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(the following is a rough transcript)
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome
Wisconsin director of athletics Barry Alvarez and today's guest
of honor. Start with some opening comments from coach Alvarez.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Thanks, Brian. Appreciate all of you
coming out tonight under this bad weather, etcetera. This is
an exciting day for the Badger football program. I'm pleased
to announce Gary Andersen as our head football coach. First
would like to welcome his family, his wife Stacy, who's here,
sons Keegan and Hagen, and his son Chasen. Chasen is also
here. Welcome. Welcome to our family.
I want to thank the board of regents and the athletic
board who assisted in this process. I said all along that we
would take our time so that we could find the right fit. I
feel very confident that we did our due diligence and we have
the right fit.
Gary has impressed me as the person, the right person
who believes in the things that we have done to be successful
in this program. During the interview process, Walter Dickey
and Sean Frazier were with me, and as we left, Walter Dickey
made the comment, if I would have had a blindfold on, I would
have thought that was you that was answering the questions.
That's how our philosophies and our beliefs have meshed.
They're very similar. He believes in first
supporting the kids, supporting the players, both on the field
academically, and socially. The first questions he asked me
were about academic support for the athletes. In visiting with
him and also doing my research -- I had Joe Panos, former
captain, contact some of the players in the NFL who played for
coach Andersen and get their feedback into the guy, and it was
very consistent from what I had heard.
Demanding, he's fair, he's consistent, he cares about
his players. He'll hug you. He'll get after you if you need
it, and we all love him. That was the consistent theme
He has a passion for the game of football, and that
explains to people, he's a ball coach. Dedicated to helping
his student-athletes, as I mentioned before, and he's done a
tremendous job in turning around the Utah State football
program. He turned it around in a hurry.
The thing that -- first time that I noticed him a
year ago, as I watched Utah State play defending champ Auburn,
really didn't know much about Utah State at that time, but I
was impressed by his demeanor on the sidelines, how his players
played. It was quite obvious they were not intimidated to go
on the road and play in a very difficult environment. They
were tough. They were fundamentally sound. They had Auburn on
And then at that point, I started following him, what
he was doing, how they were doing, and then saw up close and
personal when they showed up at Camp Randall, and I told Gary
that before the game, how impressed I was with him, how he ran
his program, and we all saw how well they played here at Camp
I really look forward to working with him, and I'm
going to help him make this transition as smooth as possible.
Now I would like to formally introduce the next head football
coach at the University of Wisconsin, Gary Andersen.
COACH ANDERSEN: First of all, I'd just like to say
thank you to Coach Alvarez. It's been an unbelievable three
days. You learn a lot at a very fast pace -- support, belief,
care factor from everybody at the University of Wisconsin that
I've come across is unbelievable. Thank you, Coach, for giving
me this opportunity.
When you are given the opportunity to sit down with
Coach Alvarez in an interview, it's a special experience.
Everybody knows this program is where it is today because Coach
Alvarez built this football program from the ground up. A
great opportunity to watch from afar for a number of years as a
young coach, and I have tremendous respect for what's happened
here and how the kids play.
When I had the opportunity to start looking into this
job, it didn't take me long. When coach offered me the job, I
think I just said yes. I didn't ask any questions. Just held
my hand in the air and was ready to go.
A couple more thank yous before. It's a transition
for a family at any time. I'd like to thank my wife Stacy and
my three boys for hanging in there with this situation and
being so supportive. It's a big part of it. I was one son on
the team at Utah State, and it's a big transition for him with
dad as a head coach and also he up and leaves. It's a
controversy whenever you leave a program without question.
I'd also like to thank the kids at Utah State for
handling it the way they did. I was able to reach out to every
one of them, and that was important to me to be able to do
that. Didn't get to talk to every one of them, but they're so
supportive. Happy, grateful. And I am too. Very grateful for
them and for the time we had together, and they know I'll
always be there for them.
And then the young men that I've had an opportunity
to talk with here on the football team are exactly what I
thought, exactly why I took this job because they're tough
minded kids, they care about growing academically, they care
about growing socially. Football is important to them, and
they play with a toughness and a chip on their shoulder.
