Second Time is the Charm

Originally thinking he was going to get the chance to coach his linebacker son, Chasen, at Utah State, head coach Gary Andersen talks about the excitement and the challenges of coaching him at his new job at Wisconsin.

CHICAGO – When it boiled down to it, was it Gary Andersen or his son, linebacker Chasen Andersen, who pushed harder for the two to be together at the University of Wisconsin?

"That's a good question," said Andersen on day two of the Big Ten's preseason meetings. "I think we both went about it in a positive way."

The result was Andersen getting a second opportunity to coach one of his kids, something he felt he was giving up when he left Utah State for Wisconsin in late December.

Andersen coached his oldest son, Keegan, for three seasons in Logan, seeing his son turn from a wide receiver, cornerback and long snapper at Draper (Utah) Juan Diego High to a tight end who played 13 games last season for the Aggies, helping the program win a conference championship and a bowl game.

He also thought he was going to coach Chasen, who originally committed to Utah State to play for his dad, but switched to BYU in late January after Wisconsin, at the time, was full on scholarship linebackers.

Rated a two-star recruit and the No.96 middle linebacker in the country by Fox Sports Next, the 6-0, 210-pound linebacker led Class 4A in tackles with 156 and earned a scholarship from BYU at the school's high school summer camp last year.

But as time wore on, Chasen wanted to fulfill his dream of playing for his dad.

"I wanted what was right for him," said Andersen. "I had my concerns, but I think he worked hard to make sure he was making the right decision. "I wanted him to come in and prove himself, just like I wanted Keegan to prove himself when he played for me. I think that's important.

The plan is for Chasen Andersen to spend the season rehabilitating his knee, still recovering from blowing out his ACL, MCL and meniscus the third play of the first game last fall. Chasen said he plans to grayshirt this upcoming season, but Gary Andersen said his son would receive free tuition.

But even being the coach's son, he also was clear that defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will be his linebackers coach and he will be his head coach, having the same type of player-coach relationship as he did with Keegan.

"I think I can handle that," said Andersen, whose other son, Hagen, will grayshirt at Utah State. "I handle each kid on the team like they're my own … (but) I think it'll be a great experience. It worked out great."

It could work out even better for Wisconsin in terms of depth. The Badgers lose three seniors linebackers following the 2013 season – Ethan Armstrong, Chris Borland and Conor O'Neill – and said a healthy Chasen would have an opportunity to find a role in the defense.

"We're going to need some kids to come in at that spot," said Andersen. "Chasen has got to have a great four months for me to be in position to say, ‘This is where you should be at Wisconsin.' He's well on his way. He's doing a nice job."

Andersen added that he would be remiss if he didn't credit BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall for opening up the opportunity for his son to be involved in the program right away, especially since UW will play BYU twice during Chasen's tenure.

"He's a good coach and a good person that cares about kids. If he didn't, he could have taken time away from Chasen."


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