Barry Alvarez told Wisconsin fans not to panic. His words were wise. The Badgers have landed Utah State coach Gary Andersen. Highly sought after, Andersen had shrugged off interest from multiple schools to stay with the Aggies. This could prove a major coup.
Andersen is coming off a phenomenal fourth season at Utah State. His Aggies won 11 games for the first time in school history. Finishing top ten in yards per play offense and defense, this was no fluke or product of scheduling. The two losses were by five points combined at Wisconsin and vs. BYU.
He should fit in at Wisconsin. The school competes with Michigan and Ohio State, but cannot recruit on that level. They bring in the fourth or fifth best Big Ten class in a good year. The Badgers need a coach that can implement a system and can find and develop unheralded guys to fit it. That’s what Andersen did at Utah State.
His defensive emphasis should play well in the Big Ten. His Utah units were dominant. He flipped Utah State from 100th in yards per play in 2010 to fourth in 2012. Wisconsin faces a probable conversion from their aggressive 4-3 to Andersen’s Alabama-style 3-4, though that should not be devastating.
Andersen has a reputation as a strong recruiter. He should readjust his offense to Wisconsin’s personnel, though perhaps with quarterbacks more versatile than the traditional Stocco/Tolzien types. This should be a strong hire. We would say Alvarez’ calm, focused and successful coaching search should be a model for schools, but he may be the only athletic director in the country with the gravitas to exert that degree of control.
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