A familiar face has been charged with leading Utah State’s football program.
Former USU head coach Gary Andersen is coming back to Cache Valley. Two sources confirmed with the Herald Journal on Saturday afternoon Andersen will once again be taking over the Aggie helm. An official announcement will likely take place Sunday.
Andersen will be the first repeat USU head coach on the gridiron in the history of the program. The Salt Lake City native was instrumental in the Aggies turning a corner in the early-2010s. USU went 26-24 during Andersen’s four seasons at the helm from 2009-2012, and he led the Aggies to back-to-back bowl appearances before taking the head coaching job at Big 10 Conference power Wisconsin.
Andersen will, ironically enough, replace the man who replaced him. Former Aggie head coach Matt Wells, Andersen’s offensive coordinator at USU in 2012, was hired as the head coach of Texas Tech last Thursday.
In Andersen’s final season in Logan, the Aggies went 11-2, captured the Western Athletic Conference championship and dispatched of Toledo, 41-15, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. USU’s two loses that year were by a combined five points. USU claimed the WAC title that season with a memorable 48-41 victory over then-No. 19 Louisiana Tech on the road.
With Andersen at the helm, the Aggies won five straight games to become bowl eligible in 2011, starting with a thrilling 35-31 triumph over Hawaii on the road. Utah State trailed 28-7 at halftime in that game.
After leaving USU, Andersen spent two seasons at Wisconsin, where he helped lead the Badgers to records of 9-4 and 10-3. In his second season, the Badgers captured the West Division title, but were crushed by Ohio State in the Big 10 championship game.
Four days after the loss to Ohio State, Andersen elected to take the vacant head coaching position at Oregon State. The University of Utah graduate coached in Corvallis, Oregon, for two-and-a-half seasons and struggled to a record of 7-23. Andersen and Oregon State mutually parted ways one day after the Beavers were defeated by USC, dropping them to 1-5 in the 2017 campaign.
Andersen, who still owns a home in Logan, has spent the 2018 season at his alma mater, where he was hired as an associate head coach/defensive line coach. This is the 54-year-old’s third stint at Utah and 12th season overall in Salt Lake City as he was an assistant from 2004-08 and 1997-2002.
Oregon State was actually Andersen’s fourth destination as a head coach as he spent the 2003 season in charge of Southern Utah’s program. He has nine-plus seasons of experience as a head coach at the Division I level.
Andersen started his coaching career at Southeastern Louisiana in 1988. Other stops along the way have included Ricks College (1989-1991), Idaho State (1992-93), Park City — where he was the head coach in 1994 — and Northern Arizona (1995-96).
The father of three sons graduated from Utah in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Andersen, who is married to the former Stacey Lambert, played center for the Utes from 1985-86. He spent his first two seasons at Ricks College, where he was a first-team junior college All-American as a sophomore.