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Utah State football: Baer would welcome USU job

Cache Valley native feels the Aggies' job would be a good one

Published: Thursday, Nov. 20 2008 12:25 a.m. MST

Brent Guy's office chair isn't even empty, and already people are lining up to sit in it.

One person who told the Deseret News he would love the job is someone who needs no introduction around Cache Valley. He grew up there, played high school football at Sky View and was a team captain for Utah State in the early '70s.

And after spending nearly 30 years as an assistant coach, Kent Baer wants to come home.

"I've had people ask me about the job and ask me if I really want to do that," Baer said in a telephone interview. "Utah State is a place I will always love. It's a job I would love to have."

Baer is certain to be among a handful of leading candidates for the position made vacant when Guy was fired on Sunday with one game left in the season. Others include former Aggie coach John L. Smith, who has also expressed interest in the job and was in Logan when USU opened its home season against Utah a couple of months ago.

For Baer, however, the job is one he tried to get four years ago but said he was not offered the position and Guy became the Aggies' head coach.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I would have taken the job then," Baer said. "But things are different now. That facility Utah State has is as good as anything in the country. I've worked at some of the biggest football programs in the country, and that facility is better than most have."

Utah State is also not barely leaving the Sun Belt Conference like it was back then. The Aggies now play in the WAC and Baer — currently an assistant coach at San Jose State after spending many years as a defensive coordinator at Washington, Notre Dame, California, Arizona State, Idaho and Utah State — thinks the immediate future for the Aggies is bright.

Baer's defenses were outstanding at most of his coaching stops. At Notre Dame, he directed a defense which was often ranked in the top 10 in rushing defense, points allowed and pass efficiency.

He was named the Fighting Irish's interim head coach after Ty Willingham was fired in 2004. Baer said he had the option of staying at Notre Dame with new coach Charlie Weiss, but chose to follow Willingham to Washington. After three years with the Huskies, Baer was let go and has spent the past season in the WAC with the Spartans.

One prominent voice endorsing Baer is former USU coach Chuck Mills. Baer was coached by Mills, and the former Aggie coach recently sent an e-mail, which was posted on an Internet site, to dozens of former USU players in which he endorsed Baer and asked the players, if they also supported Baer, to make their voices heard.

Baer said he talks about Utah State frequently with former Aggie coach John Ralston — who currently serves as a special assistant for the Spartans' football program — and both believe the Aggies can be WAC contenders in a short time.

"It's a good job," Baer said. "The athletic director and the facilities are in place. I really think the Aggies can be in a bowl game before anyone expects it."

Aside from his strong credentials as an assistant coach and his deep Cache Valley roots, another thing Baer has going for him is an existing relationship with USU athletic director Scott Barnes. While Baer was the defensive coordinator at Washington, Barnes was an associate athletic director for the Huskies.

San Jose State, currently 6-5 and hoping to secure a spot in a bowl game, closes the regular season out on Friday against Fresno State.

Kent Baer

High School: Sky View High

College: Utah State 1969-72

Coaching experience:

Utah State, 1977-85

Idaho, 1986

California, 1987-91

Arizona State, 1992-94

Stanford, 1995-2001

Notre Dame, 2002-04

Washington, 2005-07

San Jose State, 2008

E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com

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