Logan • Gary Andersen’s face was plastered all over Maverik Stadium. On top of three flights of stairs leading to the main lobby of the stadium, he was there. On the large screen that looks over the Aggies football field, he was there. Through the hallway in the room of his introductory press conference, he was there.
After a while, Andersen’s presence felt omnipresent, as if he never left back in 2013 to pursue other head coaching opportunities. After six years away, Andersen was welcomed back with open arms, a standing ovation and a marching band.
“Gary Andersen is the answer,” Utah State athletic director John Hartwell said. “Gary Andersen is home.”
Andersen was officially introduced as the head coach of the Aggies football team Tuesday. He was officially hired Sunday. Contract terms were not disclosed.
Andersen spoke after remarks from Hartwell and USU president Noelle Cockett. He assured the dozens of Aggie fans on hand of his desire to make Utah State a perennial winner of double-digit games every season.
“A consistent winner would be something that be absolutely a dream of mine to be able to bring that to Utah State,” Andersen said.
It does not appear Andersen will change much about the team’s makeup in order to reach that goal. He said the team’s offensive approach will be “very similar” to what it is now.
NEW MEXICO BOWL
UTAH STATE VS. NORTH TEXAS STATE
When • Saturday, Noon.
TV • ESPN
Andersen said he will conduct interviews for the offensive coordinator position — predecessor Matt Wells' OC, David Yost, is going with him to Texas Tech — throughout this week. Whoever is hired, Andersen will want that person’s input in filling out the rest of the offensive staff, he said.
Andersen added that he is not inclined to run the defense himself and has already received inquires about the defensive coordinator position. He said he will take his time in making all those hires.
“I want those coordinators to feel comfortable and be involved in the process with those other assistants,” Andersen said.
Hartwell said there are two individuals vying for the offensive coordinator job, and the other positions are all but official. Yost has been running the offense since Wells left, but will join Wells after the bowl game.
Andersen’s hire comes just two weeks after Wells resigned and took the Red Raiders' lead job. Frank Maile was subsequently named the interim head coach to oversee preparations for USU’s New Mexico Bowl date on Saturday against North Texas.
Andersen said he will not attend the bowl game, though does intend to speak to the team and wish the players luck in Albuquerque. After that, he will see the team again in early January, he said.
“I don’t believe that’s my place,” Andersen said. “They are the 2018 Aggies, and they need to go win, take care of themselves in the bowl game and enjoy that bowl game together for the last time.”
However, Andersen will begin recruiting for Utah State immediately. He has finished up his commitment at Utah, where he served under longtime friend Kyle Whittingham as the Utes' associate head coach and defensive line coach. Utah on Monday announced the hiring of former Ute Sione Pouha, who will absorb Andersen’s defensive line duties.
Hartwell said that out of all the candidates interested in becoming the Aggies’ next head coach, Andersen was the perfect fit. He cited Andersen’s ability to recruit in the state’s large Pacific Islander community, and his demonstrated ability to incorporate returning Latter-day Saints missionaries smoothly back into the program.
“Gary had a leg up because of his familiarity with our program,” Hartwell said.
Andersen said he did not sell his home in Logan after leaving six years ago, and plans to move back in. So even if he was away for a while, part of him was always in Cache Valley.
“This is an awesome, awesome opportunity for myself and my family,” Andersen said. “We’re blessed to be there. There’s nowhere else in the world we would rather be.”