Gary Andersen to Oregon State: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 10, 2014

Jeff Hanisch/USA Today

Gary Andersen is headed back west. 

After a successful two-year stint with Wisconsin, the 50-year-old Utah native has accepted the vacant position at Oregon State.      

The school's official athletics Twitter feed confirmed the news Wednesday:

Go Beavs @BeaverAthletics

#BeaverNation, please help us welcome Gary Andersen as the new head coach of @OSUBeaversFB. #GaryAndersen #GoBeavs http://t.co/eAXbAi3BnZ

Wisconsin released a statement shortly after the news broke, including comments from athletic director Barry Alvarez and chancellor Rebecca Blank:

Wisconsin Football @BadgerFootball

Statement on #Badgers head coach http://t.co/lA9MgvP66F

Alvarez, via Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, talked about the search for a new head coach, noting that the players have asked him to coach against No. 19 Auburn in the Outback Bowl Jan. 1 in Tampa, Florida:

Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB

Barry Alvarez: My goal is to have somebody in place (as the new head coach) before the bowl game. #Wisconsin

Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB

Barry Alvarez said he'll decide tonight if he'll coach @Wisconsin's bowl game vs #Auburn. He said the seniors asked him to.

Alvarez decided to heed the players' wishes, as Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN reported on Thursday:

Kirk Herbstreit @KirkHerbstreit

Barry Alvarez will coach the Badgers in their upcoming Outback Bowl vs Auburn.

Andersen attended the University of Utah and spent time as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator with the Utes. Following a stretch as head coach of Utah State, he took over the Badgers job shortly after the 2012 campaign. 

In two seasons in Madison, he compiled a 19-7 record with a loss to South Carolina in last year's Capital One Bowl. Under his watch, the Badgers finished sixth in the nation in scoring defense in 2013 and 13th in 2014.

As such, his decision to leave comes as a bit of a shock. Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon and defensive end Chikwe Obasih (among many other Badgers players) took to Twitter to express their disbelief and disappointment:

F L ⚡️ S H @Melvingordon25

WOW !!!

Chikwe Obasih @Big_Cheeks34

Wow. Great timing

While it's unfortunate for Wisconsin, which met a similar fate just two years ago when Bret Bielema unexpectedly darted for Arkansas, it's a huge hire for the Beavers. 

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah put it simply:

Oregon State finished 5-7 this season under Mike Riley, and while there have been some solid seasons in Corvallis in recent years, the Beavers have had a difficult time breaking through into the Pac-12's upper tier. 

This hire, however, is a terrific step in the right direction.