When the news broke that Gary Andersen left for the Oregon State just days after Wisconsinâ€™s 59-0 loss in the Big Ten championship game, the first question was why? I mean, Andersen was at UW for all of two years, just won 10 games, won a division title and was bringing in the best recruiting class in Badger history.
However, that was all put to the side in a matter of three days as he took off for Corvallis, Ore. and the Beavers of Oregon State. At the time the rumblings about issues between Andersen and UWâ€™s admissions department began swirling.
On Wednesday night CBSSports.comâ€™s Dennis Dodd was able to confirm the rumors â€” Wisconsinâ€™s inability to bend the whim of whomever Andersen wanted for his team was the reason he left the Badgers for the Beavers.
“Itâ€™s been well [documented] there were some kids I couldnâ€™t get in school,” the Badgersâ€™ former coach said to Dodd. “That was highly frustrating to me. I lost some guys, and I told them I wasnâ€™t going to lose them.
“I think they did what they were supposed to do [academically] and they still couldnâ€™t get in. That was really hard to deal with.”
So, Andersen found a spot that will allow him to do his thing and take minimum qualifiers with just the bare minimum of classes or any JUCO with a 2.0 GPA.
What is hard to take about Andersenâ€™s reasoning for leaving the Badgers behind is that itâ€™s all his own fault. If Andersen didnâ€™t know that the academic standards were tough and that he couldnâ€™t just pick any player and get him in, then he didnâ€™t do his homework when interviewing.
According to his interview with Dodd, thatâ€™s exactly what took place.
“Should I have known that going in?” Andersen asked. “Maybe I should have asked more questions. Was anything hidden from me? Iâ€™m not saying that at all. It was a learned scenario.”
So, Andersen has no one but himself to blame for that scenario.
If Andersen was out there making promises he couldnâ€™t keep, then he clearly didnâ€™t have a clue what the admissions department was doing…and once again, thatâ€™s on him.
One thing appears to have been very clear â€” athletic director Barry Alvarez laid it out pretty clear for Andersen from the get go.
“We havenâ€™t changed. … Youâ€™re not going to change our admission policy here. We have a high graduation rate. You get a meaningful degree. Itâ€™s not a piece of paper that means you stayed eligible for four years.”
Alvarez is right on the academic side of things, as the Badgers were second to Northwestern in academic progress report in the Big Ten. However, itâ€™s graduation rate isnâ€™t nearly as good â€” ranking 11th with 69 percent of its players graduated within six years (a measure known as the Graduation Success Rate or GSR by the NCAA).
Whatâ€™s also telling is that Alvarez and Bielema were able to get over the hurdle of academics and admissions to be champions, yet Andersen found it to be a hurdle to high to get over or at least a hurdle he didnâ€™t want to climb over.
It was also clear that there had to of been a bit of a rift between the admissions department and Andersen. Neither appeared to be on the same page, and thatâ€™s something that will have to be cleared up under Chryst.
“Our [admissions] people will work with you, but youâ€™re not going to wholesale them. … Itâ€™s like going to Stanford and trying to do that, or Northwestern. Itâ€™s not going to work. Not here.”
While Andersen did the smart thing and didnâ€™t name names, it is clear that three playersâ€™ situations frustrated him more than any others. The fact that Sun Prairieâ€™s Craig Evans couldnâ€™t get in irked Andersen in a visible way, as did the fact that JUCO safety Serge Trezy couldnâ€™t get in for this fall semester thanks to UW not accepting an online course.
Finally there is the case of incoming freshman Chris Jones, who couldnâ€™t make it to UW for some academic-related reason this summer. He ended up at Toledo and appears to be a major weapon for them in the upcoming years, something the Badgers certainly couldâ€™ve used at wide receiver this season.
Yet, those frustrations all have a solution â€” communication. If Andersen wanted to get those players in, he shouldâ€™ve known the requirements. If the universityâ€™s admissions department continued to move the goalposts after giving the go-ahead then thatâ€™s a different story, and something that appears to have been the case in the decommitment of 2015 offensive lineman Sam Madden.
Wisconsin clearly isnâ€™t without fault in this situation, but itâ€™s hard to feel sorry for a guy who took a job thinking he was going to change an entire departmentâ€™s mind just to placate a football head coach.
At least we know the full reason why Andersen left, and to be honest it sure sounds like both sides are better off.
Andersen can go win by loading up on JUCO players and players who wonâ€™t care about a degree, while the Badgers can continue winning at a high level and giving their players a high quality education at the same time.