Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen abruptly announced on Wednesday that he would be resigning his position to take a job at the same role at Oregon State. Less than a week after the Badgers trouncing at the hands of Ohio State in the Big-10 Conference championship, Andersen notified University athletic director Barry Alvarez of his intentions, which were accepted as an immediate resignation of his head coaching duties. Alvarez spoke to reporters at a press-conference on Wednesday night to give details of the meeting, which he says was as much of a surprise to himself as it was to fans and players.
When asked about the player's reactions to the news, Alvarez mentioned that the older team members, many of whom had been witness to Brett Bielema's departure of a similar fashion, took it in stride. Though the younger players, the athletic director and former head coach said, were much more upset. Star Badgers running-back Melvin Gordon, who announced his own decision to enter the draft in 2015 rather than stay at Wisconsin, weighed-in on the topic over the weekend, exclaiming his surprise at the news, stating that no one on the team saw any sign that Andersen was contemplating the move.
Reporter's questions at Wednesday's news conference slowly trended towards the team's future, including the naming a successor and if that new coach would be in place for the team's Outback Bowl game against Auburn on January 1. Alvarez gave no speculation as to who would be named to the helm, though he said he hoped to have an applicant chosen by New Year's Day. As for the meeting with Auburn, Alvarez revealed later that evening that he would reprise his role as head coach for the game, returning to the sidelines for the first time since coaching the Badgers in the 2012 Rose Bowl in lieu of Bielema. Before being named athletic director at Wisconsin, Alvarez coached the Badgers to three Rose Bowl victories as head coach between 1990 and 2005.
Who Will Replace Anderson?
Despite Alvarez's reluctance to name even a list of potential replacements on Wednesday night, media outlets on Friday were already reporting that one-time Wisconsin offensive coordinator and current Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst is set to fill the vacancy. Neither Alvarez nor Chryst have publicly acknowledged the report, though local media says that a reliable source close to the university is providing them with the information. Chryst would return to Wisconsin after three seasons in Pittsburgh, where he compiled a 19-19 record. He was a coordinator at Wisconsin for six seasons prior to accepting the Pittsburgh offer in 2012.
Andersen's own comments regarding his decision were kept short when he released a statement late last week thanking the Badgers for having him as a head coach for two seasons. Though he did not give details about the reasoning behind his move, Alvarez revealed that in his meeting with the coach, Andersen made it clear that it was for family reasons that he chose to return to the west coast. Andersen leaves the Badgers after coaching them to a 19-7 record over two full seasons.