Utah State University Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell announced Friday that Assistant Head Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator Frank Maile would be the interim head coach of the Aggies until a permanent head coach is named. Hartwell said Matt Wells informed his team Thursday night that he is heading to Lubbock, Texas to be the head coach of Texas Tech.
Maile is in his eighth season as an assistant with USU and played for the Aggies from 2004-07 as a defensive lineman. Maile joined the Aggie coaching staff in 2009 as a graduate assistant and was elevated to the Defensive Line coach in 2011. In 2014-15 Maile went to Vanderbilt under the same capacity, but returned to USU in 2016. Maile will help the remaining coaches continue recruiting and prepare the team for a bowl game.
The Aggies are bowl eligible but do not yet know where they will be going or who they will be playing. Hartwell said Wells met with Maile early Friday morning to discuss practice schedules and bowl preparation.
“Although he will be gone as our next head coach, he and Frank met this morning at 6:30,” Hartwell explained. “Matt is going to be heavily involved in the game planning and the game plan. He won’t be calling the plays or on the sideline in an official capacity, but he’s already asked me ‘would you allow me to be on the sideline as an Aggie alum and a former football player, and allow my family to be in the stands?’ I told him, ‘Matt, I wouldn’t have it any other way.'”
Hartwell was optimistic that the Las Vegas Bowl may be a viable option for the Aggies, but that will not be known until Sunday, Dec. 2nd. As USU prepares for a bowl game, Hartwell will be busy trying to determine who the next head football coach will be. He said there has already been a lot of interest.
“Coaches who have either directly reached out to me, or through their agents or through conduits of other coaches who know me who know them, the interest has been tremendous so far, from all aspects. Head coaches currently in college football, coordinators, assistant coaches, some guys in the NFL, some former coaches, there has been a lot of interest in our position.”
Hartwell will be using the same firm (DHR) he used to hire Craig Smith as USU’s men’s basketball coach. When asked what type of coach he will be looking for, and whether ties to the state of Utah will be important, Hartwell said he does not want to be tied down to a detailed criteria.
“In today’s world of being a head football coach at the FBS level, you’ve got to certainly have some CEO skills because there are too many components involved in it beyond the X’s and O’s of football or recruiting that are required to be successful,” Hartwell said. “As you mention the Utah connection, I don’t think it’s an absolute pre-requisite for the head coach, but it has to be somebody like (USU basketball head coach) Craig (Smith) that’s got to understand the culture, understand the nature. Obviously, we’ve had huge success with our Polynesian student athletes with our returned mission kids. That will continue to be a vital cog in the success of Utah State football.”
The early signing period for college football is December 19th, which puts some urgency on Hartwell to find USU’s next head coach.
“The intention is certainly inside the next week to have had the first round and for those who make their way through that process the second round of interviews. I would hope for us for 10 days to two weeks to have that person on board, if not before then. It’s really important to eliminate the uncertainty of who will lead our program going forward as soon as possible and not lose sight of that early signing date. With the December 19 signing date, the sooner we can get somebody on board, and a staff on board to lock in those current commitments. You never know, depending on who we bring in, that individual and that staff may have individual relationships with kids we didn’t have on our radar screen from a recruiting standpoint, they may become Aggies by December 19th.”
In Texas Tech’s announcement about Wells, it indicated that both David Yost and Keith Patterson would follow Wells to Lubbock, Texas as his Offensive and Defensive coordinators, respectively. Hartwell said Wells has requested almost his entire offensive staff and most of the defensive staff to go with him, including Strength and Conditioning coach Dave Scholz and some quality control staffers. Hartwell indicated that is still being worked out and may not be known until after the bowl game. It will also depend on who the next head coach is and who he might want to retain on staff.
AUDIO: John Hartwell Press Conference about Matt Wells departure