CHICAGO, IL - When Urban Meyer took to the podium on Wednesday morning at Big Ten Media Days, many of the writers in attendance were hoping for an exciting headline from the second-year Ohio State head football coach. However, Meyer was noticeably conservative in the way he approached answering the questions thrown at him. Although no fireworks were lit off, Meyer did have some high praise for Wisconsin's new man in charge; Gary Andersen (above).
After leading the 2003 Utah Utes to a 10-2 record Urban Meyer hired Gary Andersen to join the Utah staff as the defensive line coach (he would be elevated to defensive coordinator a year later). In Andersen's first season (2004) with Utah, the team went 12-0, a season that ended with a Fiesta Bowl victory over Pittsbugh.
The next season, Meyer left Utah for Florida, and Andersen was awarded with an increased workload, taking over as Utah's Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach for the 2005 season. Andersen spent five seasons with Utah until he left the program to become the head coach at Utah State in 2009. Andersen was named Wisconsin's new head football coach last December.
When asked what his relationship with Gary Andersen was like, this was Urban Meyer's response:
And Gary Andersen as a head coach, I think it's now the 12th year — made some very, very important hires in my career, and some guys have gone on to be very successful head coaches. I think we've had 11 guys that have been on our coaching staff since, what was it, 2001. But Gary I would put in one of the top two, three hires I've ever made, with the recommendation of Utah's head coach, Kyle Whittingham. He made a direct impact on our program, and I couldn't be more proud of who he is as a person. And I think he's at the right place, a great school with a great athletic director, and really proud of Gary Andersen.
Those comments from Meyer must be somewhat exciting for Badger fans to hear, as one of college football's top minds had some very high praise for Andersen. Meyer also subtly praises Wisconsin as a school as well as Barry Alvarez as an athletic director.
When Gary Andersen was asked almost an identical question about his relationship with Meyer, this was his response.
Very good. You know, Coach has been very good to me. I have a lot of respect for him, the way he carries himself. We had a great run.
I tell people all the time when they ask me about Urban Meyer, my first thing is it was great for me. We were 12-0 and won a BCS Bowl, so there wasn't a lot of confrontational times in that situation for us.
But very good friend. Somebody I reach out to when I have questions about things. I think there's very much a mutual respect there. And look forward to seeing him this morning and hopefully we'll be able to spend a little time as we go through. It's great to compete against your friends.
That's going to be a big game. It's way down the road at this point, and we're excited about the opportunity to compete. But he's a good person, good family man, and somebody I have great respect for.
There's no doubt the Ohio State-Wisconsin rivalry will always heated one despite the circumstances, but it may cool down just a bit as Andersen and Meyer seem to have a strong mutual respect for each other. Plus, Wisconsin no longer has a certain SEC Football coach sparking controversy with his blatant shots at Meyer.
It should be very interesting to see how Wisconsin's September 28th matchup with the Buckeyes in Columbus plays out, as these two coaches share very similar styles and ideals when it comes to football.