Call it a change of course. Call it waiting for a better opportunity. Either way, you can call it a major head coaching change in college football, as Gary Andersen is leaving the Utah State Aggies to take the head coaching job with the Wisconsin Badgers.
In his fourth season leading Utah State, Andersen had his best year at the best possible time. He led Utah State to the WAC Championship and a bowl win over the Toledo Rockets in the Famous Idaho potato Bowl this past Saturday.
Andersen has a strong defensive background, which should fit in well in the Big 10 Conference. The 48-year-old Andersen was 26-24 at Utah State. He became the Aggies’ head coach after spending five seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Utah under Kyle Whittingham. In the four seasons before Andersen took over at Utah State, the Aggies won a total of nine games.
They won 11 in 2012.
Andersen will take over for Bret Bielema, who left to take the head coaching job with the Arkansas Razorbacks earlier this month. That move also came as a bit of a surprise, as Andersen also said that he was very happy where he was right now. He reportedly turned down offers to take over as head coach of the California Golden Bears, Colorado Buffaloes and Kentucky Wildcats.
“Opportunities are wonderful. It was very humbling the last three or four weeks to go through that process and be involved in jobs. You learn a lot, but you also learn a lot about yourself and where you want to be,” Andersen told the Idaho Statesman last week. “And you sit back and take a deep breath and know who you want to be able to be around. I love the kids I get to coach here. … The kids I have in the program, it just was not time. I look them in the eye and I need to be where I’m at.”
Apparently, the time is now. Whether Andersen was simply waiting for a better opportunity at a larger program or whether he simply wanted to wait until after the Aggies’ bowl game to see if another job would come calling, Andersen had a change of heart. The Utah native will be leaving for Wisconsin.
Of course, this move has not been made official with an announcement as of yet. That is expected any day now.
Andersen will not coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl against the Stanford Cardinal. That honor will go to former Badgers head coach and current Athletic Director, Barry Alvarez, who will come out of retirement for one game to lead the Badgers in one more Rose Bowl appearance.
It will not, however, be Andersen’s first trip to Madison. His Aggies lost a very close 16-14 decision to the Badgers early in the 2012 season.