In the lead up to this game there was talk that this was a no lose situation for Barry Alvarez. If he wins the game, it would have been because of him. If he loses, it was because of the situation Bret put him in. I even agreed with this philosophy thinking it was true, but there was a third option that I had not even considered, Barry losses that game because of Barry.
In the lead up to the game was how Stanford was going to stop the running game, A.K.A Montee Ball. Really this has the been the talk for the last three Rose Bowls and when the running game is all you have, that puts you in a tough position. Barry failed to correct the issue that plagued the Badgers in the previous two Rose Bowls, no down field passing, stop the passing game, create turnovers, and come up with the clutch 3rd down stop.
Another issue was with the personal coming into the game. Curt Phillips was declared the started coming into the game, with which I had no issue with since he was the one who got you to the game, but it was clearly evident after the second drive that he was not going to be QB to win the game for you. I know he led the Badgers to two scoring drives, but that is who Curt Phillips is, someone who will get you down the field a couple of times, but is not consistent enough nor has the arm strength to open up the defense like someone Stave could.
Curt Phillips success and failure came at the hand of the running game and not by his arm plus some lucky bowl sanctions to Penn State and Ohio State. When Stave was the starter, his wins and losses included some use of the passing game in conjunction with the running game. In Phillips games we won because of the run verses Indiana and Nebraska, and lost verses Ohio State and Penn State because in OT we are incapable of passing the ball. For Barry it must have been difficult to prepare an offense for a QB who can not throw the ball more than 10-15 yards down the field.
During the game, the Badgers did use Stave and he was spot on with this one and only throw which just happened to be dropped the receiver. What was reward for that one perfect throw? A one way trip to the bench for the rest of the game. Stave brings the balance attack and the ability to pass the ball down the field, but Barry failed to see this or understand who should really be running the offense.
Some people might say that Stave was not cleared until the week before the game and he did not have a enough time to prepare for the game nor could the game plan be planned with him playing. I think that is hogwash. Stave was able to guide the team through multiple games mid-season without much issue with his balanced attack and he was not even an option or thought in the mind of Badgers fans or Bielema.
In the end, this game, this loss was not because of Bielema, this loss was a product of not knowing your personal, not know the history of your personal, not know when to make the needed changes to pull out the victory. The entire second half, Stanford played 9 men in the box which would have been resolved by running an double move with an out and up with Stave. This game truly showed that the game has passed Barry by and when he retired, it was the correct time. No longer can we run the ball through the defense like in the 90’s, we need a passing game along with a QB who can run the read option.
Hopefully Gary Anderson is able to correct the mistakes that Bielema left on the program and the issues that might have been created from the one game Barry. Anderson’s job fixing the football program will be like trying to clean up a 27 car pile up, it will not be easy. When people say Wisconsin, they think run, run and more run. Hopefully Anderson can turn this program around and teach the program how to win the big close games which have been lacking the last seven years in this program.
As odd is it to say, this loss is not on Bielema. This loss is on Barry.