Logan • In the span of a week, the Utah State football team has seen one head coach leave and another get hired. Caught in the midst of that transition has been Frank Maile, who was named the interim head coach after Matt Wells bolted for Texas Tech two weeks ago.
Maile, an alumnus of Utah State who has coached at USU in some capacity since the 2009-2010 season, has been charged with preparing the Aggies for Saturday’s bowl game against North Texas while also being the steady rock they need for a smooth coaching hand-over.
The Aggies believe Maile has been just that.
“Since everything has went down, there’s been no change in him, and that’s been the best for our program,” senior safety Jontrell Rocquemore said Monday. " We just needed stability, and that’s what Frank gives."
With Wells gone and having taken many coaches with him to Texas Tech, various coaches and graduate assistants have had to wear different hats during practices, Maile said. The interim head coach added that organizing practices has been “a little tricky.”
But Maile has since chosen who will coordinate the three phases of the game on Saturday, and also who will coach some of the specialty positions. He said David Yost — who is going to Texas Tech with Wells — will run the offense; Stacy Collins, who coached the inside linebackers this season, will coordinate the defense; and Jason Shumaker, a special teams analyst, will run special teams.
All the shuffling aside, Maile is confident that the individuals he chose to step up as full-time coaches will shine in their new roles. He also reminded the team that no matter who is coaching, the expectations remain the same.
“I don’t think we’re going to skip a beat,” Maile said. “Not at all.”
NEW MEXICO BOWL
UTAH STATE VS. NORTH TEXAS
When • Saturday, Noon MST
TV • ESPN
During a Nov. 30 conference call with reporters announcing Maile’s interim status, USU athletic director John Hartwell said Wells would be “heavily involved in the practice planning and game plan.” But that seems to have changed. When asked how involved Wells has been in bowl preparation, Maile said did not know how to answer the question.
“Matt is the head coach of Texas Tech and he’s in charge of those guys there,” Maile said. “The only thing that matters to me are the kids here and now. That is my No. 1 responsibility is what’s going on in this building.”
Wells will also not be on the sidelines in New Mexico. Hartwell said Wells requested to be at the game as a fan, but a USU spokesperson said the former Aggies head coach will not be in attendance after all.
Maile credited the tutelage he received from Wells, and said the transition has been smooth as a result.
Aggies senior lineman Quin Ficklin praised how Maile has handled all the changes. He added that Maile’s biggest leadership characteristic is “that of love.”
“Frank has been exactly what we’ve needed these few weeks,” Ficklin said. “He’s a great coach and I’d follow him anywhere.”
Ficklin echoed Rocquemore’s sentiment that Maile being named as the interim coach helped preserve the team’s sense of continuity.
“It’s not like the whole old guard is gone,” Ficklin said. “Frank’s put on the pads and helmet inside the locker room just like we have here. Here’s been a Utah State Aggie. He’s coached here and he loves this program and he loves Logan and he loves us. So that’s been really smooth for this transition period.”