Matt Wells, the new Utah State football coach, says he’s an open book.
Although that might a slight exaggeration, he was certainly accommodating when I met with him this week. He wasn’t hard to reach. In fact, as a rookie head coach, he’s touching all the bases, making himself available to the media.
Most coaches are smart, and most are positive, but not as many have humility. At least not the kind it takes to admit that during the national anthem he prays in gratitude for his family and his team.
Wells admits after a few years of being a head coach, maybe he won’t be so open. That alone seems to indicate he’s an honest guy.
There are big challenges ahead for Wells. Gary Andersen took the Aggies higher than they’ve been in decades. The former coach shocked Aggie fans when he announced he was taking the Wisconsin job. Other offers had come up and Andersen passed them by. Then the Badger job came out of nowhere and Andersen said yes, leaving Wells to take over.
I’m 50-50 on the amount of success USU will attain under Wells. On one hand, there are six potential bowl tie-ins for the Mountain West. The Aggies won’t have to be dominant to win a bowl berth. At the same time, the odds of stepping in and contending with nationally recognized Boise State, followed by other MWC schools, will be hard for USU.
But I will say this: Wells is fairly unique. I’ve met a lot of new coaches and all were positive, going into their first year. Most of them were friendly. One or two had a complete lack of personality, which made me wonder why USU hired them in the first place. But I haven’t seen any that had quite the perspective of Wells — though he says he has many similarities to Andersen.
Wells said he promised not to have coaches neglect their families in favor of football.
He doesn’t believe that having coaches sleep in their offices makes for a better program. A happy, grounded, rested staff will be a successful staff, he said.
That alone sets him apart from many of his colleagues nationwide.
A lot of coaches talk about priorities. Wells seems to live them.
It will be interesting to see if his approach keeps USU moving forward.