Baggot's full story is well worth your time, particularly because it's built around an exclusive interview regarding a situation that had us all in a tizzy last week. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network dropped the bombshell that Andersen had "interviewed" with the Cleveland Browns for their vacant head coaching position, and that fostered equal parts bewilderment and stress in and around Madison. Was Andersen already eyeing another job? Is he not long for Madison? Big Ten coaches probably get NFL job offers every offseason; is Andersen just waiting for the right one? Can't we just make fun of the Browns in peace?
There are varying answers to those questions, and fortunately, we don't have to run through all of them now that Baggot spoke with Andersen. Again, read the whole thing. Below are some noteworthy snippets.
Andersen on his initial reaction to the Browns' call
Andersen was recruiting in Ohio when he got the call last month.
"A complete curveball," Andersen said. "The call came basically out of the blue."
Andersen isn't sure how then-Browns CEO Joe Banner and his top lieutenant, Mike Lombardi, got his cell number because they didn't contact his agent, Kenneth Vierra, or go through his boss, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez.
"I have no idea where it started or where I even got into the mix," Andersen said.
Essential timeline of this process
- Banner and Lombardi ask if Andersen wants to interview for the head coaching job vacated by the firing of Rob Chudzinski.
- Andersen says, "No, I'm good."
- Banner and Lombardi keep pushing.
- Andersen's flattered, says he has to check with UW athletic director Barry Alvarez.
- Alvarez says, "Gary, it never hurts you to talk."
- Banner and Lombardi fly out to a small airport in Ohio, meet Andersen, "for a couple hours."
The rest, as relayed by Baggot:
Andersen didn't deviate from his original itinerary because he had a home visit scheduled, mindful of the fact national signing day was roughly three weeks away.
"It wasn't really an interview," Andersen said Wednesday, his 50th birthday. "They were telling me what direction they were headed in and they had a plan. They gave me some information."
Naturally, Banner and Lombardi kept pushing, but Andersen declined after again speaking with Alvarez. Banner and Lombardi were eventually fired after finding their man, former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
The rest of Baggot's story touches on how comfortable Andersen feels in Madison, how he understands how fans felt about the way the story broke and more. It ends with a great quote from Alvarez, one that should perhaps give us the central takeaway from this whole thing.
Alvarez also made a point of emphasizing how fortunate UW fans are to have such a stable environment atop the marquee. He coached the Badgers from 1990 to 2005 and has been the AD since.
Bielema had the reins for seven seasons before giving way to Andersen.
Meanwhile, Bo Ryan has run the men's basketball program and Mike Eaves the men's hockey team since 2002.
"Look around the country, people move," Alvarez said. "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."