LOGAN – Rumors began swirling Thursday morning that Utah State may have settled on who their next head football coach would be. And as of 2 p.m. Mountain Time those rumors were all but confirmed when Arkansas State announced that Blake Anderson would be stepping down from his position to accept a similar post at another FBS program.
“We appreciate Coach Anderson’s contributions to our program,” Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a statement. “He is the only head coach in our FBS history to win two conference championships, and he played for a third while also leading us to six bowl games. We wish him the best moving forward.”
Multiple outlets have been reporting Thursday that his next job is in Logan. A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that Anderson was being hired by Utah State. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Utah State was finalizing an agreement with Anderson and there was no official announcement.
Anderson had been the head coach of the Arkansas State Red Wolves since Bryan Harsin left that position to take charge of Boise State in 2014. Anderson is 51-37 at Arkansas State and had a winning record every season as a head coach, except for this year where his team has finished its season at 4-7. Prior to this season his teams won no fewer than 7 games a year (including one 9 win season and three 8 win seasons). His teams have won the Sun Belt Conference once outright (2015), tied for first another time (2016) and won his division one other time (2018), going 2-4 in bowl games.
In May, Anderson had received a restructured contract extension that was to run through 2023.
Anderson has seen the Utah State Aggies before. In his first season in charge of Arkansas State the Aggies made a trip to Jonesboro, Arkansas. The Red Wolves beat USU 21-14 in overtime on Sept. 20, 2014. Anderson brought his team to Logan on Sept. 16, 2016 and the Aggies came out on top 34-20.
Anderson’s teams are regularly high scoring and produce a lot of offense. Even though his team is 4-7 this year, Arkansas St. is ranked 15th in FBS in average yards per game (489.7). Before being named a head coach in 2014, Anderson was an offensive coordinator at North Carolina for two seasons. He has also been a coordinator at Southern Miss, Louisiana-Lafayette and Middle Tennessee. He spent time in the Mountain West under Rocky Long at New Mexico from 1999-2001, coaching running backs and wide receivers. He played quarterback and wide receiver at Baylor from 1987-1989 before suffering a knee injury. After recovering, he transferred to Sam Houston State as a wide receiver from 1989-1991.
His wife, Wendy, passed away in 2019 after battling cancer for several years.
Utah State Director of Athletics John Hartwell dismissed Gary Andersen as the football head coach on November 7th after a lackluster 0-3 start to the 2020 football season, citing concerns about the trajectory of the program. Co-Defensive Coordinator and Associate Head Coach Frank Maile was then named as the interim head coach to finish the season. It is the second time Maile has assumed that role after Matt Wells left USU to become the new head coach at Texas Tech. Maile is 2-2 as head coach of the Aggies and he was considered a candidate for the top position.