At Wisconsin there are a select few men, a rare group that experienced two seasons under both Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema. That group has a unique perspective on what transpired last week and we got a chance to sit down with one of those select few, former Badgers and Packers punter Ken DeBauche. (We'll have the full interview for you tomorrow night on Badgers Power Hour at 8:30pm Central)
It's safe to say no matter what your level of passion, knowledge or perspective on the Badgers last weeks move by Bret Bielema was surprising to say the least and that's exactly how Ken described it.
"My first reaction was surprised because I really didn't see that coming at all. You know coach Bielema has had great success since coming in. Surprised would be the one word for that."
Moving beyond the surprise there's also the realistic part of having been on the inside of the program and the knowledge that in the end this is all a business for everyone involved but the kids. Armed with that knowledge DeBauche felt that there wasn't time to judge the process and once it was over it was time for this program to continue looking forward.
"It's hard to pass judgment on things like that, it is a business," said DeBauche. "College football is a multi-million dollar industry and a school like Wisconsin makes millions of dollars off of football. So I can see it from that perspective where there isn't talks beforehand and loyalties aside it is a business."
Even with that said, it's clear that for some the process behind his leaving could've been done differently and that it bothers some former players how it happened in the end.
"It's a tough business, but I'd like to think that had someone else been in that position they would've been a little more upfront about it," said DeBauche. "But it is what it is now and I think the team and the program has to move forward."
Moving forward for Wisconsin means turning it's attention to the Rose Bowl and to the announcement on Thursday that Barry Alvarez will return for one last game at the helm of the Wisconsin program. What does one former player feel about this return?
"I think it's great," DeBauche said. "I think it's really exciting for the team and all of the Wisconsin fans. He's the greatest coach in Wisconsin football history and he likely will always be."
"What I'm really excited for is this current team, these players who have only know him as an athletic director and a guy that hangs around the sidelines sometimes during practice. So they saw him around, but they never got to experience him as a coach and as the guy who brought Wisconsin football to prominence.
"So I think it's really, really great that these guys, this team, the Wisconsin Badgers of 2012 get to experience coach Alvarez and what he's all about. He brought the program to what it is and a lot of what Wisconsin football is now is a direct correlation to what coach Alvarez coached and who he is. I'm excited for those guys."
Looking even further forward to Wisconsin's next head football coach, what would someone who's left his own legacy in Badger lore like to see happen and what kind of a person does he believe it would take to coach the Badgers?
"I'm hoping that it's going to be a guy that's been a part, somehow, of the program in the past," said DeBauche. "What it takes is to understand where Wisconsin football was, where it is and the way that coach Alvarez went about getting the program where it is and focusing on in-state kids and making sure prospects in Wisconsin stay in the state and go to UW. First and foremost that's what the new coach will have to understand and I'm sure they will."
"Beyond that, I think they have to understand why the program has had the success it has and what coach Alvarez and Bielema have done. That coach shouldn't try to get away from that and build on that. Take their own way and build on it, but don't come in and try to change things completely."
Again, this is just a sampling of the full interview that will air tomorrow night on Badgers Power Hour – we'll talk about this game and you'll hear some surprising thoughts about Bielema and the coaching situation at Wisconsin as well, so don't forget to tune in LIVE starting at 8:30pm Central time.