Alvarez not ‘in a big rush’ to find next coach

MADISON, Wis. — The identity of the next football coach at the University of Wisconsin remains a mystery. But athletic director Barry Alvarez revealed that at least one man won’t be on his shortlist of candidates.

That man is University of Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst, whom many speculated was the most likely candidate to take over for departed coach Bret Bielema. Chryst served two coaching stints at Wisconsin, including one as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2005-11. He left after last season for his first head coaching job at Pitt.

“I asked some very good friends of mine to help Paul get that job,” Alvarez said Thursday. “I think Paul has already come out and said that he’s committed to Pitt. I think he should be committed to Pitt. I wouldn’t think it would be right for him to leave after one year.

“I wouldn’t feel right, and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to hire him back after I asked someone to do me a favor and help him get that job. So Paul’s going to stay at Pitt.”

Alvarez, a College Football Hall of Famer, will coach Wisconsin during its Rose Bowl game against Stanford on Jan. 1 at the request of the Badgers’ captains. He coached at Wisconsin for 16 seasons — winning three Rose Bowls — and is the all-time winningest coach in program history but said he would not stay beyond this one game.

According to Alvarez, all of the team’s assistants are expected to stay on with the Badgers through the Rose Bowl.

In addition to Chryst, several other coaches with ties to Wisconsin’s program have been linked to the job, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line coach Bob Bostad, Jacksonville Jaguars assistant head coach Mel Tucker, University of Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and even current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash.

Alvarez indicated that finding someone with Badgers allegiances wasn’t one of his primary criteria.

“I’d like for them to know about Wisconsin and know what we’re about and how we win,” Alvarez said, “and I’ll be very interested to know their plan and how they’re going to proceed in all areas. But to have a Wisconsin background is not necessary.”

As for a timetable in naming a successor to Bielema, who left this week to take the same position at Arkansas, Alvarez said he would take his time. But he plans to begin his search by interviewing head coaches rather than assistants.

“I’m not in a big rush,” he said. “There’s been a lot of interest shown in the position because it’s a great job. It’s on solid footing, new facilities, and a very good nucleus coming back. But there have been a lot of people that have contacted me with interest in it.

“I always have a shortlist. You guys know that. I have a shortlist of coaches, and I’ve made contact with a couple of them, and I’ll proceed in the interview process after this weekend. It’s going to be too crazy this weekend, but I’ll start next week.”

Wisconsin officials posted the job opening online, with position requirements including “a minimum of five years of successful collegiate football coaching experience,” preferably at the Division I level. The anticipated start date, for what it’s worth, was listed as Dec. 24.

Alvarez said he wouldn’t use a search committee to find the next coach and hasn’t discussed how much of a buyout Wisconsin would be willing to absorb if it brought in a coach from another program. Arkansas paid Wisconsin $1 million to buy out Bielema’s contract.

From the sound of it, Alvarez very well could have his No. 1 target in mind, although he’s keeping that target under wraps for now.

Alvarez said Bielema informed him of his decision to take the Arkansas job Tuesday morning at a hotel in New York, where both men were in town for the College Football Hall of Fame ceremony. Alvarez then wasted little time in putting out feelers to find the next coach at Wisconsin.

“I made contact with a representative of a coach that I was interested in,” Alvarez said, “and I had him in my room five minutes after Bret left and started my process.”

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