Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
In part 13 of our series, recent events have dictated a look at a hire that I will hop around and shout 'Yes!' about a whole bunch of times if it comes true.
Well now, things have certainly heated up over the past two hours, haven't they? We go from praying to avoid Dave Clawson to waiting on the coaching decision. And now? Gary Andersen's in it. And after you read this, I think it may be only a question of when you want him to win it.
Overview: When you think of Gary Andersen, you think Utah. Born in Salt Lake City, he started his playing career at Ricks Junior College (which grew up to be BYU-Idaho), and played his final two years at Utah. And since 1997, he was the defensive line coach at Utah, the head coach at Southern Utah, the defensive coordinator of Utah and the head coach at Utah State.
Why it Works: .359. That's Utah State's winning percentage since its return to FBS level football. That is, before Gary Andersen showed up. Being the third wheel in a state where there's barely enough players two is no easy task and no small feat. Recruiting along those lines is a real tough road to hoe. And he did it with style and creativity. I mean, getting to an over .500 record in three seasons after the guy (Brent Guy) previous to him went 9-38 during his run. You know he can make something great.
Offensively, he also knows how to make use of a program with multiple talented running backs. He may not place Kerwynn Williams in the NFL, but there are very few people who can say they have placed two running backs into the NFL from the same team in the same draft. In Michael Smith and Robert Turbin? Andersen is one of them.
As defensive minds go? Andersen is top-notch, as well. Matt Canada shouldered a lot of the blame for the 16-14 escape the Badgers put down upon the Aggies. He shouldn't have. As good as Bowling Green's defense was all year, until Utah State got buzzbombed by the offensive firepower of Louisiana Tech, the Aggies were just doing it better. They finished the year ranked in the Top 25, and with an 11-2 mark that shattered the school record for most wins in a season and the highest winning percentage for the Aggies since 1961 and the days of John Ralston.
In short, he built something powerful, in (and no offense to you, fine folks in Logan -- I've never been) what has to be a tough place to recruit. He knows how to build a team with fewer resources available to them and have them punch better teams in the mouth.
Why it Doesn't: Barring some sort of outside circumstance? I honestly can't see how it won't. That is unless the Utah job opens up in any amount of speed. That seems like the one he'd jet for.
My Opinion: In a word...
Percentage Chance: The word "favorite" is being thrown around. A lot. 40%