Washington Football

Utah State coach enjoying simple life in Logan

Utah State coach enjoying simple life in Logan

LOGAN, Utah (AP) Gary Andersen probably could be settling into a new job right now at a more prominent Division I program, making bigger bucks with more highly touted recruits.

Instead, the coach of the 18th-ranked Utah State Aggies is gearing up to play Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl while continuing to enjoy the view from his balcony overlooking Cache Valley in rural northern Utah.

Right beside him are his prized Great Danes, appropriately named Aggie and Big Blue. And don't forget the Utah State flag flying outside his home and the Aggies logo tattooed on his right shoulder.

``I hear people say, `You're nuts,''' Andersen said of his recent announcement that he had pulled his name out of the tempting coaching merry-go-round despite being a hot prospect. ``There's a lot more to life than money.''

A quick glance at Andersen's office in Logan shows where his priorities are - on his family and his kids, both his own and those who play for him at the school 90 minutes north of Salt Lake City, where Andersen was born.

His favorite item in the room is the military case containing the flag that was draped over his father's casket, front and center next to his computer.

It was his father who supported him as a walk-on at Ricks College when no one else wanted him. It was his father who helped him follow a crazy dream to coach even after he drove cross-country in 1988 for a $10,000-a-year job as an assistant at Southeastern Louisiana - only to see the program cut after six months.

``He was the driving force and he (still) helps me big-time when I make the decisions I've got to make,'' said Andersen, 48.

A close second are photos of twin sons Chasen and Hagen in Logan High School football uniforms, making plays during a 14-0 season that culminated with a 4A state championship.

Both are headed to Utah State in January and will be freshmen in 2013, joining older brother Keegan, a tight end who will be a junior next season.

Jars filled with candy sit atop Andersen's desk, and the cupboards are full of crackers, cookies and that college staple, Top Ramen.

``The kids filter through here all day long,'' Andersen said. ``It's a family atmosphere and I want that for my assistant coaches, too.''

It's why players know where Andersen lives, and are welcome at his home anytime.

Over Thanksgiving, he and wife Stacey had about four dozen players over for dinner, catering not cooking, but making sure there was even soul food for members of his culturally diverse team.

``You're going to have a hard time pulling her out of this place,'' Andersen said of his wife. ``She always wanted to be around the kids and can do that here and feel like she's making a difference.''

Most would say the same about Andersen, who was hired Dec. 4, 2008, to take over just as the Utah Utes were gearing up for the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Andersen was Utah's defensive coordinator under longtime friend Kyle Whittingham, and would go back and forth for a month between Logan and Salt Lake and eventually on to New Orleans as the BCS-busting Utes trampled Alabama to cap a perfect season.

Afterward, Andersen settled in at Utah State, intent on rebuilding the Aggies after they had gone a combined 9-38 the previous four seasons.

He did it his way, battling through a pair of 4-8 records until turning the corner with a come-from-behind win over Hawaii in 2011 and closing the season with five straight victories before a berth in the Potato Bowl.

Now the Aggies, who join the Mountain West next year, are headed back to Boise - with Andersen under contract through 2018.

He said it's not unrealistic that he could stay at Utah State forever.

He loves the type of player he gets to recruit, and living in a town known for its blue-collar work ethic.

``It's how I was raised and what I believe ... how you can develop a kid and push him to become a hard worker and tough-minded,'' Andersen said. ``That's what the Cache Valley is, a small community where you're accountable for your actions daily. I get to coach the kind of kids I like to coach and for me the Cache Valley is what I grew up in. It is what Salt Lake City was when I was 8 to 18 years old. A part of me likes that.''

He enjoys living the simple life, with Sunday night family dinners, and a new tradition started last year of a one-week vacation. After last season it was San Diego and the Wild Animal Park and Sea World.

He's not sure yet about this year.

``They want to go on a cruise, but I know I'll get seasick,'' Andersen said.

It's an honest answer from a coach the players trust.

Star defensive back Will Davis recalled the recruiting trip he took to Logan about two years ago.

He still planned to visit Hawaii, but Andersen convinced him to commit right then and there.

``He said, `I'll take you to Hawaii and we'll go down there, get the win and beat them up a little,''' Davis said of a game on the Aggies' 2011 schedule. ``He just sold me. I put my trust in a man who's very trustworthy. Sure enough, we went to Hawaii and we beat them.

``He didn't guarantee me a championship,'' said Davis, a senior on a team that won the Western Athletic Conference title this year with a 10-2 record. ``He just guaranteed me I'd be part of a change. He knew we were going to turn it around. His vision is beyond this year. I can't even fathom to think what he's thinking in that head. He has something huge in mind for Utah State. But if he does go on (eventually), I don't think anyone would be mad because we want the best for him.''

Quick Links

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

RELATED: DEL RIO EXPLAINS WHY HE'S SO ACTIVE ON TWITTER

Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS:

Quick Links

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS: