Trajectory Of Utah State Football Program Led To Gary Andersen’s Dismissal

Nov 9, 2020, 4:29 PM | Updated: Feb 26, 2021, 2:37 pm

Gary Andersen - Utah State Aggies...

Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen talks to his team at the end of a March 2019 scrimmage at Maverik Stadium in Logan. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

(Courtesy of Deseret News)

LOGAN, Utah – After three straight losses to start the 2020 season in blowout fashion, Utah State Athletic Director John Hartwell did not like the trajectory of the football program.

The Aggies announced on Saturday that they have fired head coach Gary Andersen. Hartwell named assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Frank Maile the interim head coach.

“This is not a knee jerk reaction, this is not a, you know, a one day or a one game or a one event type thing,” Hartwell told the media on Monday. “He (Gary Andersen) and I have been in close conversation and meetings. The first three weeks, other than a snippet here or there was not Aggie football as we’ve grown accustomed to the success level, and really, other than maybe the first quarter of the Nevada game the other night, we really weren’t in contention in any of those games and that’s not the product he wanted. That’s not what I want. It’s not what any of Aggie nation wanted.

“It was not just a matter of where we were, was the trajectory of the program, as well. After carefully evaluating that, and again, it’s mid… timing wise, why mid year? After he and I visited again, just felt like we needed to go in a different direction,” Hartwell added. “I’m excited about Frank Maile taking over on the interim basis, as most of you know, he took over two years ago after Matt Wells left after the regular season to go to Texas Tech and he did an outstanding job in preparation for the bowl game, and obviously a nice Aggie victory in that game. So I’m excited to see what he’s going to do with our team over the next five weeks.”

Five Week Audition For Frank Maile

With Frank Maile in as interim head coach for the second time in three years, the next five weeks will give him an opportunity to show Hartwell that he can be the next head coach of the Aggies.

“Frank and I, obviously had conversations significant conversation before he accepted taking the interim position and I think it absolutely does, it gives him a five week audition, if you will. There’s, there’s no guarantee, no promise in there,” Hartwell said. “But it certainly does not hurt him having that ability. I also told him, I said, ‘Hey, I know this is a difficult situation and you’re not going to be thought less of it. If you don’t go 5-0 in this stint as the interim coach,’ but I know this about Frank, his passion and energy and enthusiasm for the young men in our program and for our program in general, is not something that started two days ago, when he was named the interim head coach. It’s something that’s been a lifetime for him. And I know he will get our guys prepared and have them ready to play hard every single snap, starting this Saturday.”

Timeline Of Hiring The New Coach

Hartwell was asked when he would prefer to have the next head coach hired.

“Obviously, the sooner the better because of what that does, is it alleviates the anxiety of who it’s going to be what kind of coach is it going to be, you know, all of those questions, but but I’m not going to rush to a decision,” Hartwell stated. “I want to make sure that we get the right person and the other nuance for this year, if you will, is in a normal season, most regular season play is over by the end of November, the very beginning of December. With seasons being pushed back, either starting or being delayed by COVID, most people don’t finish till December 12 and conference championship games, December 19, and then bowl games after that. Initial blush would say if we could find the right person, hopefully on or before December 15. I think we’re doing well there and you know, let them assemble a staff and get to know our current student athletes and complete the recruiting process and get going towards future success for Aggie football.”

The Aggies will play their first game since Andersen’s departure on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. MT against Fresno State on FS2.

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Trajectory Of Utah State Football Program Led To Gary Andersen’s Dismissal