So who is Gary Andersen?

The latest name to surface in Kentucky’s search for a head football coach is Gary Andersen, the man who has led Utah State to its first back-to-back winning seasons in 32 years.

The 48-year-old Andersen has gone 23-24 in four seasons as head coach at Utah State, including 15-8 over his last two seasons. The Aggies are 8-2 overall and 4-0 in the WAC this year.

A Utah graduate, Andersen coached at Northern Arizona, then Utah before becoming head coach at Southern Utah in 2003. After a 4-7 record there, he was defensive coordinator at Utah from 2004 to 2008.

He was named head coach at Utah State in 2009 taking over from the fired Brent Guy, who was fired after a 3-9 season. Andersen’s first year as Aggies’ coach was marked by close losses. USU lost at Texas A&M 38-30, lost 21-17 at New Mexico State, lost 35-32 at home to Nevada and lost 31-27 at Fresno State. The team finished with a 4-8 record.

His 2010 team opened with a 31-24 loss at Oklahoma, but ended up struggling in the WAC, finishing with a 2-6 mark in the league and a 4-8 mark overall.

The 2011 Aggies had defending national champ Auburn on the ropes in the season opener before losing 42-38 at Auburn. After a 24-17 loss to Sonny Dykes and Louisiana Tech left Utah State at 2-5, Andersen’s club caught fire and won five straight to close out the season. One of those wins was a 34-33 squeaker over San Jose State and Mike MacIntrye, who is also believed to be high on UK AD Mitch Barnhart’s list.

The Aggies earned an invitation to the Idaho Potato Bowl, where they lost to Frank Solich and Ohio 24-23 to finish the year 7-6.

This season, the Aggies are 8-2, ensuring the program its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1979-80. The two losses: A 16-14 setback at Wisconsin on Sept. 15 and a 6-3 loss at BYU on Oct. 5. They beat Utah 27-20 in overtime on Sept. 7. And they are 4-0 in the WAC, including a 49-27 win over San Jose State.

The Aggies play Dykes and Louisiana Tech this Saturday in Ruston.

Utah State is currently 12th nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 303.3 yards per game. The Aggies are 28th nationally in total offense, averaging 462 yards per game.

One interesting tidbit, Andersen played for Ron McBride at Utah. McBride was an assistant at UK under Rich Brooks for a couple of seasons before returning to Utah to be head coach at Weber State before retiring in 2011.

One more thing, Andersen recently signed a contract extension through 2018.

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