SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s first Pac-12 South title continues to come with a price.
Since appearing in the conference championship game on Nov. 30, the Utes have lost assistants Gary Andersen and Justin Ena to Utah State — and now offensive coordinator Troy Taylor is departing to become the head coach at Sacramento State.
"After a thorough search, I am thrilled to select Troy Taylor to serve as the next head football coach of the Hornets," Sacramento State athletic director Mark Orr announced. "He's an innovative play caller who's had success at all levels of football. Troy is one of the best quarterbacks to come out of the Sacramento region and has become a nationally respected coach. I am excited to see him help take the program to new heights."
A formal press conference introducing Taylor will be held later in the week.
"I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State," Taylor said in a released statement. "My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President (Robert) Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity."
Last week, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that “when you do good things then people want your guys.” The comment came after the Utes lost Andersen and Ena to Utah State.
Taylor, who became Utah’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2017, replaces former Weber State coach Jody Sears at Sacramento State. Sears was 20-35 in five seasons with the Hornets. Taylor takes over a team that went 2-8 in 2018.
The hiring is a homecoming for Taylor. He was the 1985 Sacramento Bee Player of the Year at Cordova High in Rancho Cordova, California. He went on to break passing records with the Cal Bears before a seven-game stint with the NFL’s New York Jets.
Taylor’s coaching career began in 1994 as the offensive coordinator at Casa Roble High in Sacramento. Then came collegiate stints as a graduate assistant at Colorado (1994) and as a position coach at Cal (1995-2000). Taylor spent the next two years at Sacramento’s Christian Brothers High, which was followed by a pair of seasons at Folsom High.
A tenure as color commentator for Cal football radio broadcasts came next.
Taylor returned to the sidelines as co-head coach at Folsom from 2012-15. After gaining national prominence there, Taylor moved on to Eastern Washington in 2016. Numerous records continued to fall under his direction of the offense — leading to his hiring at Utah.
"I have watched Troy Taylor closely over the years when he was coaching innovative high school offenses in California and was eager to see how that translated to college coaching,” Whittingham said at the time. “He achieved the same results at Eastern Washington and we are fortunate that Troy was interested in bringing that style of offense here to Utah. Troy has trained a prolific number of record-setting quarterbacks in high school, at his academy and now in college."
In the hiring announcement, Taylor said the Utes would “have an attacking style of offense that stretches the field and the defense in every way.” He added that the utmost priority would be creating success for the quarterback.
“If your QB plays well, you have a great chance of winning,” Taylor said.
When Taylor joined the Utah staff it marked the ninth move in 10 years involving the offensive coordinator position. He replaced long-time assistant Aaron Roderick, who was not retained after the Utes edged Indiana 26-24 in the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl. Roderick was the co-offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and primary play caller at the time of his release. Offensive line coach Jim Harding was the other coordinator, a post he held for two years, before adding the title of assistant head coach in place of the retiring Dennis Erickson.44 comments on this story
As the 17th-ranked Utes prepare to face Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 31, Whittingham quickly filled the vacancy created by Andersen’s move to become head coach at USU for the second time. Former Utah and NFL standout Sione Po'uha, who was coaching the defensive line at Navy, was hired to oversee the tackles for the Utes.
Ena will serve as Andersen’s defensive coordinator with the Aggies. He joined Utah’s staff in 2015 as linebackers coach, adding the title of co-special teams coordinator in 2016.