"The Barry Alvarez Show" Highlights: College Football Preparation, Updating Wisconsin Facilities
On Wednesday night, "The Barry Alvarez Show" aired its final episode of the academic year. Joining the voice of Wisconsin football and men's basketball, Matt Lepay, included athletic director Barry Alvarez and deputy athletic director Chris McIntosh.
Topics included name, image, likeness (NIL) laws and this year's crop of Wisconsin Badgers that were selected during or signed after the 2020 NFL Draft.
In the beginning and middle of the show, however, chats about updating facilities, the discussion of students on campus and fall sports being played, and the number of weeks for preparation if the season were to start on time also took place.
Around the eight-minute mark of the show, Lepay asked about if they could clarify and define where Wisconsin stands in relation to having students back on campus and fall sports being played. McIntosh responded that UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank shared "Planning for a Safe Return to Campus" on Monday, in which she stated the university would be open for the fall semester though at this point how much in-person instruction was still unclear.
She anticipates thousands of students to be in Madison, and McIntosh stated that student-athletes would be among those.
“So we haven’t spent a lot of time anticipating whether or not student-athletes would come back, or debating that question, because we along with (the) campus are anticipating that many, many students will be back on campus and our student-athletes will be a part of that," McIntosh said.
Though Lepay did not say the words college football in his question, he also touched on the season and the preparation time needed for it. He asked if a six-week schedule starting in mid-July sounds right and if it is flexible. Alvarez said he believes that is ideal.
"When coaches were asked, I think when our medical people in the Big Ten were asked to devise a plan to come back, what we’ve been using in the past that’s been set up by the NCAA, if everything was perfect and time was not of the essence, six weeks is perfect," Alvarez said.
“(Wisconsin head coach) Paul (Chryst) and I have talked. I’ve played and I’ve coached where it’s been three weeks. I think you could prepare a team in four weeks. In talking with Paul, if it’s four weeks, we can get ready in four. If it’s three, we can get ready in three. If it’s five, we spread things out and get ready in five. If it’s six, you have the luxury of working that out. That’s what good coaches do. So many of your players now, this is a little unusual but normally they’re there, they’re working out. They don’t lose much conditioning and so it’s not that shock to your body to come back in and start getting ready for football because they’ve been lifting and conditioning.
“I think six weeks is ideal. I personally don’t think that six weeks is necessary.”
McIntosh, the former team captain, All-American and two-time Rose Bowl winner for the Badgers from the mid-to-late 1990s, said he "would never underestimate the resiliency of our athletes."
"I think our athletes are adept to adapt to any circumstances put before them," McIntosh said. "Our coaching staff for football and all our sports has done a great job of staying in touch with our athletes, and while we are prevented from having mandatory workouts in a virtual sense or in a physical sense, we are able to stay in touch with them and have a good understanding of where they’re at. There’s been a lot of examples shared by our athletes on social media platforms, and they’re good examples of the creativity that our student-athletes have used to stay in shape and to get better."
McIntosh also touched based on some of the facilities updates to Camp Randall Stadium, noting the theme is to attempt to minimize the amount of times fans actually touch the historic venue in anticipation of fans attending events.
"We’re in the process right now of installing hands-free faucets, and soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers in Camp Randall," McIntosh said. "Our facilities folks shared with me yesterday, there’s over a 1,000 pieces throughout Camp Randall that are being swapped out right now.
“And the most ironic set of circumstances, we’re finishing up right now the installation of hand rails in Camp Randall. I’m not really sure just how many folks are going to be interested in touching them, but there will be a day when those will be appreciated by fans. Ironic in the sense that we’ve heard from our fans for years that that’s something that they would appreciate. It took us longer than we had hoped to get approvals to install those and unfortunately now, the timing is less than ideal but that’s finishing up as well."
McIntosh also noted how UW is working with not just the Big Ten Conference but also others who operate other prominent stadiums or arenas within the state.
"We’re going to share a venue (Lambeau Field) with the Packers when we play Notre Dame (on Oct. 3), and we’ve been in touch with folks from Fiserv (Forum) and from the Brewers as well to make sure that we all are learning from each other and doing everything we can to keep our fans safe.
“There’s a lot happening there. That has been one of the ways that we’ve put our staff to work throughout this. I think our fans will notice the difference when they step into those venues, specifically Camp Randall.”