PASADENA (AP) — Bret Bielema guided Wisconsin to four 10-win seasons and three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances in his seven years in Madison, but he couldn't deliver a win in the Granddaddy of Them All before his stunning decision to bolt for Arkansas.
His replacement has had a bit more success in Pasadena.
Barry Alvarez will make a temporary return to the Badgers' sideline on Tuesday looking for his fourth Rose Bowl victory in this 99th edition of college football's oldest bowl, but Wisconsin figures to have its hands full against an eighth-ranked Stanford team appearing in its third straight BCS game.
Bielema was the hand-picked successor to Alvarez when the winningest coach in school history stepped down after the 2005 season, and the former Iowa defensive lineman kept the Badgers humming along as one of the Big Ten's elite teams.
Wisconsin (8-5) blew out Nebraska on Dec. 1 in the Big Ten championship game to qualify for a third straight Rose Bowl trip, though this one -- possible only because Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible for the postseason -- wasn't met with quite the same enthusiasm as when it entered the last two ranked in the top 10.
The Badgers' spirits were dampened even further three days later with the stunning announcement that Bielema was headed to Arkansas. But it was Bielema himself who first hinted his former mentor may temporarily take the reins in Pasadena during his introductory press conference in Fayetteville.
"They might finally win one," Bielema said. "Everyone tells me he won three and I lost two."
Alvarez won all three of his teams' visits to Pasadena in his 16 seasons, and eight of 11 bowl games overall for a program that won only one postseason game prior to his arrival.
Considering how synonymous Alvarez is with the program -- he's been the athletic director since 2004 -- Wisconsin's players seem to be fully on board with his cameo appearance as coach.
"It's the best thing that could happen," linebacker Mike Taylor said. "He's familiar with what we do and he built this program. That's why kids like me come here."
Alvarez, though, has had his hands full with more than just preparation for Stanford (11-2).
He had to worry about hiring a new coach to take over once the Rose Bowl is in the books, which he did the week before Christmas, bringing in former Utah State coach Gary Andersen.
Andersen said he'll be a "fly on the wall" during preparations for the game.
"These kids need to go win a Rose Bowl," he said. "The last thing they need for me is to hang around coach Alvarez."
Stanford has had no such turmoil surrounding its coach this year, with David Shaw agreeing to a "long-term contract extension" in December.
Shaw has plenty of experience getting ready for a BCS bowl at Stanford, which throttled Virginia Tech in the 2011 Orange Bowl before falling to Oklahoma State in overtime in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.