Browns’ call caught Gary Andersen off guard

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Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen was reportedly reluctant to interview with the Browns.

In a story published Wednesday, Andersen told Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal he was initially hesitant to meet with the Browns, but he reconsidered it, with a chat with athletic director Barry Alvarez a key component in his decision. According to the State Journal, Alvarez told the Wisconsin head coach that “it never hurts you to talk.”

Andersen did just that, meeting with then-Browns executives Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi at an airport in Ohio, the State Journal reported.

“It wasn’t really an interview,” Andersen told the paper. “They were telling me what direction they were headed in and they had a plan. They gave me some information.”

Andersen declined a second meeting with the Browns, and in the State Journal interview, he again indicated how much he enjoyed coaching in Madison.

“This is the place for me,” Andersen told the paper.

Andersen also told the State Journal that the Browns contacted him directly, not his agent or Alvarez. Moreover, Andersen indicated he was surprised he was on Cleveland’s radar.

“A complete curveball. The call came basically out of the blue,” Andersen told the paper.

In the end, everything appeared to work out well for Andersen and Wisconsin. Andersen did well to keep Alvarez in the loop regarding the Browns’ interest. Alvarez, in turn, showed faith, trust and respect toward his head coach by suggesting that talking to Cleveland would be OK.

The Browns would eventually hire Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as head coach. Lombardi and Banner, of course, would be let go by Cleveland not long thereafter.