Wisconsin head football coach Gary Andersen is leaving the Badgers to take the same position at Oregon State.
Andersen cited family reasons as his motivation and met with the team at 4 p.m. to announce his decision, according to a UW Athletics press release.
“First and foremost I want to thank [Athletic Director Barry] Alvarez for the opportunity to coach at the University of Wisconsin,” Andersen said in the release. “I also want to thank my staff and the people at UW. We worked very hard together and accomplished some great things. I had the opportunity to meet and coach some great young men and I look forward to watching them as they continue their careers and move through life.”
While Andersen becomes the second coach to leave Wisconsin in three seasons, joining current Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, Alvarez said in a press conference he was not concerned with the long-term implications of the move.
“We’ve got a good job, we’ve got a good place, we’ve got a consistent program,” Alvarez said. “We’ve got a lot to sell. I’m not trying to paint any other picture than a very positive picture because it is very positive.”
After being dominated by Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship last Saturday, Wisconsin awaits a matchup with Auburn in the Outback Bowl. The Badgers’ senior players asked Alvarez to coach the bowl game and he said he would make a decision Wednesday night.
“I told them I was very flattered that they asked me to do that. Because it’s about the kids, you know,” Alvarez said. “I want them to come here and have a good experience and feel good about it.”
Alvarez did not address whether the Badgers would look for a replacement from within the current staff or if they would look to other schools.
“My phone’s ringing off the hook already,” Alvarez said. “Word’s just starting to leak out and I’ll be very busy tonight answering phone calls from agents and coaches and go-betweens. People trying to get in on this job.”
Andersen’s decision made Wednesday very newsworthy for the football team, as running back Melvin Gordon announced earlier in the day he would forego his senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
“I think everybody was well aware that Melvin was going to go into the draft. Gary’s announcement was definitely a surprise and shocking to those kids,” Alvarez said. “Young people are resilient. They’ll bounce back and I’m sure they’ll play well and they’ll respond.”
Andersen was hired in 2012 after spending four years as the head coach of Utah State. Many of his assistants, including defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, were brought over from his staff at Utah State. He compiled a 19-7 record in two seasons at the helm of the Badgers and won the Big Ten West title this season.