Gary Andersen, who said opt-outs ‘not an option’ at Utah State, fired after 0-3 start

Utah State coach Gary Andersen, who earlier this season infamously said that player opt-outs due to COVID-19 were “not an option,” has been fired. He was 0-3 in 2020.

The school announced the decision Saturday after it was originally reported by USA Today.

“After a thorough analysis on the current state of our football team, we believe a change at head coach is in the best interest of our program moving forward,” Utah State athletics director John Hartwell said in a statement. “The continued success and development of Aggie football is a priority and we want to make sure we are regular contenders for the Mountain West Championship.”

Utah State went 7-9 in Andersen’s second stint with the program, including a 7-6 record in 2019. That dropped Andersen’s career coaching record to 59-63 over 11 years, including 33-33 in his first stint at Utah State from 2009-12. This year, the Aggies have lost by a combined 114-29 to Boise State, San Diego State and Nevada, scoring more than one touchdown in only one game.

That three-game skid wasn’t Andersen’s only misstep in 2020. On Oct. 2, he said players who chose to opt out of the season because of health and safety concerns were “not with us.”

“At least in our program, we don’t have an opt-out. And it’s not an option,” Andersen said (via the Salt Lake Tribune). “If you opt out, you’re not with us.”

Andersen later clarified his statements, saying there was no official policy in place preventing a player from opting out. He added that any player who wanted to opt out, could.

“We have an opt-out form. We have discussed this with the team many, many times. The word ‘policy,’ in my mind . . . I was basically saying we have no one in that situation in our football team right now that has opted out. So our policy . . . doesn’t exist right now, we’re not using it. I should have, obviously, clarified that much cleaner and said that we have nobody who has opted out, or is opting out, in our football program.”

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