Wisconsin Fans Should Be Encouraged Gary Andersen Talked to Cleveland Browns

Andrew CoppensContributor IFebruary 12, 2014

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen watches warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Penn State Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

On Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen had interviewed for the Cleveland Browns' head coaching position. 

For a school that has seen its fair share of coaching changes over the last three years, news of another coach flirting with another team is treated as an old hat.   

All jokes about the sad state of the Cleveland Browns aside, the fact that in one year at Wisconsin, Andersen's profile has gone up enough to make NFL franchises take notice should be an encouraging one. 

Wisconsin fans should also be encouraged because the talks were never really serious to begin with.  

“Officials from the Cleveland Browns contacted me to talk about their head coaching vacancy. After our initial conversation, I decided not to pursue the position," said Andersen via a statement released by the Wisconsin Badgers

Additionally, it appears Andersen was nothing but forthcoming with his boss, athletic director Barry Alvarez, who noted that via a statement from the Badgers website

I’m appreciative that Gary handled all of this the right way. He alerted me immediately that he had been contacted by the Browns and affirmed his commitment to the University of Wisconsin. When you have talented coaches on your roster, there will always be people who want to talk to them. I think that Gary is one of the top coaches in the country and am glad that he is leading our team. 

For those who didn't appreciate the way Bret Bielema left the Badgers, how this situation unfolded should be reassuring. Andersen appears to be the anti-Bielema, if you will, keeping an open dialogue with Alvarez and addressing the situation with complete honesty. 

It also appears this was not some ploy for a pay raise, as was suggested by Rapoport's tweet about the situation. 

The reality is, when the NFL calls, you pick up the phone—even if you aren't interested. In Andersen's case, he showed that Wisconsin was more important that taking the "next big offer" in front of him.

There could be some negatives when a situation like this gets out publicly, especially in the ever-competitive world of recruiting. 

Couldn't a flirtation with the NFL hurt Andersen and the Badgers' ability to recruit over the long term?

Some schools are bound to use this situation against Andersen; however, Andersen's statements released on Tuesday will go a long way in quelling any negative publicity. 

On the flip side, it could also help increase the profile of Andersen. It means the NFL trusts him, and if a player is headed to the NFL, Andersen's opinion would hold a lot of weight in some NFL circles. 

This isn't the first time Wisconsin has had a coach that flirted with the NFL, either—his name just so happened to be Alvarez. His flirtation did nothing to hurt UW's recruiting in the subsequent years. 

Will Wisconsin's 2015 and 2016 classes provide those kinds of results for Andersen? Time will tell, but after just reeling in the highest-rated class in school history, Andersen is on the right track. 

Let's also remember that the reality of the 24-hour news cycle we live in is that no news is bad news. The fact that Andersen and the Badgers are being mentioned helps keep them relevant in a tough offseason news cycle. 

After dealing with coaches bolting for various reasons over the last three years, Wisconsin fans should be encouraged its current coach has reaffirmed his commitment to the Badgers—even if it was just the Cleveland Browns calling. 


Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for Big Ten football. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.