After a 9-4 finish, including a 6-2 Big Ten mark, after his first season in Madison, Gary Andersen's name popped up on the radar for the Cleveland Browns when they needed to fill their head coaching vacancy.
According to The Wisconsin State Journal, Andersen said that the call from the front office of the Browns came "out of the blue" and that he told the Cleveland brass initially, "No, I'm good." However, after then-CEO Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi (who have both since been let go) pushed for a meeting, Andersen reached out to his athletic director, Barry Alvarez for some advice.
Alvarez responded by saying, "Gary, it never hurts you to talk."
Andersen decided to at least meet with the Lombardi and Banner to see what they had to say, and maintains that it wasn't really an interview. They gave him some information on the direction that they wanted to head as an organization and their plan of attack during their conversation at a small Ohio airport.
After that first meeting, Cleveland decided that they wanted another sit-down with the Badgers head coach, but after Andersen sat down and talked with Alvarez, he decided it just wasn't an opportunity he was interested in. During that talk, Anderson asked Alvarez why he never made the jump to the league when he had ample opportunities during his nearly two decades on the sidelines with the Badgers.
Alvarez's response included his love for the college game and the enjoyment he got from working with young people. While Andersen says he already had his mind made up to stay, hearing that from his AD just reaffirmed everything for him. Needless to say, that second meeting never happened.
Leaving Utah State was hard enough for Andersen, and he's adamant there is no place better for him and his family than Wisconsin.
“Look around the country, people move. They leave really good jobs. They move within leagues. They move to different parts of the country. They move for different reasons. We’ve been spoiled around here. We haven’t had a lot of movement. Most places don’t have that.” Andersen noted.