2013 Big Ten Media Days: Gary Andersen ushers Wisconsin into new era

USA TODAY Sports

Gary Andersen might've been bland at his first Big Ten Media Days appearance, but he made two things abundantly clear: He's not Bret Bielema, and he's extremely comfortable with where he is. B5Q's Scott Wisniewski reports from Chicago.

CHICAGO -- There are a few similarities between current Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen and his predecessor, Bret Bielema. Both coaches are regarded as good recruiters who also are known to get the most of their players. Where they differ is in their demeanors.

As Andersen spoke on the big stage for the first time at Big Ten Media Days Wednesday morning at the Hilton Chicago, most in attendance began to notice something. As they waited for an over-the-top, bombastic quote from the Badgers' top man, they began to realize that it wasn't going to happen. Not now, not in the breakout sessions with smaller groups of reporters and probably not for a while -- if ever.

While some called him vanilla, stoic, even boring, what Andersen's tone really sounded like was refreshing and professional. Andersen may be perhaps the least likely of all the Big Ten head coaches to engage in a Twitter war with fans or have bikini pics of his wife posted online, and what he does provide is a calming, steady and consistent approach to business both on and off the field. One of Andersen's stalwarts, linebacker Chris Borland, bristled when his coach's demeanor was brought up.

"You don't get any points for media day," Borland said. "I don't look to coach Andersen for entertainment."

For almost 15 minutes, Andersen answered questions about his transition with a balanced style equal parts insightful and matter-of-fact. When asked about the enormity of the Wisconsin job, Andersen was blunt.

To me, a coach is you're an educator and you're a father figure. That doesn't matter what level you're coaching at.

"The transition again has been great," he said. "The summer's been great. A job is a job, and I think I look at them all the same as far as what are you doing to influence kids. When I say that, you're a coach. So to me, a coach is you're an educator and you're a father figure. That doesn't matter what level you're coaching at."

While most were awaiting an answer that would start trending on Twitter, some missed just how well that question was answered. While others waited for quotes that would end up on SportsCenter, Andersen instead offered nuggets of wisdom like this when asked about the three-player race at quarterback between Joel Stave, Tanner McEvoy and Curt Phillips.

"We sat down with all the young men when we were first there and gave them a very clear vision that when we sat down in April, we would discuss exactly where they're at, what the situation is," Andersen said. "When we came out of it, Curt and Joel came out on top in spring.

"And it was a very unique situation, as it always is at the quarterback spot when you have competition. We recruited Tanner, brought Tanner in. He will also compete. He deserves that opportunity because he's a junior college player with three years left to play. Anytime we recruit a junior college player, he's going to be given the opportunity to walk in fall camp and compete and get reps with the ones and twos at times just as every freshman will if he deems himself mentally and physically prepared to be able to be in those situations that he has a chance to help our team. It will be a three-man race."

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