UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 21, 2012By Troy Derengowski of Richmond High School
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez and today's guest of honor.
Start with some opening comments from Coach Alvarez.
BARRY ALVAREZ: Thanks, Brian.
Appreciate all of you coming out tonight under this bad weather, et cetera. This is an exciting day for the Badger football program. I'm pleased to announce Gary Andersen as our head football coach. First would like to welcome his family, his wife Stacey, who's here, sons Keegan and Hagen, and his son Chasen. Chasen is also here. Welcome. Welcome to our family.
I want to thank the Board of Regents and the athletic board, who assisted in this process. I said all along that we would take our time so that we could find the right fit. I feel very confident that we did our due diligence and we have the right fit.
Gary has impressed me as the person, the right person who believes in the things that we have done to be successful in this program. During the interview process, Walter Dickey and Sean Frazier were with me, and as we left, Walter Dickey made the comment, if I would have had a blindfold on, I would have thought that was you that was answering the questions. That's how our philosophies and our beliefs have meshed.
They're very similar. He believes in first supporting the kids, supporting the players, both on the field academically, and socially. The first questions he asked me were about academic support for the athletes. In visiting with him and also doing my research?? I had Joe Panos, former captain, contact some of the players in the NFL who played for Coach Andersen and get their feedback into the guy, and it was very consistent from what I had heard.
Demanding, he's fair, he's consistent, he cares about his players. He'll hug you. He'll get after you if you need it, and we all love him. That was the consistent theme throughout.
He has a passion for the game of football, and that explains to people, he's a ball coach. Dedicated to helping his student?athletes, as I mentioned before, and he's done a tremendous job in turning around the Utah State football program. He turned it around in a hurry.
The thing that?? first time that I noticed him a year ago, as I watched Utah State play defending champ Auburn, really didn't know much about Utah State at that time, but I was impressed by his demeanor on the sidelines, how his players played. It was quite obvious they were not intimidated to go on the road and play in a very difficult environment. They were tough. They were fundamentally sound. They had Auburn on the ropes.
And then at that point, I started following him, what he was doing, how they were doing, and then saw up close and personal when they showed up at Camp Randall, and I told Gary that before the game, how impressed I was with him, how he ran his program, and we all saw how well they played here at Camp Randall.
I really look forward to working with him, and I'm going to help him make this transition as smooth as possible. Now I would like to formally introduce the next head football coach at the University of Wisconsin, Gary Andersen.
COACH ANDERSEN: First of all, I'd just like to say thank you to Coach Alvarez. It's been an unbelievable three days. You get to learn a lot at a very fast pace?? the support, the belief, the care factor from everybody at the University of Wisconsin that I've come across is unbelievable. Thank you, Coach, for giving me this opportunity.
When you are given the opportunity to sit down with Coach Alvarez in an interview, it's a special experience. Everybody knows this program is where it is today because Coach Alvarez built this football program from the ground up. A great opportunity to watch from afar for a number of years as a young coach, and I have tremendous respect for what's happened here and the way the kids play.
When I had the opportunity to start looking into this job, it didn't take me long. When Coach offered me the job, I just said yes. I think it shocked him a little bit. I didn't ask any questions, just held my hand in the air and was ready to go.
A couple more thank yous before. It's a transition for a family at any time. I'd like to thank my wife Stacey and my three boys for hanging in there with this situation and being so supportive. It's been a big part of it. I have one son that's on the team at Utah State, and it's a position for him, a little bit to go through with dad as a head coach and all of a sudden, he up and leaves. It's a controversy whenever you leave a program without question.
I'd also like to thank the kids at Utah State for handling it the way they did. I was able to reach out to every one of them, and that was important to me to be able to do that. Didn't get to talk to every one of them, but they're so supportive, happy, grateful. And I am too. Very grateful for them and for the time we had together, and they know I'll always be there for them.
And then the young men that I've had an opportunity to talk with here on the football team is exactly what I thought, is exactly why I took this job because they're tough minded kids. They care about growing academically. They care about growing socially. Football is important to them, and they play with a toughness and a chip on their shoulder.
As I told Coach Alvarez during the interview process, I'm a big believer as you watch a team?? and I had the opportunity to watch Wisconsin all summer, 12 games, evaluations of trying to find a way to be able to stay on the field with Wisconsin. You can see how a team plays, their commitment, their toughness. They like the game of football, and it's very easy to see on the game film that they love the game of football.
