Wisconsin to hire Utah State's Gary Andersen

Wisconsin will hire Utah State’s Gary Andersen as its next coach, the Big Ten Network confirmed Tuesday night. The Wisconsin State Journal first reported the news.

Badger fans may be familiar with Andersen, whose team lost at Wisconsin on Sept. 15 this season, 16-14, only after missing a 37-yard field goal in the dying seconds to allow Wisconsin to escape.

Unlike the departed Bret Bielema who needed to be groomed for the job, Andersen brings a strong background as a head coach to Wisconsin. But like Bielema–and Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez–Andersen brings a defensive background to the job.

Andersen, 48, has posted a 26-24 mark in four seasons at Utah State, compiling a 16-13 mark in WAC play. He led the Aggies to bowls each of the past two seasons, guiding Utah State to a 41-15 victory over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday to cap an 11-2 season as WAC champion. The bowl trip in 2011 was Utah State’s first since 1997. Andersen groomed a dynamic quarterback at Utah State in Chuckie Keeton, a true dual threat.

[ RELATED: View our 2012-13 bowl schedule]

Prior to taking over Utah State, Andersen was defensive coordinator of Utah from 2004-08 under Kyle Whittingham, who was defensive coordinator for Urban Meyer at Utah. Andersen also served on the Utes staff from 1997-2002. Andersen also has coached at Southeastern Louisiana (1988); Ricks College (1989-92); Idaho State (1992-94); Park City High (1994-95); Northern Arizona (1995-96). He was head coach of Southern Utah in 2003, going 4-7.

Andersen is a native of Salt Lake City and played center at Utah from 1985-86 after beginning his career at Ricks College. He has no connections to the Big Ten or Midwest, having spent almost  his entire career out west.

Alvarez will coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl vs. Stanford before Andersen takes over. His Utah State teams often were built along the lines of Wisconsin’s squads, playing tough, physical football. The Aggies rank No. 25 in the nation in rushing this season (204.1 ypg). The USU defense is No. 15 in the nation (322.1 ypg).

Many names emerged as possible candidates, including Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Miami’s Al Golden, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads, Toledo’s Matt Campbell and Jacksonville’s Mel Tucker, among others. But Andersen was the choice.

Bielema surprised many by bolting for Arkansas shortly after leading the Badgers to a win over Nebraska in Big Ten championship game. Bielema went 68-24 overall and 37-19 in the Big Ten in seven seasons in Madison since taking over as the hand-picked successor of Alvarez in the 2006 season. Bielema led Wisconsin to a third consecutive Rose Bowl this season before leaving.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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aroznowski on 12/21/2012 @ 4:58pm EDT Said:

Gary Andersen will be the first football or men’s basketball coach at Wisconsin since Barry Alvarez that doesn’t come off as whiny and clownish. That’s been a long time coming. To be honest, I don’t know of any character flaws with this guy. Since he is entering the Big Ten from a lesser conference, he, like Tim Beckman, Darell Hazell, and Jerry Kill, is going to have to climb the ladder if he wants to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mark Dantonio, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Fitzgerald, Brady Hoke, and Urban Meyer. We’ll just have to see how he fares. It is going to be very tough for him. I have the feeling that another Ohio State dynasty is about to begin.

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