Utah football’s Andy Ludwig addresses Notre Dame saga, says he will finish career with Utes

Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding, meanwhile, shot down a report about his ties to the Fighting Irish.

Andy Ludwig on Wednesday afternoon addressed reporters for the first time since late December, and he knew exactly what was coming.

Ludwig, who will begin the fifth season of his second stint as University of Utah offensive coordinator this fall, was at the center of the program’s biggest offseason storyline. Ludwig considered leaving Utah to take the same position at Notre Dame, which was in need of an OC last month after Tommy Rees left to take the same job at Alabama.

On Feb. 13, it was widely reported that Ludwig, who days earlier took what amounted to an overnight recruiting trip to hear a pitch from Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman, would remain in Salt Lake City.

“I’m a Utah man,” the 58-year-old Ogden native Wednesday. “I came back in 2019 to finish my career with Coach Whitt. There was some intrigue with that position, but as all things were measured out, made the decision, the commitment here, the commitment to the coach, to the program, to the administration, to the players, and just fired up to get to spring ball and this march for a championship repeat going.”

“I’m going to finish my football career at Utah, yes.”

When Ludwig intends to retire is unknown, as is the case with Kyle Whittingham, but it should be noted that the former is believed to be the Pac-12′s highest-paid offensive coordinator (USC’s data is unavailable as a private institution), while operating on a rolling three-year deal. His buyout is currently $2.8 million, a number that some believed to be a deterrent to Notre Dame hiring him.

As an added wrinkle to the Ludwig saga last month, there was one report from South Bend that stated had Ludwig left for the Fighting Irish, Utes offensive line coach Jim Harding — the only other coach on Whittingham’s staff with offensive play-calling experience — was going to go with him.

That may have been a detriment to Utah’s hopes of a Pac-12 championship three-peat this fall, but Harding, who will begin his ninth season on staff and his seventh as offensive line coach, tried to squash what was reported.

“I guess the easiest way to say it is, things that are reported or put on Twitter aren’t necessarily the truth and so I’ll defer to Coach Whitt, but I love it here,” Harding said. “I have two little kids, seventh and fourth grade, so to us, this is home. I think that there were some things in place that would prevent me from ever wanting to go anywhere else, whether it’s contractually or discussions I’ve had with Coach. So yeah, I guess the easiest way to say it is, everything you read is not necessarily true.

“My attachment to Coach Lud, that was not a package deal. I had no discussions whatsoever with Notre Dame. All my discussions were with Coach Whitt.”