As I told Coach Alvarez during the interview process,
I'm a big believer, as you watch a team -- and I had the
opportunity to watch Wisconsin all summer, 12 games,
evaluations of trying to find ways to be able to stay on the
field for Wisconsin. You can see how a team plays, the
commitment, the toughness. They like the game of football, and
it's very easy to see at game time that these men love
So my mindset is a few different areas. What the
priorities are for me right now is, number one, the kids in the
program. When I say that, it's important for me to let them
know one thing really now and one thing only. Here's my phone
number. If you have questions, please call me. If I can help
you in any way, shape, or form, I will be there for you. I'd
love to sit down and talk to you at the time it's appropriate,
but those kids need to go win the Rose Bowl.
The last thing they need from me is to hang around
with Coach Alvarez and the staff. The young men need to put
themselves in a position to go win the Rose Bowl. I'm going to
be a fly on the wall and evaluate and watch the practices as
best I can. I just want to be there for the young men and
start the relationship.
And number two is to reach out and secure or commits.
That's so important for us to be able to -- there's been a lot
of hard work, a lot of hours, countless hours put into having
these young men commit to the University of Wisconsin, the
football here. It's my job now to reach out to those young
men, those families, and let them understand the direction that
we're headed and that they're in great hands. Their kids are a
And number three is to reach out and start
recruiting. I say that I want to recruit the state. It's the
easiest way for me to tell you, show you that I want to recruit
the state is I went to Utah State four years ago, there was 18
young men from the state of Utah on that team. There's now 55.
There's 50-plus young men from the state of Wisconsin that are
on the roster at this point. I believe the number is 53 is
what I've been told.
We will secure our own state. We'll wrap our arms
around the coaches. We'll wrap our arms around every player,
and we'll have a strong walk-on program because there's
terrific coaches, there's terrific players in the state of
Wisconsin. And that's another reason why I sat back and looked
at this job.
That's how I grew up in coaching, coaches like coach
Alvarez, coach Mcbride that coached here. You reach out to
young men in recruiting football, and they look you in the eye
and say I love football. If they can do that, they're
something special, and there's something special about playing
in your own state. You can't underestimate that. We'll do a
tremendous job in reaching out to these young men.
Wisconsin, the football program's recruiting, in my
opinion, is obviously very well respected throughout the
country, and as a staff and as a football program, you should
be able to get into any recruiting fight that we want to get
ourselves into. There's nowhere you can go in the country when
you're a football player that is better than Wisconsin. That's
very important to understand.
Other than that, I'm extremely grateful. I'm
humbled. Can't wait to get started. Again, my plan is to
watch them go win a Rose Bowl. That's my goal.
Assistant coaches. When I look for an assistant
coach, the number one priority is to find a coach that can
guarantee me that he's going to put the young men first because
that's what matters. Last time I looked, there's nobody coming
out on Saturday afternoon or Saturday evening and watching nine
coaches walk up and down the sidelines. This game is about
players. It always will be. Players make plays. Players win
games. Coaches need to support players. They need to hug them
hard when they need to be hugged. They need to hold up their
discipline plan if they need to hold up their discipline plan.
The coaches need to be involved in the young men's
lives in three areas. Academics is very important. The
academics at University of Wisconsin and the athletic program
as a whole is unbelievable. To say you have a football team
that is a 3.0 GPA or very close to a 3.0 GPA is unbelievably
impressive. That's a credit to the young men. It's a credit
to the support and everybody that's around them at a quality
university. A degree from the University of Wisconsin goes a
But we need to help them academically and put the
young men in a position of support for us as coaches. They
will be held accountable, as assistant coaches, to care for the
young men and understand it's their job to help them
Social world that we all live in, it's important to
me that young men very simply, he walks in here as a young man,
and he turns himself into a man. That matters to me. And
you'll hear me refer to the kids as kids a lot. Sometimes I
take grief for that for calling football players kids, but they
are my kids. Every single L one of them are my kids. I look
at them the same as I look at Chasen and Hagen and Keggan.
Socially, I'm looking at a mom, a grandma, a coach, a mentor,
and I'm going to look them in the eye and say, I'm going to
take care of this young man, and I'm going to put them in a
position to be successful. That's my responsibility, and that
being said, that's why I consider them my kids. They'll
understand that as we move forward.
The football side of it, obviously, that's why we're
here. Unbelievable tradition, the believe, the want to, the
care factor of the university, Coach Alvarez, all his staff,
and the young men in the program to not be good, but to be
great is there, and that's what's fun to be part of. I can
just tell you that, and I wrap my arms around that.
I do believe this, if the young men take care of
themselves academically with the support of coaches, the young
men take care of themselves socially with the support of
coaches, and we recruit the right way, that's when you win
I'm excited to be a part of this. We'll get the
staff moving forward quickly. Hopefully, we can deflect this
back to the young men and let them go win a Rose Bowl. Very
grateful, humble to be here, and happy to answer any questions
that you have.
