Utah State football: All is 'Wells' in Logan as Aggies introduce Matt Wells as its new head coach (+video)
"We were shocked, stunned," said linebacker Jake Doughty, who attended the press conference at Romney Stadium along with dozens of his teammates. "It happened so quick, so we weren't quite prepared for it. But it happens, and fortunately we got a great guy. ... It's never an easy thing to deal with, but I think they handled it really well."
Wells was not caught off guard by the reports of Andersen's departure, as Andersen had told Wells that change might be coming.
"We talked. I don't remember exactly when," said Wells. "I knew he was going to explore options. He told me, 'You're going to get a shot here, and if not, you can come with me.'"
Wells said he didn't spend much time considering whether he wanted to move to Wisconsin or stay in Logan.
"It's a no-brainer," he said.
The future could be bright for Wells as the Aggies return experience and talent as they move to the Mountain West Conference next season.
"We'll have 58 returning letterman and 16 senior starters coming back next year," he said. "We'll continue to do what we've been doing, running a spread, up-tempo offense. ... And we'll run it between the tackles in the fourth quarter when we need to like we did last week."
The crowd erupted into applause when Wells pointed at his offensive linemen standing in the back of the room.
Wells said he will be working on hiring a staff while recruiting.
"I hope it's not just me," he said when asked of which staff members might be staying. "We have quality young coaches; quality veteran coaches. Some may have other opportunities, but we'll dive into those conversations right away. They're guys who've helped build this foundation."
He said it helps that the transition transpired during an NCAA recruiting dead time, so coaches are limited to phone calls. He's been on the phone with coaches expressing interest in working for him — something he said wouldn't have happened if the team hadn't been winning games.
"Recruiting is the lifeblood of a program," he said. Recruiting Utah athletes, being LDS mission friendly and working to bring Polynesian players to Logan are all focal points of his recruiting efforts, he said.
Wells said he'd like to have assistants in place when students return to campus in January, and he said he'd look for coaches who share his view that players are the most important pieces of the program.
"This isn't a touchy-feely thing," he said. "We coach them hard; we love them hard. This is a player-driven program, not a player run program. ... The decisions we make will be what's best for those kids. That's what's most important."
Barnes said he talked with several players before offering the job to Wells and all supported the hire.
"I love this guy," said offensive lineman Jamie Markosian. "I think it's awesome. He's a great coach. He's a players' coach. ... It definitely brings normalcy back. Having coach Wells as a foundation is a huge positive for us as a team. It's a player-driven team and we plan to drive it."
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