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SALT LAKE CITY — Kyle Whittingham is going back to where it all began.
Whittingham has hired Ogden native Andy Ludwig, who was serving as the offensive coordinator and tight end coach at Vanderbilt, as the program’s newest offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The news was first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune Thursday night.
Utah made the announcement official Friday morning.
"It’s great to have Andy back on our staff,” Whittingham said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a collegiate offensive coordinator, as well as being an outstanding quarterbacks coach and recruiter. Andy is obviously very familiar with our program which should make for a seamless transition.”
Speaking generally about who he was considering for offensive coordinator, Whittingham told KSL.com that he was "looking for an experienced guy that's been a play caller — who has a track record as a play caller — and a guy that has had success at the Power Five level and as a coordinator."
He added that he wanted someone that was "aligned with how we run our program." Who better than someone that previously coached under Whittingham? Ludwig was first hired by Whittingham in 2005 to serve as his offensive coordinator when Whittingham accepted the head coaching position.
“My family and I are very excited to return to the University of Utah," Ludwig said in a statement. "I have great respect and appreciation for the university’s commitment to the student-athletes, coach Whittingham’s leadership, and the passion of the Ute fan base. I look forward to the hard work and am grateful for this opportunity.”
Ludwig served in the role as offensive coordinator through the 2008 season when Utah claimed a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. He then left to be the offensive coordinator at Cal, where he stayed for two seasons before eventually accepting a role at Vanderbilt in 2015.
Under Ludwig’s four-year tenure at Vanderbilt, the program’s offense improved significantly. In the year prior to his hiring at the SEC school, Vanderbilt ranked 125 out of 128 Division I programs. In the 2018 season, Vanderbilt ranked 59th in total offense and had a senior quarterback throw for 3,130 yards and 24 touchdowns.
And while the passing game was successful under his tenure at Vanderbilt this last season, the Commodores also developed a strong run game behind junior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In comparison, Utah’s two quarterbacks Tyler Huntley and Jason Shelley combined for 2,950 yards and 17 touchdowns in 14 games, while Moss added 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games. This led to Utah being ranked 72nd in total offense in 2018.
Prior to his time at Vanderbilt, Ludwig also coached at San Diego State for two seasons and Wisconsin for two seasons. While at Wisconsin, Ludwig served as Gary Andersen's offensive coordinator before Andersen left to accept the head coach position at Oregon State.
In Ludwig's final season at Wisconsin, he coached an offense that featured junior running back Melvin Gordon, who finished the year with 2,587 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. Gordon would win the 2014 Doak Walker Award and left the university to pursue the NFL, where he was selected 15th overall to the San Diego Chargers in the 2015 draft.
The offensive coordinator position at Utah was made vacant after Troy Taylor accepted a head-coaching position at Sacramento State in December. Following his departure, Whittingham said he planned to take his time to get the right fit for the offense but hoped to have a coach hired by Jan. 6.
Utah was rumored to be in contention for former USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, who was recently fired from the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian, though, was rumored to still be in contention for another NFL job. Also in consideration was former Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, who took an offensive coordinator position at Ole Miss.