Gary Andersen is the new defensive line coach at Utah.
Jan. 20, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY -
Gary Andersen, a former Utah player and assistant coach, is returning to the U., head coach Urban Meyer announced today. Andersen will coach the defensive tackles, replacing Mike Tuiasosopo, who left after one season for a position with Arizona. Andersen, a defensive line coach at Utah from 1997-2002, spent this past season as the head coach at Southern Utah.
"Gary Andersen is a perfect fit for our staff and I also love that he played here," said Meyer. "He had great success as a defensive line coach when he was here before and coached several players who went on to play in the NFL. There will be a seamless transition since he is familiar with our defensive system, which hasn't changed. The players are very excited for his return."
The Salt Lake City native cited the opportunity to return to his hometown and alma mater, as well as to coach alongside Meyer, as his reasons for leaving SUU. "As a former player and assistant coach, I've always felt that Utah football could compete at a national level and this past season's success proved that. Coach Meyer has set the table for a great future at the University of Utah and I wanted to be a part of the excitement," said Andersen. "I wasn't looking for a job and I loved it at Southern Utah. Leaving was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but the opportunity to coach and recruit at the highest level at my alma mater tipped the scales."
Andersen revived a struggling SUU program in his year as the head coach. The Thunderbirds, who had won just three games in the previous two seasons and were 1-10 in 2002, went 4-7 under Andersen in 2003. Nine of his players were named to the 2003 I-AA Independent All-Star team, including three first-team selections.
Andersen coached the Ute defensive tackles and strong side ends from 1997-2001 before taking over the entire defensive line in 2002. He also served as assistant head coach and special teams coordinator from 2001-02. During his six-year stint, he coached first-team all-conference linemen John Frank, Jason Kaufusi, Garrett Smith and Pene Talamaivao. He also coached Lauvale Sape, who now plays for the Buffalo Bills. Sape and Frank were sixth-round draft picks (Frank in 2000 by Philadelphia).
Andersen, 40, began his coaching career in 1988 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana. From 1989-92, he coached the offensive line at Ricks College. Andersen's next move was to Idaho State, where he served as the defensive line coach from 1992-94. He then spent two years as the head coach at Park City High School in Park City, Utah, before returning to college coaching. Andersen spent the 1995-96 seasons as the assistant head coach, defensive line and special teams coach at Northern Arizona.
An offensive center for the Utes from 1985-86, Andersen was a two-year team captain. He graduated from the U. in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in political science. He is married to the former Stacey Lambert. They have three children: Keegan, Chasen and Hagen.