On the same day Gary Andersen officially left his beloved school for the Wisconsin job, Utah State officially found a replacement. And, as expected, they didn’t even have to go outside the football building to do it.
In a press release, USU announced that Matt Wells has been named as Andersen’s permanent successor. Wells has spent the past two years at USU, with 2012 marking his first season as offensive coordinator. He was the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2011.
The 39-year-old native of Sallisaw, Okla., was also a quarterback for the Aggies in the mid-90’s, earning three letters during his playing stint at his alma mater.
“I’m extremely honored and humbled to be the next head football coach at my alma mater,” said Wells. “This is a university that molded me as a student-athlete and I am fully invested and passionate about continuing the vision for this football program that was set before me. I would like to thank University President Stan Albrecht and Mr. Barnes for the trust, belief and vision they have in me to lead this program.
“We will continue to strive for excellence on the field, in the classroom and community, and continue the blueprint for success that has been established over the last few years. Our goal will be to compete for Mountain West Conference Championships and bowl championships on a yearly basis with young men that represent Cache Valley and Aggie Nation with the utmost class.”
Utah State, which set a school record with 11 wins this season under Andersen, will move from the WAC to the Mountain West next season.
In the first year with Wells at the offensive controls, the Aggies averaged 34.9 points per game and 469.1 yards per game. Last season, those numbers were at 33.6 and 457.3.
Prior to his return to Logan, Wells had served on a handful of collegiate staffs, including two stints at New Mexico as wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator (2007-08 and 2010); in 2009 as Louisville’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator; from 2002-06 as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Tulsa; and a stint from 1997-2001 as an assistant at Navy.
“We crafted our Football Excellence Plan four years ago in part to attract and retain top level assistants. Individuals who, if called upon, could grow into excellent head coaching candidates. Matt Wells has become our succession plan,” said athletic director Scott Barnes. “With resources generated through the Merlin Olsen Fund we were able to bring Matt to USU. Matt’s body of work as offensive coordinator has gained national attention and his significant contribution to our success over the past two years will be critical in providing continuity. Aggie football has gained national respect. Matt is simply the right leader at the right time to continue that progress.”
With the moves made today, just one head coaching job at the FBS level remains open — Florida International. All told, and at the moment, 27 FBS teams will head into the 2013 season with new head coaches.
(Photo credit: Utah State athletics)