Transcript: Matt Wells Named Utah State University Head Football Coach News Conference

 

 
 

Dec. 20, 2012

LOGAN, Utah -

Utah State University President Stan Albrecht and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes held a news conference Thursday to introduce Matt Wells as the new head football coach. A complete transcript of Albrecht, Barnes and Wells' remarks can be found below.

University President Stan Albrecht
Opening Statement:
"Let me just welcome you all and thank you all for being here. When I saw the group coming in, I recognized a lot of faces from not too many months ago when we announced our move to the Mountain West Conference. I was about to say 'We need to stop meeting like this,' but we keep having great events, exciting things happen at our university, so we can keep meeting like this. Thank you so much for being here. There are so many individuals in this room who are so much a part of who we are, what we are and what we have been achieving at Utah State University and in athletics. I can't thank you enough for that - your loyalty, your commitment, your generosity - all of the things you have done to help get us where we are."

"The theme for today is very simple. That theme is continuity. I think you all understand that and the importance of it. This university is a very different place than it was a few years ago. We've gone through those cycles that so many of you lived through, where a coaching change meant starting over. We're not starting over. There's a lot of continuity in what we're doing. That continuity will be discussed a number of different ways as we meet together here. We're in the right place. This is not in any way a step back, but an amazingly wonderful step forward. We appreciate all of you being here to help us as we take this significant step forward. My commitment, and Scott's commitment, to you is the commitment that we made a number of years ago. We're going to put the right foundation in place so that when things happen we can build on that foundation to move our football and athletic programs forward in a positive way. It is for you, for our fans everywhere, for the young men and women who have committed themselves to coming to Utah State University. I hope you will share with us what we believe is another wonderfully important step and another great day in the history of Utah State University Athletics."

 

 

Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes
Opening Statement:
"I too, love meeting like this. Much the same way as a rising tide lifts off ships, so has the Aggie football success raised the level and profile of our great university and the passion of Aggie athletics. As President Albrecht has mentioned, we intend to keep that trajectory of moving forward. This program is bigger than any one person. Having said that, I believe we have absolutely found the right person to lead the next phase of Aggie athletics."

"It's a pivotal time as we enter the Mountain West Conference. It's a critical hire, and at the same time, there are wonderful opportunities ahead as we use the Mountain West as a platform for our next level of success. I can't help but think about a little over four years ago when we stated a vision for Aggie football. The vision was winning championships, being bowl eligible on a consistent basis, and leading whatever conference we were in in academic performance on an annual basis. We've hit that mark, but we needed a plan to fulfill that vision. That plan was our Football Excellence Plan, which included a new scheduling philosophy and facility development, but the cornerstone of that plan had everything to do with continuity. It was about putting resources in place to hire assistant coaches that had a pedigree, a talent level and experience that would not only shore up and strengthen our current program, but potentially used as a succession plan moving forward, if in fact a head coach was to have the success that lead him to a BCS job. We stated that over four years ago and as we've moved through the process we've had some assistants come and go. We have one here in mind today that we couldn't be happier to announce, because as we think about the next steps for Aggie football and we think about what is needed - the passion, the commitment, and oh by the way, he's a former Aggie quarterback - we think we have the right person."

"Continuity means everything, but it's nothing unless you have the right person who has the right values, the right work ethic, the right vision and the right commitment to this university. We have that individual for sure. Matt Wells will lead the next era of Aggie football. We don't welcome Matt Wells into the Aggie family, for crying out loud he's been a part of that since he was a quarterback here. We do welcome him to the chair of the head coaching position at Utah State University."

Utah State Head Coach Matt Wells
Opening Statement:
"I am honored, I am humbled and how I usually act, I am extremely fired up to be the next head football coach at Utah State University. This is definitely a dream come true for me, especially being at my alma mater. I see a lot of familiar faces in players, ex-teammates, friends and I thank you for being here."