THE MODERATOR: Like normal, we've got microphones on
each side. If you can raise your hand, we'll get one over to
Q. Gary, a lot was made about you running the spread at
Utah State or a variation of such. What offense do you think
you'll run here at Wisconsin?
COACH ANDERSEN: How did I know that question was
coming? Well, I think, if you looked at what we had done at
Utah State, we wanted to be a physical run team. This is the
University of Wisconsin. I've seen the young men walk around
the hallways. I had an opportunity to sit down with a couple
of the offensive linemen. I've seen the tight ends. I know
the tradition of the running backs. And the biggest thing I
can tell you is I had to work all summer long to try to find a
way to hang in there against this offensive line and the
running backs, let alone their tradition of running the
So we will be a power run team. We will use tight
ends and use multiple sets and multiple formations, absolutely.
I believe we'll be a football team that will be run first, and
our goal and our mindset and our want to will be to wear you
downs athe game goes on and to out tough you and out physical
you. Easy to things to sit up on the podium and say, but that
will be the mindset, and that's the way it's always been
whenever I've had the opportunity to coach a football team.
On the flip side of that, on defense we want to stop
the run first. But when you talk about an offense in those
ways, there is ways to use the best players on your football
team, and we'll always do that. We'll always get the best 11
to 18 kids out there on the field, depending on the subgroups
and the packages we play with. I don't want to be predictable.
I want to keep people on edge.
I do want to have a touch-up option within the game,
the game plan every week to force defenses to deal with it.
But we're going to line up and let those big kids work. That's
what they like to do, and we should be able to recruit to get
in any recruiting battle in the country with a quality running
The one thing I would like to say on top of that --
might be a little bit of a recruiting pitch or whatever you
want to say -- but I've been around three NFL backs the last
two years at Utah State, and that's because we run the
football, and I expect to be able to do the exact same thing
here with tremendous athletes on the offensive line -- tight
ends, fullbacks, and receivers that will block you. Tough,
defensive minded kids that will block you, and I've seen that
in the game against Wisconsin.
Q. You alluded to it earlier, contacting all of your
players at Utah State. Can you elaborate on that? How many
phone calls are we talking about? How long did that take SNU
and most importantly, why that was an emphasis for you in the
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, there's been a lot said
about -- it was a three-week process that I was leaving, I was
going here. I did interview for a couple other jobs weeks ago
now. The bowl game was less than a week ago, and that seems
like it was about four years ago now.
But that process came to a close, and I announced it
to the team, and I got with my kids, and I told them that I was
not leaving for any of those jobs, and I did make that
statement. Wisconsin was nowhere to be seen at that point for
But the second that Coach Alvarez had contacted me
and gave me the opportunity, I knew that that was a job I was
going to take. So the kids had left, the bowl game was over,
kids were scattered all over the country. It was important for
me to not shoot a text message.
Zach Nyborg, my director of football operations, and
I agonized for hours, how are we going to get this done to
reach out to each one of these kids, yet somehow, some way
protect Coach Alvarez's wishes, which was to get to Wisconsin
without everybody in the world knowing what's going on.
So I called every kid, started about 7:30 at night,
told them the situation, and I guess we went till 2:30 or 3:00
in the morning, waking kids up. Tried to start on the East
Coast kids we have and work our way back to the Pacific time
zone and woke up in the morning at 6:30 and started again with
the time zone and started on the East Coast and worked back to
Pacific time and got on the airplane and came out here.
Why was it important to me? Because the kids deserve
that. If they're frustrated, they deserve to tell me they're
frustrated, which not one of them was. I'm not going to tell
you they were doing back flips, but they understood the
situation. They understand the University of Wisconsin. They
understand, because a lot of them were here and it helped them.
They were able to be on that field. They were able to see the
stands, the crowd, the city, so that made it much easier for
every one of those young men.
One of the -- probably the most difficult thing for
me to do that I've ever had to do in my coaching career was to
call each one of them, and it was emotional 106 times. It
would be easier to let them be in a team meeting and get
emotional one time. It's hard for me. I'm an emotional guy,
and you'll find that about me, that I do care about the kids.
So it was just to let them know that I love them, I'm going to
be there for them.
And just because I leave, I never say good-bye, and
they know that. I won't say good-bye. I'm here if they need
me, and they'll continue to reach out to me, and they have
since I've accepted the job.