So my mindset is a few different areas. What the priorities are for me right now is, number one, the kids in the program. When I say that, it's important for me to let them know one thing really now and one thing only. Here's my phone number. If you have questions, please call me. If I can help you in any way, shape, or form, I will be there for you. I'd love to sit down and talk to you when the time's appropriate, but these kids need to go win the Rose Bowl.
The last thing they need from me is to hang around them. Coach Alvarez, the staff, and the young men will go put themselves in a position to go win the Rose Bowl. I'm going to be a fly on the wall and evaluate and watch the practices as best I can. I just want to be there for the young men and start to get a relationship with them.
And number two is to reach out and secure our commits. That's so important for us to be able to?? there's been a lot of hard work, a lot of hours, countless hours put into having these young men commit to the University of Wisconsin and to play football here. It's my job now to reach out to those young men, to those families, and let them understand the direction that we're headed and that they're in great hands. So that's obviously a high priority.
And number three is to reach out and start recruiting. When I say that I want to recruit the state, the easiest way for me to tell you, show you that I want to recruit the state is I went to Utah State four years ago, there was 18 young men from the state of Utah on that team. There's now 55. There's 50?plus young men from the state of Wisconsin that are on the roster at this point. I believe the number is 53 is what I've been told.
We will secure our own state. We'll wrap our arms around the coaches. We'll wrap our arms around every player, and we'll have a strong walk?on program because there's terrific coaches, there's terrific players in the state of Wisconsin. And that's another reason why I sat back and looked at this job.
That's how I grew up in coaching, coaches like Coach Alvarez, Coach McBride, who coached here is you reach out to young men that care about football, and when you're recruiting them, they look you in the eye and say, Coach, I love football. If they can say that, they've got a chance to be something special. And there's also something special about playing in your own state. You can't underestimate that. We'll do a tremendous job in reaching out to those young men.
Wisconsin, the football program's recruiting, in my opinion, is obviously very well respected throughout the country, and as a staff and as a football program, we should be able to get into any recruiting fight that we want to get ourselves into. There's nowhere you can go in the country when you're a football player that you can't understand the logo of the University of Wisconsin. That's very important for everybody to understand.
Other than that, I'm extremely grateful. I'm humbled. I can't wait to get started. Again, my intent with the kids is to watch them go win a Rose Bowl and do everything I can to put them first. That's my goal.
Assistant coaches. When I look for an assistant coach, the number one priority is to find a coach that can guarantee me that he's going to put the young men first because that's what matters. Last time I looked, there's nobody coming out on Saturday afternoon or Saturday evening and watching nine coaches walk up and down the sidelines.
This game is about players. It always will be. Players make plays. Players win games. Coaches need to support players. They need to hug them hard when they need to be hugged. They need to hold up their discipline plan if they need to hold up their discipline plan.
The coaches need to be involved in the young men's lives in three areas. Academics is very important. The academics at University of Wisconsin and the athletic program as a whole is unbelievable. To say you have a football team that is a 3.0 GPA or very close to a 3.0 GPA is unbelievably impressive. That's a credit to the young men. It's a credit to the support and everybody that's around them at a quality university. A degree from the University of Wisconsin goes a long ways.
But we need to help them academically and put the young men in a position of support for us as coaches. They will be held accountable, as assistant coaches, to care for the young men and understand it's their job to help them academically.
Social world that we all live in, it's important to me that young men very simply, he walks in here as a young man, and he turns himself into a man. That matters to me. And you'll hear me refer to the kids as kids a lot. Sometimes I take some grief for that for calling football players kids, but they are my kids. Every single one of them are my kids. I look at them the same as I look at Chasen and Hagen and Keegan.
Socially, I'm looking at a mom, a grandma, a father, a coach, a mentor, and I'm going to look them in the eye and say, I'm going to take care of this young man, and I'm going to put them in a position to be successful. That's my responsibility, and that being said, that's why I consider them my kids. They'll understand that as we move forward.
The football side of it, obviously, that's why we're here. Unbelievable tradition, the belief, the want to, the care factor of the university, of Coach Alvarez, all his staff, and the young men in the program to not be good, but to be great is there, and that's fun to be part of. I can just tell you that, and I wrap my arms around that.
I do believe this, if the young men take care of themselves academically with the support of coaches, the young men take care of themselves socially with the support of coaches, and we recruit the right way, that's when you win championships.
