Barry Alvarez Showers Luke Fickell With Praise, Admits They Don’t Spend Much Time Together

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Wisconsin legend Barry Alvarez is a fan of Luke Fickell, even if the new coach means his influence over the program is essentially gone.

Luke Fickell was hired away from Cincy last season to take over a Badgers program that was stuck in mediocrity.

After Paul Chryst had many successful seasons, Wisconsin had hit a serious rut starting in 2020. Chryst was finally fired by AD Chris McIntosh after five games of the 2022 season. Now, it’s the Fickell show in Madison and one thing is clear:

The old ways Alvarez used to make the Badgers as great football program are dead and gone.

Luke Fickell is changing things for the Wisconsin Badgers. (Credit: Lori Schmidt / Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Barry Alvarez is a fan of Luke Fickell.

Alvarez told The Athletic the following when asked about his impressions of the man who will usher in a new era of Wisconsin football:

I think he’s done all the right things. I’ve been impressed with his staff. I’ve been impressed with how aggressive they’ve been in recruiting and they’ve touched in the transfer portal. You had some holes at quarterback, so you got a number of new quarterbacks. They’ve gone out and filled the roster with the needs that they had.

I’m really anxious to see our team. There are a lot of new players there and I think Luke’s done all the right things. I’ve followed him from afar, even watching him since he was a player. I’ve always admired the teams that he’s had and how well he’s coached them and the job he did at Cincinnati is really unbelievable. To take them to a Final Four, to put them in the CFB Playoff, is really amazing.

The two don’t spend much time together.

One of the most interesting aspects of the interview was the fact Alvarez admitted that while him and Fickell have spoken, they don’t spend much time together.

“We’ve talked. I spent time with him when we were at the Badger Desert Classic. We haven’t spent a lot of time together but we’ve talked and shared ideas. I told him my thoughts and some of the things that you should look for, some of the things I believed in,” Alvarez explained.

Will Luke Fickell turn Wisconsin around? (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

It’s a bit odd because kissing the Alvarez ring is a right of passage when it comes to Wisconsin football. He’s ruled that program as head coach and AD and the impression among fans is that his thumb never left the scale once he became AD. If you look at the two most successful coaches after him – Chryst and Bret Bielema – they were carbon copies of his style and philosophy.

The fact Fickell and him don’t spend much time together won’t be viewed as a negative. If anything, it will be viewed as a positive. It means Alvarez has no influence, which is already pretty clear. That became clear the moment McIntosh pulled the trigger on firing Alvarez’s chosen son – Paul Chryst.

The Wisconsin Badgers will look very different under Luke Fickell.

Barry Alvarez built a very simple identity for the Wisconsin Badgers. Tough defenses and an offense that’s anchored by a dominant run game and limited passing.

Three yards and a cloud of dust is the mentality that made Alvarez one of the best coaches in America. It still works against most teams.

However, the Badgers have lacked the speed and athleticism to take things to the next level. The offensive style is the main reason why. Well, that’s going to change. Luke Fickell hired Phil Longo as OC, brought in Tanner Mordecai to play QB and the Badgers will start slinging it around.

The days of three yards and a cloud of dust are gone and never coming back in Madison.

Barry Alvarez praises Luke Fickell. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

The Badgers open week one against Buffalo. You can expect Madison to be rocking. The Luke Fickell era is here and fans can’t wait.

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

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