Q. Gary, your predecessor, Bret Bielema, had an
interesting relationship with Urban Meyer at Ohio State, and
obviously you know Urban from playing under him. What can you
tell us from your experiences with him, and what can you tell
us what that rivalry might be like moving forward?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I reached out to Coach Meyer
during this process, just ask him his thoughts because I have
great respect for him and had the opportunity to work for him
for a year. His first thoughts were obviously it's a
tremendous job, great opportunity. Coach Alvarez is there.
That was all a positive.
And then the next text he shot back was but you've
got to come and play us. I said, yeah, we do, so away we go.
But I have an unbelievable respect for Coach Meyer,
his family, the way he has moved himself through this
profession, and there's a lot of care factor with Coach Meyer.
I'm glad he's back in it. I'm excited about having the
opportunity to compete against Ohio State and his team. Again,
that game is not about Gary Andersen and Urban Meyer, it's
about the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Q. Coach, different things have been said by players,
past coaches about whether this program is one that can compete
for a National Championship on a yearly basis. Do you feel
that this program is that, and to what extent did that attract
you to that job?
COACH ANDERSEN: Would not have entertained the
thought in any way, shape, or form of taking a job at this
point in my career if I didn't think we could come in and
compete and play for championships.
I'm not a prediction guy. I'm not going to reach out
there and say we're going to do this or we're going to do that.
I'm just let the results speak for themselves when we get out
on the field. I think this football program -- I don't think.
I know this football program has everything it needs to compete
at the highest level. In everybody's mind, I'm sure the
National Championship is at the highest level. Again, that's
The table's been set for these young men to have
everything they need, academically, socially, and athletically,
at a high level. How high that level is, only time will tell.
Q. Can you tell us about your meeting with the players.
Which guys did you meet with, and what were your initial
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I'm not good with names yet.
I've been able to meet with a couple sets, a few sets of young
men. I sat down with the linebacker corps. I wanted to sit
with those guys. It's an interesting story, and I'll say it
quick. Chasen, my son, is here with us. He watched those kids
this summer as I again was preparing. I said, chasen, watch
these three kids play linebacker. They're unbelievable, the
way they play. They're just so well taught.
And credit goes with the coaches. They did a nice
job with them. So we were able to have a little bit of a
relationship, and Chasen was very excited to meet those kids.
But sitting down with them -- so I met with the corps of those
young men. I met with the corps of offensive linemen that I
want to reach out and talk to those kids. I have five or six
different meetings set up today with different young men.
I just want to let them know, not to bother them, not
to talk about the future, but let them know I'm here, and I
have a major care factor for them, and I'm very interested, as
quickly as I can, to let them understand that they can trust
me, but that takes time. Just because I say I want them to
trust me means nothing. I have to show it through the way I
carry myself and the way our staff carries themselves.
I have a team meeting with them today. Coach Alvarez
gave me an opportunity to meet with them for a few minutes
today, and I'll tell them exactly the same thing that I said
here, just want to be there for them.
Q. Gary, you did an interview yesterday in which you
talked about this place being special. You had one experience
here as a coach. What makes it so?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I just think -- well, Coach
Alvarez, for one. If one thing jumps out to me, it's where it
came from. If you were asked and take every head coach and
every position coach in America and every level of college
football and ask them to draw up the top 20 best college
football programs in the country, I guarantee Wisconsin is on
99.9 percent of those ballots that you gather. That makes it a
special place from a football standpoint.
What's special to me is I have a very genuine
interest in being able to reach out and coach the kids, the
young men that I have something in common with. And I know,
now that I've been here, I get to coach those type of young
men, that, again, high character, care about academics, their
want to is unbelievable to succeed in life.
But then you walk in here, and you see all of this.
If I go up on the third level of the stadium and everybody
leaves, I'm going to be there for a minute because I can't get
outside. I don't know where I'm going. The facilities,
everything that's there, the setup is unbelievable.
Again, it is the people in the buildings. At the end
of the day, it's not the buildings. It's the people in the
buildings that makes this special. I believe that when I walk
in here, and I have a tremendous, much better understanding of
why I believe this place is special.
Q. Gary, obviously, Coach Alvarez brought in a coach who
he thought would -- could perpetuate the program that's been
built here. But ultimately, what do you think your stamp will
be? Will you be able to take this program to different places
than it's been?