I'm excited to be a part of this. We'll get the staff moving forward here quickly. Hopefully, we can deflect this back to the young men and let them go win a Rose Bowl. Very grateful, humble to be here, and happy to answer any questions that you have.
THE MODERATOR: Like normal, we've got microphones on each side. If you can raise your hand, we'll get one over to you.
Q. Gary, a lot was made about you running the spread at Utah State or a variation of such. What offense do you think you'll run here at Wisconsin?
COACH ANDERSEN: How did I know that question was coming? Well, I think, if you looked at what we had done at Utah State, we wanted to be a physical run team.
This is the University of Wisconsin. I've seen the young men walk around the hallways. I had an opportunity to sit down with a couple of the offensive linemen. I've seen the tight ends. I know the tradition of the running backs. And the biggest thing I can tell you is I had to work again all summer long to try to find a way to hang in there against this offensive line and the running backs, let alone their tradition of running the football.
So we will be a power run team. We will use tight ends and use multiple sets and multiple formations, absolutely. I believe we'll be a football team that will be run first, and our goal and our mindset and our want to will be to wear you downs as the game goes on and to out tough you and out physical you. Easy to things to sit up on the podium and say, but that will be the mindset, and that's the way it's always been whenever I've had an opportunity to coach a football team.
On the flip side of that, on defense we want to stop the run first. But when you talk about an offense in those ways, there is ways to use the best players on your football team, and we'll always do that. We'll always get the best 11 to 18 kids out there on the field, depending on the subgroups and the packages we play with. I don't want to be predictable. I want to keep people on edge.
I do want to have a touch of option within the game, the game plan every week to force defenses to deal with it. But we're going to line up and let those big kids work. That's what they like to do, and we should be able to recruit and get in any recruiting battle in the country with a quality running back.
The one thing I would like to say on top of that?? might be a little bit of a recruiting pitch or whatever you want to say?? but I've been around three NFL backs the last two years at Utah State, and that's because we run the football, and I expect to be able to do the exact same thing here with tremendous athletes on the offensive line?? tight ends, fullbacks, and wide receivers that will block you. Physical, tough?minded kids that will block you downfield, and I've seen that in the game we played against Wisconsin.
Q. You alluded to it earlier, contacting all of your players at Utah State. Can you elaborate on that? How many phone calls are we talking about? How long did that take you? And most importantly, why that was an emphasis for you in the transition?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, there's been a lot said about?? it was a three?week process that I was leaving, I was going here. I did interview for a couple other jobs weeks ago now. The bowl game was less than a week ago, and that seems like it was about four years ago now.
But that process came to a close, and I announced it to the team, and I got with my kids, and I told them that I was not leaving for any of those jobs, and I did make that statement. Wisconsin was nowhere to be seen at that point for me.
But the second that Coach Alvarez had contacted me and gave me the opportunity, I knew that that was a job I was going to take. So the kids had left, the bowl game was over, kids were scattered all over the country. It was important for me to not shoot a text message.
Zach Nyborg, my director of football operations, and I agonized for hours, how are we going to get this done to reach out to each one of these kids, yet somehow, some way protect Coach Alvarez's wishes, which was to get to Wisconsin without everybody in the world knowing what's going on.
So I called every kid, started about 7:30 at night, told them the situation, and I guess we went till 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, waking kids up. Tried to start on the East Coast kids we have and work our way back to the Pacific time zone and woke up in the morning at 6:30 and started again with the time zone and started on the East Coast and worked back to Pacific time and got on the airplane and came out here.
Why was it important to me? Because the kids deserve that. If they're frustrated, they deserve to tell me they're frustrated, which not one of them was. I'm not going to tell you they were doing back flips, but they understood the situation. They understand the University of Wisconsin.
They understand because a lot of them were here and it helped them. They were able to be on that field. They were able to see the stands, the crowd, the city, so that made it much easier for every one of those young men.
One of the?? probably the most difficult thing for me to do that I've ever had to do in my coaching career was to call each one of them, and it was emotional 106 times. It would be easier to let them be in a team meeting and get emotional one time. It's hard for me. I'm an emotional guy, and you'll find that about me, that I do care about the kids. So it was just to let them know that I love them, I'm going to be there for them.
And just because I leave, I never say good?bye, and they know that. I won't say good?bye. I'm here if they need me, and they'll continue to reach out to me, and they have since I've accepted the job.
