Gary Andersen officially starts today as the tenth assistant on the Utah football staff. What does the Gary Andersen hire mean for Utah? It means Kyle Whittingham trusts Gary Andersen. It means Whittingham trusts the intuition of a guy who’s been around high level football since Ronald Reagan was in office. It means Utah now has at least two guys on the staff who know exactly what it takes to run a major college football program. It means Utah’s players can trust him as well.
Utah’s players can trust that when they walk into coach Andersen’s office for advice or for a laugh, they’re talking to a guy who’s been through it before. On and off the field, Gary has been through a lot. Most coaches are not relatable. Most coaches are hard working grown men who do not relate with an 18 year old alpha male. Gary is different. Gary can command respect but also let his guard down and communicate with players on their level. Most coaches won’t take that risk.
Most coaches think showing their personality to the players will somehow expose their own weaknesses. The common thought is that “comfort breeds contempt.” This can sometimes be true in the world of football. The last thing a coach is allowed to be is soft or lackadaisical. Gary somehow has an ability to play both sides of the coaching vinyl.
Gary took some flak for how he exited the Oregon State program but the explanation he gave was that he was doing it for the long term benefit of his players. He didn’t feel like he could win the way the players deserved, so leaving at that time was the best option. I believe him.
I believe Gary Andersen because I played for him and I know how much he loves the sport and his players. Coach Andersen will be a guy that Whittingham can trust in a critical scenario in the fourth quarter and a guy the players can trust if they get overwhelmed with all that is asked of these young football players. I used to love the few minutes I got as a player each week to sit and shoot the breeze with coach “A” as we called him. He never judged, just offered help where he could. I always appreciated his willingness to bend his ear.