Utah State promotes Wells to head coach

Utah State promotes Wells to head coach

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah State promoted offensive coordinator Matt Wells to head coach Thursday, replacing Wisconsin-bound Gary Andersen.

Andersen took the Wisconsin job Thursday, taking over for Bret Bielema. Bielema left to take the Arkansas job.

Utah State President Stan Albrecht and athletic director Scott Barnes said hiring the 39-year-old Wells allows the football program to continue to build on the tremendous progress made by Andersen over the last four years.

``We're not starting over,'' Albrecht said. ``This is not a step back. This is an amazingly wonderful step forward.''

The 48-year-old Andersen just completed his fourth and best season at Utah State. The Aggies went 11-2, won the Western Athletic Conference and defeated Toledo on Saturday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. They are expected to finish in the Top 25 in the final AP rankings.

It has been a remarkable rise for a program that had been near the bottom of major college football for years, and stuck in distant third in its own state behind BYU and Utah. The Aggies won nine games in the previous four seasons before Andersen took over. The last football coach to finish his tenure in Logan with a winning record was Phil Krueger, who went 21-12 from 1973-75.

Andersen drew interest from California, Colorado and Kentucky last month, but decided to pass on those opportunities and received a contract extension from Utah State. He said recently that he would stay, but changed course to take the Wisconsin job.

Wells said Thursday that he owes a lot to Andersen, who hired him two years ago. Andersen lobbied for him to get the job, he said.

``He's the guy that showed me the blueprint,'' Wells said about Andersen. ``He's built this place with the help and support of the athletic department and administration.''

He thanked Aggies players for making plays and winning games, giving him his first head coaching opportunity.

``If we would have stunk, Gary would still be here and I would have never gotten this chance,'' said Wells, laughing.

Barnes said Wells was his first choice even though he had a list of other candidates. The athletic director said they have no doubt they have a coach who can maintain the success the school had with Andersen.

``This program is bigger than any one person,'' Barnes said.

Wells said he'll build off the foundation established by Andersen. He said the Aggies will continue to play up tempo, spread offense and that he will stay with the same general defensive philosophy. He said his teams will compete for conference championships yearly.

He said he'll focus on hiring a staff and recruiting immediately. He said the Aggies' recent success has generated a lot of interest from coaches around the country. But he said anyone he hires will have to believe in his philosophy of how to treat players.

``We are going to coach them hard, and we are going love them hard,'' Well said.

Wells played quarterback for the Aggies in the mid-1990s and graduated with a bachelor's in business marketing.

Prior to coming to Utah State, Wells coached at New Mexico, Louisville and Tulsa. He's from Sallisaw, Okla.

Wells becomes the 11th youngest head coach in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision, according to the Utah State sports information department. He's only the second Utah State graduate to come back and become head football coach.

With 16 of 22 starters returning next year, Wells said the Aggies should be very good again next year.

``I am extremely excited to get these guys on the field in the spring,'' Wells said.

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The Vikings will be without Adam Thielen against the Redskins in Week 7

The Vikings will be without Adam Thielen against the Redskins in Week 7

When Kirk Cousins faces the Redskins on Thursday for the first time since leaving the franchise in 2018, the quarterback will be without arguably his favorite wide receiver.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen will miss Thursday's contest vs. Washington with a hamstring injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news.

Thielen injured his hamstring crashing into a barricade after hauling in a touchdown in the Vikings' 42-30 victory over the Lions on Sunday. The injury isn't expected to be serious, and Thielen might have been able to play this week had the Vikings not been playing on Thursday night. Minnesota expects him to return to action next week.

The wide receiver is a considerable loss to the Minnesota offense, as only Stefon Diggs has more receiving yards for Vikings this season than Thielen. His six receiving touchdowns lead the team, too.

The Vikings have won four straight games, and even with Thielen's injury, are still more than a two-touchdown favorite over the 1-6 Redskins.


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Check out Josh Norman's house featuring a personal barbershop, vibrating bed, and more

Check out Josh Norman's house featuring a personal barbershop, vibrating bed, and more

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Redskins in 2016, at the time making him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. Well, No. 24 has definitely put some of that money to good use.

On the latest episode of Bleacher Report's 'Ditch the Playbook,' Norman took Adam Lefkoe on a tour of his Leesburg mansion. As you can expect, Norman had an array of things that not many homeowners have.

A notably big Batman fan, Norman's driveway has his customized 'JNo24' logo engraved, mimicking the style of the superhero's logo. He also has a lifesize painting of the superhero on his wall.

Norman takes Lefkoe through the entirety of his house, which features a personal barbershop, a home theater, a giraffe-skin rug, a real sword and Captain America shield, among others.

The unusualness of items that Norman owns led Lefkoe to ask the cornerback a question everyone has been itching to know.

"Do people in the NFL think you're weird?" Lefkoe asked.

"Yeah," Norman said. "They thinkin', like, 'Something's wrong with this guy. I know he's interesting, he's just a little off.'"

One of the last stops in the house is Norman's bedroom, where he sleeps on a massage-vibrating bed. Norman lets Lefkoe try it out, but Lefkoe admitted he didn't "feel comfortable."

If MTV Cribs ever makes a comeback, Josh Norman's house should be one of the show's first stops.