LOGAN — Gary Andersen's second go-round in Logan didn't last very long.
Utah State has parted ways with Andersen, the school announced Saturday, less than two years after bringing the once-celebrated head football coach back to Cache Valley. USA Today's Dan Wolken was the first to report the news.
Utah State assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Frank Maile will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Athletic director John Hartwell said a national search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately.
"After a thorough analysis on the current state of our football team, we believe a change at head coach is in the best interest of our program moving forward," Hartwell said in a statement. "The continued success and development of Aggie football is a priority and we want to make sure we are regular contenders for the Mountain West Championship."
And this year, Utah State is far from that standard. The Aggies started the season 0-3 — losing those games by an average of 28.3 points. Andersen himself has called the offense, which ranks last in the league, "pathetic." The Aggies also allowed 34 unanswered points in their loss to Nevada Thursday. Yes, it's a strange season with the season being delayed nearly two months due to the coronavirus, but with such an uninspiring start, Hartwell decided it was time for a change.
Andersen, who went 7-6 last year in his first season back at Utah State, was brought back after resurrecting a spiraling program a decade ago. From 2009-2012, he took the Aggies to back-to-back bowl games after decades of futility. When he finished 7-6 in 2011 and 11-2 in 2012, it marked the school's first consecutive winning seasons since 1979-80
When Andersen was originally hired in 2008, the Aggies had suffered through 11 straight losing seasons and had only two winning seasons in 28 years.
While Andersen turned things around and restored pride in the program, it is now Andersen's third sudden departure after gaining national prominence during that first stint at Utah State.
After leaving the Aggies for Wisconsin, Andersen strangely left the Big Ten after two seasons for Oregon State, citing tough academic standards that made it too difficult to compete in recruiting. Andersen went 19-7 at Wisconsin.
"It's been well (documented) there were some kids I couldn't get in school," Andersen said at the time. "That was highly frustrating to me. I lost some guys, and I told them I wasn't going to lose them."
While optimism was high when he arrived in Corvallis, he ended up leaving Oregon State midway through his third season with a 7-23 record. He left $12.6 million on the table.
After leaving Oregon State, the Utah native later joined the University of Utah staff as a position coach on the defense, returning to the program for the first time since 2008. Andersen had previously coached under Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and Urban Meyer before jumping to Utah State.
The hope for the Aggies was that Andersen's previous time in Logan would translate to a successful reunion. When Andersen returned, he inherited a program that was coming off a 10-2 team. He failed to build on the success. Success, in some ways, he first began.
"On behalf of Utah State Athletics, I want to express my appreciation to Gary Andersen for all he has done for our football program," Hartwell said. "We wish him, Stacey and their family all the best going forward, and they will always be part of our Aggie family."
This won't be the first time Maile has served as interim head coach. Following Matt Wells' departure in 2018 to Texas Tech, Maile filled in for the Aggies' 52-13 victory against North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl. Maile has been with Utah State for the last 10 years, serving in a number of roles including tight ends coach, co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. During the 2018 season, when Maile was co-defensive coordinator, the Aggies led the nation in turnovers forced, interceptions, and three-and-outs forced per game.
Hartwell and Maile will both speak to the media on Monday.
Two years ago when Hartwell was tasked with replacing Wells, he said he was looking for a coach who understands Utah's culture, specifically mentioning the state's large pool of Polynesian athletes and how players leave and return from missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.