Barry Alvarez helps lead Most Valuable Coach campaign

Jan 1, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Barry Alvarez is carried by his team after they beat the Auburn Tigers in the 2015 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Barry Alvarez is carried by his team after they beat the Auburn Tigers in the 2015 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

College Football Saturdays and NFL Sundays are what every sports fan looks forward to each week during the season. It is when the greatest football players, and future greats, display their talents in front of thousands of people representing schools, states, cities, and fan pride. While we tune every Saturday and Sunday to watch our favorite teams, it is important to remember where these players, coaches, and all involved came from.

Pairing with former Wisconsin Football coach and current UW-Madison athletic director Barry Alvarez, U.S. Cellular is finding a way to showcase some of the best high school football coaches in the country, that represent their community, team, and school in the best manner on and off the field.

The Most Valuable Coach Award will be given to winning high school coaches that display positive role models to their community both on and off the field. Coach Alvarez got a chance to speak with Badger of Honor and let us in on the Most Valuable Coach contest being presented by U.S. Cellular.

Question (Q): Tell me about your role in the Most Valuable Coach Award process.

Alvarez: I partnered with U.S. Cellular, I’ve done several projects in the community with them [before] and they came to me with the most valuable high school coach and having been a high school coach for nine years I really thought that this was a worthwhile project and cause, and a way that we could honor some high school coaches for what they have done in their community and how they influence young people.

Q: What’s it like being a role model for many of the coaches in this contest, as well as other coaches around the country?

Alvarez: I know the influence I had on the communities I coached in and the players- I think I did it the right way and I still stay in contact with players and parents of kids that I coached way back in the ’70s. To see coaches use me in their career as a role model or a blueprint to help themselves in their communities, it’s an honor to be in that position.

Q: If you had one piece of advice to give to high school coaches, what would it be?

Alvarez: Never lose sight of what your main goal is and that is working with young people. [Helping them] not only become good football players, but good leaders and good citizens and being involved in giving back to the community.

Q: What about the players?

Alvarez: Have fun while you play. Take the life lessons that you learn and be able to adapt those to living the rest of your life.

Q: You have experienced great success and an accomplishing journey to get where you are today. If you had to do it all over again, starting with Mason City, is there anything you would do differently?

Alvarez No. I started out as an assistant in high school right out of college. I was married, built a house, my wife and I were both teaching and people thought we had it made, but I knew what I wanted to do. I set my goals and left a very good job in Lincoln, Nebraska to take a head coaching job with a small school in the middle of the state. My wife cried all the way home when I told her I was going to take that job and it was the best move we made. Mason City recruited me to come there and went there and had success and it allowed me to open doors up to go to the University of Iowa. I tried to focus on the job that I had, I was never looking ahead at the next job and when you have success people notice. I wouldn’t change anything.

Q: Four Wisconsin coaches currently sit in the final 15 for the Most Valuable Coach contest, what does that say about our great state and how much football means to us?

Alvarez: I am really glad that we had some communities that supported their coach and got out and voted. I am hoping at least one of them gets to be a finalist.

Q: Relating to college football, recently the Big Ten announced its 2017 Friday night football schedule, in which the Badgers will be participating, have you gotten any feedback around the community or even from the high school community regarding this?

Alvarez: I got one letter from a season ticket holder expressing their disappointment about the Big Ten going to Friday night games and received concerns from Wisconsin high school coaches about the Big Ten going to Friday night games. I said we can play one, or the possibility of one [Friday night game], it would have to be Labor Day weekend. We have precedence in doing this, we have done it before. I just felt that with talking to Paul [Chryst] we could start camp a day early, we could have an extra day to prepare and that we could do this without really affect high school as much, because the high school game is very important to us.

And of course, we had to try and get some sort of sneak peek at Coach Alvarez’s thoughts on whether or not the Badgers are in a good spot to make the College Football Playoff.

Q: Do the Badgers have a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoff?

Alvarez: I can’t answer that. I am very proud of our ranking and how we played. I am very pleased with how they have approached one of the most difficult schedules in the country.

Just got to keep winning.

Fans can visit to vote for the final 15 coaches through Noon central time on November 18. The two winning coaches will be announced on November 21 and will be recognized at the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game on January 1.

Nomination Phases:

  • Round One: Oct. 4 – Oct. 17 (Top 50 Coaches selected by U.S. Cellular) 
  • Round Two: Oct. 20 – Nov. 18 (Top 15 Coaches selected by fan vote) 
  • Winners Announced: Nov. 21 (selected by fan vote)

More from Badger of Honor