The Utah Utes football team should hire Gary Andersen. The best part, they would not have to fire anyone to bring Andersen on staff because the NCAA will allow teams to hire a 10th coach in January 2018. For this piece, we will not advocate what position Andersen should coach and instead will focus on the reasons why bringing him on staff would benefit the Utah football team.
Andersen is from Salt Lake City, Utah and played college football at Utah. He coached at Utah from 1997-2008. He then became the head coach at the Utah State Aggies from 2009-2012. He then spent two seasons in Madison, Wisc. coaching the Wisconsin Badgers in 2013 and 2014. Starting in 2015, Andersen coached the Oregon State Beavers before stepping down midseason this year. Could Andersen get another head coaching offer? It is certainly possible, but if he does not, Utah could be his ideal landing spot.
Andersen is familiar with Utah and Kyle Whittingham
Having coached with Whittingham for more than 10 years, Andersen knows coach Whittingham well. He is well acquainted with the state of Utah as well, having grown up in Utah, played in Utah, and coached at two different FBS programs in the Beehive State. He has a similar mentality as Kyle and has a deep knowledge of the systems that Utah likes to run, specifically on defense.
Andersen can recruit
Despite a lack of on-field success at Oregon State, Andersen got a lot of interest from highly touted recruits and landed multiple four-star commits despite not making a bowl game. At Wisconsin, he got New Jersey native Corey Clement to come to Wisconsin over offers from many other big schools. When he moved to the Pac-12 from Wisconsin, shoot even when he was in Wisconsin, Andersen was taking recruits from Utah. Andersen has the ability to connect with players on such a personal level. If you just talk to his former players, or listen to their interviews they just rave about Andersen as a coach and as a man. Even after he left the Oregon State job, especially the ay it went down, many players came out saying how much they loved him.
What position would he take?
This is where the conversation gets interesting. Like mentioned above, Utah will be able to add a 10th coach to the team, and in an interview with ESPN700 a couple of days ago, Coach Whitt didn’t shoot down a potential reunion with Coach Andersen. He also mentioned the fact they’d likely add another defensive coach, since there is currently one more offensive coach then on the defensive side of the ball. If they did add Coach A, I’m guessing he wouldn’t be a co-coordinator with Morgan Scalley, especially since Morgan has really been coming into his own the past couple of seasons. Could they shuffle the assignments and move his to coach the defensive line, which is what he did previously at Utah? Of course, the question is, after his departure from Oregon State, is Coach A ready to get back into coaching, and would he want to do it for a likely non-coordinator role?
There’s little doubt that Andersen would be a great addition to the staff, on the recruiting front and the defensive game plan front. Not that Utah’s staff is missing fire, especially with Scalley and Shah on the defensive side of the ball, but Coach A would bring a new energy to the staff, he’s just that kind of coach. By the sounds of the interview with Bill Riley, it sounds like Coach Whitt has at least considered the idea.