In many ways, Barry Alvarez is the beginning of Wisconsin football. That would make Bret Bielema the sequel. With the exception of maybe Star Wars, the sequel generally pales in comparison. Some considered the departure of Bielema to Arkansas a savvy career move, while others believed it to be a Benedict Arnold betrayal. Either way, it is time for a new direction in Madison.
Enter Gary Andersen. A heralded coach that took a perennial looser in Utah St. and turned it around. With the Andersen era slated to start next year, here are three things Badger fans should know about their knew coach.
Andersen spent a year under recruiting guru Urban Meyer. He also recruited well at Utah St., managing to raise the profile of a non-major conference program high enough to land prospects out of fertile California.
Despite not having ties to the Midwest, Anderson decided to keep secondary coach Ben Strickland, who has vital experience scouting in the Midwest.
Andersen hopes to keep the Badger model in check. Keep the big uglies on the o-line that Wisconsin produces at the high school level, and get speed from the other parts of the country. Andersen also believes the program can compete for the nation's best RB recruits.
The Madison faithful often accused former coach Bret Bielema of merely riding the coattails of Barry Alvarez's success. Andersen, in stark contrast, rebuilt a Utah St. program from the ground up.
Unlike Bielema, Andersen also has a record of success in bowl games. Last year, the Aggies soundly defeated Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which is kind of like the WAC's Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin plays football like it's 1933. They love to run it up the gut. Hand the ball off and let the big guys up front do most the work.
Andersen employed a spread offense at Utah. St. While he claims that he will adjust and play "Badger ball," do not be surprised to see some more wrinkles in the usually conservative Wisconsin playbook. Also, do not be shocked if there is a difficult transition period, as Andersen adjusts to Wisconsin and the Wisconsin personnel absorb his playbook.