By RICK SOLEM
A year into the program and University of Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen is getting offers from the NFL.
The head coach said in a statement today he was contacted by the Cleveland Browns to fill their head-coaching spot.
“Officials from the Cleveland Browns contacted me to talk about their head coaching vacancy,” Andersen said in a statement today. “After our initial conversation, I decided not to pursue the position.”
It’s not surprising he turned down the opportunity to coach in the NFL, considering the turmoil in Cleveland, which just fired general manager Mike Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner stepped down today. This, after firing head coach Rob Chudzinski in late December after just one season.
The Badgers were 9-4 last season under Andersen, who signed a five-year, $10-million deal upon leaving Utah State. Andersen will always have a five-year contract with Wisconsin. He has a rollover five-year deal which gets extended a year after each season, pending a performance review.
“I’m appreciative that Gary handled all of this the right way,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement today. “He alerted me immediately that he had been contacted by the Browns and affirmed his commitment to the University of Wisconsin. When you have talented coaches on your roster, there will always be people who want to talk to them. I think that Gary is one of the top coaches in the country and am glad that he is leading our team.”
Andersen was loyal as an assistant at Utah from 1997-2002, before taking over a flailing Utah State team as head coach. They were 9-38 the four seasons prior. In Andersen’s four years, he was 26-24, but 11-2 the final season – the year his recruits most likely began seeing the field – and then he bolted for the Badgers.
Andersen received an extension at Wisconsin through 2019 after last season. He’ll make $1.9 million this upcoming season.
That’s bargain compared to what former coach Brett Bielema now makes. Bielema signed a six-year, $3.2 million per year contract with Arkansas.
Bielema took over a strong program from Alvarez and went 12-1 in his first season at Wisconsin. He didn’t have the same luck at Arkansas. In his first year there, Bielema went 3-9 (0-8 SEC) following Bobby Petrino-motorcycle gate.