You'd be hard pressed to find anyone you know that isn't shocked that Gary Andersen left Wisconsin to become the head coach at Oregon State. As shocking as it was to some that Mike Riley left Corvallis for Lincoln, Nebraska, that wasn't even in the same ball park as this one.
Leaving a perennial B1G contender for a program that has to scrap and claw to get to the middle of the Pac-12 is not something that happens every day. I'm not even going to begin to get into why Andersen made the move (but feel free to check out Bucky's 5th Quarter where they debunk some things that are being given as possible reasons why). I really have no idea why and any reasons I give would be pure speculation.
What I can do is re-affirm why Andersen is a fantastic hire for the Beavers. Obviously the guy can coach, but he's also the perfect kind of recruiter for his new job based on the job he did recruiting at Utah State and Wisconsin.
Here's what we know about Andersen as a recruiter:
He does a great job of identifying under the radar talent with potential
Andersen did an amazing job at Utah State turning that program around. He doesn't get enough credit for pulling them out of the gutter like he did. They were consistently one of the worst programs in the nation for years and he got them to 11-2 and a conference championship in his final season.
The craziest part about it is that he got them to those heights with a team composed of the 105th, 108th, 109th, and 107th ranked recruiting classes in the nation. That's kind of a little bit insane to think of. One argument could be that he really did a poor job of recruiting when he was there, but did a great job of developing players. I don't buy that though. That's way too simple of an explanation.
There isn't a football coach walking the earth today that can turn trash to treasure. Anderson found talent with potential that could develop. That's doing a great job identifying the right players as a recruiter.
The three best individual examples are cornerback Nevin Lawson, junior college outside linebacker Maurice Alexander, and quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Lawson was a 2 star recruit who was drafted in the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft. Alexander was a 2 star recruit who was drafted this year in the 4th round as well. Almost every college football fan knows Chuckie Keeton and, you guessed it, he was also a 2 star recruit.
At Oregon State, Andersen is going to have to pull lower rated recruits regularly and he has proven he can find overlooked talent.
He will go wherever to find recruits
At Utah State he signed recruits from Utah, California, Kansas, Iowa, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
At Wisconsin he signed recruits or gained commitments from Wisconsin, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Ohio, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Hawaii, Utah, Illinois, Michigan, California, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia, Missouri, and American Samoa.
I think that proves that he will go anywhere he can to find players and he'll have to do that at Oregon State just like he did at Utah State and Wisconsin. There aren't enough Pac-12 level football players in the state to not try and find players everywhere so I expect Andersen will do the same as he has at previous stops.
He can attract highly rated recruits too
I went over how Andersen was not able to attract blue chip recruits to Utah State, but I think we can blame that on it being at Utah State. At Wisconsin he had more to work with in terms of a bigger conference and much better tradition and he proved he could do well recruiting in that environment too.
His first full recruiting class last year was ranked 33rd in the nation. That's on par with the best ranking Brett Bielema ever had for a recruiting class. This year's class was set to be even better and is currently ranked 26th in the nation.
I wouldn't expect the Beavers to all of a sudden recruit near the top of the conference because of Andersen's arrival, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him do a much better job of getting higher caliber recruits than Mike Riley did in the last few seasons and get to around the middle of the pack in the conference on a consistent basis.
It's late in the recruiting process right now so it's unfair to judge Andersen on what he does with this current recruiting class for Oregon State. It's too soon to tell whether he will be able to convince any Wisconsin commits to flip to the Beavers, but it does seem like he has current commits excited about him being hired.
In the long run though, what we know about Andersen as a recruiter suggests he's the right kind of guy to recruit at Oregon State and that has to be very exciting news for Beaver fans.