Can Gary Andersen keep USU winning?

USU’s best coach in recent memory gives it another go in Logan.

He was asked to describe his favorite win during his first stint. Two stood out – beating Utah and BYU. He chose the Utah win.

He recalled that September 2012 night: “We jumped up 14-nothing, and all of the sudden they on stormed back, brought it back to overtime. I learned something very valuable on that day as a head coach…they ended up trying to kick a field goal to win the game at the very end right before overtime. My knuckle head let him kick it, and then call timeout just before when the ball was snapped so they got to kick it, and then they missed it. Then we’ve got to kick it again. So head coaching note: call timeout before the ball is kicked.”

It snapped Utah State’s 12-game losing streak in the Battle of the Brothers – a major memory in 2012’s 11-2 finish.

Gary Andersen has learned a thing or two in his stops since leaving Logan in 2012. At Wisconsin, it was about frustration with expectations and reality. At Oregon State, it was to stop texting. In his re-introductory press conference, he said he’s matured.

“There’s a whole lot of miles back that I’ve gone through. I’ve been through some really, really good times. I’ve been through some extremely tough times,” the Aggies head coach said. “…This profession is special. Enjoy every single day. Put a smile on your face. React in a positive way as much as you can to help those kids grow and develop.”

Andersen’s return to Utah State is a move to put the Aggies in the big time. After all, USU’s boosters reportedly put an end to a national search that included Mark Helfrich and Rich Rodriguez. Sounds pretty SEC if you ask me.

Gary Andersen made football matter in his first term in charge, putting an end to a losing tradition which saw 13 straight losing seasons. He beat Utah (aforementioned favorite victory). And BYU (2010). He electrified college football with a dynamic do-everything quarterback. At that point, USU was a basketball school keen on Spectrum Magic and Tai Wesley. Football was an afterthought.

Utah State aspires to be taken seriously. It’s no mistake that athletic director John Hartwell said the Aggies are no longer in business for 2-for-1’s when it comes to resuming the Utah series. The state’s football hierarchy needs to be challenged. Seize the means of offensive production.

Two wins in a row against the Cougars will help. 9 players on NFL rosters will recruit itself (one better than BYU). This is a far different program than when Gary Andersen took over in 2009. Having recovered from a 3-9 nose dive in 2016, Matt Wells returned 16 starters from 2017 and scored double digit wins for the third time in program history. The Aggies were a blue turf win away from the Mountain West Championship game.

Can Gary keep USU winning? He’s won there before.

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