Last Wednesday's edition of On Wisconsin featured some quality discussion about the two biggest stories to strike Badger Hockey in the last few weeks: the Big Ten Hockey Conference and the Lady Badgers' newest title. Coach Mike Eaves and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez both had some chances to comment on those stories.
* Disclaimer: OR if you live in the suburbs of Milwaukee, have a normal 9-5 type job, and are an amateur blogger (in more ways than one), then you might find out about Coach Eaves and Alvarez's comments when you ask someone from the athletic department if they have made any formal statements about the BTHC, and he kindly respond to you with an e-mail linking to this podcast...
The link to the audio is here, you can also access the podcast for download here.
A general timeline for those who want to skim the podcast:
00:56-2:32 Brian Posick mentions the women's hockey title.
2:46 - 3:17 BP introduces the BTHC news
3:17 - 5:43 Coach Eaves' comments on the BTHC
18:03 BP's interview with Barry Alvarez begins
19:33 - 22:05 They discuss the women's hockey team, Megan Duggan, and Coach Johnson
22:06 - 24:18 They discuss the BTHC
26:02 - 28:26 The issue of the facility improvements at Camp Randall
Now, I'm a total hack of a journalist (you know... because I'm not one and this is an occasional hobby for me), but here's my lame-duck attempt at transcribing the comments:
Mike Eaves on the BTHC:
"In the first place, Brian, it needs to be said there's a lot of work to be done. This is just the first step ... getting the presidents and the ADs to get on board and back this. This thought process is real powerful. And I think that... in lieu of the BTN going into effect... it was just a matter of time before this type of thing happened.
"In my mind, a lot of things in our society are driven by dollars and cents and this is one of those things. The Big Ten, once they got up and running and the money they are providing to each institution... the Big Ten is big time bucks. And once they got football and basketball going, the next revenue or income sport is hockey, men's ice hockey. And I think it was just a matter of time before they were looking to get them on there. And with that being the case right now, and Penn State getting finances to get the men's and women's program there, this was a natural progression in my mind, it was just a matter of time.
"The positives of it I think are the fact that you are going to create an unbelievable conference in men's ice hockey. It's going to be on TV. People, if they want to watch college hockey, are going to know where to go to watch it on a regular basis so i think that exposure to college hockey will be tremendous. I think that will be a great thing.
"I think the conference itself, having at our league meetings everybody speaking the same language in terms of what their needs are, and the things they have to deal with i think will be very much a positive because we all speak the same language.
"The negatives... you know, people can speculate as to what some of those might be, they could say that its either going to hurt college hockey and that we're gonna lose some programs, or because of the stimulation of what's going could create some programs. So i only think that time will tell if that's going to become an issue and *laughs* time will tell what other positives and what other negatives are going to come up."
Barry Alvarez on Mark Johnson:
"Well Mark, what a... just a tremendous leader he is. Just the way he manages his team, how he builds the team. And how... you know, he's so consistent. And that's the thing I see about him. His players know exactly what he wants. He's never too high, never too low. The consistency that he shows and the great job that he does teaching and building a team is very impressive"
Barry on Meghan Duggan:
"There are certain people that have a presence, and she's one of them. She walks into a room, and she has a presence. She steps on the ice, she has a presence. Every great team has a leader, someone just like her. And you can just sense that and you can feel that. When she speaks... you can look at the people in the crowd last night and everyone listened to her and every one of her teammates that spoke mentioned her by name. And [she's a] very impressive lady"
Barry after Brian Posick noted that some places, like Penn State for their men's program, might be interested in Coach Johnson:
"Absolutely. You've got the best women's coach in the country. What he's accomplished speaks for itself. You certainly don't want to lose him. But anytime you have a successful coach, there are always people that are looking at him, you know, and people that will try to get them to move and come and run their program. that's part of the business that we're in."
Barry when asked if he thinks Coach Johnson could have the same level of success in men's hockey:
"You know Brian, I'm not a hockey guy. But I mean... I'm sure the fundamentals... he coached men's hockey before he took over the head job at the women's program." (BP: "Assistant with Jeff Sauer, yeah...") "Absolutely. And I don't see why he wouldn't be successful."
Barry on the BTHC:
"I think everyone looks at their own situation. Everyone is concerned about their own situation. I think for a number of years now, people have been concerned by us having a league it will hurt college hockey. I don't agree with that.
"I think hockey needs to be regionalized. Hockey is a very expensive sport, and when you're traveling, criss-crossing the country playing your schedule, it gets more expensive and it limits how many people can play. You take a look at the east coast schools, it's basically a bus league, they can bus to everything they don't have to fly so its less expensive.
"What the Big Ten will do for our fans... it's name recognition now. You're playing teams that you recognize. You're more aware of a Michigan, Ohio State, you have a built in tradition and rivalry already. Plus the BTN has committed to about 40 games right off the bat. so i think that it sells and it promotes college hockey and maybe educates a lot of people in areas where there isn't hockey about college hockey"
(Brian Posick: And, no disrespect to other schools in the WCHA or the CCHA, but it also, these six schools in the Big Ten, it puts them on the same academic standing as the other schools. There's no doubt that theres a disparity in the WCHA.)
Barry Alvarez's response:
"There's no question.. You're dealing with DIII schools in some cases and some DI schools and standards are a little bit different, what you're accustomed to is a little bit different, I sensed that in the meetings that i've gone to that its much different than sitting in a Big Ten meeting."