Q. Gary, your predecessor, Bret Bielema, had an interesting relationship with Urban Meyer at Ohio State, and obviously you know Urban from playing under him. What can you tell us from your experiences with him, and what can you tell us what that rivalry might be like moving forward?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I reached out to Coach Meyer during this process, just ask him his thoughts because I have great respect for him and had the opportunity to work for him for a year. His first thoughts were obviously it's a tremendous job, great opportunity. Coach Alvarez is there. That was all a positive.
And then the next text he shot back was but you've got to come and play us. I said, yeah, we do, so away we go.
But I have an unbelievable respect for Coach Meyer, his family, the way he has moved himself through this profession, and there's a lot of care factor with Coach Meyer. I'm glad he's back in it. I'm excited about having the opportunity to compete against Ohio State and his team. Again, that game is not about Gary Andersen and Urban Meyer, it's about the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Q. Coach, different things have been said by players, past coaches about whether this program is one that can compete for a National Championship on a yearly basis. Do you feel that this program is that, and to what extent did that attract you to that job?
COACH ANDERSEN: Would not have entertained the thought in any way, shape, or form of taking a job at this point in my career if I didn't think we could come in and compete and play for championships.
I'm not a prediction guy. I'm not going to reach out there and say we're going to do this or we're going to do that. I just let the results speak for themselves when we get out on the field. I think this football program?? I don't think. I know this football program has everything it needs to compete at the highest level. In everybody's mind, I'm sure the National Championship is at the highest level. Again, that's all talk.
The table's been set for these young men to have everything they need, academically, socially, and athletically, to succeed at a high level. How high that level is, only time will tell.
Q. Can you tell us about your meeting with the players. Which guys did you meet with, and what were your initial impressions?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I'm not good with names yet. I've been able to meet with a couple sets, a few sets of young men. I sat down with the linebacker corps. I wanted to sit with those guys. It's an interesting story, and I'll say it quick. Chasen, my son, is here with us. He watched those kids this summer as I again was preparing. I said, Chasen, watch these three kids play linebacker. They're unbelievable, the way they play. They're just so well taught.
And credit goes with the coaches. They did a nice job with them. So we were able to have a little bit of a relationship, and Chasen was very excited to meet those kids.
But sitting down with them?? so I met with the corps of those young men. I met with the corps of offensive linemen, and I want to continue to reach out and talk to those kids. I have five or six different meetings set up today with different young men.
I just want to let them know, not to bother them, not to talk about the future, but let them know I'm here, and I have a major care factor for them, and I'm very interested, as quickly as I can, to let them understand that they can trust me, but that takes time. Just because I say I want them to trust me means nothing. I have to show it through the way I carry myself and the way our staff carries themselves.
I have a team meeting with them today. Coach Alvarez gave me an opportunity to meet with them for a few minutes today, and I'll tell them exactly the same thing that I said here. So just want to be there for them.
Q. Gary, you did an interview yesterday in which you talked about this place being special. You had one experience here as a coach. What makes it so?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I just think?? well, Coach Alvarez, for one. If there's one thing that jumps out to me, it's where it came from. If you were asked and take every head coach and every position coach in America and every level of college football and ask them to draw up the top 20 best college football programs in the country, I guarantee Wisconsin is on 99.9 percent of those ballots that you gather. That makes it a special place from a football standpoint.
What's special to me is I have a very genuine interest in being able to reach out and coach the kids, the young men that I have something in common with. And I know, now that I've been here, I get to coach those type of young men, that, again, high character, care about academics, their want to is unbelievable to succeed in life.
But then you walk in here, and you see all of this. If I go up on the third level of the stadium and everybody leaves, I'm going to be there for a minute because I can't get outside. I don't know where I'm going. The facilities, everything that's there, the setup is unbelievable.
Again, it is the people in the buildings. At the end of the day, it's not the buildings. It's the people in the buildings that I believe makes this place special. I believe that when I walk in here, and I have a tremendous, much better understanding of why I believe this place is special.
Q. Gary, obviously, Coach Alvarez brought in a coach who he thought would?? could perpetuate the program that's been built here. But ultimately, what do you think your stamp will be? Will you be able to take this program to different places than it's been?
COACH ANDERSEN: I think the biggest thing is, as you look at a program rich in tradition, rich in winning, three Rose Bowls in a row, where are you going to take it next? To be a consistent winner, again, they've been a consistent winner, but I think the thing is to have kids that are going to be able to compete at a national level and hold consistency to be a college football powerhouse year in and year out.
