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Utah State football: Andersen enjoys juggling act

New Aggie coach is having fun burning candle at both ends

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Eventually, Gary Andersen will sit back in his chair, take a deep breath and exhale.

That won't be anytime soon, though.

The new Utah State football coach simply doesn't have time for such a luxury.

"I wake up every morning with a big smile on my face," Andersen said between jobs — he was just wrapping up practice with the University of Utah football team as it prepares for the Sugar Bowl and getting ready to hit the recruiting and organization duties involved with his new job coaching the Aggies. "I go real hard and real fast until it's time to go again."

It's been a few weeks since Andersen was introduced to Aggie fans and boosters as their latest football coach. Since then, he's quite literally been burning the candle at both ends as a new Aggie and also helping prepare the Utes for next week's Sugar Bowl game against Alabama.

And loving it.

"It's been a real whirlwind to juggle everything going on with just football," he said. "Then with the family and the holidays it's been a little crazy."

Andersen, just three weeks into his job with Utah State, has hired a handful of assistant coaches, met with many of his new players and even recruited the first batch of the next Aggies.

"That was big," Andersen said of hiring his coordinators and getting them out on the road contacting potential players. "We really needed to get out and make ourselves known with the high school coaches and players."

Though he's been coaching in the state for a long time, Andersen said he's learned a few things about the USU job since he got the keys to the brand new office complex at Romney Stadium.

For starters, "I have the world's best secretary," he said of Stephanie Bear. He's been able to coordinate much of his hectic month thanks to relentless communication and assistance via the phone. While still living and working in the Salt Lake valley, Andersen is able to keep the Aggie machine growing.

He said he was surprised at the quantity and quality of applicants for jobs as his assistant. The coordinator jobs, in particular, were difficult to fill because so many applicants had extensive experience.

"I expected some good people to apply for the jobs," Andersen said. "But the amount of quality people applying, it was a pleasant surprise."

Andersen hired Bill Busch as his defensive coordinator and Dave Baldwin will run the offense. Baldwin, especially, sold himself to Andersen and will be like a second head coach in many ways. That may come as no surprise because Baldwin has experience as a head coach at Cal State-Northridge and San Jose State in addition to more than a decade as a coordinator at several Division I schools.

"I feel I've got very capable guys on both sides of the ball that I can rely on," Andersen said.

The biggest challenge Andersen said he faces in trying to finish the rebuilding job started by the now-departed Brent Guy comes during the spring.

"Getting through the first offseason is going to be huge," he said. "We have to identify our talent, evaluate everything and get through spring ball just to find out where we really are.

"I've told everybody I know that the first offseason is the most work you can do as a football coach," Andersen added. "Just putting everything together takes a lot of time and energy and then you have to do the football stuff."

But if there's a man out there who can get it done, Andersen hopes it's him.

His family will stay in their Draper home through the spring and finish the school year. He has three children attending Juan Diego and noted there hasn't been much of anything except success for the clan with his sons playing for the Soaring Eagle varsity and ninth-grade teams.

"It's been a pretty good football year for the Andersen family," he said. "We're 35-1. That's makes a pretty good year if you ask me."

Aggie fans, undoubtedly, hope that success moves north with him.

E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com