All right Aggie football fans you can back away from that ledge now.
Take your finger off the panic button too. Burying some of that anger would be good as well. I’m talking to myself here as much as Aggie Nation.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride the past 48 hours. However, Utah State football is in good hands once again, so take a deep breath and relax. Matt Wells is the perfect man for the job.
Here are a few reasons why:
• He really does bleed blue. The former Aggie quarterback has a deep passion for USU and Cache Valley, and he loves Aggie ice cream, especially Aggie Blue Mint. He wants to be here, really.
• He could have left for Wisconsin with Gary Andersen, but chose to stay and keep the momentum rolling at USU. There are 16 starters returning and wealth of experience. The guy really does want to be here.
• We already know him and obviously the players do too. When Aggie Athletics Director Scott Barnes visited with several athletes and talked about Wells, he got nothing but positive feedback. The Aggie athletes want him to be here.
• He knows how to work a room. The filled to capacity Spetman Auditorium gave him numerous rounds of applause. They even clapped loudly before he was formally introduced. Fans want him to be here.
• USU has won two bowls in the history of the school. Wells was a part of both of them, first as a player in 1993 and a few weeks ago as the offensive coordinator. He wants to make winning bowl games a regular thing for USU. That should make everyone involved with Aggie athletics happy he is still here.
• Wells understands the big picture. He realizes what has been set up by Andersen works, and is not about to mess with it. His philosophy mirrors that of Andersen, who put USU football back on the map. What fan wouldn’t want that to continue?
• He is a family man. After making a joke about being a visor man after being handed a cap from Barnes, he wanted to thank a lot of people that were in the room. He began by introducing his wife Jen, daughters, Jadyn (10) and Ella (7) and son Wyatt (4). Wells teared up a bit in thanking them and telling them their support has helped him get where he is at. His family wants him to be here.
• Wells does not forget where he came from and who has helped him. He made it a point to single out Aggie great Dave Kragthorpe and his wife Barb. Despite Dave discouraging him from getting into coaching, he chose to follow that career path and Dave helped him get his first job. The Kragthorpes want him to be here.
• Andersen encouraged Aggie brass to go with Wells. While many people are still a little upset with Coach A, he did just guide USU to an 11-2 record and a Top 20 ranking. He does care about the players and wants them to continue to succeed. Andersen wants him here.
Are those enough reasons to ease the pain of Andersen’s departure? I know I feel better than I did when this all started going down Tuesday evening. That knot in my stomach has eased up, and I have backed off on thinking the program was going to lose a lot of ground and be starting over.
Let’s face it, anyone involved with USU football over the past three-plus decades has felt like each coaching change was a new start and rebuilding process. That will not be the case with Wells.
The word “continuity” was used by Barnes, USU President Stan Albrecht and Wells during Thursday’s press conference. That is vital. That must happen, especially with the Aggies heading to the Mountain West Conference.
Yes, Wells is young and has only been a coordinator for one year during his long coaching career. He began in 1997 at Navy. I believe the 39-year-old Oklahoma native is up to the challenge.
“That is something I can’t change,” said Wells when asked about his leadership experience. “I’m not going to apologize for it either.”
I also think it is huge to have someone who wants to be here, obviously, and that person knows what they are getting into. Cache Valley is a unique place and it’s good a person realizes that.
“There are 125 (Division I) jobs and I’m fortunate to get one,” Wells said. “And to be in a place like this is pretty cool.”
I asked Wells if he had ever dreamed of being the head coach at USU when his playing days ended in 1996. He paused for a moment.
“Yeah, this is pretty cool,” Wells said. “I think saying it is a dream come true is an understatement. I am humbled, honored and juiced up.”
That’s exactly why the Aggies got this hire right.