Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 19, 2012

There is no other place to start my daily links than with the news that broke last night that revealed that Wisconsin is poised to hire a new football coach: Gary Andersen of Utah State. Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal was the first to break the news on Tuesday night.

Utah State finished 11-2 this season and is currently ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press poll. Andersen?s team has won 16 of its past 19 games over the last two seasons. And the three losses were by a combined six points, including a 16-14 defeat in Madison this season.

Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez went outside the box in tabbing Andersen.

Potrykus also points out that Andersen is a defensive-minded coach who ran a spread offense during his four seasons at Utah State. And Andersen was impressive during a face-to-face interview Monday, a source close to the Badger program told Potrykus.

Although the 48-year-old Andersen has agreed to replace Bret Bielema, because of a state-mandated, two-week waiting period covering job postings, Wisconsin officials cannot announce the hiring until Thursday. As for Andersen?s staff, he reportedly will bring the majority of it to Madison.

Wanna know Andersen better? Dave Heller of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel pulled off a Q&A with the Utah State beat writers.

QUARTERBACK DEPTH: Not long ago, Penn State faced the prospect of having just one quarterback in spring drills: Steven Bench. Now, it will have three, according to Audrey Snyder of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

D.J. Crook and Austin Whipple will arrive in January as preferred walk-ons. And JC transfer Tyler Ferguson also will be on hand this spring. And this summer, Christian Hackenberg will arrive. So, competition to replace Matt McGloin will be robust.

That two-quarterback system you saw Michigan use in the latter half of the season? Wolverines coach Brady Hoke says he plans to use the system in the Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina. No shock.

And this is also certain: Devin Gardner will start at quarterback, regardless of the health of Denard Robinson. Again, no shock. Hoke said in a radio interview that the flow of the game would dictate how Michigan uses the two quarterbacks, but that it would also have an established game plan for the pair heading into the matchup.

"(Offensive coordinator) Al Borges does such a great job and has really a great plan," Hoke said. "The flow of the game always is part of it, but at the same time, we'll have some ideal situations that we'll start the game with."

NEBRASKA WEEKLY ROUNDUP: It?s one of my favorite times of the week-time for the Weekly Roundup with Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald, a chat in which the well-connected scribe discusses Nebraska and the Big Ten.

ATTENDANCE DROP: Ticket sales for football and basketball games at Minnesota are sagging.

The Star-Tribune report says men?s basketball season-ticket figures show that lowered fan interest now spans multiple years — coach Tubby Smith is in his sixth year — and might have been accelerated this year by a new, expanded season-ticket plan that charges fans an additional $400 preferred seating fee for a $627 season ticket.

"Some will say it's because there's so much [sports] on television, and there may be some truth in that," Minnesota A.D. Norwood Teague told the Star-Tribune. "But I'm not going to conclude that that's causing any of our problems. It may be a generational thing."

Here is a chart chronicling recent attendance at football and basketball games at Minnesota. Interesting.

BRAGGIN' RIGHTS TIME: The Braggin? Rights game between Illinois and Missouri is this Saturday in St. Louis. And it?s one of the biggest sports events on the calendar each year in the Gateway City. Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette takes a look at the lush history of the event.

My favorite memory: In 2005, when a Missouri fan dumped popcorn on Tigers coach Quin Snyder after Illinois took an 82-50 decision. Just brutal.

It?s never too early to start debating who is the player of the year in college hoops. The lads from have Michigan?s Trey Burke at No. 3, Indiana?s Cody Zeller at No. 6, Illinois? Brandon Paul at No. 7 and Ohio State?s DeShaun Thomas at No. 9 so far. Not bad.


My take: I concur. That win over Bowling Green? It was, well, sloppy.

My take: Agree! It?s like exchanging a Yugo for a Cadillac. You have to do it.

My take: This is a good analogy. I like both hires. Good, tough no-nonsense coaches who have won at places where it?s difficult to win.

My take: And there is that. Not bad.

My take: I don?t think Barry wanted to have to groom another coach.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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