Andersen to OSU
CORVALLIS —Oregon State deputy athletic director Mark Massari’s cellphone buzzed minutes after a Wednesday-afternoon press conference announcing a massive makeover for the Valley Football Center.
The notification signaled that, halfway across the country, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez and coach Gary Andersen had met with the Badgers football team to inform those players that their coach was leaving.
For Oregon State.
What else should we have all expected during the Beavers’ coaching search?
Mike Riley first put a stunning spin on the college football coaching carousel when he left OSU after 14 seasons to become the head coach at Nebraska.
Less than a week later, OSU and Andersen pulled off a similarly stealth move. Andersen will be formally introduced Friday afternoon in Corvallis.
“President (Ed) Ray and I are ecstatic that Gary is coming to Oregon State,” athletic director Bob De Carolis said in a statement. “He is one of the top coaches in the country and will have instant credibility with our players, boosters and fans.
“Gary is a winner. He is a man of integrity and substance. He has extensive West Coast ties and knows the landscape of the Pac-12 conferences, having coached at current conference member Utah. He is part of the Urban Meyer coaching tree.”
Andersen spent the past two seasons at Wisconsin, where he posted 19-7 record. Wisconsin went 10-3 during the regular season in 2014, including a Big Ten West title and berth in the Outback Bowl against Auburn. Before that, he spent four seasons as the head coach at Utah State, including an 11-2 campaign in 2012.
Much like Riley’s departure to Nebraska, Andersen’s name had not been floated by outsiders as a possible replacement in Corvallis. Rather than go for an up-and-coming coordinator or coach at a non-Power 5 school, or a veteran coach looking to revive his career, OSU landed a proven winner from a major conference.
Andersen will bring a tough, defensive style to Corvallis, as Wisconsin currently ranks fourth in the nation in total defense and ranked seventh in that category in 2013. Offensively, the Badgers have utilized a strong running game, led this year by Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon.
“Very surprised,” Alvarez told reporters at a press conference in Madison Wednesday afternoon, adding he received a phone call from Andersen earlier in the day while traveling back from the National Football Foundation Awards Dinner in New York. “I really had no idea that this was in the works.”
Andersen’s OSU contract information has not yet been disclosed. He originally signed a five-year, $10 million deal with Wisconsin when hired following the 2012 season. In March, he signed a new deal that bumped his salary from $1.9 million to $2.2 million in 2014.
Andersen inherits an OSU squad that went 5-7 in 2014 and will need to replace record-setting quarterback Sean Mannion and nine defensive starters.
While mingling with attendees following Wednesday’s facilities press conference, an OSU source with knowledge of the search said the process could theoretically wrap up within the hour.
That was not a joke.
Minutes later, Massari’s phone buzzed. Then he, De Carolis, Ray and other prominent officials quickly huddled in the lobby of the Valley Football Center.
OSU had its guy.
“We have hired the right coach,” De Carolis said. “ ... We are ready to have Gary take us to the next level.”