Gary Andersen not a great hire, but a good hire for the Wisconsin Badgers


Who is Gary Andersen?

He’s the coach who earlier this season was a missed field goal away from becoming the first non-conference opponent to knock off  the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall in a very long time.

The 48 year-old Andersen will become the Head Coach of the Badgers after coaching at Utah State where he accumulated a 26-24 record over four years.

He’s not the big name or a UW alum many fans were hoping for, but he is a defensive-minded coach that should fit right within the culture at Wisconsin.

Here’s why he’s a good hire:

Coaching Experience? Check

Prior to serving as the head coach of the WAC’s Utah State, Andersen was the defensive coordinator at his alma mater Utah. While there, he served under current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. The 2008 Utes pulled a shocker when they upset Alabama 31-17 in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. The mention of Meyer should perk the interest of Badgers fans as Ohio State projects to be Wisconsin’s main competition over the next decade.

Defensive Mind? Check

As mentioned above, Andersen spent a majority of his coaching career on the defensive side of the ball. Much like the mentality Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema utilized in their tenures, Andersen showed the same kind of improvement at Utah State. This past weekend, the Aggies won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 41-15 over Toledo. It capped off a 11-2 season where Utah State ranked eighth in the country while giving up a paltry 15.4 points per game.

All-Around Fun Guy and Great Players Coach? Check

If you don’t believe me, check out this Mic’d Up Video from a practice this year (Did you catch that The Band Perry was playing in practice?). Rumor has it he’s also a great recruiter.

Here’s why it’s not a great hire:

Proven Success? Incomplete

The win in the Potato Bowl was his first bowl win as a coach. He had previously lost the year before in the Potato Bowl (24-23 loss to Ohio). One reason Badgers nation had an issue with Bielema was because he couldn’t win in the “big game,” a.k.a the bowl games. Whether Andersen can do that in a bigger conference and against better competition has yet to be seen.

Can He Develop the Talent at UW? Debatable

Sure, he can have a reputation of being a good recruiter, but everything changes when moving from the WAC to the Big Ten. He’s no longer competing with the likes of San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, but rather Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska to name a few of the big boys. Seeing guys like RB Robert Turbin and LB Bobby Wagner go from Aggies to NFL pros gives hope, but Wisconsin has built a reputation of developing pro-level talent.

You really could go back and forth on whether he’s the right or wrong guy for Wisconsin, but it will all become known when he takes over a team who projects to be a top-25 team next season. It will be important for him to recruit his own guys and all, but players like Melvin Gordon, Joel Stave and Chris Borland will provide fans and critics with a nice feeler on Andersen’s coaching abilities.

What did you think of the hire? Let me know by commenting below.

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at


Gary Andersen at UW (

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