Report: Utah State coach Blake Anderson 'unlikely' to return after being placed on administrative leave

Utah State has reportedly placed head football coach Blake Anderson on administrative leave and he isn’t expected to return to his position.

Per ESPN, Aggies players were informed Tuesday that Anderson was on administrative leave and defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling is the team’s interim coach.

Anderson was set to enter his fourth season as the Aggies’ coach after leaving Arkansas State. Utah State was 11-3 in his first season in 2021. He apologized in December of that year after he was caught on a recording telling his players that it had never been a more glamorous time to be a victim of sexual assault. The apology came in the wake of a Title IX lawsuit against the school that alleged it protected football players from sexual assault complaints.

Utah State has gone 6-7 in each of the past two seasons. Utah State lost the First Responder Bowl at the end of the 2022 season to finish below .500 and lost the Potato Bowl a season ago for its seventh defeat of the season.

Anderson got his first head coaching job at the top level of college football at ASU in 2014. The Red Wolves had winning seasons in each of his first six seasons before a 4-7 record in the COVID-impacted 2020 season. Anderson, who had been mentioned as a candidate for Power Five head coaching jobs later in his time at ASU, left Jonesboro after that season to replace Gary Andersen at Utah State.

Dreiling is entering his first season at Utah State after he was the defensive coordinator at New Mexico State the past two seasons. New Mexico State went 10-5 in 2023 and made the Conference USA title game.

If Anderson does not return to the team, Utah State players would have 30 days to enter the transfer portal because of a coaching change. However, the late timing of Anderson’s reported departure would make it tough for players to find new schools given that fall practices are about to begin and teams’ rosters are basically set for the 2024 season.

A coaching change at Utah State would also mark the second straight season a school has dismissed a coach in July for disciplinary reasons. A year ago, Northwestern fired coach Pat Fitzgerald amid the fallout from a hazing scandal. The school promoted David Braun — a defensive coordinator who was entering his first year at the school — to replace Fitzgerald for the season and Braun was subsequently named the team’s permanent coach.

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