Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - February 7, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ • UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S First recruiting class is always unique E veryone is excited about Gary Andersen and his coaching staff, and rightly so. Over 450 people, an all-time high, were expected for the Mendota Gridiron Club signing day party. Gary and I have talked every day during recruiting. He has stayed in contact with me on kids that he has been recruiting, and I've talked to all the recruits that he has brought on campus. Whether it's Gary or one of his coaches recruiting, I can help with contacts I have in specific areas that they're cultivating. I can also talk to them about the types of kids that are successful here. Gary had a good nucleus of commitments. But he had to solidify the class and hold on to the commits. And he did, which speaks volumes for his message and the staff that he put together. My situation was much different when I took over the program. I didn't have a committed player. After I looked at their recruiting list ― guys that the previous staff had been recruiting and most of them were Midwest kids and I was familiar with ― there wasn't anybody on the list that I would take. So we started from scratch. We put a staff together and the guys hit their recruiting areas running. We were able to put together a heckuva class in a short amount of time. It was a class that helped turn the program around. This group ended up helping us win a Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl and a number of them were All-Big Ten 14 » VARSITY FEB R UA RY 7, 2013 players. Some played in the NFL. Some are now coaching ― Joe Rudolph and Mel Tucker among them. Looking back on it, we got such a late start on recruiting that we had to go out and find players. Most of the high-profile ones had already committed to college programs. Two Wisconsin kids ― Jim Flanigan and Greg McThomas ― had committed to me at Notre Dame. I decided to take a run at them anyway to see if maybe they would be interested in following me. (Andersen) had to solidify the class and hold on to the commits. And he did, which speaks volumes for his message. Flanigan stayed at Notre Dame. McThomas went to Michigan. Other than those two, we got the rest of the kids in the state. That was our emphasis and we started building our wall around Wisconsin. I knew that I had to get Brent Moss, a running back from Racine; Jeff Messenger, a defensive back from Marinette; and Mike Thompson, defensive tackle form Portage. We got all three. Most of my assistants tapped into recruiting areas where they had been successful in the past. I knew that we could get Mike Roan, a tight end from Iowa City. Dan McCarney closed the deal. It probably didn't hurt our chances that Roan had taken my daughter Stacy to prom. One of Bill Callahan's friends called and tipped him off to a prospect who wasn't getting any recruiting traffic because his high school was in the country. But the kid was big, tough and fast. That's how we got Carlos Fowler. There were many stories like that. I'm sure Gary has his own. I remember talking about my recruiting plan during my interview with Pat Richter. It was not unlike the plan that Gary talked to me about when I was interviewing him for this job. The fact Utah State was the third school in the state with Utah and BYU, he knew what kind of player that he wanted and needed. And he did a good job of evaluating. He's got a lot of guys in the NFL. When I explained our walk-on situation and asked him whether he believed in it, he talked about Utah State being a developmental program and how those things were important to him. I told him that academically we can't make a living here with junior college kids but that doesn't mean you can't recruit any, particularly early on. The ones he has recruited are legitimate students. Gary had a chance to see our guys practice leading up to the Rose Bowl, so he saw our areas of need and he has added some good players to the list of commits that we had. I can see why everyone is so excited about the future.

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