Bret Bielema's sudden departure from Wisconsin for Arkansas was a major tremor across the college football landscape. After all, why would a man leave the land of cheese curds and quality beers for "The Natural State"?
Well, I guess we are getting a better idea now. $3.2 mil annually ain't too shabby.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, the former head coach at Wisconsin, will coach the Badgers in the upcoming Rose Bowl game versus Stanford. For his efforts, Alvarez will make some decent coin for coaching one game. Again, not too bad.
In the meantime, Alvarez quietly conducted a coaching search for Bret Bielema's replacement. Names were bandied about, such as former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, former Wisconsin player/former Ohio State secondary coach/current Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, former Wisconsin quarterback/current Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, former Wisconsin offensive coordinator/former Minnesota Vikings head coach/current Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress...Are you starting to detect a theme here? Lot of former Wisconsin association.
And Barry Alvarez picked...Gary Andersen of Utah State.
Don't waste your time. No association with Wisconsin whatsoever.
My interpretation of this coaching hire by Wisconsin? Very solid pick by Barry Alvarez.
Yes, Paul Chryst would have probably made the fans and people of Wisconsin, possibly even Paul Chryst himself, happier with that hire. But I have to continue to give plaudits to Barry Alvarez for not going after Paul Chryst at Pittsburgh, after Chryst had only been there for one year.
Mel Tucker would have moved the dial. A young minority candidate, and former Badger player, may have excited the fan base. But Tucker has never been a head coach. Darrell Bevell is not a minority candidate, but is similar to Tucker in the vein that he has never been a head coach.
Brad Childress has been a head coach, but in the NFL. Even more importantly, Childress has been out of the college football scene for nearly fifteen years.
That leads us back to Gary Andersen. Even though Andersen has no connection whatsoever to Wisconsin, Andersen has done a tremendous job at Utah State. Andersen guided Utah State to an 11-2 record this past season. Barry Alvarez was able to see up close and personal how good of a coach Andersen is, when Wisconsin barely survived its early season battle against Utah State, 16-14.
Gary Andersen was able to scare other top programs during his tenure at Utah State. In 2011, Utah State nearly upset Auburn, losing 42-38. Oklahoma escaped Utah State in 2010, 31-24. Getting a team to be able to compete versus programs the caliber of Wisconsin, Auburn, and Oklahoma is impressive. Resume impressive stuff to an athletic director such as Barry Alvarez.
The connection to Ohio State? Gary Andersen served in 2004 as Utah's defensive line coach for current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. While the connection to Coach Meyer has not been as strong over the last few years, the former relationship should only add to the ongoing Ohio State/Wisconsin rivalry that has emerged over the last several seasons.
As for Kent State, who lost former Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell to Purdue recently?
Kent State hired former Kent State player/former Ohio State assistant/former Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes to replace Darrell Hazell.
Again, I say a solid choice with the hiring of Paul Haynes by Kent State.
A few days, I suggested that perhaps current Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell may be a candidate for this job. I could not have been further wrong.
The reality is that Paul Haynes was actively seeking this job. Being a former player and student at Kent State makes Haynes the better choice for Kent State at this time.
The impact upon Ohio State? Barring something unforeseen, Ohio State will not lose any assistants heading into the 2013 season. Considering how important coaching staff chemistry is on any staff, let alone a team that will potentially challenge for the national championship, this is a positive step for Coach Meyer as the Buckeyes head into the New Year.