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Andersen changes directions, heads to Wisconsin

Andersen changes directions, heads to Wisconsin

Gary Andersen publicly pledged his allegiance to Utah State not long ago. Now he's on the verge of becoming Wisconsin's coach.

Wisconsin reportedly will hire Andersen to replace Bret Bielema, who left the Badgers earlier this month to take the Arkansas job.

The news about Andersen broke Tuesday night and neither Utah State nor Wisconsin had anything official to announce about Andersen on Wednesday. The delay is at least in part tied to laws in Wisconsin that require a state job to be posted for at least two weeks before it can be filled. The two-week posting was up at the end of business on Wednesday.

The school was expected to introduce Andersen at a news conference Thursday, but a snowstorm might change those plans.

The 48-year-old Andersen just completed his fourth and best season at Utah State. The 18th-ranked Aggies finished 11-2 with a bowl victory against Toledo and won the Western Athletic Conference.

It's been a remarkable rise for a program that had been near the bottom of major college football for years, and stuck in distant third in its own state behind BYU and Utah. The Aggies won nine games in the previous four seasons before Andersen took over. The last football coach to finish his tenure in Logan, Utah, with a winning record was Phil Krueger who went 21-12 from 1973-75.

Andersen drew interest from California, Colorado and Kentucky last month, but decided to pass on those opportunities and received a contract extension from Utah State.

``The interest I have received is a compliment to the quality young men in this program,'' Andersen said in the statement released Nov. 30. ``I love Cache Valley, this university and these young men, and I am humbled and excited to continue to be the coach here. The leadership of President (Stan) Albrecht and Mr. Barnes, as well as the support from the fans and community, are big reasons why this is the right place for myself and my family at this time.''

That was before Wisconsin had an opening. Bielema announced he was leaving on Dec. 4, three days after the Badgers won their third straight Big Ten title and trip to the Rose Bowl.

As late as last week, before Utah State played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Andersen was saying he was committed to the Aggies.

``I love the kids I get to coach here. ... The kids I have in the program, it just was not time. I look them in the eye and I need to be where I'm at,'' he told the Idaho Statesman newspaper.

When Wisconsin called, Andersen changed his mind.

It's a tough spot in which many coaches find themselves. It's imperative for recruiting purposes to show unwavering commitment to your current school. But when a coach does jump to another job, he looks like a liar.

``If you can, it's good to not say anything,'' former Arkansas and Mississippi coach Houston Nutt said. ``It's almost now impossible because there's so much information out there.''

Washington State coach Mike Leach said he felt his only obligation was to his employer and his team.

``I think you handle it honestly with the people you work for, but by the same token you don't let the media or public into your personal business,'' he said.

Apparently, many in Utah were caught off guard by the Andersen-to-Wisconsin news.

``I can't believe this...'' Utah State receiver Alex Wheat posted on his Twitter account when word started to spread.

``I hate rumors..'' tight end DJ Tialavea tweeted.

A few hours later, that changed.

``Coach A just called me. Explained the situation. No hard feelings. I have nothing but respect for the man. We must fight on. (hash)AggieNation,'' Wheat posted.

``Just got that phone call always have and always will love ya coach!'' Tialavea tweeted.

The Wisconsin State Journal, which first reported that the Andersen would be the next Badgers' coach, reported Wednesday that Andersen spent Tuesday night calling his Utah State players.

The should buy plenty of good will for Andersen as he heads from his old job to his new one.

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That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley

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That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley

Back in high school, the newest Washington Wizard Troy Brown was an athletic freak. So much so that Brown dunked over the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III.

Playing at Centennial High School from Las Vegas, Nevada, the 15th overall pick went straight at the dominating 6-11 Bagley and posterized the man.

Now from the other side: 

Although both were merely kids at the time (an each a few inches shorter), still you cannot question the confidence and athleticism of the Wizards' top pick. 

Heck, Brown is still athletic.

Now Oregon never got the chance to play Duke this past season, but Brown will get two chances for another poster on his wall with Bagley now on the Sacramento Kings. 

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Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”

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