Utah Utes football: Ludwig leaving Utes for Kansas State job
Opportunity not only knocks, it rings as well.
Just ask Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.
On Saturday, Ludwig received an unsolicited telephone call that altered his career path. He's leaving the Utes after the Sugar Bowl to become the new offensive coordinator at Kansas State.
Ludwig will assist 69-year-old head coach Bill Snyder, who is coming out of retirement to try to restore glory to a program he built into national prominence from 1989-2005.
"It came extremely quickly," Ludwig said. "Coach Snyder, whom I've never met, called me on Saturday afternoon and offered me the job over the phone. He said he had done his research and homework."
After spending a couple of days checking things out in Kansas, Ludwig officially accepted the offer on Wednesday. He'll remain with Utah, however, until the Sugar Bowl game with Alabama on Jan. 2 is complete.
The decision to leave wasn't easy.
"I love living in Salt Lake City and I'm very fond of the University of Utah. I think very highly of the people I work for and with," Ludwig said. "But I've got an opportunity to take care of my family a little bit more. So that was the catalyst of the decision."
Ludwig, who directed a Utah offense that led the Mountain West Conference with 37.4 points per game, was the second assistant Kyle Whittingham hired after replacing Urban Meyer as the Utes' head coach in December of 2004. Defensive coordinator Gary Andersen, who accepted the head job at Utah State earlier this month, was the first.
Kalani Sitake was promoted to replace Andersen next season. Ludwig's successor, however, may not be named until mid-January after an internal and national search. Current receivers coach Aaron Roderick is believed to be a leading candidate.
"We want to make sure we get the right guy, the right fit, much like the defensive situation," Whittingham said. "We need a guy that's going to come in and continue to do what we are already doing. Not someone who's going to come in and try to retool the offense."
The loss of Ludwig and Andersen, he added, is the result of Utah's 12-0 season.
"Success creates opportunity," Whittingham explained.
And Ludwig's new job offer was just too enticing to pass up.
"It's a great opportunity for Andy from a financial standpoint. They put together a package that will enable him to take care of his family. Plus, it's a new challenge for him," Whittingham said after a short practice at the Spence Eccles Field House. "I really appreciate Andy's service and dedication to the program for the last four years."
Whittingham stressed that he didn't want to lose Ludwig, who joined the Utah coaching staff after stints at Oregon, Fresno State, Cal Poly and Boise State. The former Bonneville High and Snow College player has developed a good reputation for developing quarterbacks. Utah's Brian Johnson was named MWC Offensive Player of the Year for 2008.
"I didn't want to lose Andy. We led the league in scoring this year and we've done some very nice things on offense," Whittingham said. "We certainly made a pitch to keep him in our camp. But ultimately we couldn't match what Kansas State was able to offer him."
Ludwig will turn his attention to the Wildcats after Utah squares off against Alabama. Until then, he's focused on the Utes.
"I told the team I feel like I'm a senior now," Ludwig said. "All I want to do is win this bowl game. But then it's time for me to move on."
Whittingham is pleased things will be status quo until the trip to New Orleans is complete. Like Ludwig, Andersen is also staying on to assist the Utes in the Sugar Bowl.
"Then everybody kind of goes their different directions," Whittingham said.EXTRA POINTS: Defensive graduate assistant Ilaisa Tuiaki has accepted a full-time position with Andersen at USU. ... Whittingham said his search for a new defensive line coach has been reduced to a "short list" and an announcement could come shortly after the bowl game. ... Wednesday's practice was Utah's first of the week. Whittingham acknowledged it was "good to get back in it again." He estimated that 8-10 players, however, missed the light workout because of final exams. ... Mid-year letters-of-intent were received from quarterback Terrance Cain (Blinn College, Texas) and cornerback Kamaron Yancy (Pierce College, Calif.) on Wednesday. Cornerback Maxwell Lacy (Compton College, Calif.) is expected to submit his on Thursday. All three players are expected to enroll at the U. in January.
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