BROOKFIELD, Wis. - Wisconsin Badgers fans across the state on Tuesday, April 6 extended their congratulations to Barry Alvarez.
After more than 30 with the school as head football coach and, later, athletic director, Alvarez will be retiring come summer.
Dozens of miles away from the UW-Madison campus, you can't help but look around the Brookfield store's merchandise and wonder: How much of that success is due to the success of the athletics department?
"I just want to say congratulations coach, you’ve given so many people the opportunity --like me -- I’m so appreciative every second for it," said fan Bernstein.
Bernstein, like many fans, shared well wishes to Alvarez on Tuesday.
"I’m very sad to see him go. I wish he could live 1,000 years and be the A.D. for 1,000 years," Bernstein said.
A fullback on the football team and a 2005 graduate, Bernstein credits many personal milestones to his relationship with Alvarez -- from meeting his wife to getting his current job at the UW Foundation.
"I honestly attribute this job to Coach Alvarez," said Berstein. "He called my boss at Hillel and said hey, give him the job."
But the congratulations Tuesday were not just from those who knew Alvarez.
"I think that he created an atmosphere that helped propel the program," said Dan Sitzburger.
Sitzburger shopped for gits at the University Book Store, Tuesday; his son and daughter are proud Badgers alumni.
"I think everybody deserves to retire, I’m retired myself. I think he’s done a tremendous job," Sitzburger said.
The University Book Store in Brookfield
Barside, fans raised a glass to the 74-year-old Alvarez and the historic success he brought to the Badgers.
"It’s kind of sad, actually. He’s been around and a stable figure in Wisconsin for so many years," said Jim Jansen. "As a kid, he was a big figure to you -- you always wanted to run up and try and get his autograph."
Many fans, somewhat under their breath, wondered: What will become of the Wisconsin athletics department now?
More than one speculated they can't see Alvarez walking away completely. They hope his presence will still be felt for some time to come.