MADISON, Wis. — Without Darrell Bevell, the story of Wisconsin’s remarkable turnaround from Big Ten doormat to 1994 Rose Bowl champions might not have been possible.
Bevell arrived at Wisconsin as a mature and talented quarterback following a two-year Mormon mission and earned the Badgers’ starting job in the second game of the 1992 season. The experience he gained during that 5-6 campaign under coach Barry Alvarez helped pave the way for a truly remarkable 1993 season, which is considered one of the greatest in program history.
Wisconsin finished 10-1-1, won the Big Ten championship and reached its first Rose Bowl in 31 years. Bevell’s unlikely 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against UCLA helped secure Wisconsin’s first Rose Bowl victory. Considering the Badgers had finished 1-10 in Alvarez’s first season in charge in 1990, it seemed an almost impossible dream.
Bevell was named a first-team all-Big Ten selection for his efforts and set the single-season school record for passing yards (2,390) while tying the record for touchdown passes (19). He started for four seasons at Wisconsin and finished his career as the Badgers’ leader in passing yards (7,686), completions (646), attempts (1,052), completion percentage (61.4) and touchdown passes (59).
Those accomplishments led to Bevell’s induction into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as part of an 11-person class. Bevell, who has served as the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator since 2011, was in town for the ceremony and spoke with reporters. Here’s what he had to say:
What’s the best part of this day for you?
Bevell: I think it’s celebrating it with everyone. It’s great. I just saw [band director Mike] Leckrone over there. I remember talking to him, having a conversation with him about going to the Rose Bowl and how cool that would be. So, being a part of being able to take him there in his first Rose Bowl, as well, there’s just so many good memories, so many good things to talk about.
When you look back on your days at Wisconsin, did you think down the road you might be part of the UW Athletics Hall of Fame?
Bevell: No. I don’t think you ever think that. I just was hoping to really get an opportunity to play when I got here. Things just worked out great. I had a bunch of great teammates. Great coaches. I was part of the beginning with Coach Alvarez. Obviously, that has turned out to be very special here.
How did you find out you were being inducted?
Bevell: I got a phone call from Coach Alvarez. I wasn’t able to get it. So, when I came back to the phone, I saw his name. And I’m like, “OK, what’d I do now?” You’re not thinking you did something good. So, it was a cool phone call to get. To be able to talk to him and hear it from him was pretty special.
When did the magnitude of your accomplishments here hit you?
Bevell: I think it really hits you when you’re done. When you have an opportunity to look back and reflect on your career and the things that you’ve done. I think when you’re right in the midst of it, there’s so much going on and so many dreams and things that you’re trying to accomplish. At that time, you’re usually not one to think about that kind of stuff. Looking back after I got done was when I knew.
What is your favorite moment from your time at Wisconsin?
Bevell: I think it’s kind of ironic that what I’m known for is my run. Not something that I did very regularly. Passing guy. But to be able to have that run, in the moment and the magnitude that it had in that game was something I’ll never forget.
When you come back here, do you think of the people who influenced you?
Bevell: You think back to all the people that helped you get there. You start with my dad, a football coach. All the time that we spent together. And then all the coaches you had along the way. Your friends and your family that supports you. You have great coaches here with Coach [Brad] Childress and Coach Alvarez and Coach [Bill] Callahan. I could name every single coach that was here. Those are the special things that you remember.
How do you think playing here shaped who you are now and what you do in football?
Bevell: Obviously, the University of Wisconsin is a highly respected school. Big Ten football. I think it helps me with what I do now. It’s pretty cool to know that I played here and then the players that I’m around every day say, “Oh, you played at Wisconsin?” And immediately you have a little bit of respect because of where you went and where you played. We have Russell Wilson, as well, so I get to mess with him a little bit about his time here. But it’s fun. And the memories are great.
What’s it like going in with this group of 10 other people in the Hall of Fame?
Bevell: It’s great to be part of a big class. There’s 11, right? I’m No. 11, as well. I think that’s pretty cool. Mr. Leckrone, Brooks Bolligner, the list goes on. It’s kind of humbling to be part of it.
Do you have a favorite Barry Alvarez moment you can share from your time?
Bevell: I wish I would’ve thought about that for a minute. I think most of that is probably on the more negative side than the exciting side.
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