The Wisconsin athletic department is presenting a united front in the face of accusations that Bret Bielema’s dismissal of Mike Markuson was nothing but a panic move. Of course the most authoritative voice in the athletic department is that of AD and former coach Barry Alvarez. Man has a statue after all. He must know what he’s talking about. And he fully supports Bielema’s decision. As you might have expected.
In a full-page piece featured inside the newest issue of Varsity, Alvarez explains exactly why Markuson had to go and why he is behind Bielema. Alvarez writes:
Bret was very decisive in his decision-making. And, quite frankly, it was a decision that had to be made. It was a necessary move — it wasn’t panic — it was absolutely necessary. You don’t see it happen very often, and when it does happen, you know that there are enough issues that a change had to be made. It’s better to do something like this now — two games into the season — instead of halfway through the season.
Alvarez goes into more detail about the mess in Oregon State. And seems a little irritated about it:
You’ve got the best running back in America lined up behind them and we’ve got second-and-short and third-and-short and we can’t make it. Oregon State wasn’t overloading the box or anything else. They just beat us up front. We weren’t blocking them. There were a lot of busts.
We were running a simple zone play and had two linemen going in opposite directions. When we run zone, those guys have to be on a string — when everybody steps it should look like a chorus line. It didn’t look that way the other day.
It certainly can’t hurt Bielema to have Alvarez in his corner. But the final tale on this decision won’t be told until the re-tooled blocking scheme is put into action. The next two weeks against second-tier non-conference competition will provide a little window for Bart Miller to work stuff out, then it’s a true test at Nebraska. If the Badgers get dominated up front by the Huskers and their other Big 10 opponents later on, we’ll know there was more to this than just Markuson’s scheme. We’ll know the talent down there probably just isn’t as good as it used to be.
Maybe Barry will then do a piece defending Bielema’s recruiting. Or not.