"There are a lot of thank yous. First of all, university president Stan Albrecht, Athletic Director Scott Barnes and the Board of Trustees, thank you for your support and your vision that has lead us to this day. Your commitment to our program and the support continues to amaze me and it energizes me. I appreciate it."

"Then my family. Scott introduced (my wife) Jen. Next to her is Jadyn, who is in fourth grade over at Edith Bowen. She's 10 years old. Next to her is Ella, who is 7 and in first grade at Edith Bowen. Then there's Wyatt. He's 4 and he's just happy to be alive right now. I want to thank you guys for everything that you've given me. You've supported me through the good times, the tough times, all of that. I wouldn't be here without you all."

"The next people, very special to the Aggie family, Coach Dave and Barbara Kragthorpe. They're like a third set of grandparents to my kids and have been for a long time, all the way back to the Tulsa days. It's (Dave) who didn't do a very good job of talking me out of this profession. When I was a senior here he asked me what I was going to do and I told him I was going to try to coach. He said 'No, I think you ought to finish your MBA,' and I said 'No, I want to coach. I want to give this thing a shot.' That got me going. I was on his son Steve's staff two different places. Thank you for all you have done for me."

"Friends, fellow alumni, former lettermen, and most of all the Cache Valley community, you have my unwavering commitment to continue to build this program that we're all proud of. It's a program that is respected nationally by the process we use on a daily basis, and those kind of things will not change. We aim to make you proud of the Aggie football family by how we act, just as importantly as winning football games."

"To Gary Andersen. I wouldn't be here without him. About two years ago to this day, he went out on a limb and hired me unseen. They say the rest is history, but he's the guy that showed me the blueprint. He's built this place with the help and support of our administration, athletic department, our many donors and everyone who has had a hand in the program. He had an unwavering support of me professionally upward and internally. Everything that he has done I appreciate. I thank him for what he has done for this program and look forward to continuing to build on it."

"Most of all, to the players. We have a saying around here 'Players make plays, players win games,' and it's oh so true. We've won a lot of games here in the last two years. In the last 19 games we've won 16 of them and that's a special run. These guys are the reason I'm standing up here. If we'd stunk, Gary would still be here and I never would be standing up here. Thank you guys. These guys are the backbone of this program and what it's all about. I promise you I'm going to lead you every day and strive to make this the best experience of your lives. I think it's already started out that way for a bunch of you, but we have to finish this thing off. There are a lot of juniors fixing to be seniors in this room. The nice thing is we're not starting over. We're going to build on this thing. I love you guys. I appreciate you making the trip here."

"I look forward to diving right in hiring a staff, recruiting, and setting our players into a routine when they get back in January."

"When I look for a staff, first of all they're going to love the players. This isn't a touchy-feely deal either, even though I can be a little emotional at times. We're going to coach 'em hard and love 'em hard. I'm still learning how to be a parent, but I think it parallels that quite a bit. This is a player-driven program, not a player-run program. The guys don't run it, but everything we do and the decisions we make on a daily basis and the ideas that we come to will be based on the players. It's not what's best for the coaches, for support help or for the administration, it's what's best for those kids. At the end of the day, that's what's most important."

"The next thing is recruiting. It's the life-blood of the program. Everyone likes to say that, but it's one of the sole things that has turned this program around. I don't think there's any question there. I've seen the blueprint and not one thing is going to change. We will recruit the state of Utah first and foremost. That's not lip service, it's what going to happen as soon as we hit the road. The Polynesian community will be very influential in that. They will be very much a focus of that program, as well as our missionary program. Out-of-state recruiting, the ties that we have as a staff, those will be areas of focus. The young men we bring into this place will first and foremost have the capacity to help us win the Mountain West championship. If they can't, we won't look at them. There are some analogies to dating and finding a wife, but I may get in trouble for going that way. They better be really good looking to start with, then we'll find out if they have the heart, morals and ethics and all that kind of stuff to see if we get along. There's the academic and the character side of it. They need to be winners in winning programs coming from high school. As we reach out and look for help from the high school coaches, that will be our primary focus. There are over 50 players in this program right now from this state and it's very good football."

