Hiring a coach to replace a guy that won 17 of his first 18 games as the head coach, and went on to lead the team to three straight Rose Bowl appearances is no easy task. But ask Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez how he knows he got the right guy and his answer might surprise you.
You see, Alvarez has had player after player stop by his office to thank him for hiring Gary Andersen as the face of the program. But it's been the message from the senior class that has really reinforced his decision.
“I can’t tell you how many of the seniors have come up to me, to thank me, then to say they wish they could play for him another year,” Alvarez told the Wisconsin News. “When the kids have that attitude and you see the product on the field, yeah, I feel like we hit a home run.”
Andersen came to Madison with the reputation of being a "players coach", and that's part of what put him on Alvarez's short list in the first place. That reputation has obviously carried over with the Badgers.
“Being a player’s coach, there’s no lip service. It’s legitimate. He truly listens to the kids and lets them have input. Yet, he still holds them accountable." Alvarez added. "I think some people think being a player’s coach means you’re soft, that’s not the case. He holds kids accountable."
The article points out that Alvarez "probably talked to six people" about their coaching opening, but only made one job offer, and it seems like the AD and Badger players couldn't be more pleased with the decision after year 1 of the Andersen era in Madison.
"If I had to do it all over again, I'd go right back and hire him." Alvarez noted.