss to LSU in 2014

MADISON | It doesn’t appear that Barry Alvarez is quite over Wisconsin’s 28-24 loss to LSU in 2014.

More than two years since the Badgers blew a 17-point second-half lead, the former football coach and current UW athletic director still seems to be less than pleased over what took place at NRG Stadium in Houston. Among his biggest gripes, and certainly that of many fans, is how star tailback Melvin Gordon touched the ball just three times after breaking off a 63-yard run to start the third quarter.

“That game was close to being a blowout,” Alvarez told Ross Dellenger of The New Orleans Advocate. “Never did get an answer why Melvin Gordon didn’t play anymore after the first carry of the second half.

“There never was an answer. I saw him the next day and asked him if he was hurt and he said, ‘No.’ I still haven’t gotten an answer why.”

Following Gordon’s run to open the second half, he had 139 yards on 13 carries. He’d finish the game with 16 carries for 140 yards.

After the game, then head coach Gary Andersen said he didn’t know why Gordon didn’t get more carries, and though Gordon told the media he did injure his hip late in the first half, he was good to go. The following Monday, Andersen used the injury as his reasoning for Gordon’s lack of playing time, though the tailback maintained he was healthy enough to play.

Alvarez was also upset with a fake field goal that LSU ran in the third quarter that resulted in a first down on a drive they would later score on.

“They’ve been notorious for fake kicks,” Alvarez said. “They don’t make that fake kick, we get the ball at midfield and that’s going to be a laugher.”