An embarrassing 59-0 loss in the Big Ten Championship Game has turned out to be the final contest for Gary Anderson as Wisconsin’s head coach. The school is now searching for his replacement as it prepares to play Auburn in the Outback Bowl In Tampa on New Year's Day.
Wisconsin experienced a lot of success under Anderson, who went 19-7 in two full seasons as the team’s head coach. Now, he’s off to Oregon State, amid rumors that he was dissatisfied with the school’s admission policies and the pay of his assistant coaches.
The Badgers have been among the best teams in the conference in the past decade, failing to win at least nine games in just two of the last 11 seasons. Former head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez will return to the sidelines for the team’s bowl game, and he said at press conference on Wednesday that he hopes to have a new head coach by the New Year.
With the sudden nature of Anderson’s departure, a number of different coaches are being speculated as possible candidates for the job. Below are three candidates who appear to have the best chance of being hired by Wisconsin.
Having been a quarterback at Wisconsin for three years, as well as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2005-2011, it’s no surprise that it's being speculated that Chryst is one of the leading candidates to be the Badgers' next head coach. He’s been the head coach at Pittsburgh for the past three seasons, leading them to a bowl game in each year and an overall .500 record.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit tweeted that Chryst would be first on his list, if he were the Wisconsin AD. While the 49-year-old hasn’t turned Pittsburgh into a national power, his understanding of the culture at Wisconsin could make him the best fit.
If any coach is going to leave the NFL for Wisconsin, it might be Bevell. A quarterback for the Badgers 20 years ago, Bevell has been the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive coordinator for the past four seasons. Bevell has been rumored to be in the running for other head coaching jobs, and he said, via the Seattle Times, that he hopes to be a head coach someday, perhaps in the college ranks.
According to mock betting odds created by Sporting News, Bevell is the second favorite to replace Anderson, behind only Chryst. Bevell has been an NFL coach for the past 15 years, last coaching in college with Connecticut in 1999.
The defensive coordinator has been imperative to the team’s success, helping the defense rank 13th in the nation this season, despite allowing 59 points to Ohio State. According to WEEI’s Kevin Graham, Aranda could follow Anderson to Oregon State, and offering him the head coaching job would likely keep him with the team.
Alvarez said at the press conference that he’s hopes to hire a head coach that already has experience at the position, which would rule Aranda out. However, the AD promoted defensive coordinator Bret Bielema to head coach for the 2006 season, giving him his first ever head coaching job.