"Moving on to football which is the easiest thing I do right now, it's fun to welcome back 58 lettermen and 16 starters coming back. That will be fun to work with. Offensively we'll be the same. We'll be spread, up-tempo, no-huddle and we'll run it between the tackles in the fourth quarter when we need to like we did last week. Defensively we'll be very similar. I think I want to be multiple. I want to be aggressive. I like the style we have done here. That is what these players know and we take advantage of smart football players on the defensive side of the football. We're able to audible. You can figure that out from watching. It's hard to defend and hard to compete against from my standpoint. Everything I don't like to see, I'll tell the defensive coordinator to run that. That's what I want to do. Our objectives here are very, very simple. You stay simple and kids can wrap their arms around that. To paint a picture, to paint a vision for the program, it will be to simply compete for the Mountain West championship and bowl championships every single year. We will do that with young men who will represent Cache Valley and Aggie Nation with the utmost class and academic integrity. We've done very well in the classroom, done very well in the community and that will not change under me and our staff."

"Being active in the community, wrapping our arms around every Aggie young and old is important. That's an important part of this program. This thing wasn't built overnight. I saw a lot of it from the outside looking in, and I've seen a lot of it from really close these last two years. It starts with a commitment from up on top of the Hill from President Albrecht, from the administration, to our major donors, to the major players in the Merlin Olsen Fund, to Mr. Barnes and everyone. Cache Valley has a lot to do with that. It's pretty neat to see. It's a blue-collar community with a little chip on our shoulder. Those qualities are easy to see and emulate in our program. When we go out and recruit, it's very easy to tell them exactly what it's like. They are going to wrap their arms around you guys and in turn, we hope the same continues to happen. This is a special place, a special university. For better or for worse, it has molded me into who I am."

"I say thank you to the people who have shown a vision, a commitment and support to me and this program. Me standing here today, representing these players and the staff we will build, it shows this community, this state and this nation that this blueprint works. We need help with it, we're not perfect. This thing with continuity, we want to strive for continued excellence in this program and I think this is a step in that direction and we need to do everything we can to make it great."

On if he will be his own offensive coordinator:
"I'm still working on that. There are guys out there. Eleven wins and a top 20 ranking garners a lot of interest. There are a lot of guys who want to come help. I don't have that answer right now. There is some of me that would like to, there is some of me that says 'No, just back away and help.' There are positives to both situations that will depend on the staff I am able to bring in."

On only having a year of experience as a coordinator:
"They wouldn't have asked me to come in for the interview if it were a problem, not one bit. It's something I can't change, something I won't apologize for. That's going to be a question for everybody to answer. It was a question last year, 'You've never coordinated before, can you do it?' Well, those kids did it. They can do it again."

On coming back as the head coach at his alma mater:
"I don't know if words can describe it, but it's a neat feeling. It's very humbling. It's an honor to know what this place was when I was here. We won some games, a bowl game then, now to be a part of the second team to win a bowl is pretty neat personally. That's a selfish answer, but it's neat to do it. There are 125 of these jobs in the country. I'm fortunate enough to get one and to do it here is pretty cool."

On communication with Gary Andersen this week and moving forward:
"Coaches lean on guys who take them under their wing. You feel a sense of respect and loyalty. Gary Andersen is a quality guy and coach. I have the utmost respect for him. I'm sure I'll lean on him at times. We have talked, and that's natural. He has shown me tremendous support as he reached out to these two gentlemen on my behalf. For that I am grateful. He's been great to me."

On the team he is inheriting:
"We're excited to have 16 starters back from a top 20 team. These kids will set their vision and set their goals. They met every one of them this year. I already know where those goals are headed, but we won't state those today. I want them to be a part of it. What I shared earlier were the objectives, and those will never change. The goals can change yearly. These guys will be a big part of forming that plan. I'm extremely excited to get these kids on the field in the spring. It will be a different experience for me."

