Wisconsin will hire Utah State’s Gary Andersen as head football coach to replace Bret Bielema, according to multiple media reports.
The Wisconsin State Journal was first to report that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez had offered Andersen the job Tuesday night. Andersen is in his fourth year at Utah State and is coming off his best season yet.
The 18th-ranked Aggies won the Western Athletic Conference and finished 11-2, with a school record for victories after beating Toledo 41-15 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday.
Utah State lost 16-14 at Wisconsin earlier this season.
The 48-year-old Andersen is 26-24 at Utah State. He took over in Logan, Utah, after spending five seasons as defensive coordinator at the University of Utah under Kyle Whittingham. In the four seasons before Andersen took over at Utah State, the Aggies won a total of nine games.
Bielema left Wisconsin for Arkansas earlier this month in a surprising move.
Andersen’s move would come as a surprise only because he has so publicly stated recently that he planned to stay at Utah State after turning down other offers in the past month. The Utah native was a candidate at Colorado, California and Kentucky.
“Opportunities are wonderful. It was very humbling the last three or four weeks to go through that process and be involved in jobs. You learn a lot, but you also learn a lot about yourself and where you want to be,” Andersen told the Idaho Statesman last week. “And you sit back and take a deep breath and know who you want to be able to be around. I love the kids I get to coach here. … The kids I have in the program, it just was not time. I look them in the eye and I need to be where I’m at.”
Wisconsin is headed to the Rose Bowl for a third straight season, and Alvarez is coaching the team. He was Wisconsin coach for 16 seasons before stepping down to focus on the job of athletic director, and handing the job to Bielema who was head coach in Madison for seven years.
Among the others reportedly considered for the Wisconsin job were Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson and Miami’s Al Golden.