What's my stamp going to be on it? I sure hope my stamp at the end of the day is to be on a football field that's physical, tough minded, plays aggressive, plays the game the right way, is respected by their opponents, solid in all three phases, has one of the best graduation rates in the country. That's what I expect. And socially young men that turn themselves from young men into men as they go through the program.
Again, we'll never be perfect. I'll never say that. But sure will try to be every single day and fight to get that position.
Q. Coach, do you realize that Wisconsin football games have five quarters, and just are you familiar with all the traditions that happen at Camp Randall?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, I know the band. I heard the band. I know the jump around. I took my team at Utah State into the auditorium. I cranked the volume up on the jump around and said, pretend that's not happening. That was our whole mindset is to completely block it out.
I had one receiver that just couldn't do it. He just couldn't do it. Everybody did their best, but he dances at practice all day long. We listen to music at practice. So we're a little different on some things we do practice?wise.
Yeah, there's a lot of traditions I may not know about yet. I'm looking forward to understanding those. There's 750 people, I was told this morning, going to the Rose Bowl. That's unbelievable to me.
I mean, we loaded up four buses and rolled down the road four hours to go play in a bowl game. That's a special experience. But it's just this?? there's a lot of things I'm excited to learn, a lot of things I don't know, but there's a lot of things I'm excited to wrap my arms around and figure out, I promise you that much.
Q. Gary, could you address a couple things with your staff specifically. Do you have a short list for offensive coordinator? Do you have any idea how many of your guys from Utah State will be coming with you? And have you interviewed any of the current Wisconsin assistants?
COACH ANDERSEN: I'm just going to be real brief on this as I hope in the next couple of days we can get a lot more stability to where the coaching staff is.
I'm highly interested in retaining coaches on this staff. Why wouldn't I be? I'd be crazy not to be. Again, if you're going to secure the state of Wisconsin, you'd better have young men who understand how to recruit and reach out to high school coaches in the state of Wisconsin, which I'll call every one of those high school coaches in the state of Wisconsin in the next week or so, but I've got to retain some young men who understand how and why and who's important in the state of Wisconsin.
Secondly, offensive coordinator is up in the air. The offensive coordinator at Utah State is now the head coach at Utah State, which is a tremendous opportunity for Matt Wells. And I will look out, reach out to find a quality coach. I will say this about the offensive coordinator. When you're at the University of Wisconsin, it's a great job. It's not a good job, it's a great job for an offensive coordinator, and offensive coordinators will understand that. They'll line up a thousand deep if you want them to.
The key is to find the right guy that can run this offense and build it the way that we want it to be built and carry over and use the best kids?? use the kids the best way as far as their abilities. So that will be a little bit of a work in progress as we move forward.
My coaches that I had with me at Utah State, I will bring three or four of them, and then I will reach out to a couple other coaches that are currently in other programs. So it will be a great mix. There's some coaches with tremendous opportunities that were here at Wisconsin that will make some decisions and see what they want to do in the future.
Q. Coach, when you were at Utah State, you talked about competing on a national level. You obviously weren't afraid to go into the SECs and into the Wisconsins. How much value do you put into a difficult nonconference schedule? Is that something you look forward to continue to do here at Wisconsin?
COACH ANDERSEN: I think it's always going to be difficult. The schedule you play in the Big Ten is difficult. It's a little bit different. You have to have that mindset at different places to be able to say, hey, we're going to walk in here as an extreme underdog, and that was kind of our chip on our shoulder that we had. You don't need that chip on your shoulder here. You expect to walk into any environment and play at a high level, and our kids will be excited about doing that, and they are excited about doing that.
So nonconference games, I think to reach out to another conference?? next year it's Arizona State. That's a great game. That's going to be fun to go there. I've been there. It's a tremendous setting. Our kids will be excited to go play there.
How the rest of the schedule falls has been set by Coach Alvarez for years. He has his arms wrapped around that. He understands. I'll be included in that, but we're also going to make decisions that are best for the school as we move forward. I think you'll see the same plan that you've seen here for a number of years ?? as far as seven home games is important. It gets sometimes hard to get seven home games the right way when you're a good team. Not a lot of people are jumping up and down to say, hey, we can't wait to come and watch you play.
They are jumping up and down, but that's our guys that are doing that, not the other team.
Q. Gary, you mentioned the importance of securing commits. When does that process start for you?
COACH ANDERSEN: Securing what?
