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Utah State football: Possible replacements for Gary Andersen

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 1:42 a.m. MDT

The Aggies could decide to take a page from the history books and hire another Utah defensive coordinator in Kalani Sitake, who took over for Gary Andersen in 2009.   (Tom Smart, Deseret News) The Aggies could decide to take a page from the history books and hire another Utah defensive coordinator in Kalani Sitake, who took over for Gary Andersen in 2009. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

By the end of the week, the University of Wisconsin will announce Utah State head coach Gary Andersen as the next head coach of the Badgers. Now the question becomes: Who will Aggie athletic director Scott Barnes hire to fill the big shoes Andersen leaves behind in Logan?

The most likely candidate seems to be Matt Wells, the current Aggie offensive coordinator. Wells has only been at Utah State for two seasons as a coach, but made the jump from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator this season. Wells also has playing experience as an Aggie. He was a three-year letterman at quarterback from 1993-96.

As one of the head recruiters on Andersen's staff, Wells is familiar with how Andersen recruited in Logan and might be able to keep the same pipelines alive and would also keep some continuity for players returning.

Wells has reportedly already interviewed for the position and is considered by many to be the front-runner, but could also join Andersen on his Wisconsin staff.

If he doesn't follow Andersen to Wisconsin, another option for Barnes would be defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. After coming over from Hawaii Aranda took the Utah State defense from being good to being one of the best in the nation. This year the Aggies did not allow a first-quarter touchdown and finished eighth in the nation, allowing just 15.4 points a contest.

If Barnes decides to look outside Cache Valley, he could look the same direction as he did when he hired Andersen by going with Utah's Kalani Sitake. In 2009, Sitake took over as defensive coordinator at Utah when Andersen left that position for the Aggies. Sitake played fullback at BYU and has coached at Utah and Southern Utah, so he is very familiar with recruiting in-state players. With Tongan heritage, Sitake should also be able to maintain and expand the Polynesian pipeline that brought so much success to Utah State during Andersen's tenure.

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