Sports Outside the Beltway

Utah State hires Utah coordinator Gary Andersen as head football coach

He’ll take over a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 1997. From AP-

LOGAN, Utah — Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen is leaving an unbeaten team to take over a program where wins have been scarce.

Andersen was introduced Thursday as the new coach at Utah State, leaving the BCS-bound Utes for a chance to turn around the downtrodden Aggies and restore them as a rival in a state that has been dominated by Utah and BYU.

“Why not us? Why not now? That’s big to me,” Andersen said.

Andersen planned to meet with Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on Friday to decide whether he’ll still have a role with the sixth-ranked Utes in their bowl game. Utah went 12-0 during the regular season and is awaiting a Bowl Championship Series bid Sunday.

Andersen said he hoped to be there when the Utes try to finish the season unbeaten, but his priority is his new job. Andersen planned to meet with the Aggies, evaluate what he is inheriting and what Utah State needs most during the recruiting stretch.

Andersen said all three schools have the same recruiting pool and he plans to bring more of the talent to Utah State, which hasn’t had a winning season since 1996.

There have been plenty of coaches who thought they could turn around bad programs. Kansas State football was a graveyard for future head coaching ambitions for many years. Utah has built a solid program, then when you factor in nearby BYU and Boise St, how much available football talent is left for the Aggies.

Andersen will be Utah’s defensive coordinator in whatever bowl game the Utes participate in.

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