Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.

College football preview: Wisconsin

College FootballMusicWisconsin BadgersUtah UtesCollege SportsBret Bielema

One of the Ten Commandments of Sports is a football coach eventually must be replaced by his opposite.

Even Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, the maverick who uttered, "I won't use a search committee; most search committees use me," followed the axiom. After the brash Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, Alvarez hired Gary Andersen, a low-key figure from little-known Utah State.

Bielema reveled in the spotlight, clashing with detractors on Twitter and enjoying some cold ones after dark.

As for Andersen, Badgers receiver Jared Abbrederis said, "He's all about the players."

Bielema demanded extensive hours; Andersen strives for practices that are short and sweet.

"More efficient," linebacker Chris Borland described them. "His philosophy is: 'Get in, get your work done and get out. Don't waste any time. Student-athletes are busy.' "

Andersen tells his strength coaches to limit workouts to an hour, saying, "If you need longer than that, we're not working at a high level."

Asked if today's players have a short attention span, Andersen replied: "I don't want to sit in a meeting for two hours either. It's refreshing to keep it crisp and clean and to do different things."

Winter conditioning and spring practice featured team competitions with a points system for the usual (weight-room work) and the odd (Simon Says, donating blood, a dance-off).

Music now blares at Wisconsin practices from a playlist that includes rap, jazz, country and rock.

"We'll throw it all in there," said Andersen, adding with a straight face that he loves "anything by the Thompson Twins."

The thought on varying the tunes, Abbrederis said, is this: "It doesn't matter what type of music it is, you have to play. So it might even be a slow song. (Andersen) says that whether the fans are booing you or cheering you on, it's only a distraction if you let it be one. Makes a lot of sense."

Andersen takes over a program that has won three consecutive Big Ten titles and has been to 11 straight bowl games. Eight returning players earned at least honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team, including Abbrederis and Borland.

But few think the 49-year-old Andersen is in over his head, given his quiet confidence and the way he transformed Utah State into an 11-win team in 2012. Before that he spent four years at Utah, devising the defense that allowed the 2008 Utes to go undefeated with a victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

"What you see is what you get with him," Abbrederis said. "He brings a lot of energy to practices and spices things up."

Up next: Iowa.

tgreenstein@tribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
College FootballMusicWisconsin BadgersUtah UtesCollege SportsBret Bielema
Comments
Loading