Alvarez introduces Andersen as new Badger football coach

University of Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez introduced Gary Andersen as the Badgers’ new head football coach in Madison today.

Andersen is the 29th head coach in Wisconsin football history. He spent the previous four seasons as the head coach at Utah State, leading the Aggies to a 26-24 record.

In 2012, Utah State had the most successful season in school history, winning a school-record 11 games, going undefeated in the WAC and capturing its first outright league title since 1936. The Aggies defeated Toledo, 41-15, to win the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Alvarez will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl against Stanford University on Jan. 4 and then turn over the program to Andersen.

Andersen, who was the defensive coordinator at Utah for four seasons before getting the head job at Utah State, has a history of developing defenses. This year, Utah State ranks eighth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 15.4 points per game. In 2008, the year before Andersen took over at USU, the Aggies allowed an average of 34.7 points per game and ranked 106th nationally.

In addition to scoring defense, Utah State also ranked among the top 15 nationally in sacks (eighth), pass efficiency defense (10th), rush defense (12th) and total defense (15th). In the red zone, the Aggies were particularly effective, allowing opponents to score on just 63.6 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, a mark that tied them for third in the country in red zone defense. USU opponents scored just 13 TDs in 44 red zone opportunities (29.5 percent).

Andersen’s coaching career began in 1988 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana, where he coached for one season before going to Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) from 1989-92 as the offensive line coach. His other coaching stints include Idaho State (1992-94, defensive line), Park City (Utah) High School (1994-95, head coach) and Northern Arizona (1995-96, assistant head coach/defensive line/special teams).

Alvarez said the first time that Andersen showed up on his radar screen was during Utah State’s near-upset of Auburn in the 2011 opener. Despite being a three-touchdown favorite, the Tigers, defending national champions, had to rally from a 10-point deficit in the closing minutes to escape with a 42-38 win.

“I was really impressed with the way Utah State played,” Alvarez said. “They were physical and they weren’t intimidated even though they were on the road. They outplayed Auburn and should have won the game. So I started following them.” “There are a lot of things that I believe in,” Andersen said, “and the number one key in coaching is that I always talk about taking care of the kids first. I believe that as a head coach, and anybody’s who’s ever going to work for me is going to put the kids first. That was Mac’s deal. That was important to him.”

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