The coach-athletic director combination that once revived Utah State's downtrodden football program stayed together for only six games at Oregon State.
Salt Lake City native Gary Andersen resigned as the Beavers' coach Monday in a surprising development — topped only by the news that Andersen is forgoing the remaining $11.6 million on a contract scheduled to run through 2021, the school said.
Andersen's decision stunned former Utah coach Ron McBride, a close friend of his ex-Ute player and assistant coach. McBride, though, described Andersen as “kind of depressed, looking for an answers” after having attended OSU's recent 42-7 loss to No. 5 Washington.
Cory Hall, who coached Weber State's secondary in 2015 and joined Andersen's staff last season, was named the Beavers' interim coach. Oregon State, which skips Utah in the Pac-12′s scheduling rotation in 2017 and ’18, will host Colorado on Saturday.
Scott Barnes became OSU's athletic director in January, shortly after one year was added to Andersen's contract. Barnes had spent the previous 2½ years at Pittsburgh. He agreed to part ways with Andersen, who posted a 7-23 record in two-plus seasons.
Barnes labeled Andersen's waiving his contract as “unprecedented in college athletics” and an illustration of “an honorable person.” In his statement, Andersen said,“Coaching is not about the mighty dollar.”
Appearing with Hall at a news conference, Barnes didn't cite a reason for Andersen's choice to step down.
“We've had conversations for a period time about a number of things, so that conversation evolved,” said Barnes, whose emotion was apparent as he discussed Andersen, having worked with him from 2009-12 in Logan.
Counting this season, Andersen will have been paid a total of about $11 million in the five years since he left Utah State, where his top salary was $415,000. He went 19-7 in two years at Wisconsin before making an unusual move to Oregon State.
Andersen, 53, cited familiarity with the West and a college setting that reminded him of Logan to explain the move, while biting off a major rebuilding job with a staff that included some of his former Utah State assistants. Kalani Sitake, now BYU’s head coach, and Ilaisa Tuiaki, the Cougars’ defensive coordinator, also were part of his original OSU staff.
The Beavers went 2-10, 4-8 and 1-5 overall in Andersen's tenure, including 3-18 in Pac-12 play. OSU was winless in conference games in 2015, but posted three Pac-12 wins last season, including a convincing victory over Oregon in the Civil War. But the momentum didn't carry over into this season, with OSU's only victory requiring a late rally against FCS member Portland State.
Going into the season, “I was pretty excited about the football team; I thought they had a lot of answers,” said McBride, who spent considerable time with Andersen‘s staff during spring practice and preseason camp in August.
OSU couldn't recover from a season-opening, 58-27 loss at Colorado State. A spinal injury later sidelined starting quarterback Juke Luton, who was replaced by Utah State transfer Darell Garretson. The Beavers lost 38-10 at USC in what became Andersen’s final game Saturday.
McBride thought the Beavers showed some life, making him believe they could win four or five of their remaining six games, as he told Andersen in a text message. Andersen, uncharacteristically, didn't reply.
A graduate of Cottonwood High School and a former Utah offensive lineman, Andersen was among three Utah prep products to hold Power Five coaching jobs, joining Utah's Kyle Whittingham and Virginia's Bronco Mendenhall.
Andersen's credentials as an assistant coach were highlighted by his 2008 season as Utah's defensive coordinator, helping the Utes go 13-0 with a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. As a head coach of Southern Utah, Utah State, Wisconsin and Oregon State, Andersen has a 56-61 career record. He spent one season at SUU, interrupting his long run as a Utah assistant.
Barnes hired him at USU, where he went 26-24 in four years, winning a championship in 2012, the final season of Western Athletic Conference football.