COACH ANDERSEN: I think the biggest thing is, as you
look the at a program rich in tradition, rich in winning, three
Rose Bowls in a row, where are you going to take it next? To
be a consistent winner, again, they've been a consistent
winner, but I think the thing is to have kids that are going to
be able to compete at a national level and hold consistency to
be a college football powerhouse year in and year out. What's
my stamp going to be on it? I sure hope my stamp at the end of
the day is to be on a football field that's physical, tough
minded, plays aggressive, plays the game the right way, is
respected by their opponents, solid in all three phases, has
one of the best graduation rates in the country. That's what I
expect. And socially young men that turn themselves from young
men into men as they go through the program.
Again, will never be perfect. I'll never say that.
But sure will try to be every single day and fight to get that
Q. Coach, do you realize that Wisconsin football games
have five quarters, and just are you familiar with all the
traditions that happen at Camp Randall?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I know the band. I heard the
band. I know the jump around. I took my team at Utah State
into the auditorium. I cranked the volume up on the jump
around and said, pretend that's not happening. That was our
whole mindset is to completely block it out.
I had one receiver that just couldn't do it. He just
couldn't do it. Everybody did their best, but he dances at
practice all day long. We listen to music at practice. So
we're a little different on some things we do practice-wise.
Yeah, there's a lot of traditions I may not know
about yet. I'm looking forward to understanding those.
There's 750 people, I was told this morning, going to the Rose
Bowl. That's unbelievable to me.
I mean, we loaded up four buses and rolled down the
road four hours ago playing a bowl game. That's a special
experience. But it's just this -- there's a lot of things I'm
excited to learn, a lot of things I don't know, but there's a
lot of things I'm excited to wrap my arms around and figure
out, I promise you that much.
Q. Gary, could you address a couple things with your
staff specifically. Do you have a short list for offensive
coordinator? Do you have any idea how many of your guys from
Utah State will be coming with you? And have you interviewed
any of the current Wisconsin assistants?
COACH ANDERSEN: I'm just going to be real brief on
this as I hope in the next couple of days we can get a lot more
stability to where the coaching staff is.
I'm highly interested in retaining coaches on this
staff. Why wouldn't I be? I'd be crazy not to be. Again, if
you're going to secure the state and Wisconsin, you'd better
have young men who understand how to recruit and reach out to
high school coaches in the state of Wisconsin, which I'll call
every one of those high school coaches in the state of
Wisconsin in the next week or so, but I've got to retain some
young men who understand how and why and who's important in the
state of Wisconsin.
Secondly, offensive coordinator is up in the air.
The offensive coordinator at Utah State is now the head coach
at Utah State, which is a tremendous opportunity for Matt Wells, and I will look out, reach out to find a quality coach.
I will say this about the offensive coordinator. When you're
at the University of Wisconsin, it's a great job. It's not a
good job, it's a great job for an offensive coordinator, and
offensive coordinators will understand that. They'll line up a
thousand deep if you want them to.
The key is to find the right guy that can run this
offense and build it the way that we want it to be built and
carry over and use the best kids -- use the kids the best way
as far as their abilities. So that will be a little bit of a
work in progress as we move forward.
My coaches that I had with me at Utah State, I will
bring three or four of them, and then I will reach out to a
couple other coaches that are currently in other programs. So
it will be a great mix. There's some coaches with tremendous
opportunities that were here at Wisconsin that will make some
decisions and see what they want to do in the future.
Q. Coach, when you were at Utah State, you talked about
competing on a national level. You obviously weren't afraid to
go into the SECs and into the Wisconsins. How much value do
you put into a difficult nonconference schedule? Is that
something you look forward to continue to do here at Wisconsin?
COACH ANDERSEN: I think it's always going to be
difficult. The schedule you play in the Big Ten is difficult.
It's a little bit different. You have to have that mindset at
different places to be able to say, hey, we're going to walk in
here as an extreme underdog, and that was kind of our chip on
our shoulder. You wouldn't need that chip on your shoulder
here. You expect to walk into any environment and play at a
high level, and they are excited about doing that.
So nonconference games, I think to reach out to
another conference -- next year it's Arizona State. That's a
great game. That's going to be fun to go there. I've been
there. It's a tremendous setting. Our kids will be excited to
go play there.
How the rest of the schedule falls has been set by
Coach Alvarez for years. He has his arms wrapped around that.
He understands. I'll be included in that, but we're also going
to make decision that's are best for the school as we move
forward. I think you'll see the same plan that you've seen
here for a number of years as far as seven home games is
important. It gets sometimes hard to get seven home games the
right way when you're a good team. Not a lot of people are
jumping up and down to say, hey, we can't wait to come and
watch you play.
