Oregon State endured a stunning coaching departure to the Big Ten West last week, and now has returned the favor to a Big Ten West school as the Portland Tribune reported Wednesday afternoon that Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen is set to become the next Beavers coach.
Andersen was chosen from a group of five finalists, and will be introduced on Friday, the Tribune reports.
In what has to amount to the most eventful non-game day in recent Oregon State football history, the Beavers announced a $42 million investment to expand and renovate its football facility, the Valley Football Center.
“Our plan to expand the Valley Football Center is not about all of us here today,” AD Bob De Carolis said at the announcement. “It’s about the people and the OSU tradition that have come before us. It’s about the present. It’s about the student-athletes who will walk through these doors in the future. It’s about the OSU football program. And making the program better. It’s about being bold. Competing. And winning. The right way. The Beaver Nation way.”
Andersen is a Salt Lake City native and University of Utah graduate that, undoubtedly, feels more at home out West than in the heartland. Prior to landing the Wisconsin job, his only life experience west of the Rocky Mountains was a one-year stint as offensive coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana in 1988 - his first year in coaching.
While landing the Oregon State job gets Andersen back in the Western portion of the country, it also gets him out of Wisconsin. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday, citing a source, that Andersen was "not happy" at Wisconsin and his time as a Badger was "awkward from the start."
"I thought it was a great fit," Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez said in his press conference Wednesday evening. "There was never any talk of, 'Someday I want to get back to that part of the country.' Maybe that changes after you've been away for a while. You'd have to ask him."
Put it this way, though. There aren't many high-level jobs where a coach shares an office with a statue of his boss, who so happens to coach his way to the College Football Hall of Fame from that very office.
Andersen is 30-9 in his last three seasons as a head coach, making his name within the profession for leading previously-downtrodden Utah State to an 11-2 mark and a national ranking in 2012.
Wisconsin has now seen two successful coaches leave for other jobs within the past two years. Bret Bielema, 68-24 with three Big Ten championships seven seasons, took the Arkansas job following the 2012 season. His replacement is now gone after going 19-7 with a Big Ten West championship in two seasons. (In much less shocking - but equally stingin - news, Heisman Trophy finalist Melvin Gordon also announced Wednesday he's going pro. Not the best 24 hours for the Badgers.)
Alvarez released a statement shortly after the news went public.
With the move, Wisconsin joins Michigan, Colorado State, Houston and Tulsa among open jobs in FBS. Four of the six biggest jobs in the Big Ten - Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska and Wisconsin - have now come open within the past 12 months.
As always, we'll have more on The Scoop as this story develops.