Thursday, February 25, 2016

Just Hire the Man

It would have been the perfect scene.  A team celebrating a huge victory on the road over a highly-ranked opponent--likely punching their ticket to the post-season--under the direction of an interim coach from whom little was expected when he took over for a legend who quit mid-season after a number of disappointing losses.  In the celebration, the Athletic Director puts his arm around that coach's shoulders and announces to his excited team that he is removing the "interim" label--and that Coach is now theirs for another three or four years.  That is followed by big smiles at a press conference that night announcing the same thing to the media.

Unfortunately, that scenario won't play out for Greg Gard, Barry Alvarez or the Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team.  Even though Gard has likely wrapped up Big Ten Coach of the Year honors--and got a team that lost to Western Illinois and UW-Milwaukee another winning season in the Big Ten AND an almost-guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament for a 18th straight year--Alvarez can't hire him.  At least not yet.

Barry learned the hard way that you don't go around hiring the most-qualified person already on staff when there was outcry on campus following his "anointing" of Bret Bielema as his successor before his final season as Badgers' football coach.  Those in the ivory towers protested, pointing out that Alvarez had failed to follow UW hiring policies by neither posting the position as being available--nor conducting interviews with any other candidates.  Nevermind that history showed Bielema was a good hire, Barry didn't put on the proper dog and pony show before hiring him.

So that means Greg Gard will continue to remain the "interim" head coach through the rest of the season--and then will have to fill out an application for his own job and interview for a position that he has shown over the course of two or three months that he is more than capable of performing.  And that means that Barry Alvarez will have to bring in other candidates--who all know they have no chance of actually being hired--for interviews to make it look like Gard wasn't a pre-determined selection.  You can bet that Rob Jeter at UW-Milwaukee will be asked to drive over to Madison so the "diversity" aspect of the hiring charade is satisfied as well.

And even if Tony Bennett were to give Barry Alvarez a call after the NCAA Tournament and mention that he would be willing to leave Virginia for a return to the Badger state, I hope Barry would turn him down--because he already has someone on the bench who has earned a shot at the job.

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