Utah State football: All is 'Wells' in Logan as Aggies introduce Matt Wells as its new head coach (+video)
LOGAN — Wearing the suit his wife bought for him just a few hours earlier, Matt Wells was introduced as Utah State University's 27th head football coach Thursday afternoon inside a packed auditorium adjacent to Romney Stadium.
Emotional and engaging, Wells expressed gratitude for the opportunity to lead the team he once quarterbacked and sought to reassure players and fans about the future of Aggie football.
"I don't know if words can describe it," the 39-year-old father of three told a standing-room-only crowd that included about three dozen players. "To say it's a dream come true is probably an understatement. It's a neat feeling; it's humbling; it's an honor. To know what this place was when I was here, to win a bowl game then and to be part of the second team to win a bowl game, it's pretty neat for me. Let's face it, there are 125 of these jobs in the country, and I'm fortunate enough to get one."
Wells is only the second Utah State graduate to become the Aggies' head coach. The Oklahoma native was hired by Gary Andersen two years ago as USU's quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator. He was promoted to offensive coordinator last winter.
On Thursday he got emotional when talking about Andersen, who has left USU to become the head coach at Wisconsin after four years in Logan. It's still not clear which assistants will follow Andersen to Wisconsin and which may stay with Wells.
"I wouldn't be here without him," Wells said of Andersen. "Two years ago, he hired me sight unseen, and the rest, as they say, is history."
He said Andersen "showed me the blueprint" and helped build the program that languished at the bottom of the college football ranks until Andersen took over after the 2008 season. This year was the team's best season as it finished with a bowl victory, conference title and a No. 18 national ranking. Wells said he's learned a great deal from Andersen about how to recruit and inspire players and promised not much would change under his leadership. "I promise I’m going to lead you every day and help make this a special time in your life," he told his players. "The nice thing is we're not starting over. We're just going to build on this thing."
Wells said his vision for Utah State is simple: win conference titles and bowl games every season. According to him, players will also continue to do well in the classroom and be good community members.
"That will not change under me," he said.
Wells, who played quarterback at Utah State from 1993-1996, choked back a little emotion when taking about the program he once played for and the fans who love it.
"This thing wasn't built overnight," he said, crediting the school's administration, Andersen and donors with their commitment to the program. "Cache Valley has a lot to do with (the success). It's pretty neat to see. ... It's a blue-collar valley, with a hard-work, chip-on-your-shoulder feel. Those qualities are reflected in the program."
Utah State administrators wasted no time hiring a replacement for Andersen, who accepted a job with Wisconsin on Tuesday night after a remarkable four years at the helm of Utah State that ended with a conference title last month. When news broke last Tuesday evening, Andersen called every player on the Aggie roster to explain his decision. Thursday was the first public acknowledgement of Andersen's departure.
"Continuity is everything, but it means nothing if we don't have the right person," said Athletic Director Scott Barnes, who introduced his new coach before the old coach has even publicly said his goodbyes. "We have the right person for sure."
The fact that Utah State administrators moved quickly to retain the team's offensive coordinator as the new head coach comforted players who were shocked and worried after news broke about Andersen's departure.
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