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Utah State University football's Gary Andersen candidate for Coach of Year Award

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, March 15 2012 6:05 p.m. MDT

Utah State Aggies head coach Gary Andersen celebrates beating Nevada in Logan Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. USU is now bowl eligible.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen is a candidate for the Coach of the Year Award as part of the Utah Governor’s State of Sports Awards, as selected by Utah’s sports media and sports industry leaders. Fans and the general public can now vote to help pick the winner in each category.

Fans can vote at www.stateofsportawards.com. Voting will close on Friday, March 30, at midnight.

In 2011, Andersen led Utah State to a historic season with a 7-6 record, its first seven-win season since 1993, capping its season with its first bowl appearance since 1997 with a trip to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, losing to Ohio in a 24-23 thriller. Five of USU’s losses were by one score or less, and 10 of the Aggies’ games were decided by one score this season, the most in the nation.

Only John Ralston and Charlie Weatherbie took Utah State teams to a bowl game in fewer years than Andersen did, as Ralston took the Aggies to the 1960 Sun Bowl and Weatherbie took the 1993 Aggies to the Las Vegas Bowl, both doing so in their second year. Andersen joins John L. Smith, who took the 1997 Aggies to the Humanitarian Bowl, as Aggie coaches who led USU to a bowl game in their third season.

Ralston also took the 1961 Aggie squad to the Sun Bowl, while the Aggies’ stadium namesake, E. Lowell Romney, guided USU to the 1946 Raisin Bowl in his 27th season and the 1947 Grape Bowl in his 28th year.

The Aggies’ three-win turnaround from four wins in 2010 to seven wins in 2011 was among the top 15 in the Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2011 season. Overall, Utah State’s three-win turnaround is the biggest two-year increase since 1977-78, going from 4-7 in 1977 to 7-4 in 1978. It is just the 15th win turnaround of at least three wins in the program’s history.

With five Western Athletic Conference wins in 2011, Andersen led USU to its best WAC record at 5-2 in the Aggies’ seven years in the league. USU’s second-place finish is also the top WAC finish and is the Aggies’ highest conference placing since 2000, when they were second in the Big West Conference. The five wins are USU’s most conference victories since winning five Big West games in 1991.

USU’s three-win WAC turnaround under Andersen from two league wins in 2010 to five conference victories in 2011 is tied for the second-biggest conference win turnaround in USU’s history, behind the record of a four-win turnaround from 1916 (0-3) to 1917 (4-0), and matching 1945 (1-3) to 1946 (4-1-1).

Utah State football opens spring camp on March 27 and concludes spring drills with the Blue-White Spring Game, sponsored by Orbit Irrigation Products, on Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. Admission will again be free to the public, and further details along with events surrounding the Spring Game will be released at a later date.

Utah State football season ticket renewals and new sales for the 2012 season are available at 2011’s prices until May 1. Renewals are available online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the “buy/renew tickets” under the “tickets” drop-down menu. Fans interested in new sales should contact the USU ticket office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.

Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on the USU football blog at usufootball.wordpress.com. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.

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