Utah State football hires Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson as next coach

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, file photo, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is pictured in the first half during an NCAA college football bowl game against Nevada, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

It looks like Utah State may have found its next coach for the Aggies football team.

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson has been hired to coach the Aggies, according to ASU, which confirmed the move on Thursday afternoon. Anderson has coached the Red Wolves since 2014.

“We appreciate Coach Anderson’s contributions to our program,” Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement. “He is the only head coach in our FBS history to win two conference championships, and he played for a third while also leading us to six bowl games. We wish him the best moving forward.”

An announcement from USU could come Friday, per a report on website footballscoop.com. The website first reported that Anderson was “a strong candidate” for the Aggies job, but other reports later surfaced that the deal was done.

After starting at Arkansas State in 2014, Anderson led the team to six straight winning seasons and six straight bowl appearances. The Red Wolves won at least seven games in those six seasons.

Arkansas State’s record was 4-7 overall in 2020. Overall, Anderson has a 51-37 record since 2014 and has won two Sun Belt conference titles and two bowl games.

The Red Wolves led the Sun Belt Conference in total offense this season at 489.7 yards per game. They also led in that category in 2018 and 2017, and ranked second in 2015 and 2014.

Utah State athletic director John Hartwell has said that in his search for the new Aggies coach, improving the team’s offense would be a top priority. It appears Anderson fits that bill.

Footballscoop.com also reported that USC defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and Weber State coach Jay Hill were considered for the USU position.

Orlando spent two seasons with Utah State as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2013 and 2014. Hill has built the Wildcats into an FCS title contender over the course of his tenure in Ogden, which began in 2014.

The Aggies let go of Gary Andersen after the team started the 2020 season 0-3. Hartwell pointed to the negative trajectory of the team as a reason for Andersen’s departure, which seemed to come under strange circumstances.

Frank Maile was named interim coach, and he’s 1-2 with one game remaining.