This spot belongs to one person, and one person only. The Godfather of Wisconsin Athletics, Barry Alvarez, took the Wisconsin Badgers to new heights and has continued to lead as one of the best athletic directors in the country. Few programs have seen the success Wisconsin has seen since the 1990s when he was first hired as head football coach. I find it hard to believe too many programs will see the sustained success Wisconsin will in the years to come too.
Alvarez has done more than just lead Wisconsin to a ton of wins on the football field. He established the culture that makes people uniquely proud to be Wisconsin Badgers. It’s all over the football program now. The roster is made up of countless Wisconsin natives, the tradition of excelling at the ground and pound running game lives on strong as ever, and the coaching staff is made up of Wisconsin alum. The head coach and both coordinators are all Badgers. The sense of being part of your team’s family is different at Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has seen success in more than just football and basketball lately. Volleyball, Cross Country, and Ice Hockey are becoming powerhouses in their respective sports.
Wisconsin is one of the brightest and best athletic department in the country. None of it would be possible without Alvarez and the contributions he has made to the program. The nine names before his would not be where they are without him.