MADISON, Wis. — When Wisconsin linebacker Mike Taylor was a kid, he used to watch the Badgers and dream of playing for Barry Alvarez.
He's finally getting his wish.
The Badgers are going retro for the Rose Bowl, talking Alvarez — their former football coach-turned athletic director — into returning to the sidelines on New Year's Day against Stanford after Bret Bielema bolted for Arkansas this week.
It's the best thing that could happen, Taylor said Thursday after Alvarez's return was announced. He's familiar with what we do and he built this program. That's why kids like me come here.
But this is a one-night-only gig, Alvarez insisted. He's already looking for a replacement for Bret Bielema, and plans to begin interviewing candidates next week.
No one likes change, but you can grow through change and there's opportunity through change, Alvarez said. I want the seniors to go out the right way, and I want the young players to understand that I will put a coach in place that they'll be pleased with.
It won't, however, be Paul Chryst.
The first-year Pitt coach was considered the favorite to replace Bielema, a former Badgers offensive coordinator who is from the area, has many ties here and remains a popular figure at Wisconsin. Alvarez pulled some strings to help get Chryst the Panthers job last year, and said it wouldn't be appropriate for him to hire Chryst back such a short time later.
I think he should be committed to Pitt, Alvarez said. I wouldn't think it would be right for him to leave after one year. I wouldn't feel right, and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to hire him back after I asked someone to do me a favor and help him get that job. So Paul's going to stay at Pitt.
But there is no shortage of interest in the job, Alvarez said. His phone was blowing up as soon as word spread that Bielema was leaving, and Alvarez said he's already talked to a few potential candidates. He will not use a search firm, joking that most search committees use me.
A current head coach is his preference, though Alvarez would not rule out hiring an assistant. Wisconsin ties are not required, but Alvarez said the new coach needs to be familiar with the program.
I think anyone that's competitive understands this is a good job, Alvarez said. They're not going to worry about my legacy or what Bret left behind or anything else.
Wisconsin was little more than a Big Ten bottom feeder when Alvarez arrived in 1990.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — From Notre Dame's unbeaten regular season to college football's biggest awards, Manti Te'o just keeps winning.
Now the linebacker needs two more victories to cap an unforgettable senior season.
Te'o was honored three times at the 22nd Home Depot College Football Awards show Thursday night at Disney World, including the Maxwell Award for the nation's most outstanding player.
Te'o has now won six major awards since the end of Notre Dame's regular season, also taking home the Bednarik Award for top defensive player and Walter Camp Foundation player of the year award on Thursday. He became the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award since 1980, ending a string of nine straight quarterbacks.
Next up is the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday night, with Te'o and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel considered the favorites. Then Te'o will try to help the Fighting Irish dethrone defending champion Alabama in the BCS national championship game.
Other players honored Thursday were Southern California's Marqise Lee (Biletnikoff Award for top receiver), Tulane's Cairo Santos (Lou Groza Award for top kicker), Louisiana Tech's Ryan Allen (Ray Guy Award for top punter), Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks (Jim Thorpe Award for top defensive back), and Wisconsin's Montee Ball (Doak Walker Award for top running back).