On building a staff. Who will return, etc.:
"I hope it's not just me. We have quality young coaches and quality veteran coaches in this building. Some of them may have other opportunities, some of them may want to stay here. I'm going to continue to talk to them and start to dive in. We've had brief conversations. They are coaches that have helped build this foundation in their own meeting rooms and recruiting. They've had a big part in this. I am very appreciative of that. I will continue to talk to them and if there's a sincere desire to stay and be a part of what we're doing going forward, then we're going to give them every opportunity to talk about that and decide if it's the right fit."

On current recruiting status:
"Since we're in a dead period and our calls are really limited, this is a good time for this to happen. It's a good time for this on a recruiting front. As I set the staff and we get to hitting the ground, we have a few weeks to do that. Everything right now is mainly over the phone and I've been in contact with a few recruits already."

On finding out Gary Andersen's plans to take the head coaching job at Wisconsin:
"We talked. I don't remember if it was face-to-face or by phone call, but we talked. I knew he was going to explore and he looked at me and said 'You're going to have a shot here and I'm going to try to help you. If not, you can come with me.' That's about it."

On the recruits committed and retaining them to signing:
"I'm hopeful. We only have a few spots left. Sometimes you have to juggle that, not just with this program, but with others that are going through coaching changes. Assistants get tied to recruits pretty quick. Sometimes that affects it, sometimes it doesn't. We want young men that want to be Aggies and want to be a part of this program. If they wanted to be a part of this program before, then they're going to want to be a part of this program now because there's not going to be very much change."

On his first order of business:
"Quite frankly, just the time I've spent with Mr. Barnes this morning and picking up this suit and this conference, I talked to a couple prospective coaches, but I talked mostly to these guys (players). My number one priority will always be the players in this program, including times like right now in times of change and uncertainty. That's the number one focus, but 1A and 1B right behind that is hiring a staff and recruiting. It's all a priority right now."

On if he ever dreamed he would be the USU head coach:
"I think sometimes people sit up here and lie when they say dreams, but yeah. It's pretty cool. I don't remember when those dreams were, and I don't think there were these bright of lights and this many people in here, but to say this is a dream come true is an understatement. It's humbling, honoring and it juices me up pretty good."

On having the perspective of a former USU student-athlete and what he remembers:
"Aggie Ice Cream. Aggie Blue Mint ice cream and the snow. My story is coming from out-of-state so that's what I can tell and what I can relate to. I've also been the guy who was the in-state recruiter when I was at the University of Tulsa. I was the guy that recruited the city and part of the state where you were asking those guys to stay home and be in-state players. I think I can relate to a lot of different recruits whether as a coach or as a player. I had no idea what mountains were. In Oklahoma we have things that are named mountains, but they're really hills. The way the community embraces our players - us, men's and women's basketball, all the student-athletes here - is great. We always tell the guys we're recruiting that they are the Dallas Cowboys of Cache Valley. That's how it is. It's pretty neat for those kids to see the support and excitement here on gameday. We need to fill the stadium, that helps with recruits."

On response from players on applying for the job:
"Is there an application? I fielded several phone calls and texts from these guys. I had conversations with them. When Mr. Barnes calls, you show up. That fires me up to hear they've been supportive. It's the reaction from our players that drives us to come into this building every day."

Scott Barnes:
"I would answer also, that I did talk to a group of players before making the decision. Not one of them had a hesitation. They were all very excited."

On considering anyone else or if it was just Wells:
"As you can imagine, in the last month or so with the possible changes, I've had a file of candidates. At the end of the day, continuity is critical. But if you have continuity without talent, pedigree and integrity, you need to move on. We had all of that and the stars aligned. When President Albrecht and I visited on potential candidates and Matt, there was no consideration of moving to anyone but him. Given what he's accomplished, his roots, and what he stands for, along with the continuity, he was the guy."

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