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Former USU coach Gary Andersen turned down Cleveland Browns

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 10:25 a.m. MDT

Ex-Utah State head coach Gary Andersen, who is taking the job at Wisconsin, walks off the field after winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.   (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Ex-Utah State head coach Gary Andersen, who is taking the job at Wisconsin, walks off the field after winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Wisconsin said Tuesday that coach Gary Andersen was contacted by the Cleveland Browns for their coaching vacancy but decided not to pursue the position following a conversation with the NFL team.

The Browns hired coach Mike Pettine last month after a 25-day search. Pettine, Buffalo's defensive coordinator, signed a five-year contract to replace Rob Chudzinski, fired after his lone season ended with a 4-12 record.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said he was kept informed throughout the brief process.

"I'm appreciative that Gary handled all of this the right way. He alerted me immediately that he had been contacted by the Browns and affirmed his commitment to the University of Wisconsin," Alvarez said in a statement.

"When you have talented coaches on your roster, there will always be people who want to talk to them," Alvarez said.

Wisconsin Badgers new head coach Gary Andersen speaks to the media during his press conference at the Nicholas-Johnson facility Dec. 21 in Madison, Wis. (David Stluka, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Wisconsin Badgers new head coach Gary Andersen speaks to the media during his press conference at the Nicholas-Johnson facility Dec. 21 in Madison, Wis. (David Stluka, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Andersen's first year in Madison in 2013 was largely considered a success following a 9-4 season. Andersen agreed to a five-year deal worth $10 million with Wisconsin following a successful four-year stint at Utah State.

He made $1.8 million in 2013, and the contract called for $100,000 raises each of the next four years. The school recently extended his contract by a year, again calling for a $100,000 raise in the new final year.

A one-year extension after each season is typical at Wisconsin so long as that coach gets positive reviews by athletic department administrators.

A person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press that the Browns initiated contact, and that the sides met for a couple hours while Andersen was on the road recruiting. The person requested anonymity because there was no permission to release details about the meeting beyond the athletic department statements Tuesday.

Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, left,  talk with OU assistant coach Jerry Montgomery  as players work out during All-Poly Camp in Layton  Thursday, June 20, 2013.   (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, left, talk with OU assistant coach Jerry Montgomery as players work out during All-Poly Camp in Layton Thursday, June 20, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

The Browns had asked Andersen to come to them, but the coach told the team he could not because he was under contract, the person said. Cleveland was told the next day that Andersen was not interested.

Andersen replaced Bret Bielema, who left toward the end of his seventh season at Wisconsin in December 2012 to take the same job at Arkansas. The way Bielema departed — in a surprise move after the Big Ten championship game and before the Badgers' appearance in a third straight Rose Bowl, remains a sore topic with some Wisconsin fans.

Wisconsin announced its 25-member recruiting class of 2014 last week, which presumably would have come weeks after the conversation with the Browns. Andersen thanked his coaching staff, their families and Wisconsin support personnel for helping to piece together the class ranked about 30th in the country by recruiting services.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall of the Brigham Young Cougars and head coach Gary Andersen of the Wisconsin Badgers meet following their football game in Madison Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Head coach Bronco Mendenhall of the Brigham Young Cougars and head coach Gary Andersen of the Wisconsin Badgers meet following their football game in Madison Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

"So our thanks goes out to all of them for all they do for us and the ability we have to be able to show this wonderful school that we're all very lucky to be part of it at (the) University of Wisconsin," Andersen said.

Spring practice begins in about a month.

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