Q. Commits, commitments. When does that process start for you if it hasn't already?
COACH ANDERSEN: As soon as I can get cleared through the NCAA. It hasn't happened yet. It's a little bit of a complicated process. I will get in contact with each one of those young men, the important family members or mentors that I need to reach out to, their coaches. I believe it's important that I do that personally.
There's coaches on the staff?? Ben Strickland is?? he's going to stay. I want him here in the worst way, and it's important for me to have him on the staff. Ben has shown me how important he is, and he is Wisconsin, if you will. I understand that because that's where I started my coaching career is where I grew up and where I played. There's something special to be a coach. So he'll be involved in that process.
But he and I will get that handled, and we'll move forward quickly.
Q. Gary, can you give us a little bit of insight?? back here in the back row.
COACH ANDERSEN: Okay, I got you. There you are.
Q. Can you give us some insight on the initial phone call from Barry? Were you shocked how Barry made the initial pitch? And then the second part, will you be on the sideline in Pasadena?
COACH ANDERSEN: Coach Alvarez didn't have to make any pitch to this guy, I'll tell you that. The pitch was made here when I spent three hours out on that field a long time ago. But was I?? I wouldn't say I was shocked. I guess, if I felt like I was shocked, I wouldn't have felt I was ready to take this job. So shocked is not the right word.
Excited, grateful for the opportunity to even have the interview, be a part and be involved in that process, absolutely. Not shocked, but grateful.
Sidelines, you know, I don't?? if I'm on the sidelines, I'm not going to be in the sidelines sidelines. I'll be a fan on the side watching the kids. The whole key for me is I want to get to Pasadena. This is not anything to do ?? in any way, shape, or form does this Rose Bowl have anything to do with me other than I and my coaches need to evaluate the young men in the program so that we can get a head start on building for the next year.
That's so important for me to let everybody understand that I want to be there to help the program in the future, not to go be part of the benefits of a tremendous team and what they've accomplished and experienced in the Rose Bowl. That's the way my coaches will be there with me as a fly on the wall at practice. We'll move along, and I'll do whatever Coach Alvarez wants me to do as far as being involved with speaking or whatever I need to get done.
But we need to evaluate the kids so we can give us all the best opportunity to prepare for spring ball and recruit the right way.
Q. Barry, there's obviously lots of speculation about how many people you reached out to. Did you offer the job to anyone else? Is there one or two factors that put Gary over the top in your mind?
BARRY ALVAREZ: I did not offer the job to anyone else. I talked to a number of people. I talked to a number by phone during preliminary interview. I actually met face to face with three.
What was the other question, Tom?
Q. The factors to choose Gary.
BARRY ALVAREZ: The whole package, just his entire philosophy and how it fit here. I think the things that I mentioned, as I started the process, what I was looking for, I heard, I saw.
Having watched his teams play, studied his background, having turned around a program, what his?? the important things for him in how he coaches, how he manages a team, how he manages his staff, all those things came out. The longer we talked, the more I could see that.
It was such a great fit. It was like he was in my head. And as I said?? Walter Dickey has heard me enough as I interviewed other coaches and been around me enough, he said, I thought that was you talking. So it was all the things he believes in, I believe in. His caring for the kids, his importance of recruiting in the state and controlling your state, how you play the game, how you embrace your fans, just the whole package was there.
I just thought he would be the perfect fit for our fans, for our players, and everybody associated with our program.
Q. You've indicated that that game here in Madison a few months ago really left an impression on you. Beyond that game, what were your experiences in the Big Ten, and what do you think the identity of this conference is?
COACH ANDERSEN: You're right, the experience here is tremendous. Before I go into the identity of Big Ten and my experience here?? I haven't said this yet, but when we walked off that field and we left the stadium?? we lost the football game, which is obviously a tough loss when you're at Utah State at that time.
But the class as we left this city to go get to the airport was unbelievable. If you don't think that left a lasting impression on our kids, because we left places with great victories, we left places with very difficult defeats, and it's never like that. The support, the thanks?? and it wasn't a, hey, thanks for coming, we beat you. There was definitely a class act, and that left a lasting impression in my mind of those are fans, and they're in love with their team, they love Wisconsin, but they're also classy. That was pretty impressive to me.
As far as my experience, my identity, what you think of the Big Ten, physical, tough, very good football players, the highest level of Division I football that there is, well?coached?? those are some things that come to my head there. I don't have a bunch of experience in playing in those venues, but I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the opportunity to recruit at this level.
