While Utah State’s new head football coach works on putting together his staff for the 2021 season, all members of the former staff were officially out of work on Dec. 31 — and that included Frank Maile, the interim head coach whose failure to get the top job has sparked an investigation.
Blake Anderson was named the 29th head coach in program history on Dec. 12. The Herald Journal has learned that Anderson met with the staff that had been working for former head coach Gary Andersen and then interim head coach Frank Maile on that same day.
Assistant coaches are employed by the university on yearly contracts and, as is often the case in college football, none of the previous staff has been retained.
In response to a Herald Journal inquiry on the status of Maile, the USU athletics department released the following statement:
“Consistent with standard coaching staff transitions, all members of our previous football coaching staff were effectively relieved of their duties as of 9:45 a.m. on December 12, 2020, after meeting with new head coach Blake Anderson. Their final day of employment with Utah State was December 31, 2020.”
That would mean Maile, a former player and longtime coach at USU, is no longer employed. Maile, who was the co-defensive coordinator to start this season, was named the interim head coach when Anderson was fired three games into the 2020 campaign. It was the second time Maile had served as the interim head coach at USU.
Before reports started to surface in December that Anderson would be named the new head coach, players requested a meeting with USU President Noelle Cockett to voice their support for Maile. Comments made by Cockett in that meeting were interpreted by some players as reflecting a “religious and cultural” bias.
Following the Zoom meeting, which also included Athletics Director John Hartwell, a players-only meeting was held prior to the season finale at Colorado State, and the team took a vote to not play.
This was followed by a statement protesting what they saw as discrimination against Maile.
Cockett at that time issued a statement saying “I am devastated that my comments were interpreted as bias against anyone’s religious background.” She did not say exactly what the comments were, and the university said the Zoom call was not recorded.
Shortly after the canceled game, Utah State’s Board of Trustees contracted with a law firm to do an independent investigation into the matter. This was followed by an announcement from the Utah Board of Higher Education of a separate independent investigation. The two probes have been combined and will ultimately produce a joint statement of findings. A USU official said Friday it is hoped that statement could come as early as next week.
In addition to questioning the USU administration’s motives for rejecting Maile, the players’ leadership council publicly protested how an alleged racial slur by the team’s equipment manager was handled earlier last year. The employee is now serving another role for the athletic department but was not fired.
The Herald Journal was denied access to the disciplinary file on the incident after making an official public-records request in December. Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act states the public has a right to view such information, but the university argued it can legally withhold it since the matter is part of an ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, new head coach Anderson hopes to start naming members of his staff early next week.
The former head coach at Arkansas State did mention five names during a press conference to introduce him to the media and Aggie fans on Dec. 14. All five of these men were at that press conference, including former USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Ethan Morriss, Kyle Cefalo, Nick Paremski and David Roberson will be making the move from Jonesboro, Arkansas, to Logan.
Roberson will be USU’s recruiting coordinator — a position he held during Anderson’s entire tenure at Arkansas State. Paremski will be the special teams coordinator, while Cefalo will be the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.
Morriss’ role has yet to be determined. Morriss was a graduate assistant and worked primarily with the safeties during his two seasons with the Red Wolves. Keeton will be on the offensive side of the ball, but an exact position has not been mentioned.
Anderson has already picked out his offensive and defensive coordinators, plus his head strength and conditioning coach. But none of those men have been officially mentioned by the new coach. FootballScoop.com has already reported UCF co-offensive coordinator Anthony Tucker will be USU’s offensive coordinator.
Maile was a defensive lineman for the Aggies from 2004-07. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from USU. Maile has been an assistant coach at the collegiate level for 12 seasons, 10 with the Aggies. He wanted to be the head coach at USU and had support from most of the current athletes.