Hello, Mr. Andersen

Hello, Mr. Andersen

Despite a ragging snowstorm that hit the state, the University of Wisconsin had no hesitation in confirming the news of the week, as Gary Andersen has officially been named the next head coach of the Badgers' football program.

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MADISON - Gary Andersen was introduced as the 29th head coach in Wisconsin football history on Dec. 20, 2012. He comes to Madison after four seasons as the head coach at Utah State, where he led a program that had just six wins in the previous three seasons to a 26-24 record in his four years at the helm.

Most recently, Andersen guided Utah State to its most successful season in history in 2012. The Aggies won a school-record 11 games, went undefeated in the WAC and captured their first outright league title since 1936. To cap the season, USU defeated Toledo, 41-15, to win the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

For guiding Utah State to double-digit victories for the first time in history, Andersen was named the WAC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award. In addition to their first bowl win since 1993, the Aggies defeated three teams that finished the season with at least nine wins, with all of those victories coming away from home. That included a win at No. 20 Louisiana Tech, the first road win over a ranked team in in the program's history. Utah State also defeated in-state rival Utah for the first time since 1997.

With the final rankings due out after the bowl season wraps up, Utah State currently sits at No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25 and has been ranked in the AP poll in the each of the last three weeks. The Aggies also made their first-ever appearance in the BCS standings, checking in at No. 22 in the final edition this season.

Andersen, who was the defensive coordinator at Utah for four seasons before getting the head job at Utah State, has a history of developing tremendous defenses. This year, Utah State ranks eighth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 15.4 points per game. In 2008, the year before Andersen took over at USU, the Aggies allowed an average of 34.7 points per game and ranked 106th nationally.

In addition to scoring defense, Utah State also ranked among the top 15 nationally in sacks (eighth), pass efficiency defense (10th), rush defense (12th) and total defense (15th). In the red zone, the Aggies were particularly effective, allowing opponents to score on just 63.6 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, a mark that tied them for third in the country in red zone defense. USU opponents scored just 13 TDs in 44 red zone opportunities (29.5 percent).

On the offensive side of the ball, much like Badgers fans are accustomed to from UW, Utah State has been very efficient running the ball. The Aggies finished sixth in the country in rushing offense in 2011 (282.7 ypg) and are 25th in the country this season (204.1 ypg). USU is one of just four schools in the country (Wisconsin, Oregon and Western Kentucky are the others) to have a 1,500-yard rusher in each of the last two seasons. RB Robert Turbin ranked 10th nationally with 1,517 yards on the ground in 2011 and RB Kerwynn Williams ran for 1,512 yards this season, good for ninth in the country.

Over the last two seasons, Utah State has averaged 463.2 yards of total offense per game and ranked among the top 25 nationally in that category both years. This season the Aggies are one of just 19 teams in the country to average at least 200 yards rushing and passing.

With consecutive appearances in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Utah State was bowl eligible in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1960-61. In 2011, the Aggies finished 7-6, the most wins for USU since 1993. They burst on the national scene in the season-opener, taking defending national champion Auburn down to the wire on the road. The season ended with Turbin earning WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors and Utah State leading the WAC in total defense.

In the three seasons preceding Andersen's hire (2006-08), Utah State went a combined 6-30 (.167). The Aggies had not finished above .500 since 1996. He led USU to back-to-back winning seasons and a 26-24 mark in four years (.520).

Along with their success on the field, Utah State's players have succeeded in the classroom under Andersen. The 2011 Aggies were represented by 18 players on the All-WAC Academic Team, the most in the conference. More than half of Andersen's players at USU earned at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

During his five seasons at Utah, Andersen was a part of two undefeated campaigns, both of which culminated in BCS bowl victories. He was the Utes' defensive coordinator in 2008 as they went 13-0 and defeated Alabama, 31-17, in the Sugar Bowl to end the season ranked No. 2 in the country. His defense ranked 11th nationally in rush defense, No. 12 in total defense and No. 20 in pass efficiency defense, and Andersen was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach.

In 2007, Utah led the country in pass efficiency defense, ranked fifth in scoring D and 18th in total defense.

Overall, Andersen spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach at Utah after coaching for the Utes from 1997-2002 before becoming the head coach at Southern Utah in 2003 and then returning to Utah in 2004.

Andersen's coaching career began in 1988 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana, where he coached for one season before going to Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) from 1989-92 as the offensive line coach. His other coaching stints include Idaho State (1992-94, defensive line), Park City (Utah) High School (1994-95, head coach) and Northern Arizona (1995-96, assistant head coach/defensive line/special teams).

A 1986 graduate of Utah, Andersen earned his bachelor's degree in political science. He played center for Utah from 1985-86 after garnering first-team junior college All-America honors in 1984 at Ricks College.

Andersen is married to the former Stacey Lambert, and they have three sons: Keegan and twins Chasen and Hagen. Keegan is currently a tight end on Utah State's football team, while Chasen and Hagen are both seniors at Logan High School.

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