Gary Andersen Aftermath: Who’s Next For The Badgers?


Wednesday afternoon Gary Andersen informed Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez that he was leaving the program to take the head coaching position at Oregon State.  We’ve had roughly 24 hours to digest Andersen’s decision and consider what is next for Badger football.

Let’s start off with what we do know:

–We know Andersen spent just two years at Wisconsin, recording a record of 19-7.

–We know Andersen is the second coach in just three years to leave the program abruptly, following in the steps of Bret Bielema.

–We  know that Barry Alvarez will coach the team at the Outback Bowl Jan. 1 against Auburn, just like when he stepped in to coach the team at the Rose Bowl when Bielema left.

–And we know that for the second time in three years, a Badger coach leaving the program was unexpected.

Alvarez even stated at his press conference following the news he was surprised. (Via

"“I was very surprised, I had no idea this was in the works.” – Barry Alvarez"

Andersen abruptly leaving the program raises questions as to why this is becoming a trend for Wisconsin.  Their have been all sorts of reports claiming why Andersen did end up leaving.

Reasons for Andersen leaving include the academic standards being too high, the payroll for assistant coaches being too low, the fact that Andersen and his family wanted to be closer to his home in Utah, and Barry Alvarez not giving Andersen the coaching freedom he desired.

While I don’t dispute the legitimacy of these reports, it definitely seems odd to me that all of this is coming out now.

When it comes to the academic standards, there is one thing that sticks out to me.  Wasn’t Andersen aware of these standards during the hiring process?  Wasn’t Andersen made aware of what kind of standards and policies the program that he would be coaching holds its players too?

If he didn’t like the standards Wisconsin holds its players to then, what would have changed in two years?

“When it comes to the academic standards, there is one thing that sticks out to me.  Wasn’t Andersen aware of these standards during the hiring process?”

In terms of the payroll for assistant coaches being too low, normally it seems like a legitimate gripe.  Austin Ward wrote a piece for ESPN stating that Wisconsin doesn’t “have an assistant ranked higher than No. 77 in the nation in annual salary” according to a recent USA Today database.

OK, understandable.  But in that same article, Ward brought up an interesting point.  Oregon State actually ranks one spot behind Wisconsin nationally in payroll for assistants at number 41.  Not only is Andersen going to arguably a lower tier program in Corvallis, but they statistically pay their assistants less.

This brings us to the main reason I personally think Andersen left; Barry Alvarez himself.  It seems that from both Bielema’s and Andersen’s tenure that Alvarez had more say than the coaches would have liked.

Pat Forde from Yahoo Sports mentioned a very interesting period of events involving Andersen, the way he coached during the LSU game earlier this season, and presumably Alvarez.

Aug 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner McEvoy (5) rushes during the second quarter against the LSU Tigers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Remember how Wisconsin essentially stopped giving Melvin Gordon the ball in the second half of the LSU game this year?  Well Forde wrote how Andersen got grilled for it, and never really gave a reason for it either.  Until the following Monday.

Andersen mentioned how Gordon had a hip problem throughout the game, and didn’t really think it was anyone’s business anyway (Via yahoo sports):

"“I don’t quite frankly think it’s anybody’s business to pass that on to somebody after the game, but apparently it is because that’s what I was told to do.”"

Andersen seemed annoyed with the pride of Wisconsin football looking over his shoulder constantly, and that is the main reason Gary left the program.

Now there is one of two ways the athletic department could fix this potential “problem.”  Either Alvarez relinquishes some of his control, or he needs to be more candid with the coaching candidates about what coaching at Wisconsin will be like.

Without Alvarez finding a balance of making sure his program is on the right track with letting the coach do his job, then don’t be surprised when the next coach for Wisconsin leaves just like the last two.

With that being said, Wisconsin still needs a coach.  And there are plenty of names being thrown around for consideration.  There are four candidates that may not necessarily have the best chance of getting hired (I’m looking at you Bo Pelini), but bring the most intrigue to the hiring process.

Paul Chryst, Head Coach at Pitt:  If there is anyone out there who would know how to work for/with Barry Alvarez, it would be former Badger tight end, tight end coach, offensive coordinator, and Wisconsin born Paul Chryst.  Chryst has a relationship with Alvarez, serving on his staff in the year 2002, and then again from 2005-11 as the offensive coordinator.  It’s hard to tell at this point if Chryst is the favorite, but he is certainly one of the most popular choices here in the state of Wisconsin.

Darrell Bevell, Seattle Seahawks Offensive Coordinator:  Bevell is also a candidate with Wisconsin ties.  He was the Badgers quarterback in the mid 90’s, with Alvarez being his coach.  Bevell has won a super bowl in Seattle, has been considered for many other head coaching positions in the past, and seems like another solid choice for the Badgers.

Dave Doeren, Head Coach at NC State:  Yet another candidate that has Wisconsin ties and head coaching experience (something Alvarez prefers) is the coach at NC State, Dave Doeren.  Doeren was a defensive assistant for Wisconsin from 2005-10 before being hired as the head coach at Northern Illinois.  Doeren is young for a coach, only 43, and would bring two things few can; Badger ties and head coaching experience.

Bo Pelini, Former Head Coach at Nebraska:  As much as it pains me to write this, apparently former Nebraska hot head (and head coach) Bo Pelini is in the running for the Badgers coaching vacancy as well.

According to Clint Brewster of 24/7 Sports:

While I would not be a fan of this unless Pelini can get his temper under control, I can see the interest.  In Pelini’s seven years coaching at Nebraska, he had four nine win seasons, and three ten win seasons.  The man can win football games, and that has always been expected from Badger football.

It will certainly be exciting to hear the news and rumors that will inevitably come out as time passes.  We will just have to wait and see.  But what do you think about all of this?  Why do you think Andersen left?  And who do you think is the best fit to be the next Badgers head coach?  Let us know below!

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