Utah State head coach Gary Andersen was one of the later entrants to Wisconsin's coaching search, but reports have nevertheless tabbed him as the Badgers' next head coach.
Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal reports Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez is set to hire Andersen to replace Bret Bielema, who abruptly left for the head coaching job at Arkansas on Dec. 4. Andersen's deal is reportedly done after earlier speculation on Tuesday tabbed him as the favorite, and subsequent chatter seemed to cool those reports. Mulhern adds that finalization of the deal could come quickly.
Andersen, 48, has a 26-22 record in four years at Utah State. The Aggies are currently ranked No. 18 in the AP Top 25 after an 11-2 season that saw them finish 6-0 in the Western Athletic Conference. Utah State also nearly upset Wisconsin earlier this season in a Sept. 15 contest the Badgers won, 16-14.
Previously, Andersen spent five seasons as the assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Utah. In 2004, he served as the defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer, currently the head coach at Ohio State. The Aggies began with a pair of 4-8 seasons under Andersen before reaching the Potato Bowl in 2011, the school's first bowl game since 1997.
One interesting note to track will be Wisconsin's offense under Andersen, who oversaw a spread attack at Utah State. He did, as mentioned above, rise through the college ranks as a defensive coach. Utah State has allowed 15.4 points per game this season, eighth-best in the country, and 322.1 yards per game, 15th in the country.
Back on Dec. 6, in the press conference where he confirmed his intentions to coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, Alvarez said Wisconsin would not be changing its offensive philosophy, nor it would it be targeting coaches looking to change it.
"I don't have any problem with our scheme," Alvarez said. "I don't perceive us a spread-‘em out, fast-paced, no-huddle, one-back, five-wides -- I don't see us doing that because that's not the type of kid we can consistently recruit, and we have to remember that. You know what the plan is, that starts with those big palookas up front."
Linked to many vacant positions this month, Andersen was also speculated as a potential candidate for the jobs at California, Colorado and Kentucky.