For just the second time in the last three years, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will spend the holiday season looking for a new head football coach. He must also consider whether he’ll accept the seniors invitation to coach the Badgers in the New Years Day Outback Bowl after Gary Andersen said he’s leaving Wisconsin after just two seasons on the job.
Andersen has accepted the head coaching position at Oregon State, replacing Mike Riley who left the school to take over at Nebraska. Oregon State plans to introduce Andersen at a news conference on Friday. Anderson told Alvarez he was leaving Madison for family reasons.
Alvarez certainly didn’t see this coming. But what’s somewhat concerning is that Wisconsin has all of a sudden become a stepping stone job. Alvarez will be looking to change that with his next coaching hire.
The Wisconsin athletic director said he wants to find a new coach with head coaching experience. He said it has to be a good fit for Wisconsin and Badger nation is hopeful the next coach will be somebody that wants to stick around for a while.
But are we to believe that Andersen would pick up and move his family from Utah State and come to Madison, then turn around and head back west after just two seasons. Surely, there has to be more to it.
Alvarez told the Wisconsin State Journal that Andersen had grown increasingly frustrated over UW’s admissions policies for recruits, which are more stringent than many other Big Ten schools.
Wisconsin recently lost out on Sun Prairie defensive tackle Craig Evans, who originally committed to Wisconsin, then changed his mind and went to Michigan State because he didn’t meet the admission requirements in Madison.
Alvarez said he has a short list of head coaching candidates, something that he has in advance for this very reason. He said he wants to have a new coach hired prior to the New Years Day bowl game.
Alvarez wouldn’t reveal just who is on that list, but one would assume former Badger offensive coordinator Paul Chryst would be a top consideration. Chryst is a Madison native and is 19-19 in three seasons at Pittsburgh.
Other coaches with Badger ties are Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and current Badger defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
The Outback Bowl
The current seniors on Wednesday requested Alvarez to coach the team in the Outback Bowl. He did a similar thing after Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, leaving Barry to coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl game against Stanford. Alvarez said he planned to make his decision by last night and we could all know by today.
Alvarez did speak with defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, telling them to proceed with the practice schedule in preparation for the Outback Bowl game against Auburn.
Following is Barry Alvarez’ press conference early Wednesday evening in Madison.