(USA Today Sports Images)Gary Andersen was adamant this month that he was staying at Utah State, that the other offers were nice but when he looked into the eyes of his players he knew he needed to be with the Aggies.
Then Wisconsin came calling and, like many college coaches who have professed a desire to stay, he changed his mind.
Andersen will be the next coach at Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, ending a coaching search that began two weeks ago when Bret Bielema left for Arkansas.
While Andersen's departure is a huge blow to a Utah State program that started to experience unprecedented success with Andersen, it is a nice hire for Wisconsin. It turns out Barry Alvarez had good reason to tell Badgers fans not to panic.
Andersen transformed a Utah State program that was 9-38 in the four seasons before his arrival into a winner. The Aggies consistently got better, especially on defense, and that improvement culminated this season with the school's first outright conference championship since 1936, the second bowl win in school history and the Aggies' first 11-win season.
Andersen takes over a Wisconsin program that doesn't need a transformation. It will play in its third straight Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Andersen just needs to prove he can keep UW's success going.
Andersen's offensive philosophy will be a key issue -- he used the spread at Utah State but Alvarez has said he wants a coach who maintains the Badgers' tradition of power running -- and will need to adjust to recruiting an area that is absolutely new to him. He has spent almost his entire life and coaching career in Utah. But he has a reputation as a good recruiter and has already shown he can be a successful head coach.
Considering how few enticing options the Badgers seemed to have this late in the coaching carousel season, this seems to be a pretty nice catch by Alvarez.
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