BOISE — Utah State has fought its way into national prominence over the last few seasons always showing glimpses of what it proved against Toledo - They have arrived.
The Aggies capped off arguably their greatest season ever and their winningest season with a 41-15 memorable bowl win. A win that allowed the team to achieve all the goals the team had set.
This is a team that is the first full recruiting cycle for head coach Gary Andersen, showing what he can do with a program that was floundering. Coming into this year they were 15-22 under Andersen.
They started getting the right players and went from a potentially good team, to a team that lost a heartbreaking bowl game last year and now a season and a bowl game that can change a program. From losing last year to winning this shows how far this program has come.
"The feeling right now is completely different," Andersen said. "You play in bowls to win championships. That's what you do and this championship will be up in our locker rooms and our facilities basically forever. It's like any game winning or losing it, your either really happy or really sad. But when it's on the line for a championship especially these seniors to do what they did: Get to 11-2, win the WAC championship and now to have the bowl game championship."
The Aggies were a missed field goal and made from an undefeated season, either from a possible BCS game, but those small mistakes in earlier games were erased by big plays late in their second bowl win.
"They accomplished ever single goal that they set on January 7," Andersen said. "That doesn't happen very often in life, doesn't happen very often in football. We talk about it all the time, let's grow ourselves some young men into men and we should help them move through life."
It takes four years to create a program. A full complement of seniors with underclassmen that will fit the system and that is what Andersen has. This is the reward for Utah State that comes for going with Andersen four years ago.
Kerwynn Williams, who was voted as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl MVP, was recruited four years ago when Andersen took over the Aggies. In his career he has played with two future NFL running backs. Now he is the star.
Williams talked about where he thought he would be four years ago when Andersen talked to him about coming to Logan and becoming an Aggie.
"This is exactly what I expected," Williams said. "Like I said before when he recruited me and he was telling me everything he wanted to accomplish he said it with such conviction in his voice that anyone would believe him. I could really tell that he believed in what he was saying."
Williams spoke after the game with a slight cough that he didn't have before and said he caught during the game but, "I got a little sniffle going on right now, but this win will be medicine enough."
That could be a metaphor for the program. They haven't been feeling great, but after all the time of searching for the right fit for the program they have found the medicine of winning. But it's not just that they won, but how they won that was special for Williams.
"The fact that we did it as a close-knit team this season, that's definitely what I'm proud of," Williams said. "I wouldn't want to play with any other 105 guys and that includes the scout team guys that don't necessarily get a lot of credit for what they do."
This overall is a victory for the fans of Utah State, the program and the city of Logan. The climax of years of suffering. But also a hope that it is just the beginning of a new age of Utah State football.
Because if Andersen can do this in four years with an empty cupboard, what could he accomplish now that he has the ingredients he wants.