With every win piled up this season by Utah State football, the chorus of questions has gotten progressively louder. Where will Aggie head coach Gary Andersen be coaching next season?
Performing a miraculous turnaround from 4-8 in his first year to 9-2 just four years later has gotten Andersen a lot of buzz from around the country as a potential head coaching candidate at a number of BCS schools. Newspapers in Lexington, Ky., reportedly heard Andersen mentioned for the coaching vacancy at the University of Kentucky. Matt Hayes of Sporting News listed Andersen as a potential candidate for Cal a week before the school had let go of Jeff Tedford. As the season closes for more teams that disappointed this season, Andersen will surely find his name in the rumor mill for even more gigs.
In true Andersen fashion, it’s not something he’s talking about right now. With one more regular season game this weekend against Idaho and a bowl game coming up, he has his hands full trying to finish off the season with a worthy ending.
“My deal right now is to keep these kids moving in the right direction,” Andersen told the Deseret News this week.
“Regardless of how much I say or what I do (rumors) are always going to be out there. That’s part of college football."
While Andersen will likely get plenty of other offers, there is still a decent chance he will be back on the sidelines at Utah State again next season. Andersen hasn’t been stingy praising the community and the university when talking to the media, and sources in Logan say that’s more than just lip service. Andersen truly does love the area and the team, shown by his willingness to get a Utah State logo tattoo last year and breaking down in tears after beating Louisiana Tech last week.
At Utah State, he coaches his son, Keegan, who is a tight end for the Aggies. His other sons, Chasen and Hagen, just finished their senior season at Logan High and could stay at home to be coached by their dad as well.
Another item that might keep Andersen in Logan is a contract extension he signed just two months ago. The extension guaranteed the contract through 2018 and gave Andersen a reported raise to $765,000 annually, which may not be a lot compared to what some BCS schools can pay but is a significant increase from his last extension signed in December 2011, which reportedly paid $565,000 annually.
Most importantly to Andersen, the recent contract extension gave his coaching staff raises as well. Staff continuity is one of the primary concerns the Aggies have going forward.
“My biggest thing, to be real frank with it, is to be able to keep the assistants intact,” Andersen said. “That’s going to be highly competitive with the successes we had. Last year we lost a couple and we hired two new coordinators. We have to find a way to keep stability on this staff. That’s what worries me."
With the talent the Aggies have returning on the field next season, if Andersen and the staff stay in place, Utah State could be the prohibitive favorite in the Aggies' first year in the Mountain West Conference. And that would likely be enough to put Andersen right back in the rumor mill again next year.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.