UPDATE, Friday, 2:17 pm: Andersen confirmed in his introductory press conference on Friday that secondary coach Ben Strickland will be retained. In a subsequent interview with BTN, he also confirmed that Dave Aranda will be his defensive coordinator.
UPDATE, 11:38 pm: Looks like the Badgers will be looking elsewhere for an offensive coordinator. Matt Wells does indeed appear to be Utah State's next head coach:
If all goes right for Wells, he could be named the head coach within 24 hours— Tony Jones (@Tjonessltrib) December 20, 2012
Sources indicate Matt Wells has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Gary Andersen as Utah State's head coach— Tony Jones (@Tjonessltrib) December 20, 2012
Hearing that Utah State's Matt Wells is contacting potential assistant coaches. Usually a sign that he's accepted or plans to accept the job— Kevin Graham (@KevinGrahamKFAN) December 20, 2012
The speculation regarding Matt Canada to N.C. State not quite being finalized also isn't dying down. Backing the Pack says Canada never seemed really amped about joining the Wolfpack, while Tom Lea of ESPN Wisconsin had this to report:
I was told today that Matt Canada to NC State isn't necessarily a done deal. Something to keep an eye on. #Badgers— Tom Lea (@ESPNTomLea) December 19, 2012
Barring a snowstorm that exceeds expectations, Wisconsin plans on flying in new head coach Gary Andersen for an introductory press conference on Thursday. The initial reaction to the hiring -- "initial" in this case meaning fewer than 24 hours, granted -- has centered on the apparent home-run hiring Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez made in plucking Andersen from Utah State.
Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated tabs Andersen as a "winner."
Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports also labeled the hiring as a home run.
And Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal (also the reporter who first got the scoop) has a source denying Andersen's lack of Midwest recruiting ties as an issue, saying the 48-year-old coach "can sell ice to Eskimo."
That's fantastic. If it all holds up, perhaps Wisconsin can halt the supposed flood of recruits leaving for Arkansas and elsewhere. Perhaps the warm, fuzzy "F*** YEAH, ROSE BOWL" buzz generated by Alvarez' decision to coach the Badgers in the Granddaddy of Them All won't subside.
Moving forward, it sure seems like Wisconsin is set... save for one thing.
What will Andersen's staff look like?
After the hiring became as official as an unofficial hiring can get, several reports indicated Andersen would bring the majority of his Utah State staff to Wisconsin. Kevin Graham of 1320 KFAN reported "most, but not all coaches" would be following Andersen, and soon the individual names began trickling out.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda -- who was also offered the DC job at Cal -- will "definitely" be coming to Madison, according to Graham. As for the other name in that Tweet, Utah defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a, Graham followed with a later Tweet saying Andersen will hire Kauha'aha'a once the former's deal with Wisconsin is finalized. Hans Olsen of ESPN 700 also reported Kauha'aha'a coming to Wisconsin.
Elsewhere, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune reported associate head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach Bill Busch and offensive line coach T.J. Woods were expected to also join Andersen in Wisconsin. Hiring Woods would seemingly leave current Wisconsin offensive line coach Bart Miller to seek a job elsewhere, despite his widely regarded popularity with the players and other coaches following the firing of first-year line coach Mike Markuson.
Despite the consensus on those early reports, disparity has reigned regarding Utah State's offensive coordinator, Matt Wells. Early reports from Graham and Jones indicated Wells was seeking to the head coaching job vacated by Andersen, but this morning, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com reported Wells might be coming to Wisconsin. His story was somewhat misleading, though, as it led with "a source with direct knowledge of the situation" saying Wells would follow Andersen to Madison before acknowledging Wells might stay at Utah State:
Wells also could be a candidate to replace Andersen at Utah State, where Wells once played quarterback, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Involvement in the USU search could alter Wells' plans.
Naturally, there's much more to follow considering Andersen's hiring only hit the Web less than 24 hours ago. But right now, here's how Wisconsin's staff might look under its new head coach. The following table reflects the possibility of Andersen attempting to retain assistants previously believed to be heading elsewhere, including offensive coordinator Matt Canada (speculation here and here). That position will be particularly interesting to watch, considering the Aggies ran a spread offense under Wells. Andersen himself rose through the ranks as a defensive coach, so he himself does not appear to be a dual-package with the spread. If Wells does follow him, though, could Wisconsin dramatically alter its offense? Alvarez essentially said "no way" earlier this month, so that is absolutely something to track.
Aranda and Wells both previously turned down job offers at Texas Tech and N.C. State, respectively. Since then, speculation has persisted that they did so in order to follow Andersen in case he jumped to another program.
The chart also assumes running backs coach Thomas Hammock and secondary coach Ben Strickland will stay with Wisconsin, as well. We'll keep the chart updated as news comes along.
|UNDER BRET BIELEMA||UNDER GARY ANDERSEN|
|OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR||Matt Canada||
|DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR||Chris Ash||Dave Aranda|
|ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH||Charlie Partridge||Bill Busch|
|DEFENSIVE LINE||Charlie Partridge||Chad Kauha'aha'a|
|WIDE RECEIVERS||Zach Azzanni||TBD (Azzanni left for same job at Tennessee)|
|LINEBACKERS||Andy Buh||TBD (Buh left for DC job at Cal)|
|TIGHT ENDS||Eddie Faulkner||Bart Miller? (Recommended by Alvarez. Faulkner left for same job at N.C. State)|
|RUNNING BACKS||Thomas Hammock||Thomas Hammock|
|OFFENSIVE LINE||Bart Miller||T.J. Woods|
|SECONDARY||Ben Strickland||Ben Strickland|