Time for coaches to chill

I must admit sympathy for USU football coach Gary Andersen, who blacked out and injured his neck, this week, forcing him to wear a brace for a few days this week.

The university issued a release saying Andersen has a “low resting heart rate and low resting blood pressure. He simply got up too quickly and fell, injuring his neck, which from the wear and tear on his neck from his football days made it a more worrisome injury. His prognosis is good, and he will be fine,” according to USU team physician Dr. Trek Lyons.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Andersen has since said that the fall was due to a lack of sleep and an abundance of stress.


This isn’t unusual in the coaching business. I covered a game in which former BYU basketball coach Ladell Andersen passed out in the locker room after throwing up at half time. Whether it was the flu or stress is debatable (Andersen said it was flu), but he did join the team midway through the second half. He once told me he didn’t sleep the night before a game, or the night after.

Everyone knows about Florida coach Urban Meyer’s stress-related leave of absence last year.

For people who advocate getting enough sleep, eating right and taking care of one’s health, coaches sure don’t seem to practice what they preach.

I’ve known college football coaches who were in their offices at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning – the day after a game — and at 11 p.m. on most nights. I knew an assistant coach at Utah who slept in his office during the season.


You can find a few coaches who believe less is more. They say that watching film over and over, for hours on end, becomes counterproductive. The key, they say, is efficiency. I don’t know where the Aggies’ Andersen falls on that, but I do think he needs to take a step back. It’s understandable why he’s working so hard. His record through 16 games (counting last year) is 5-11. That’s better than his predecessor Brent Guy (3-13), but not by a lot.

Andersen knows he needs to show the program is moving forward or support will rapidly wane. At the same time, he needs to make sure he’s healthy enough to be there when/if his team does start consistently winning.

Everyone needs balance in their life, even football coaches.


  1. Joe

    I’m just a bit confused. Andersen hasn’t coached in… well, since BYU in the 80’s, and certainly not Utah State since the 1960’s. What’s going on here. Typo?

    • Brad Rock

      Gary Andersen, now Wisconsin football coach. Ladell Andersen retired as BYU’s basketball coach in the ’80s.

      • Joe

        You do see the source of confusion, though, right. You’ve got a photo of LaDell two lines above your mention of “Aggie’s Andersen”, with no mention of LaDell otherwise in the column. Eh, it happens.

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