Utah State football coach Gary Andersen is a psycho. That's according to his old offensive line coach -- and Weber State coach Ron McBride means it in the nicest way possible.
"Gary was kind of a psycho as a player," said McBride, who was Andersen's position coach at Utah during the 1985-86 season.
"He was one of those guys you could push his button and he would respond to it, you know what I mean? You could get in his face and yell at him, and that would make him better."
Some players would retreat, McBride said, but not Andersen, a junior college All-America center at Ricks College before coming to play at Utah.
"He likes the challenge. You call him out on stuff -- he's going to respond to it," McBride said.
"He'd say, 'Well, I'm going to show you.' That's why he's a good coach. A lot of people believe up at Utah State it can't be done; he's going to show you that he can get it done, because that's his personality."
In his third season at USU, Andersen might be starting to show what can be done at a school that hasn't had a .500 season or been to a bowl game since 1997.
A week after his Aggies nearly pulled off what would have been an epic upset in the college football world against defending national champion Auburn, Andersen will face McBride, his friend and former boss, when Utah State University (0-1) and Weber State University (0-1) meet at 6 p.m. Saturday at Romney Stadium in Logan.
McBride is in his seventh season at Weber State and 20th as a Division I head coach.
As the Utes' head man from 1990 to 2002, McBride hired Andersen to coach defensive tackles in 1997 and promoted him to assistant head coach in 2001.
Andersen said their connection now is deeper than just being former co-workers.
"He's a second dad to me. He's someone that I lean on at times," Andersen said of McBride.
"I'm not a guy to really talk to multiple people out there; I'm just not that person, right, wrong or indifferent. I'm kind of a secluded guy, if you will.
"If I look back at people that I'm going to lean on, it's people that I love and trust. Mac's still one of those first guys on that list that, when I need something or I need advice, I go to very quickly. ... Mac is a big part of me in a lot of ways."
Andersen is beyond needing much advice now, McBride said.
"We talk. He's his own man now. He's had enough of me," McBride joked. "I've been a part of his life since he was 18, 19 years old. He doesn't need some old man telling him what to do."
Current Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is the next guy on Andersen's list of trusted advisers.
McBride brought Whittingham on board at Utah in 1994 and made him defensive coordinator in 1995. Two years later, they added Andersen, who had coached with Whittingham at Idaho State, to the defensive staff. After the McBride years, Andersen also coached at Utah for Urban Meyer and as Whittingham's defensive coordinator.
As a player, Andersen, a Salt Lake City native, was recruited by former U of U coach Jim Fassel, but said he knew McBride would likely be his position coach -- and it was one of the reasons he chose to return to his hometown.
"He was a very good mentor for me, in both areas, as a player and as a coach. He worked his tail off to mold me as a man and as a player, and he worked his tail off to mold me as a young coach that cared about players first," Andersen said.
"(He was) always very demanding, always very driven, always expected a lot from me. That didn't change as a player or as a coach."
Andersen repaid his mentor by hiring away several Weber State assistants when he got the Utah State job in December 2008.
On the day he was announced as USU's next coach, Andersen declared he was going to build his team with in-state recruits, Polynesian players and returned LDS missionaries -- the three pillars McBride used to turn around the University of Utah program in the 1990s.
Apparently, Andersen was getting good advice.