Some people said, you're not from here. How are you going to be able to recruit back here? It's the West Coast and all this stuff. I completely disagree with that. Good coaches, good recruiters can walk into any living room and show what a university is.
A lot of coaches like to talk about, oh, when you're a recruiter, you've got to sell your university. No, you don't, not here. You have to show what you have. You have to get young men on campus. You have to get the mentor or the parents or the coach or whoever it may be on campus, and there's just?? you just have to show who you are and what you have. There's no selling.
There may be some programs out there in the country that have to do that. They have to go sell their program. But that's not what we are and what we're doing. I'm excited to get in those fights in the Big Ten and show people why they should come here.
Q. Gary, you've talked about how eager you are to come here and jump?? and taking the opportunity to coach here. There has to be some culture shock. You were born and raised in Utah. You're leaving, taking some pretty deep roots out of the ground. Could you speak to the challenges of moving from there to here and some of the adjustments you and your family have to take.
COACH ANDERSEN: When we left Logan, we shoveled 7 inches of snow. When we got here 24 hours later, there was 20 inches of snow. Snow is snow. Cold is cold. That stuff doesn't matter. What a beautiful day it is here and sunshine. No issues there in any way, shape, or form.
To pick up?? there's just so many similarities. The people that I've been able to meet and reach out to?? really it's been people in the athletic department and people in the hotel, that's about all I've been around. But I don't think the transition is going to be difficult at all. It's not like I'm coming from Mars and moving to Madison. I've been surrounded with quality people, and I know again I'm going to be surrounded by quality people here.
That being said, I don't?? maybe there's more of a transition to it than I think, but not to me. It's away we go. It's football. It's life. The transition that could be hard is when you don't get to coach the type of young men that you like to coach, and that's not the case here.
What the coaches have brought in here, what Coach Alvarez demands as an athletic director and the type of people you bring into a program is right down my alley.
So I'm very comfortable. I can't think of a negative response in any way, shape, or form to the question or anything negative about being here.
Q. A lot has been made about how well you rebuilt Utah State basically, and that's safe to say that won't be the case here. Coach Bielema said next year's roster could be the most talented he's had. First of all, does your mindset change when you come into a program that you're not rebuilding. And how exciting is it that you're inheriting quite the team?
COACH ANDERSEN: It's very different. It's often said in coaching, when you get a job, you're either getting a team that wasn't very good or a team that's really good. That's the facts.
It's a little different dynamic, but the hardest thing to break down and build in my opinion is the belief to win. There's something to be said about that. It's not in a bottle. It's not magic dust that you sprinkle on top of their heads. It's an expectation that they work all year long to do, and these young men expect to win.
Because of that, everything is a challenge, and every year is a different set of challenges. I hope it's as quality and as good of players as Bret thought there was coming back. Did he say that before he left or after he left? Okay, good. That makes me feel better.
I know the young men that are here, and we're excited to continue a winning tradition. It's a little different than when we took over the last one for sure.
Q. Barry has mentioned the total package you brought to this job. I'm just curious. Can you describe the people who helped mold you and your experiences along the way and your journey to this point that have made you the type of coach and person you are.
COACH ANDERSEN: Absolutely. For me, coaching?wise, it all started with Coach McBride. He was my position coach. As I grew into coaching, he gave me my first Division I job. Coach McBride spent some years here. He cried, by the way, when I told him I had this job. He couldn't believe it, how fortunate I was.
He's an unbelievable mentor for me and will continue to be. He spent a ton of time at practices and camps. He taught me a lot what Coach Alvarez is all about?? the toughness of the game, the care factor for the kids. If there's one thing I learned from Mac, and I probably say it too much?? I only say it because I mean it?? you have to put the kids first. That's number one with Coach McBride. And then his toughness.
Past that, Kyle Whittingham and I spent a lot of time together. We started way back when at Idaho State. He was a first time coordinator, and I was an offensive line coach because I was an offensive lineman when I played, so I coached offensive line for my first years. Coached defensive line with Kyle at Idaho State at the beginning, and that went all the way through the Utah years.
From him being a coordinator to me turning around and being a head coach and coming back and being a D?line coach and him being a head coach and me being a coordinator with him. We share so many lessons, some good days, some bad days, some mistakes that we've made. He's definitely a mentor of mine, and he always will be.
