Well, my son is running a fever today. Which means I’m taking a sick day as well. (Hence the slew of posts.)
Today, Wisconsin officially hires Gary Andersen from Utah State. Wisconsin fans like the fact that Andersen was a candidate, and they seem very pleased with the hire. By most accounts, the hire was considered to be an excellent move.
A coach that won in a place that has been mostly a rent-a-win since its return to 1-A. He’s from the Urban Meyer coaching tree. He was the DC at Utah. It also seems to be a fiscally prudent hire, as Andersen’s salary is in the $1.8 – 2 million range.
Obviously for Pitt fans, the relief is that Wisconsin may have found a coach that can win. If Wisconsin wins, then they aren’t looking to replace him a few years down the road. Which means if Chryst succeeds like we hope and believe, he won’t be faced with the choice of going home.
There is one nagging fear.
This is not an Alvarez-influenced guy. He is a believe in spread principles.
As for offense, it may be that Wisconsin will have a new look for the first time in 20 years. It’s not that Andersen doesn’t share Alvarez’s and Bielema’s affinity for the running game — Utah State ranked sixth nationally in rushing offense last season (behind star Robert Turbin), 25th this season — but he’ll likely employ the system he knows best. Both Utah and Utah State employed spread-option offenses with mobile quarterbacks, a departure from Wisconsin’s traditional pro-style attack.
When Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, Alvarez minimized the achievements by saying how Bielema won with his blueprint. There are going to be some legitimate questions about how this relationship will work. Andersen is his own man.
“The coach that I’ll hire will be someone that will have to understand who we are and how we go about our business,” Alvarez said two weeks ago. “I don’t look to change a whole lot in how we operate things here.”
Right, but what if the 48-year-old Andersen — experienced and successful in his own right — wants to institute some changes? This isn’t merely an AD impressing upon his new hire the importance of the principles that guide the athletic department and the university at large. This is an AD who clearly believes he’s well within his rights to dictate X’s-and-O’s to his football coach.
“I don’t have any problem with our scheme,” Alvarez said. “I don’t perceive us a spread-’em-out, fast-paced, no-huddle, one-back, five-wides. … You know what the plan is. It starts with those big palookas up front.”
This is what Andersen must prepare for. Both men may have to learn to adjust.
In so many ways. It seems that Andersen is eager to bring most of his staff to Wisconsin. While Alvarez wants Andersen to retain several present coaches.
This isn’t to say it will be the culture shock on both sides that put immediate stress on the Rich Rodriguez and Michigan marriage. Andersen is a defensive-minded coach, first. His spread isn’t an air-raid style. It utilizes the running game, much more. Plus Wisconsin has shown itself to be adaptable to the concepts that utilize spread elements as shown with the year of Russel Wilson.
But… What if Alvarez can’t stop trying to meddle? Trying to control and push Andersen to do things a certain way. What if regardless of success at Wisconsin, Andersen chafes under Alvarez? What if the pursestrings stay closed on paying for assistants?
Well, at least we have a few years before worrying.