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UW to hire Utah State's Gary Andersen as its next head football coach

MADISON - Utah State University Head Football Coach Gary Andersen will become the University of Wisconsin's new head football coach. Sources in Madison and in Utah reported that Andersen was interviewed Monday and was offered and accepted the job.

Word began to leak out of Madison Tuesday evening that Andersen would be the next head coach. UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez indicated in a press conference Sunday after football practice he had one more interview to conduct and then would make a decision. The hiring process was constrained by state law which mandates all state jobs to be posted for at least two weeks before hires can be made. The job came open when head Bret Bielema accpeted the head coaching position at Arkansas on Dec. 3 soon after the Big Ten Championship game. Andersen can accept the job officially starting Wednesday.

Alvarez had also reportedly interviewed Jacksonville Jaguars assistant coach and former UW player Melvin Tucker over the weekend and also reportedly had interviews with University of Toldeo head coach Matt Campbell and Bowling Green State University head coach Dave Clawson. Other coaches who were contacted to see if they were interested in the position were Iowa State's Paul Rhodes, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Oregon State's Mike Riley and Miami of Florida's Al Golden. Alvarez had decided against contacting former UW assistant and current head coach at Pittsburgh, Paul Chryst.

Andersen, 48, is a native of the state of Utah and spent much of his schooling and much of his career there as well. He attended Ricks College in the mid-1980s (now called Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexford Falls, Idaho) and has been at various stops in his coaching career from Louisiana to Idaho and back to Utah on the college and high school level since 1988. Over the last 15 years he was an assistant coach under Urban Meyer at the University of Utah from 1997-2002; then spent a year as head coach of Southern Utah University where the team went 4-7; then came back to the Utah staff in 2003 until 2008. He was the defensive coordinator of the 2008 Utah team which went undefeated and won the Sugar Bowl. In 2009 he accepted the head coaching job at Utah State where took a program which had gone 9-38 in the previous four seasons to 11-2 campaign this season which included a near-win over Wisconsin in Madison for want of a field goal kicker; a win over in-state rival Utah for the first time in 15 years; a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship, 2012 WAC Coach of the Year award and a win last weekend in the Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho over Toledo. His overall record is 30-31. Andersen has coached the Aggies in back-to-back bowl games, not done at Utah State since 1960-61, after going 4-8 in his first season. USU won its first conference title since 1997 and its first outright title since 1979.

Andersen may bring several of his staff members with him to Madison and there's some question if he'll retain several members of the remaining coaching staff who have not take jobs elsewhere, including offensive line coach Bart Miller, running back's coach Thomas Hammock and secondary coach Ben Strickland. Just today it was announced UW strength coach Ben Herbert has accepted the position at Arkansas, joining Bret Bielema's staff.