I learned a ton from Urban Meyer in a year. It's easy?? my experience with Urban was a little bit different because we never lost. So Urban Meyer was always a great guy to meet because, oh, we won again. That's all good. We had a tremendous relationship, and I have a lot of respect for him as I've watched him go through it.
And another guy is LaVell Edwards. When I took the job at Utah State, I'll never forget LaVell Edwards spent time. Obviously, he was at BYU for a number of years, but I had Coach Edwards come and talk to the team. He grabbed them the first day of spring practice, and I had them out there at the stadium. He looked at the kids, and he told them one thing. He said, you have to win at home first.
Again, we were trying to build a program at that point. I learned so much from Coach Edwards also as I've gone through this process.
There's many mentors, but those are some guys that jump out at me.
Q. What were your conversations with Barry about as far as resources, and how do you feel about the resources that you'll have, especially as far as bringing in a staff and keeping them here?
COACH ANDERSEN: Well, Coach Alvarez has given us everything we could possibly need. If you talk about facilities, some of them are still being built, and it's a constant move, but there's a facilities race that goes on out there with kids. Facilities are very important, the way they present themselves to recruits, but most importantly, the functionality of the building and the way it's built, the new facilities is unbelievable.
It's functional. The kids are in one place, their academic world. They can eat. They can get treatment. They can move to the weight room. They can move to the coaches' offices, and that's important to me because that does build a family environment. The kids are in your building. If we need to know something about a kid academically, boom, we can find out something real quick. We can get to the training room quickly.
The resources here from a facilities standpoint are as good as any in the country. You'll have to show me better, and I'll tell you you're crazy if you try to show me better because I disagree with you.
The second thing is the people that are in place that understand?? in a very short period of time, we're talking 2 1/2 days?? but people that know their role and understand what their job title is. The importance of moving along, whether it's in the football offices or in the academic offices, the training room, and the biggest thing is people have a smile on their face.
Another thing you can really tell by the special places and I ask people?? I always like to ask people, how long have you been at a place? Everywhere I go, I've been here 13 years. I've been here 19 years. I've been here 20 years. I've been here 10 years. It's not like that everywhere.
So to me you asked the question earlier about what's a special place? It's got to be pretty special if people are staying here for that period of time. I believe that's all we need in those areas.
THE MODERATOR: We've got time for probably two more.
Q. Gary, do you anticipate any Utah State players or recruits joining you here?
COACH ANDERSEN: No. No, absolutely not. There's some tremendous young men there, and my belief is they're where they need to be. There was one, I have personally a tight end that plays there that I would love to see come and walk on, but he's told me that that's where he wants to be. When we went to the press conference yesterday, he feels great about being there. And he's going to be a junior.
Other than that, I don't?? I do not. I don't think we need to go down that road. So I don't anticipate that.
Q. Barry, you appreciate a good defense as a former defensive coordinator. What did you like about his defensive background and what you saw here this fall?
BARRY ALVAREZ: Well, he's a little different structure than we use, but the fundamentals are the same. The fact that we have a pretty good offense. We have a pretty good offensive line. You've got the best running back in the country. We have like 230 yards total offense, and you see that consistently throughout his program, very, very fundamentally sound, very physical, and they have fun. They're having a lot of fun when they play.
They're coached very well, and that's what you look for. As a defensive coach, I look for?? I don't care what the front is. I don't care the structure, as long as it's sound, and it was very sound and very physical.
Q. Gary, you talked about good recruiters being able to recruit anywhere. I'm just curious, how much do you rely on the ties you developed where you recruited previously, and how hard is it going to be to find a balance recruiting that area and traditional areas of Wisconsin as recruited in the past?
COACH ANDERSEN: We'll major in the traditional areas that Wisconsin has recruited in the past without question. But you also?? some people deem themselves?? and the word out there that people always?? we nationally recruit. I don't quite know what that means, but I know that we have the ability to reach out to any young man in the country and again let them understand who we are as a program, and they'll be interested.
So we'll recruit a lot of different areas, but we will focus where the University of Wisconsin has been successful. We'll continue to do that, and there might be a little tweak here or a tweak there, and that's a big part of wanting coaches to stay that have been here because they understand where those ties are in recruiting.
I think everybody will add their little flavor to what they want and what they expect, as you move on as a staff, but it's been pretty successful, and I look forward to wrapping my arms around it again and understanding it.
THE MODERATOR: Want to thank everyone again for coming out and again remind everybody that football practice starts at 12:45. That will be open to the media, and then there will be players available after practice if you'd like to speak with them. Thanks again.