They are jumping up and down, but that's our guys
that are doing that, not the other team.
Q. Gary, you mentioned the importance of securing
commits. When does that process start for you?
COACH ANDERSEN: As soon as I can get cleared through
the NCAA. It hasn't happened yet. It's a little bit of a
complicated process. I will get in contact with each one of
those young men, the important family members or mentors that I
need to reach out to, their coaches. I believe it's important
that I do that personally.
There's coaches on the staff -- Ben Strickland is --
he's going to stay. I want him here in the worst way, and it's
important for me to have him on the staff. Ben has shown me
how important he is, and he is Wisconsin, if you will. I
understand that because that's where I started my coaching
career is where I grew up and where I played. There's
something special to be a coach. So he'll be involved in that
But he and I will get that handled, and we'll move
Q. Can you give us some insight on the initial phone
call from Barry? Were you shocked how Barry made the initial
pitch? And then the second part, will you be on the sideline
COACH ANDERSEN: Coach Alvarez didn't have to make
any pitch to this guy, I'll tell you that. The pitch was made
here when I spent three hours out on that field a long time
ago. But was I -- I wouldn't say I was shocked. I guess, if I
felt like I was shocked, I wouldn't have felt I was ready to
take this job. So shocked is not the right word.
Excited, grateful for the opportunity to even have
the interview, be a part and be involved in that process,
absolutely. Not shocked, but grateful.
Sidelines, you know, I don't -- if I'm on the
sidelines, I'm not going to be in the sidelines sidelines.
I'll be a fan on the side watching the kids. The whole key for
me is I want to get to Pasadena. This is not anything to do in
any way, shape, or form does this Rose Bowl have anything to do
with me other than I and my coaches need to evaluate the young
men in the program so that we can get a head start on building
for the next year.
That's so important for me to let everybody
understand that I want to be there to help the program in the
future, not to go be part of the benefits of a tremendous team
and what they've accomplished and experienced in the Rose Bowl.
That's the way my coaches will be there with me as a fly on the
wall at practice. We'll move along, and I'll do whatever Coach
Alvarez wants me to do as far as being involved with speaking
or whatever I need to get done.
But we need to evaluate the kids so we can give us
all the best opportunity to prepare for spring ball and recruit
the right way.
Q. Barry, there's obviously lots of speculation about
how many people you reached out to. Did you offer the job to
anyone else? Is there one or two factors that put Gary over
the top in your mind?
BARRY ALVAREZ: I did not offer the job to anyone
else. I talked to a number of people. I talked to a number by
phone during preliminary interview. I actually met face to
face with three.
Q. The factors to choose Gary?
BARRY ALVAREZ: The whole package, just his entire
philosophy and how it fit here. I think the things that I
mentioned, as I started the process, what I was looking for, I
heard, I saw.
Having watched his teams play, studied his
background, having turned around a program, what his -- the
important things for him in how he coaches, how he manages a
team, how he manages his staff, all those things came out. The
longer we talked, the more I could see that.
It was such a great fit. It was like he was in my
head. And as I said -- Walter Dickey has heard me enough as I
interviewed other coaches and been around me enough, he said, I
thought that was you talking. So it was all the things he
believes in, I believe in. His caring for the kids, his
importance of recruiting in the state and controlling your
state, how you play the game, how you embrace your fans, just
the whole package was there.
I just thought he would be the perfect fit for our
fans, for our players, and everybody associated with our
Q. You've indicated that that game here in Madison a few
months ago really left an impression on you. Beyond that game,
what were your experiences in the Big Ten, and what do you
think the identity of this conference is?
COACH ANDERSEN: You're right, the experience here is
tremendous. Before I go into the identity of Big Ten and my
experience here -- I haven't said this yet, but when we walked
off that field and we left the stadium -- we lost the football
game, which is obviously a tough loss when you're at Utah State
at that time.
But the class as we left this city to go get to the
airport was unbelievable. If you don't think that left a
lasting impression on our kids, because we left places with
great victories, we left places with very difficult defeats,
and it's never like that. The support, the thanks -- and it
wasn't a, hey, thanks for coming, we beat you. There was
definitely a class act, and that left a lasting impression in
my mind of those are fans, and they're in love with their team,
they love Wisconsin, but they're also classy. That was pretty
impressive to me.
