Barry Alvarez is unquestionably the face of Wisconsin athletics on the whole, but what we in the general public see takes the work of hundreds of others who largely remain faceless and nameless. Those who know how things really work in college athletic departments know that sometimes an AD is only as good as the people you hire and especially those that you trust to be your "right hand man" if you will.
At Wisconsin that man has been Sean Frazier, hired on in the athletics department in 2007 and elevated to deputy athletic director in 2011.
However, Frazier appears to be a leading candidate to become the AD at Rutgers, who's AD resigned in the face of the Mike Rice abuse scandal just about a month ago or so. That could mean some big time ramifications for the inner workings of UW athletics, at least to some.
What is a plus though is Alvarez's willingness to promote and assist those in his department when big opportunities come their way. Just look at Jamie Pollard when he was up for the AD job at Iowa State (he's still their AD and doing quite well by the by), or look at Alvarez's input regarding new Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst who spent time in the UW athletics department as the Chief Operating Officer.
So, while Frazier is a key component of what happens inside Wisconsin athletics today, expect Alvarez to be his biggest cheerleader when an opportunity like this comes along.
That alone is a vastly underrated trait of Alvarez and exactly the reason why working at the UW athletic department seems to attract some of the youngest and brightest names in athletic administration.
Should Frazier leave, expect the pool of contenders to take over his spot to be one that attracts some big time talent in their field of work. Life at Wisconsin will go on should Frazier get the job, but let's not pretend that life won't be different either.
In the end, situations like these should remind us all of how vastly underrated a job Alvarez has done as an athletic director. Sure, W's and L's and championship performances are the outward measure of an AD's success, but Alvarez has combined winning that way with winning in the day to day operations by hiring one of the best collection of staff members in the Big Ten, if not the country.
He's more than an ex-football coach being a face of an athletic department, he's a true leader and it's paying off for those he trusts enough to hire and for those of who support the on the field product those hire's help along the way.