Perfect parting shots

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

NEW ORLEANS8212;The goodbye was inevitable, but for outgoing coordinators Gary Anderson and Andy Ludwig, the choice to coach the Ute football team through the Sugar Bowl couldn’t have ended any sweeter.

Ludwig, who will be joining head coach Bill Snyder in attempt to rebuild Kansas State’s football program, took the offensive coordinator position that will pay him more than he was making at Utah and might even result in a head coaching position with the Wildcats if Snyder’s stay isn’t a long one.

Andersen, who is heading north of Salt Lake City to coach Utah State is leaving behind nine returning starts if Sean Smith, Paul Kruger and the rest of Utah’s defense decides to return for their junior and senior years.

Both coordinators coached, and then witnessed their respective sides of the ball play a dominating 60 minutes of football that nobody saw coming short of the team itself.

“I’m absolutely, 100 percent excited,” Andersen said about starting the next chapter of his coaching career. “It’s an opportunity I’ve looked for and waited for a number of years. I feel like I’m 1000 percent prepared and I have a great staff to go get it done, but when you play in a game like this, it’s an end for a team anyway.”

Andersen will immediately start the recruiting process once he makes the permanent move to Logan, Utah. Before long, he will be preparing a game plan against the very team he coached as Utah State will travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium to kickoff the 2009 season.

Kalani Sitake has already inherited the defensive coordinator position and assumes the duties almost immediately.

As for the offensive coordinator, head coach Kyle Whittingham has yet to hire a new one. Ludwig, who will leave behind a legacy that included times that U fans called for his job, should be remembered more for coaching the all-time winningest quarterback in Utah history, and this year’s Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year in Brian Johnson.

“It’s been awesome,” Ludwig said of his time working with Johnson. “Brian and I have been together for four years. He was a part of putting this offensive system together. It was designed around him, it was designed for him and today, and really the senior season he’s had, I could be more proud of him.”

Ludwig said that besides leaving Utah behind, the hardest thing was having to watch the clock slowly wane off the clocki from the press box before he could join in the gratifying celebration for a long road that came to a happy close.

“I’m extremely proud of what the guys have accomplished and what the program and coach Whittingham have accomplished here,” Ludwig said. “It’s time for my next challenge and to move on. It is bittersweet, but what a way to go, what a way to go.”

Ludwig, who will go down as one of Utah’s great defensive coordinators, is also a great recruiter. He’s what the Utes refer to as a “player’s coach.” While his official duties are over, safety Robert Johnson mentioned that “Coach A” has left his door open to the guys that will always be his players whether the issue is football related or not.

Rarely do things end perfectly, but for Utah’s coordinators, it appears things have.

“These kids played their tales off,” Andersen said. “Come in here and win the Sugar Bowl is an unbelievable way to go start a new adventure. You couldn’t write a better script, I’ll tell you that much.”

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