"Oh it's so exciting. He's a legend man, It's Barry dude," senior linebacker Marcus Trotter said,
"Definitely excited to have Coach Barry back," sophomore linebacker Vince Biegel said.
It's a rare opportunity for those football players, but it has extra meaning for their teammate Joe Ferguson. For the redshirt freshman linebacker, Alvarez isn't just a legendary coach, he's grandpa.
"It's really a dream come true. I never thought something like this could happen," Ferguson said.
"I checked with him first to make sure he was comfortable with it," Alvarez said of his decision to serve as interim head coach.
"I was like there's nothing greater that I could ever want," Ferguson said.
"As soon as we found out, my mom [Dawn Ferguson, Alvarez's daughter] was like well you'll be starting quarterback, starting punt returner. Grandpa's going to put you in all the positions."
Though Joe quickly learned, while grandpa wears the whistle, he doesn't play favorites.
"On the first day [of bowl practice] he yelled at me and everyone was giving me crap in the locker room like, what's that like, your grandpa yelling at you?" Ferguson said.
"Well that's called coaching," Alvarez said.
"I'm sure it's kind of a funny feeling for him. Your grandpa's yelling at you on the field, but then you go to Christmas with him this Thursday," Biegel said.
The day after Christmas coach, grandson and the rest of the Badgers head down to the Outback Bowl. Growing up Joe had only heard stories about what it's like to play for his grandpa on gamedays, but now he'll get to experience it for himself.
"My mom was like I can't wait for you to hear one of his pregame speeches. I guess they fired everyone up. So it'll be really exciting to see my grandpa in that setting," Ferguson said.
"I'll play my heart out and he'll be there with me the whole way so it'll be fun."
The Badgers face Auburn in the Outback Bowl on January 1 at 11 am CT.