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Gary Andersen to Oregon State: Possible reasons why he left Wisconsin

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I know you guys are hurting, but before you can move on from a breakup, you have to analyze the reasons why it went south in the first place. Let's dive in.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

So, I don't know if you saw this, but Wisconsin is currently looking for a new head football coach. Gary Andersen stepped down as the head coach of the Badgers on Wednesday night to take the job at perennial Pac-12 power (someone please fact check this) Oregon State.

During athletic director Barry Alvarez's press conference, it was noted that Andersen left Madison for family reasons. While that may be true, there are at least two other major factors that we hear played a role in Andersen deciding to leave the program he had only been in charge of for two years.

1. Assistant coaches were not being paid enough

This appears to be a recurring problem for Wisconsin head coaches, since Bret Bielema mentioned it as a reason he left the Badgers. USA Today, conveniently, published a list of assistant coach salaries earlier Wednesday and the findings were predictably below-average for Wisconsin. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, the two highest paid assistants on staff, both clocked in at No. 77 in the country at $480,000 per year.

However, if this was really a huge concern for Andersen, it appears that Oregon State wouldn't be the place to go for an upgrade.

So, uhh, it does not appear Andersen will be happy with how much the Beavers are willing to spend on his assistants. However, Oregon State's defensive coordinator Mark Banker was the 55th highest-paid assistant in the country at $505,008. The Badgers ranked ninth in the Big Ten in paying their assistants while Oregon State ranked eighth in the Pac-12. Much like the prestige, location, history and uniform colors involved with these two schools, it appears Andersen has made a lateral move at best and a move to Corvallis, Ore., at worst.

2. The academic requirements were too high

There had been rumblings since the 59-0 debacle against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game regarding Andersen's supposed discontent with UW's high academic requirements for athletes. Let's compare just how much more lenient the folks at Oregon State are:

WISCONSIN (via UWBadgers.com) OREGON STATE (via OregonState.edu)
Entering second year Required 1.80 cumulative GPA Required 1.80 cumulative GPA
Pass 18 degree credits during the academic year Pass a total of 36 credits
Entering third year Required 1.90 cumulative GPA Required 1.90 cumulative GPA
Pass 18 degree credits during the academic year Pass a total of 36 credits
Must have 40% of degree requirements completed Must have 40% of degree requirements completed
Entering fourth year Required 2.00 cumulative GPA Must have 60% of degree requirements completed
Pass 18 degree credits during the academic year Required 2.00 cumulative GPA
Must have 60% of degree requirements completed Pass a total of 36 credits
Entering fifth year Required 2.00 cumulative GPA Must have 60% of degree requirements completed
Pass 18 degree credits during the academic year Must have 80% of degree requirements completed
Must have 80% of degree requirements completed Required 2.00 cumulative GPA
Pass a total of 36 credits

Putting aside the fact that hearing a head football coach wants to jump ship because of academic requirements that are too low is disappointing enough, consider that the above columns are virtually mirror images of each other, just like the pay for assistant coaches. The academic requirements for athletes at both schools are pretty much the same, but ESPN's Adam Rittenberg also noted another issue for Andersen was tough admission policies for high school recruits:

In an interview with Madison Magazine last September, Andersen said the following:

"My core values as a coach are to take care of kids and put them in a position to succeed academically and socially. If we do that, they'll succeed on the football field because football is something they do love or sure should love if they're playing football at Wisconsin. I'm always going to put the kids first. Some people may believe I sometimes do that to a fault, but I sure don't."

By settling for a school with supposedly more lenient academic standards, Andersen appears to have contradicted himself. The speculation could, and likely will, continue for weeks, but one thing is certain in Madison: two coaches (Bret Bielema and now Andersen) have left Madison for lesser jobs: Arkansas and Oregon State. As only one of two programs -- joining vaunted Alabama -- to play in a New Year's Day bowl game for five consecutive years, Wisconsin is one of college football's elite programs. But with Bielema and Andersen settling for gigs at less productive programs -- Oregon State was 5-7 last year -- questions may start to pour into Madison.

Between players' initial shock and the report that even some of his assistants, who were on recruiting trips, were unaware of the move, and now the suspicious non-differences between UW and OSU in assistant pay and academic requirements, this entire situation is a bit unsettling. We'll leave you with this from star Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon: