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MADISON - Could Gary Andersen's celebrated tenure at Wisconsin have lasted only one year?
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Cleveland Browns interviewed Andersen for their vacant head coaching position.
“#Browns tried it all during coaching search. Source says they secretly interviewed #Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, who got a raise on 1/25.”
Cleveland hired Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on January 23.
Andersen is known as a program builder, having turned around a desolate Utah State program into a 12-win team in 2012 before taking the Wisconsin job. The Aggies had a combined six victories in the three seasons before Andersen started, and went 26-24 in four seasons with him.
Andersen went 9-4 in his first season with Wisconsin, finishing in second place in the Big Ten Leaders Division and suffering a 34-24 loss to No. 9 South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
Following the report, Andersen released a statement saying the Browns did contact him about the vacancy, but decided not to pursue the position.
“I am committed to the University of Wisconsin and the student-athletes in our program," Andersen said. "I love the city of Madison and am grateful for all the support from Badgers fans around the state and around the country. I look forward to the start of spring football in a couple weeks and turning the focus to preparing for 2014.”
Andersen was signed to a five-year contract that started with a base salary of $1.8 million, with annual raises of $100,000.
In a usual move by the UW athletic board in January, Andersen's contract was extended by one year through 2019.
“I’m appreciative that Gary handled all of this the right way," said UW athletic director Barry Alvarez. "He alerted me immediately that he had been contacted by the Browns and affirmed his commitment to the University of Wisconsin.
"When you have talented coaches on your roster, there will always be people who want to talk to them. I think that Gary is one of the top coaches in the country and am glad that he is leading our team.”