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  • How to turn around a program Barry Alvarez-style: Confidence, confidence and more confidence

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    Hard as it is to imagine now, there was a time not too long ago where Wisconsin – today one of the most consistent winners in college football – was among the very worst programs in America. The Badgers had no money, no history, no players, no momentum, no enthusiasm and no pride. The Badgers were 3-19 in 1988 and 1989 and drew somewhere south of 20,000 people per game.

    Then they hired Barry Alvarez.

    A 43-year-old Midwesterner, Alvarez had never been a head coach before, but the Badgers’ brass was impressed by his winning pedigree as a player at Nebraska and later as an assistant on Hayden Fry’s powerhouse staff at Iowa and as Lou Holtz’s defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. “It was obvious he would be a head coach,” said Holtz. “It was just a question of when.”

    Alvarez learned the game under Hall of Fame coaches in Nebraska’s Bob Devaney, Fry and Holtz, but the attribute that best served Alvarez in turning around Wisconsin was his outsized confidence. To hear those who knew him, the man had a presence, an air, an aura of confidence in himself. Seriously, look at the picture above and tell me that is not the most secure man on Earth at that very moment.

    Gleaned from Fox Sports Wisconsin’s excellent oral history on the early years of the Alvarez era, here are a few nuggets on how Alvarez changed the culture of Wisconsin by being a one-man battering ram of confidence.

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    How about the time he introduced an assistant coach before he’d officially accepted the job?Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.59.26 PMOr the time he guaranteed victory over Ohio State in front of Columbus TV cameras:Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.59.44 PMThere was the time he pulled the old, “We’ll win with you or without you,” in front of a recruit’s dad.

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    That’s not to say he was all bluster and testosterone:

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    In my favorite anecdote, there was time he pulled a bait-and-switch with his linemen: Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.47.43 PM

    After a 1-10 debut and two 5-6 campaigns in the years that followed, Alvarez and the Badgers won the Rose Bowl in 1993, the program’s first Pasadena trip since 1963, and finished the season ranked fifth in the coaches’ poll. From there, Wisconsin became the program we know it as today. The Badgers went 107-51-4 from 1993 through his retirement in 2005, winning games by controlling the line of scrimmage and turning Camp Randall Stadium into one of the game’s best home-field advantages. He joined his mentors Devaney, Fry and Holtz in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

    Alvarez The AD has drawn criticism for his hands-on management style (including from this site), but Alvarez The Program Builder’s results are inarguable. And every coach going through a rebuild would be wise to borrow a bit of Alvarez’s gusto.

  • Video: Ball State seems to have found the key to having fun in the weight room

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    Last year, Ball State strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Feeley and his staff stumbled upon a great idea while watching some professional wrestling that prompted them to set up a special WWE themed event for their 90% max squat day. The result was nothing short of epic.

    This year, they continued with the tradition of making max-out leg day special by bringing a comic book theme to the weight room. As you can see, the players loved it, and went bonkers.

    “There’s nothing goofy about putting five to six hundred pounds across your back and squatting it up and down. Why would you not want to have fun while you’re in here lifting as hard as you can every day?” Feeley asks.

    “Every guy in America squats. Every guy in America benches and power cleans, but it’s how they do it and how excited they are when they perform those lifts…that’s what really matters.”

    “It went really good. Our guys got really excited about it, heavy weight got lifted, and a lot of team bonding was going on as well.”

    Looks like the guys in Muncie, Indiana have found the key to having some fun and breaking up the monotony in the weight room.

  • Randy Edsall and Maryland have agreed to a three-year contract extension

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    Coming off a second straight 7-6 season, and an appearance in the Foster Farms Bowl, Randy Edsall and Maryland have agreed to a three-year contract extension taking him through the 2019 season, the school has announced.

    The three-year extension will be worth $7.5 million beginning in January 2017, with just $500,000 of that guaranteed, according to the Washington Post. If Edsall is fired prior to January 15, 2017 (the end of his initial contract) he will be owed a $2.6 million buyout. Edsall currently makes $2.1 million annually, and that figure is set to increase to $2.5 million after the 2016 season.

    After building up the UConn program and winning at least eight games in his final four seasons there (2007-2010), Edsall has consistently improved Maryland’s record since arriving in 2011. That first year the Terps went 2-10, followed by a 4-8 season in 2012. The past two seasons have seen 7-6 finishes and back-to-back bowl appearances.

    Overall, Edsall is 20-30 at Maryland, and holds a 94-100 record overall as a head coach. In their first season of Big Ten play, Maryland finished 4-4 overall and third place in the East. That .500 finish in Big Ten play marked a better conference winning percentage than Edsall ever had in the Big East with his UConn teams.

    A recent bright spot for Maryland under Edsall that could act as a barometer for the momentum of the program has been their success on the recruiting trail, as Edsall and his staff were able to go into Pennsylvania to grab one of the state’s best prospects, as well as adding two East coast 4-star prospects to their latest class.

    This year the Terps have a slew of tough road games at West Virginia, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State, and Rutgers. Here’s a look at the full schedule, courtesy of FBschedules.com.

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  • Could these be Tennessee’s new uniforms?

    At the strike of midnight tonight, Tennessee moves from an Adidas property to Nike. The Vols have worn the three stripes since way back in the Peyton Manning days, so expect Nike to put it s own take on the daisy orange and block T.

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    Tennessee has announced a noon ET unveiling of its new uniforms tomorrow, but we may already have a glimpse of how they might look.

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    While there is no guarantee these mock-ups will see the light of day, they at least made it far enough to the let’s-hire-a-model-and-take-some-photos stage. So that’s something. And the modern number font, the checkerboard incorporation and usage of black certainly seems like something Nike would do.

    Either way, we’ll find out for sure on Wednesday.

    (via @MarkSkog)

  • Steve Addazio: “7 on 7 drills are a joke”

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    What I’m about to say should come to no surprise to coaches who have dedicated their coaching careers to the offensive line: Steve Addazio, a longtime offensive line coach himself, believes that 7 on 7 drills are an absolute joke.

    The topic came up on WNML-FM SportsPage when Addazio was asked about the youth and inexperience on his team heading into this fall. He noted that talent can be something easy to see right off the bat, but consistency is something that takes a little longer to assess, especially when talking about the quarterback position.

    “When you talk about the quarterback position, that’s a whole separate entity because there is the talent, and then there is the intangibles that, to me, matter more than the talent.”

    “You don’t know how people really perform until you put them in those pressure situations, so I equate it to 7 on 7. To me, the 7 on 7 drill in football is kind of a joke. The quarterbacks are throwing, there is no threat of being sacked, or being hit, and there’s really not a heavy contact threat in the back end.”

    “So, it’s a drill that has value for a certain reason, but it’s not real. It’s not real football. I equate that to preseason camp, and to spring ball. It’s not real. You’re not in the heat of the battle and you’re not on national TV in front of 70, 80, or 90,000 people with the pressure on you.”

    “There are some guys, that have that competitive excellence, that when their number is called, they’re at the top of their game. There are other guys where pressure plays havoc on them, and those are the guys that you won’t really know about until it’s the heat of the season.”

    Addazio went on to explain that he doesn’t believe in “gamers,” or guys that have bad practice habits that can just turn it on when the lights come on during game day, but does believe that there are guys practice well, that you may not be aware of possessing the competitive excellent trait until he’s actually in the heat of the battle.

    When it comes to 7 on 7’s,  Addazio is simply saying what everyone else is thinking. Is it realistic? Absolutely not. But does it have a purpose and place in today’s game? Absolutely.

    Listen to Addazio’s full interview below.