By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Dec 11, 2012 at 5:31 AM

Class and pornography are pretty much the same thing.

As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, "I have trouble defining it but I know it when I see it."

The same thing could be said about class. I can't really define it, but I know it when I see it. And I know no-class when I see it.

Welcome to the world of Barry Alvarez.

The University of Wisconsin Athletic Director, a man of near mythic status in Madison, had a chance to really show some high-class style, but instead chose to wallow with the pigs in the pen.

The issue here, of course, is the shocking news that Bret Bielema was leaving Wisconsin to coach at Arkansas. And despite his wish to coach his UW team in the Rose Bowl, Alvarez said "no thanks, we got it from here."

Then, after a day or two of hemming and hawing, Alvarez announced that he, the old coach with bad knees, would hobble off the bench and coach these young men in the biggest game of their lives. He's coached in the Rose Bowl before, winning three of them.

You could hear the sigh of relief from Badgers nation. Barry to the rescue. Bucky was smiling.

So far so good, and then Alvarez, smiling wide, took the step that carried him right into the muck of the biggest mud hole around.

He met with the UW Athletic Board and afterward said, "I'm not doing it for free. I'm getting paid 1/12th of the coach's salary, which is fair."

Bielema was making about $2.6 million so 1/12th of that is about $217,000.

Almost a quarter of a million dollars for coaching one football game that Alvarez probably won't actually do much real coaching. Let's face it, he's just a figurehead and he's going to give the pregame speech.

Now, I don't know how much money Barry Alvarez has. But nobody's holding any benefits for him. His salary as AD is $1 million a year. He's probably got more money than any 10 of us who are reading this column. He needs another $217,000 like I need another Big Mac.

What this smacks of is greed, ugly, self-motivated greed. Scrooge is real and he's dressed in UW colors. Alvarez himself decided he'd be the one to get this job and pay himself all this cash.

It wouldn't surprise me if there was some arcane rule somewhere in the books that required Alvarez to take the money.

If he wanted to be a real leader, remain a beloved figure, he should just give the money away.

There's a big issue about how UW can't afford to pay assistant coaches enough to attract the best. Well, divide that quarter million among all the assistants as a bonus.

Give it to a charity. Give it to a scholarship program. Buy a quarter million brats for the homeless football fans in Madison.

But don't take the money. Or if you have to take it, give it away.

Putting it in your pocket, when you were the one who decided you got this temp job, just smells like bad Christmas pudding.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.