To fill their head football coaching position, the Utah State Aggies have reportedly turned to someone who has had a good level of success and also made positive national headlines a year ago as his family dealt with an intense struggle.
Blake Anderson is a 51-year-old native of Hubbard, Texas, who since 2014 has been the head coach of the Arkansas State Red Wolves. That job was Anderson’s first head coaching gig after he was a longtime assistant at the FBS level, and he tallied a record of 51-37 with two conference championships and six bowl appearances.
Utah State athletic director John Hartwell indicated when the job opened up last month that he wanted an offense-minded coach, and Anderson certainly fits that bill. He coached entirely on that side of the ball before going to Arkansas State, and was the offensive coordinator at four different schools, most notably North Carolina.
In his time as head coach, the Red Wolves have consistently had one of the most potent passing attacks in the country. In 2017, they finished fifth in the nation in passing yards per game, and in 2019 they were 10th.
Last year, Anderson became a well-known figure in the college football world as his wife Wendy suffered through breast cancer, which she died from on Aug. 19, 2019.
FINAL WENDY UPDATE 8/20#NotFightingAlone ❤️❤️❤️ there’s a celebration in heaven today cause Wendy is Home pic.twitter.com/OYwh0fQLpU— Blake Anderson (@CHbanderson) August 20, 2019
In a feature on ESPN narrated by Tom Rinaldi a few weeks after her death, Anderson, a devout Christian, said, “The only thing I can think of that gives me any peace at all is just knowing that the reward that is waiting for her in heaven, I know she’s gettin’ it. I know she has it now.”
On Wednesday, Arkansas State formally announced that Anderson resigned to take a job elsewhere, and university chancellor Dr. Kelly Damphousse said in a statement, “I had the privilege of watching Blake interact with his student-athletes behind the scenes, and I know how much he cares about their development beyond the playing field.
“Importantly, I can tell that the students know it, too. Beth (Damphousse) grew to be very fond of Blake, Wendy (Anderson), and their children over the years. We are sad to see Blake go, but we are excited about his future. He is leaving our football program better than he found it.”
Also on Wednesday, former Arkansas State beat writer George Stoia III shared a quote on Twitter from Anderson, which had indicated he may be looking for a change of scenery after his wife’s passing.
“Can I stay here and do this when everything in Jonesboro reminds me of Wendy?,” Anderson said. “The church we went to, driving by the hospice all the time, everywhere we ate, everywhere we did things. Can I do that and do a good job? Or am I going to be a basket case?”
As Blake Anderson leaves Arkansas State, all I can think about is this quote he gave me back in August before the season. Wishing him the best of luck and hope he finds what he’s looking for.— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) December 10, 2020
“Can I stay here and do this when everything in Jonesboro reminds me of Wendy?” https://t.co/9BNxseIGN2 pic.twitter.com/EcRYQXyCt1
Anderson and his late wife are the parents of three children — daughter Callie and sons Coleton and Cason.