If you harbored any hopes that revered Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez would pull a Bill Snyder and return to the Badgers’ sidelines, you can forget it.
Plenty of college football diehards were likely pulling for the architect of UW’s rise to prominence to get the coaching itch again after his stint filling in for the departed Bret Bielema in the upcoming Rose Bowl matchup with Stanford. Instead, word leaked out Tuesday night that Alvarez had found Wisconsin’s new head honcho in Utah State’s Gary Andersen.
On the surface, it feels like an odd fit. Andersen has essentially spent his entire coaching career in the state of Utah, having served as Kyle Whittingham’s defensive coordinator at the University of Utah immediately prior to taking the reins of the Aggies in 2009. He had already passed on opportunities in the Pac-12 this offseason at Colorado and California. His experience in the Big Ten is nil.
However, no one has ever doubted Alvarez’s eye for coaching talent. Andersen rightfully earned a reputation as a rising star on the coaching circuit after his four seasons spent overseeing Utah St. The Aggies won a conference championship this year, finishing 6-0 in WAC play and 11-2 overall. That included a blowout win over Toledo over the weekend in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Andersen may have caught his new athletic director’s eye in a near upset of the Badgers back in September. Whatever it was that made Andersen attractive to Alvarez and the Wisconsin brass, he’d be best advised to hit the ground running in Madison. His predecessor, Bielema, just led the once-moribund Badgers to their third consecutive league crown and Rose Bowl berth.
(Last week, CBR's Aaron Torres and Kevin McGuire talked with Andersen as he prepared his team for the Potato Bowl.)