Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Congratulations and Thanks, Barry!

Everyone who knows me understands that I'm the biggest non-native, non-alum, non-resident University of Wisconsin football fan, so indulge me.

What a terrific performance by the Badgers yesterday. They sent Barry out in style, with what I believe was his most impressive bowl win ever. Surely the first Rose Bowl victory over UCLA was special, and the 1999 Rose Bowl win over UCLA a surprise. But consider that the 1994 Rose Bowl team was better than its opponent, and while the 1999 team was a huge underdog, UCLA was known as a one-dimensional team with a porous defense that the Badgers, led by Ron Dayne and a senior, albeit streaky, quarterback in Mike Samuel, could exploit. Also, the Badger defense was exceptional that year, with the likes of Tom Burke, Wendell Bryant, Jon Favret, Mike Echols, Jamar Fletcher and Bobby Myers.

This team was a relatively ragtag squad that overachieved all year, with an overhauled defense and an inconsistent offense. And they dominated a very good Auburn team that had beaten Georgia and Alabama in its last two games. They controlled the game on both sides of the ball, made big plays when they needed to, and answered Auburn’s only rally swiftly and decisively with Calhoun’s touchdown. Stocco looked like Ron Vanderkelen – the throw to Brandon Williams from his own end zone was his biggest of the game. Williams, likewise, had the biggest game of his career running and receiving. And Calhoun became the latest in a great line of Badger tailbacks on Barry’s watch, from Moss to Fletcher to McCullough to Dayne to Bennett to Davis.

So here it comes, my all-Alvarez team. I tried to balance out eras a little bit and some choices are quite clearly personal:
QB – Brooks Bollinger (he played four years, won three bowls and was the best playmaker the Badgers had at a relatively weak position)
TB – Ron Dayne (many great ones, but none came close to the Great Dayne)
FB – Mark Montgomery (Cecil Martin, Chad Kuhns and Matt Bernstein were good, too, but the Badgers were a different team when this guy was kicked out of the 1994 Rose Bowl)
WR – Lee Evans, Tony Simmons (Evans is an easy choice; Touchdown Tony edges out Lee DeRamus and Chris Chambers)
TE – Michael Roan (best receiver at a position loaded with good blockers)
OL – Aaron Gibson and Joe Panos at tackle; Dan Buenning and Joe Rudolph at guard; Cory Raymer at center (again, tons of great candidates to choose from – Bill Ferrario, Casey Rabach, Chris McIntosh, Jamie Vanderveldt, Mike Verstegen)

DL – Tom Burke and Erasmus James at end; Wendell Bryant and Don Davey at tackle (cheating a bit on Davey since Barry only had him one year; leaving out Tarek Saleh was the hardest decision of all, but Burke and James were both monsters)
LB – Pete Monty, Gary Casper and Nick Greisen (it kills me not to include one of my all-time favorite Badgers, Donnel Thompson)
CB – Jamar Fletcher and Troy Vincent (with apologies to Mike Echols, these are obvious choices)
S – Jeff Messenger and Jim Leonhard (two guys who could make big plays and got the most out of their abilities; with the pass rush up front, they could jump routes all day)

K – Matt Davenport (over John Hall because Hall was too erratic – remember he got benched for Rick Schnetzky. You NEVER worried about Davenport making kicks)
P – Kevin Stemke (next to Dayne, the easiest choice of all)
KR - Nick Davis (like Davenport, came up big in big games)

If you limit this to Alvarez recruits, replace Davey with Taj Hawthorne; Vincent with Mike Echols or Scott Starks; and Casper with Thompson.

Amazing to see the huge groups of talent at some positions. A second team would have great lines on both sides, a superb backfield and talented, probably underused, receivers. Likewise, there’s a relative shortage at other positions, such as quarterback and cornerback. But it’s a sign of how Barry built his team, around size and strength, and you can’t argue with the results.

Thanks for the memories!


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7:22 AM  

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