Who replaces Bielema at Wisconsin?

CREATED Dec 5, 2012 - UPDATED: Dec 5, 2012

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  • Video by wtmj.com

  • Video by wtmj.com


MADISON - The search has begun for the Wisconsin Badgers' new coach after the departure of Bret Bielema to Arkansas.

The list of potential candidates could be long, but there seems to be a theme amidst the masses, particularly the donors who make UW football happen:

Win a national championship, something UW has never done before.

Here's a possible short list, including one outside-the-box candidate to possibly consider:

Barry Alvarez, current UW Athletic Director and coach, 1989-2005 (for one game, the upcoming Rose Bowl)

"I don't think it's the worst idea." - Voice of the Badgers Matt Lepay

"I think there's a 50-50 shot that he does, just for inspiration.  The assistant coaches might be the people running the X's and O's, but Barry could be on the sidelines." - Greg Matzek, Newsradio 620 WTMJ

Long term?  It's doubtful that Barry would stay on.  But for one game, the thought is delicious.

Darrell Bevell, former UW quarterback and current offensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks

He knows the Wisconsin culture, and he knows quarterbacks.  He's coached a bunch of them in the NFL, including a guy named Brett Favre. 

In many ways - particularly the recruiting of a position that has been a weakness for years at UW (save Russell Wilson) - he's who Wisconsin might need.  But is he a big-enough splash and can they win with a guy without any head coaching experience?

Paul Chryst, former UW offensive coordinator and current head coach at Pittsburgh University

He brought a huge level of success to the Wisconsin offense in his time under Bielema, and is on the way to the same success at the University of Pittsburgh.

He seems to want to keep that success going, and made a statement as such on Tuesday.

“I understand the speculation surrounding my name given today’s developments. I am committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh. I am focusing all my time and energy on our team’s bowl game preparation and recruiting a great group of young men to join our program and this outstanding university. We are working hard every day to re-establish this program and I am excited about the future of Pitt football," said Chryst.

Chryst is the type of a standup guy who tends to mean what they say. 

But as has been seen with Bielema, in college coaching, your word is as good as the size of the next contract and the size of the wallet paying the buyout.

Perhaps, though, that buyout may be enough of an issue to not let Alvarez go after him.

"Sexy choice, yes, but anything but a slam dunk at this point," said Matt Lepay on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

Gary Patterson, TCU head coach

He's beaten the Badgers in a Rose Bowl.   He's turned a mid-major back into a major at TCU.  They've been a championship contender there.

Perhaps Alvarez could think, "If you can't beat 'em, bring 'em in with you."

But what about an outside-the-box candidate?

Who is a possibility of someone who can:
- Be the most prominent coach in the Big Ten, even more prominent than two-time BCS champion Urban Meyer?
- Recruit quarterbacks, and change the culture of that position at UW, one that had a nearly 50-year span of All-American-level greatness between Ron Vanderkelen and Russell Wilson?
- Recruit areas of the country Wisconsin is not known for recruiting talent, the best football talent hub in America, California?
- Bring head coaching experience, championship head coaching experience?
- Do the ultimate - win a national championship?
- Be a character guy while doing it all?

How about...

 Mike Holmgren, former Green Bay Packers coach, coach/GM with the Seattle Seahawks and president of football operations, Cleveland Browns?

Just imagine.  He flashes a few Super Bowl rings in front of a recruit.  (Remember, he won some as a 49ers assistant with Joe Montana and Steve Young as well as with Brett Favre and Reggie White in Green Bay.)

Many automatic "yes" answers would come. 

He's the kind of guy who can convince a mom/dad that he's going to run a clean program.

He's a former teacher.  He cares about academics.

And, most importantly, he's won.  At the highest level.  He knows how to do it.

Would he take the job?  Wisconsin would have to convince him of:
- The greatness of a challenge he's never conquered
- Coming back to coaching after a long hiatus (read: Dick Vermeil)
- The cash that would draw him out of coaching retirement

But he and Barry Alvarez coached in this state simultaneously.  They have a relationship of some sort.

All this is food for thought.  Who bites and comes to Wisconsin, and will it be enough to placate the never-met championship demands of UW fans?

Stay tuned.