UPDATE, 11:45 a.m.: Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal has another report, confirming that Andersen's interview has nothing to do with his scheduled contract extension or raise, and vice versa:
Andersen received a previously scheduled $100,000 increase in his salary, but that had nothing to do with the Browns' interview, according to a UW athletic department source.
Also, Andersen recently received a one-year contract extension. That also had nothing to do with the Browns' interest, according to UW.
UPDATE, 11:03 a.m.: Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with a helpful reminder:
FYI: $100,000 raise 4 #Badgers coach Andersen approved on 1/24 was built into his original contract.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) February 11, 2014
UPDATE, 10:56 a.m.: Wisconsin has released the following statements from athletic director Barry Alvarez and Gary Andersen:
Statement from UW head coach Gary Andersen:
"Officials from the Cleveland Browns contacted me to talk about their head coaching vacancy. After our initial conversation, I decided not to pursue the position. I am committed to the University of Wisconsin and the student-athletes in our program. I love the city of Madison and am grateful for all the support from Badgers fans around the state and around the country. I look forward to the start of spring football in a couple weeks and turning the focus to preparing for 2014."
Statement from UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez:
"I'm appreciative that Gary handled all of this the right way. He alerted me immediately that he had been contacted by the Browns and affirmed his commitment to the University of Wisconsin. When you have talented coaches on your roster, there will always be people who want to talk to them. I think that Gary is one of the top coaches in the country and am glad that he is leading our team."
We were all having a fine time making fun of the Cleveland Browns Tuesday morning, and then it got real. Too real.
#Browns tried it all during coaching search. Source says they secretly interviewed #Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, who got a raise on 1/25— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 11, 2014
Great. We got pretty panicky when Thomas Hammock left on National Signing Day last week -- can you imagine how things would go if Andersen left? To the Browns?
On the other hand, Andersen obviously didn't take the job. Perhaps that's a statement to the allure of coaching in Madison. Perhaps it's a statement to the heft of the raise he received last month (see update above). At the time, all we heard about his contract came in the form of a standard, annual release from UW:
Athletic Board approves fall sports coaches' contracts
Andersen, Sheffield, Trask, Wilkins have contracts extended
Jan. 24, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- The UW Athletic Board met Friday afternoon and approved the following recommendations of the UW Department of Athletics regarding contracts for fall sports head coaches:
Football coach Gary Andersen's five-year contract was extended through Jan. 31, 2019.
Volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield's four-year contract was extended through Jan. 31, 2018.
Women's soccer coach Paula Wilkins's three-year contract was extended through Jan. 31, 2017.
Men's soccer coach John Trask's three-year contract was extended through Jan. 31, 2017.
The Browns ultimately hired hired Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as head coach Jan. 23.
Per Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez is working out of town and could not be reached for comment. UW athletic communications also has yet to return comment.
So for now, we're left waiting for more details. How serious was this "secret interview?" Has Andersen received other NFL offers, or was this due diligence on his part? One unsolicited take is that you can't rationally blame a coach for taking a job at the highest level. On the other hand, we're talking about the Browns here.
Now the offseason gets a little less quiet, at least for a little bit. The question of the day: do you blame Gary Andersen? Does this alter your perception, appreciation, etc., of him at all?
Here are a few takes of varying temperatures:
Feb. 11, 2014, the date Gary Andersen's #Badgers honeymoon officially ended.— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) February 11, 2014
Can't blame Andersen for taking an NFL interview if he did. Doesn't mean he was looking, means #Badgers have a respected coach.— Jon Griffith (@JonGriffith27) February 11, 2014
Feel bad for George Rushing. Didn't like that Strong lied about Texas. I bet Andersen didn't tell him about interviewing w/Cleveland either.— Mark Ennis (@Mengus22) February 11, 2014
Gary Andersen got a Browns interview? Whaaaaaaaat?— Matt Brown (@MattSBN) February 11, 2014
Skyrocketing stock. MT @RapSheet #Browns tried it all. Source says they interviewed #Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, who got a raise on 1/25.— Dave Miller (@Miller_Dave) February 11, 2014