University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez plans to stop and smell the roses.
But first, he had to attend a rather significant event in New York City Tuesday night, where he was to be officially inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Alvarez was selected as the speaker for the 14-member 2010 class at the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. UW quarterback Scott Tolzien was recognized as one of 16 NFF Scholar-Athletes.
"When you get an award like this, there are many people (involved) and it's more of a team award than an individual award," Alvarez said. "You think of all the people that contributed to it, whether it be your family, coaches and mentors, in my case, players, former assistant coaches and staff, friends and teammates. All of those people play a part in this."
Alvarez had a large contingent of supporters with him, including all of his children and grandchildren; coaching colleagues such as Lou Holtz, Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz; and former players like Chris McIntosh and Brooks Bollinger.
Two of Alvarez's most influential mentors were Holtz and Fry. Holtz hired Alvarez to be linebackers coach at Notre Dame in 1987, then promoted him to defensive coordinator and assistant head coach the next two years, prior to Alvarez becoming the coach at UW.
Alvarez got his first college coaching job from Fry at Iowa in 1979. Fry is being inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame this year and asked Alvarez to be his presenter.
"These last few days, this is college football," Alvarez said. "You see former coaches, current coaches; you see former players, current players. It all kind of comes together for this. This has been my life's work. To be included in a very elite group of people is very humbling and quite an honor for me."
To illustrate how elite, it was pointed out in a news conference earlier in the day, roughly 4.79 million people have played college football since the first game in 1869 and 1,072 are in the Hall of Fame.
Alvarez earned his way, winning three Rose Bowl titles and compiling a 118-73-4 record for the Badgers from 1990 to 2005. His winning percentage in bowls (.727) is the highest among coaches with at least 11 bowl appearances.
With the Badgers getting official word on Sunday night they are returning to the Rose Bowl, it has made this an even bigger week for Alvarez.
"This is good stuff. A lot of people want to talk about the Rose Bowl and want to talk about our football team," Alvarez said, mentioning South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier in particular. "That really makes it even more special.
"People are very impressed with what they see in our football team, how physical we are and how we play the game."
This time around, Alvarez hopes to enjoy the Rose Bowl more than when he was coaching.
"I can enjoy this a little bit more than my own," he said. "When you're wrapped up in it, you're game-planning and worrying about everything but the moment. You never really sit back and smell the roses.
"I enjoy every bowl game. But when you're coaching, you've got a lot of things on your mind. Bottom line is you've got to peak on game day. I have a lot of obligations (as athletic director) out there we have to do but I'll enjoy all of them."
Tolzien, who has a grade-point average of 3.5 in consumer affairs, received an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship, along with each of the other winners Tuesday night.
Alvarez said he pointed out a couple of Rose Bowl officials to Tolzien at a news conference.
"He went up and introduced himself," Alvarez said. "They came back to me afterward and told me how impressed they were that he would take the time to do that and spend some time with them. It's really meaningful when a young man can do that, has the confidence to do it, the presence to do it and carries himself so well."