Football coaches who inherit losing programs can learn a thing or two from Barry Alvarez.
Alvarez, head coach at Wisconsin, spoke to about 300 high school and junior college coaches at Kansas' annual football coaches' clinic on Friday night at Anschutz Pavillion.
"When I took this job, people thought I was crazy," he said. "I can remember (Ara) Parseghian telling me, 'Don't take this job, it's a graveyard.'"
Alvarez took over a Wisconsin program that had only six bowl appearances in 105 seasons. Last year the Badgers went 9-1-1, shared the Big Ten championship, enjoyed a Top-10 ranking and won the Rose Bowl -- all in Alvarez' fourth year.
The Big Ten and National Coach of the Year stressed there's no shortcut to turning a program around.
"You've got to start with a plan and stay committed to it," he said. "You've got to sell it to your coaches, your players and every single person involved with the football team."
Part of his success at Wisconsin stems from setting high expectations, Alvarez said.
"Don't ever sell yourself short," he said. "We made a committment to go after the best players. I don't care who we're going up against."
Once those players arrive, he said, coaches and staff need to get as close to the kids as possible and get involved in their lives.
"If he knows you're interested in his life, his girlfriend, his dog," Alvarez said. "If you care about them as a person, nothing you ask him to do will seem too much. I don't know any player who isn't motivated by a packed stadium and the band playing. The key is motivating them 365 days a year."
The clinic will conclude with a KU intrasquad scrimmage at 11:15 a.m. today.