As far as my experience, my identity, what you think
of the Big Ten, physical, tough, very good football players,
the highest level of Division I football that there is,
well-coached -- those are some things that come to my head
there. I don't have a bunch of experience in playing in those
venues, but I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the
opportunity to recruit at this level.
Some people said, you're not from here. How are you
going to be able to recruit back here? It's the West Coast and
all this stuff. I completely disagree with that. Good
coaches, good recruiters can walk into any living room and show
what a university is.
A lot of coaches like to talk about, oh, when you're
a recruiter, you've got to sell your university. No, you
don't, not here. You have to show what you have. You have to
get young men on campus. You have to get the mentor or the
parents or the coach or whoever it may be on campus, and
there's just -- you just have to show who you are and what you
have. There's no selling.
There may be some programs out there in the country
that have to do that. They have to go sell their program. But
that's not what we are and what we're doing. I'm excited to
get in those fights in the Big Ten and show people why they
should come here.
Q. Gary, you've talked about how eager you are to come
here and jump -- and taking the opportunity to coach here.
There has to be some culture shock. You were born and raised
in Utah. You're leaving, taking some pretty deep roots out of
the ground. Could you speak to the challenges of moving from
there to here and some of the adjustments you and your family
have to take.
COACH ANDERSEN: When we left Logan, we shoveled 8
inches of snow. When we got here, there was 20 inches of snow.
Snow is snow. Cold is cold. It doesn't matter. What a
beautiful day it is here and sunshine. No issues there in any
way, shape, or form.
To pick up -- there's just so many similarities. The
people that I've been able to meet and reach out to -- really
it's been people in the athletic department and people in the
hotel, that's all I've been around. But I don't think the
transition is going to be difficult at all. It's not like I'm
coming from Mars and moving to Madison. I've been surrounded
with quality people, and I know again I'm going to be
surrounded by quality people here.
That being said, I don't -- maybe there's more of a
transition to it than I think, but not to me. It's away we go.
It's football. It's life. The transition that could be hard
is when you don't get to coach the type of young men that you
like to coach, and that's not the case here. What the coaches
have brought in here, what Coach Alvarez demands as an athletic
director and the type of people you bring into a program is
right down my alley.
So I'm very comfortable. I can't think of a negative
response in any way, shape, or form to the question or anything
negative about being here.
Q. A lot has been made about how well you rebuilt Utah
State basically, and that's safe to say that won't be the case
here. Coach Bielema said next year's roster could be the most
talented he's had. First of all, does your mindset change when
you come into a mindset that you're not rebuilding. And how
exciting is it that you're inheriting the team?
COACH ANDERSEN: It's been said in coaching, when you
get a job, you're either getting a team that wasn't very good
or a team that's really good. That's the facts.
TT a little different dynamic, but the hardest thing
to break down and build in my opinion is the belief to win.
There's something to be said about that. It's not in a bottle.
It's not magic dust that you sprinkle over the top of their
heads. It's an expectation that they work all year to do, and
these young men expect to win.
Because of that, every year is a challenge, and every
year is a different set of challenges. I hope it's as quality
and as good of players as Bret thought there was coming back.
Did he say that before he left or after he left? Okay, good.
That makes me feel bet err. I know the young men that are
here, and we're excited to continue a winning tradition. It's
a little different than the team we took over last time for
Q. Gary, Barry has mentioned the total package you brought
to this job. I'm just curious. Can you describe the people
who helped mold you and your experiences along the way and your
journey to this point that have made you the type of coach and
person you are.
COACH ANDERSEN: Absolutely. For me, coaching-wise,
it all started with coach Mcbride. He was my position coach.
As I grew into coaching, he gave me my first Division I job.
Coach Mcbride spent some years here. He cried, by the way,
when I told him I had this job. He couldn't believe it, how
fortunate I was.
He's an unbelievable mentor for me and will continue
to be. He spent a ton of time as practices and camps. He
taught me a lot what Coach Alvarez is all about -- the
toughness of the game, the care factor for the kids. If
there's one thing I learned from Mac, and I probably say it too
much -- I only say it because I mean it -- you have to put the
kids first. That's number one with coach Mcbride.
And then his toughness. And Kyle winning ham and I
spent a lot of time together. He started at Ohio State. He
was a first time coordinator, and I was an offensive line
coach. I coached offensive line for my first years. Coached
defensive line with Kyle at Idaho State at the beginning, and
that went all the way through the Utah years. From him being a
coordinator to me turning around and being a head coach and
coming back and being a D-line coach and him being a head coach
and me being a coordinator with him.
