Gary Andersen surprised the college football world when he announced that he was leaving Wisconsin to take over as the head coach at Oregon State in December 2014. Andersen had spent two seasons with the Badgers and added to the program’s dominance as a perennial Top 25 contender. Oregon State is not a perennial Top 25 contender.
But as far as Andersen is concerned that sentence should read; “Oregon State is not a perennial Top 25 contender yet.”
The long-time coach and Utah native has reportedly already implemented a brand-new system at OSU and has his sights set on making the program a national force. Here’s what you need to know about Andersen, his family and his career:
1. Andersen Was Named the Head Coach at Oregon State in December 2014
Not many people expected it. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told reporters he had “no idea” it would happen. It didn’t matter. This December, Andersen left a successful program at Wisconsin and took the job as head coach at Oregon State.
Andersen replaced Mike Riley, who left the Beavers to take the head job at Nebraska. Oregon State announced the hire on its Twitter page:
Andersen has been quick to establish himself at Oregon State. He and his wife, Stacey, built a house in Corvallis in June and has already set the tone for the program, although he’s informed media that he’s sworn to secrecy as to who will get the start at quarterback this fall.
Although some may have questioned Andersen’s decision to move west, the long-time coach reportedly agreed to a six-year contract that starts with a base salary of $2.45 million. It will then increase by $100,000 each ensuing year and includes bonuses for winning eight or more games a season, winning the Civil War, reaching the Pac-12 title game and reaching the College Football Playoff or one of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games.The new salary at OSU is a raise from his pay at Wisconson, where he was making $2.285 million in 2014.
2. He Played College Football at Ricks College & the University of Utah
While his coaching career has become his trademark, Andersen understands the game from a player’s perspective as well. He grew up playing the sport in Salt Lake City, Utah before going on to Ricks College, now Brigham-Young University, where he played center for two seasons. He earned first-team junior college All-America honors in 1984 as well.
After two years in Idaho, Andersen transferred to the University of Utah in his home city where he lettered for two years with the Utes and graduated with a degree in political science in 1986.
3. Andersen Reportedly Left Wisconsin Because of the School’s Admission Standards
When Andersen officially announced that he was leaving Wisconsin, there were dozens of theories as to why the long-time coach would walk away from an established program. One of the most prevalent theories, added to by Andersen himself, was a frustration over the admission standards at Wisconsin, which frequently left recruits on the outside of the program looking in. Andersen explained it himself, saying:
It’s been well [documented] there were some kids I couldn’t get in school. That was highly frustrating to me. I lost some guys, and I told them I wasn’t going to lose them. I think they did what they were supposed to do [academically] and they still couldn’t get in. That was really hard to deal with.
According to Fox Sports, Wisconsin required 17 high-school units for admission, higher than Ohio State, Nebraska, Oregon State and Michigan State.
The explanation helped make some sense of Anderson’s decision to leave a Top 25 program for a bottom-of-the-barrel Pac-12 squad. In two seasons at Wisconsin, Andersen won 19 games and produced a Heismen Trophy finalist before being blindsided with a 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
4. He’s Been Married to His High School Sweetheart, Stacey, For 31 Years
Andersen and his wife Stacey started dating when they were 16 after their sophomore years at a Salt Lake City high school. They’ve been married for just over three decades and have three sons together; Keegan and twins Chasen and Hagen.
Keegan actually played for his father at USU, competing as a tight end, while Chasen and Hagen attended Logan High School, where they led the Grizzlies to a 2011 state football title. While she has three children of her own, Stacey is also a de facto mom to her husband’s football teams. While he was coaching at Utah State, the Andersens regularly opened up their home to dozens of players on Thanksgiving.
5. Andersen Also Coached at Utah State & Southern Utah University
Before his upcoming job at Oregon State and stint at Wisconsin, Andersen also patrolled the sidelines at Utah State and Southern Utah University. He also served as the defensive coordinator at the University of Utah, where he helped coach the the 2009 team that went undefeated and took down Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to finish No. 2 in the nation.
Andersen was credited with turning around the program at Utah State, notching just four victories in each of his first two seasons before earning back-to-back bowl berths in 2011 and 2012. He led the squad to a victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl that season after post a perfect league record and an 11-2 overall finish.
His sons have also been along for the coaching ride. Keegan is currently a graduate assistant at OSU after playing at Utah State and Chasen played linebacker at Wisconsin while his dad was a coach.