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Utah State boosters may get their way with Gary Andersen as head coach

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Utah State’s search for a replacement for Matt Wells could be crossing the finish line soon with a familiar face. Gary Andersen, the former Utah State coach, is reportedly the favorite to land the job of some boosters with significant influence on the program. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic suggested donors could have their way via Twitter on Friday night, and a report published by Steven Godfrey of SB Nation Saturday morning shares a similar tone.

Andersen, who was previously mentioned as a strong possibility to return to Utah State following the departure of Wells to Texas Tech is currently an assistant head coach and defensive assistant at Utah, a job he took this year. After coaching at Utah State from 2009 through 2012 as the head coach, following four seasons as defensive coordinator prior to that, Andersen accepted a head coaching offer at Wisconsin and coached the Badgers for two seasons. His final game with the Badgers was the 2014 Big Ten championship game, when Wisconsin was squashed by College Football Playoff-bound and eventual national champion Ohio State. Andersen left the Badgers to coach Oregon State, where a three-year run was cut short in early October 2017 as Andersen agreed to leave the remaining $12 million owed to him on his contract on the table. That was later explained by texts in which Andersen threw some assistants under the bus.

Given his previous experience at Utah State, it stands to reason the Aggies and Andersen could potentially benefit from having a comfort level with each other. Anderson won just four games in each of his first two seasons as the head coach at Utah State in 2009 and 2010 but the Aggies grew to win seven games in 2011 and completed an impressive 11-2 season in 2012 that culminated with a victory in the Potato Bowl. It was the first bowl victory for the program since winning the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl as a member of the Big West and just the second bowl victory in program history.

But considering the suggestions Utah State had a good list of potential candidates for the job still to work through, reportedly including Rich Rodriguez, Matt Canada and Mark Helfrich according to SB Nation, it is interesting to see the boosters essentially convince the university to bring the search to a close with Andersen as the front man. Perhaps Andersen would have been seen as the top candidate at the end of the search anyway, but to not even go through with interviews for some notable names is a surprising development.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

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When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah State OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

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For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a 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 Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

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One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.

Justin Fields’ family says QB ‘hasn’t made a decision’ to transfer from Georgia

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Maybe the future quarterback situation in Athens isn’t as straightforward and black and white as it seemed earlier in the evening.

Monday night, it was reported that Justin Fields has notified Georgia of his intent to transfer.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Fields is exploring the possibility of transferring, though he hasn’t yet told the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that he’s leaving.”

Additionally, at least one member of Fields’ family told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a decision hasn’t been made one way or the other.

Asked if she could confirm reports that her son intends to transfer from Georgia, Fields’ stepmother said she could not. But she also didn’t deny them.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.

Fields’ mother also told the Journal-Constitution to talk to the quarterback’s father, Ivant Fields, as “[h]e handles everything involving football.”

If the transfer were to come to fruition, ESPN reported that Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma would be potential landing spots.  That website also reports that Fields is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs.

Fields was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 player regardless of position in the Class of 2018.  He spent his true freshman season as the primary backup to sophomore starter Jake Fromm.