Report: Andersen bringing assistants with him

December 20, 2012

MADISON, Wis. — Gary Andersen won't be officially introduced as Wisconsin's next football coach until a Friday news conference, but he already reportedly has a plan in place for hiring several assistant coaches.

Andersen, the former Utah State coach, is expected to bring along three Aggies assistants to his staff, as well as an assistant coach at Utah, according to the Herald Journal of Logan, Utah.

The Herald Journal, citing a source close to the Utah State program, said Andersen would be taking Utah State defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, offensive line coach T.J. Woods, special teams coordinator/safeties coach Bill Busch and Utah defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a with him to Wisconsin.

Aggies offensive coordinator Matt Wells was initially believed to be joining Andersen at Wisconsin, but Wells reportedly accepted the vacant head coaching job at Utah State on Thursday. Wells recently turned down a job at North Carolina State, while Aranda turned down a position at Texas Tech.

Aranda served as defensive coordinator at Hawaii for two seasons before joining Utah State in 2012. The Aggies rank No. 15 nationally in total defense (322.1 yards per game) and eighth in scoring defense (15.4 points per game). Aranda was nominated this season for the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant coach in college football. He would presumably replace Chris Ash, who is leaving Wisconsin to become defensive coordinator at Arkansas under former Badgers coach Bret Bielema.

Woods has spent four seasons at Utah State, the last two coming as the Aggies' offensive line coach. He coached tight ends and special teams in his first two seasons there. Busch also coached at Utah State for all four of Andersen's seasons in charge. He spent the last two seasons serving as an associate head coach. Kauha'aha'a, meanwhile, coached Utah's defensive line for the past two seasons.

It's unclear at this point whether those four coaches will hold the same positions at Wisconsin. There are three Badgers assistant coaches still on staff from Bielema's tenure who have not been offered jobs elsewhere, and it's possible all three could stay on in some capacity.

Wisconsin offensive line coach Bart Miller took over after the second week of the season and helped turned around a line in disarray. Running backs coach Thomas Hammock was instrumental in the development of tailback Montee Ball, a Doak Walker Award winner for nation's best running back this season. Hammock, who interviewed for a position with the St. Louis Rams last year, could seek an opportunity in the NFL if he is not retained.

And assistant secondary coach Ben Strickland could prove to be a valuable asset if retained by Andersen. Strickland is known as an excellent in-state recruiter and is the type of coach Andersen would need because Andersen has no background with recruiting in the Midwest.

Andersen, 48, arrived in Madison on a private plane Wednesday afternoon, but his news conference was delayed until Friday because of a massive snowstorm that hit the area Wednesday night and into Thursday.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Andersen's starting salary at Wisconsin is estimated to be between $1.8 million to $2 million. Bielema was making $2.7 million when he left to take the same position at Arkansas, where he will make $3.2 million annually.

Andersen had been making roughly $700,000 at Utah State this season, including incentives.

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