A Fly in the Roses

There won't be two head coaches at the 99th Rose Bowl, as new head coach Gary Andersen will evaluate talent on the sidelines as his boss leads the team.

MADISON - When it comes to running for the roses, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen is content with getting the full Pasadena experience the first time he leads the Badgers to the Rose Bowl with himself on the headset.

When asked if he was going to be on the sidelines for the 99th Rose Bowl against No.8 Stanford Jan.1, Andersen made it clear right away that he will be more of a "fly on the wall" than a presence to this current group of Badgers.

"I'll be a fan on the side watching the kids," said Andersen. "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."

Andersen doesn't need to make an impact considering his boss, athletic director Barry Alvarez, knows a thing or three about winning in southern California. With a 3-0 record in the Rose Bowl, Alvarez will return to the sidelines on an interim basis after being asked by the team's seniors and captains before handing the keys over the Andersen.

The keys aren't to some junky rebuilding project either. Wisconsin will lose six seniors off its starting squad and some – like tailback Montee Ball – have some talented backups waiting in the wings.

"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," Andersen said. "I'll do whatever Coach Alvarez wants me to do as far as being involved with speaking or whatever I need to get done.

"These kids need to go win a Rose Bowl … 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."

In four years at Utah State, Andersen, 48, was 27-24, including this season's 11-2 mark, and guided Utah State – currently No.18 in the Associate Press poll – to a first-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference and a 41-15 triumph over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the school's first bowl win since 1993. That bowl game was Saturday and now seems like ages ago, according to him.

Andersen turned down all previous opportunities that came his way leading up to the bowl game, but became instantly drawn to the Wisconsin opening when Alvarez called him to gauge his interest. Having competed against the Badgers in September, falling, 16-14, after a missed field goal in the waning seconds, Andersen said he ‘probably shocked' Alvarez when he accepted the position shortly after it was offered.

"Coach Alvarez didn't have to make any pitch to this guy, I'll tell you that," said Andersen. "The pitch was made here when I spent three hours out on that field a long time ago."


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