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Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal
Gary Andersen poses for a photo with Big Blue after speaking at a press conference where he was introduced as the new head football coach at Utah State, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)

LOGAN — Utah State fans greeted Gary Andersen with a standing ovation as he was re-introduced to them as the Aggies' new head football coach at Maverik Stadium on Tuesday morning.

Andersen smiled and promptly led the crowd in saying "Go Aggies" before starting on his remarks.

"It's a beautiful sound," he said.

It was a press conference full of laughter, excitement and even joy for the standing room-only crowd gathered to welcome Andersen back to Logan.

"Aggie Nation, it's awesome, the support. The amount of ex-players that have texted me through this whole process," said Andersen. "The number of people that I've been able to reconnect with is just fantastic."

" It was very clear in our minds that Gary Andersen is the guy to continue to lead us, not only to the level of success that we already gained, but to continue climbing. "
John Hartwell, USU vice president and director of athletics

"What a great day for the Aggies and Utah State University," said Utah State President Noelle Cockett. "We had the opportunity to interview Gary Andersen, and during that interview it became very clear that he had the attributes, the record, the commitment of what we want for our Aggie players. I was so pleased when we were able to bring Gary back to Utah State."

"It was very clear in our minds that Gary Andersen is the guy to continue to lead us, not only to the level of success that we already gained, but to continue climbing," said John Hartwell, USU vice president and director of athletics. "As we've gone through this entire process, Gary Andersen is the answer and Gary Andersen is home."

While the details are still being discussed, Andersen is being offered a five-year $900,000 base salary contract to return as head coach of Utah State, according to Hartwell after the press conference.

There's the old saying that you can't go back. However, Andersen has proved that not only can he return, he was able to return to the open arms of the Aggies.

"It's always nice to be wanted, right?" said Andersen with a smile.

While Andersen has been busy as the assistant head coach at Utah this past season, he has been paying attention to this year's double-digit winning team.

"It has been absolutely awesome to watch these guys play. The toughness, there's games that have gone down to the wire. They've found a way to win a couple of those. And there's games that they've dominated. They've played solid on offense, defense and special teams. There's a great core of kids here from what I can see," said Andersen. "I'm excited to watch them play Saturday. Hopefully they'll get that championship in that bowl game."

However, Andersen did say that he was not planning on traveling to Albuquerque for the New Mexico Bowl against North Texas.

"I don't believe that's my place. I've done that in the past, and I don't think it was great for the coaches that were there or the players that were there. They are the 2018 Aggies, and they need to go win, take care of themselves in the bowl game and enjoy that bowl game together for the last time," Andersen said.

But Andersen isn't about to let the grass grow under his feet.

"My job right now is to make sure that we go out there and communicate with the young men that have committed to come here. It's imperative that we hire the right people. These young men need to know who their position coach is. They need to know who I am, more about me as we continue on this process. And we have quite a large class that we have to sign."

Speaking of the coaching search, Andersen talked about the process of finding his new staff after Matt Wells took much of the previous staff with him to Texas Tech.

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"It's not hard to find people who want to coach at Utah State," said Andersen. "There's people from all over the country that would love to come here at a very high level. I'm going to start these interviews as early as (Wednesday) as we go through this process."

And Andersen is not simply looking at the coaching ability of his prospective assistants.

"I'm going to hire coaches who care about kids first. It's not all about football. The Xs and Os are important, but they have to understand that you need to be able to care about kids. The ultimate goal is that when they're done at Utah State, when they have that degree in their hand, that we have them prepared for life."