Earlier this week, Cindy Alvarez turned to her husband and put him on the spot with a controversial question.
University of Wisconsin athletic director and former Hall of Fame football coach Barry Alvarez responded with an answer that might raise an eyebrow or two.
"My wife said, ‘I've got bridge this week, I've got this and I've got that, and all week I'm going to be asked about that two-point conversion. What do I tell them?'" Alvarez said Wednesday.
"I said, ‘You know what? Tell them your husband would not have gone for two. I wouldn't have gone for two.''
But lest you think Alvarez is throwing UW coach Bret Bielema under the bus for his much-debated decision to attempt a late two-point conversion against Minnesota on Saturday — it came with the Badgers holding a 25-point lead with less than 7 minutes remaining in the Big Ten Conference game — he's not.
"Bret gave his reason for going for two and I understand it," said Alvarez, who queried Bielema on the matter immediately after the game about the pass that fell incomplete. "If you're standing on that sideline, the game wasn't over as far as he was concerned.
"Us, we're up (in the stands) eating a hot dog, drinking a Coke, it's over for us. But he saw it last year against (the Gophers). We've given up big plays. In that game we gave up big plays and crazy things happen.''
After UW emerged with a 41-23 win at Camp Randall Stadium, Minnesota coach Tim Brewster angrily confronted Bielema during the postgame handshake. Brewster, who is 0-4 in the series and whose job is in jeopardy, later said the move was wrong because it sent the wrong message about sportsmanship.
Bielema said he based his decision on a strategy card that coaches at all levels use to make certain calls. In this case, the percentages dictated he go for two, as did his memories of wild momentum swings in recent games against the Gophers.
"His responsibility is to walk off that field with a win," Alvarez said of Bielema. "He answered (the question) as honestly as he could. Whether you accept it or not ... he's not trying to rub it in.
"If I'm offended by anybody, it's the way Brewster acted. He stopped (the conversion) anyway. He saved himself a point. I just think that was way overreacting."
Alvarez, who won 118 games as coach of the Badgers from 1990 to 2005, said all coaches have the same tactical data on their game plans that Bielema used. "If you're so many points ahead, you go for one (point) or two," he said. "It's all done by statistics.
"We want to be so thorough. You want every rock overturned. You don't want to be sitting there in the heat of the battle trying to figure it out, so it's all laid out in front of you."
Turning up the heat
Penn State, 0-2 in the Big Ten after a 33-13 loss at home to Illinois, again is dealing with the familiar calls that 83-year-old coaching legend Joe Paterno step down.
The Nittany Lions rank last in the league in scoring offense (18.2 points per game), total offense (335.2 yards per game), red-zone offense (14-for-20, 70 percent) and red-zone defense (13-for-13, 100 percent).
Paterno, who needs three wins to reach 400, was under similar fire in 2003 and '04 when Penn State went 7-16 overall. The Nittany Lions rebounded to win Big Ten titles in 2005 and '08.
During Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference, Paterno was asked if the criticism was fair. "Send me a detailed list," he said, "and I'll tell you."
What's in a name?
The Big Ten still is trying to come up with names for its two six-school football divisions for 2011. Alvarez doesn't care what they are as long as they don't call attention to a specific program because it could be used as a recruiting tool.
"Let's say you call (the divisions) Bo and Woody," he said, referring to football coaching greats Schembechler at Michigan and Hayes at Ohio State, respectively. "If I'm Ohio State, I'm saying, ‘This league's about us.' If I'm Michigan, this league's about us. I don't want to identify (them) with another school. They can call (the divisions) A and B as far as I'm concerned."