We share so many lessons, some good days, some bad
days, some mistakes that we've made. He's definitely a mentor
of mine, and he always will be.
I learned a ton from Urban Meyer in a year. It's
easy -- my experience with Urban was a little bit different
because we never lost. So Urban Meyer was always a great guy
to meet because, oh, we won again. That's all good. We had a
tremendous relationship, and I have a lot of respect for him as
I've watched him go through it.
And another guy is Lavelle Edwards. When I took the
job at Utah State, I'll never forget Lavelle Edwards spent
time. He was at BYU, and I had Coach Edwards come and talk to
the team. He grabbed them the first day of spring practice,
and I had them out there at the stadium. He looked at the
kids, and he told them one thing. He said, you have to win at
Again, we were trying to build a program at that
point. I learned so much from Coach Edwards also as I've gone
through this process.
There's many mentors, but those are some guys that
jump out at me.
Q. What were your conversations with Barry about as far
as resources, and how do you feel about the resources that
you'll have, especially as far as bringing in a staff and
keeping them here?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, Coach Alvarez has given us
everything we could possibly need. If you talk about
facilities, some of them are being built, but there's a
facilities race that goes on with kids. Facilities are very
important, the way they present themselves to recruits, but
most importantly, the functionality of the building and the way
it's built, the new facilities is unbelievable.
It's functional. The kids are in one place. Their
academic world. They can eat. They can get treatment. They
can move to the weight room. They can move to the coaches'
offices, and that's important to me because that does build a
family environment. The kids are in your building. If we need
to know something about a kid academically, boom, it's real
quick. We can get to the training room quickly.
The resources here from a facilities standpoint are
as good as any in the country. You'll have to show me better,
and I'll tell you you're crazy if you try to show me better
because I disagree with you.
The second thing is the people that are in place that
understand -- in a very short period of time, we're talking 2
1/2 days -- but people that know their role and understand what
their job title is. The importance of moving along, whether
it's in the football offices or in the academic offices, the
training room, and the biggest thing is people have a smile on
Another thing you can tell by the special places and
I ask people -- I always like to ask people, how long have you
been at a place? Everywhere I go, I've been here 13 years.
I've been here 19 years. I've been here 20 years. I've been
here 10 years. That's not like that everywhere.
So me you asked the question earlier about what's a
special place? It's got to be pretty special if people are
staying here for that period of time. I believe that's all we
need in those areas.
Q. Gary, do you anticipate any Utah State players or
recruits joining you here?
COACH ANDERSEN: No. No, absolutely not. There's
some tremendous young men here, and my belief is they're where
they needed to be. There was one, I have personally a tight
end that plays this that I would love to see come and walk on,
but he's told me that that's what he wants to be. When we went
to the press conference yesterday, he feels great about being
there. And he's going to be a junior.
Other than that, I don't -- I do not. I don't think
we need to go down that road. So I don't anticipate that.
Q. Barry, you appreciate a good defense as a former
defensive coordinator. What did you like about his defensive
background and what you saw here this fall?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, he's a little different
structure than we use, but the fundamentals are the same. The
fact that we have a pretty good offense. We have a pretty good
offensive line. You've got the best running back in the
country. We have like 230 yards total offense, and you see
that consistently throughout his program, very, very
fundamentally sound, very physical, and they have fun. They're
having a lot of fun when they play.
They're coached very well, and that's what you look
for. As a defensive coach, I look for -- I don't care what the
front is. I don't care the structure, as long as it's sound,
and it was very sound and very physical.
Q. Gary, you talked about good recruiters being able to
recruit anywhere. I'm just curious, how much do you rely on
the ties you developed where you recruited previously, and how
hard is it going to be to find a balance recruiting that area
and traditional areas of Wisconsin as recruited in the past?
COACH ANDERSEN: We'll major in the traditional areas
that Wisconsin has recruited in the past without question. But
you also -- some people deem themselves -- and the word out
there that people always -- you nationally recruit. I don't
quite know what that means, but I know that we have the ability
to reach out to any young man in the country and again let them
understand who we are as a program, and they'll be interested.
So we'll recruit a lot of different areas, but we
will focus where the University of Wisconsin has been
successful. We'll continue to do that, and there might be a
little tweak here or a tweak there, and that's a big part of
wanting coaches to stay that have been here because they
understand where those ties are in recruiting.
I think everybody will add their little flavor to
what they want and what they expect, as you move on as a staff,
but it's been pretty successful, and I look forward to wrapping
my arms around it again and understanding it.