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Gary Andersen topped some big-name coaches for Utah State job

The Aggies are going back to 2012 in an effort to replace Matt Wells.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Utah State is officially reuniting with former head coach Gary Andersen, the school announced Sunday. Andersen, the USU head coach from 2009 to ‘12, was the sole favorite among a key group of Utah State boosters, sources told SB Nation, so much so that support for Andersen shut down the school’s nationwide search to replace former head coach Matt Wells, who left for Texas Tech at the end of November.

Interest in the Aggies’ job was strong, and the list of candidates who spoke with Utah State or were scheduled to in the coming days is deep.

SB Nation can confirm former Arizona and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez, Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada, and former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich were among the names being considered for the job.

Andersen was 26-24 as Aggies head coach and helped redefine the program before leaving on a mercurial career path, first as head coach of Wisconsin, where he left abruptly after two successful seasons for Oregon State, a job he quit six games into the 2017 season.

Andersen’s departures from both schools created doubt among some at Utah State that he was fit to succeed Wells, who’d replaced him in 2012.

The Aggies finished the 2018 regular season 10-2, with a 7-1 record in the Mountain West.

With most of the roster intact, the Utah State job was considered a turnkey, “win immediately” job among coaches.