MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez hopes to move quickly to find a new head coach after Gary Andersen’s stunning departure to Oregon State.
Alvarez hoped to have a replacement by the 17th-ranked Badgers’ bowl game Jan. 1. Alvarez said that the Wisconsin seniors asked him to coach in the Outback Bowl against Auburn, and that he would soon make that decision.
Wisconsin got word that Andersen was leaving on the same day that Heisman Trophy finalist and running back Melvin Gordon officially announced he was skipping his senior year to enter the NFL draft.
“I think everybody was well aware that Melvin was going to go into the draft. Gary’s announcement was definitely a surprise and shocking to those (players),” Alvarez said.
The Badgers seemed just as astonished on social media.
“That’s crazy. ... Literally out of nowhere,” senior defensive tackle Warren Herring posted on Twitter.
Gordon had just a one word response on Twitter after word had trickled out: “WOW!”
Andersen was 19-7 in his two seasons at Wisconsin. He was known for an even-keeled demeanor that seemed to calm his players in times of adversity.
Wisconsin hired Anderson away from the head coaching spot at Utah State a few weeks before the Rose Bowl. Alvarez coached that game while the program was in transition, and the Badgers lost 20-14 to Stanford.