Gary Andersen returns as Utah State head football coach

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah associate head coach/defensive line coach Gary Andersen at practice, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018.

He’s back.

Gary Andersen will return as head football coach of the Utah State Aggies, the university announced Sunday. Andersen was the associate head coach and defensive line assistant for the Utah Utes football team this season.

“Stacey and I are thrilled to be back at Utah State University,” Andersen said in a news release. “This is a special place and we are excited to meet these young men and play a part in seeing them succeed off and on the field academically, socially and athletically.”

The Salt Lake Tribune learned of Andersen’s potential hire on Saturday. One source, who asked to remain anonymous because of his relationship with Andersen, indicated that it was “a done deal” barring a last-minute change of heart.

Andersen is replacing Matt Wells, who recently took a job at Texas Tech. Wells replaced Andersen in 2012 and led the Aggies to four bowl games in five seasons. Frank Maile was named the interim head coach late last month, and has been running practices with the team in preparation for its bowl game against North Texas.

Andersen coached the Aggies from 2009 to 2012 before spending time at Wisconsin and Oregon State. In his first go-round with Utah State, he took the Aggies to their first bowl game in 14 years in 2011. He is credited for reviving the Utah State football program.

“His care-factor for his players, coupled with his recruiting philosophy and plan to win, are keys to the continued success of Aggie football,” Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell said of Andersen in the release. “His knowledge of the state of Utah and our program are unparalleled and we feel those attributes will greatly aid in the continued growth and success of Aggie football.”

Hartwell said last month that he hired a search firm to help fill the coaching vacancy. He said at the time that the search would be national in scope, and would take about two weeks to complete.

In the end, it appears Hartwell did not have to look far to find his next leading man for the Aggies.