For offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, there’s a lot to love about Utah’s football program.
Ludwig is in his second tour of duty with the Utes. He oversaw Utah’s offense from 2005-08, capped by a 13-0 record and a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama.
“There was some intrigue. But when all the chips were on the table and you’re measuring the pros and cons, this is the place, coach Whitt is the guy I want to work for.” — Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig on interviewing with Notre Dame
In 2019, after stints at California, San Diego State, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, Ludwig returned to Salt Lake City and has helped lead the Utes to back-to-back Pac-12 titles under coach Kyle Whittingham.
Utah has boasted a top-15 offense the past two seasons, having averaged 36.1 points per game in 2021 and 38.6 points in 2022. Ludwig has been instrumental in the development of quarterbacks Tyler Huntley, who was an NFL Pro Bowler this season, and current starting QB Cam Rising.
In February, Ludwig became a leading candidate to take the offensive coordinator job at Notre Dame. He traveled to South Bend, Indiana, and interviewed with second-year Fighting Irish coach Marcus Freeman.
“At 58, Ludwig’s decades of coaching experience were a major factor in the interview process, especially as Freeman, 37, enters his second season as a head coach,” ESPN.com reported.
Ultimately, though, Ludwig returned to Utah.
ESPN’s Pete Thamel wrote that Ludwig’s buyout “proved an obstacle” for Notre Dame. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg added that it was above $2 million and that “Utah wasn’t going to budge” in terms of letting Ludwig leave at a lower dollar figure.
On Wednesday, the day after Utah opened spring practices, Ludwig answered questions from reporters about what transpired between him and Notre Dame — and why he returned to the Utes.
“I’m a Utah Man. I came back in 2019 to finish my career with coach Whitt,” he said. “There was some intrigue with that position but as all things were measured out, I made the decision, the commitment here, to the coach, to the administration, to the players and just fired up to get this spring ball and this march for a championship repeat repeat going.”
Asked if he’s planning to finish his career at Utah, Ludwig said, “I’m going to finish my football career at Utah, yes.”
But when Notre Dame came calling, Ludwig felt like he had to listen.
“That’s a big part of this profession. There was some intrigue,” he said. “But when all the chips were on the table and you’re measuring the pros and cons, this is the place, coach Whitt is the guy I want to work for. The Utah players, the Utah culture, is what I want to be a part of.”
Ludwig called Freeman “a great person” and that he didn’t know him before the interview process began.
“I’m impressed with his vision and his energy,” Ludwig said. “But in the end, here we are.”
While Ludwig was interviewing with Notre Dame, there was speculation that Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding might join Ludwig at Notre Dame if Ludwig took the offensive coordinator position there.
“Things that are reported or put on Twitter aren’t necessarily the truth,” Harding said. “I’ll defer to coach Whitt. But I love it here.”
Harding noted that he has two children, one in fourth grade and another in seventh grade.
“To us, this is home. There were some things in place that would prevent me from ever wanting to go anywhere else, whether it’s contractually or discussions I’ve had with coach,” Harding said. “I guess the easiest way to say it is, everything you read is not necessarily true.
“My attachment to coach Lud, that was not a package deal. I had no discussions whatsoever with Notre Dame. All my discussions were with coach Whitt.”