USU: Interviews in full swing
USU already has met with three applicants for its head football coach
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The search for a football coach at Utah State has officially entered the interview stage.

And things are moving along briskly.

Multiple sources confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday that Aggies athletic director Scott Barnes has talked formally with several key candidates over the course of this week and may actually wrap up their interviews by as early as next week.

Sources say San Jose State assistant Kent Baer interviewed with Barnes on Wednesday, and South Florida assistant Mike Canales is expected to fly into Salt Lake City this weekend for an interview.

Sources also confirm that Utah defensive coordinator Gary Anderson and former USU coach John L. Smith have have already interviewed for the position, which opened up when Aggie coach Brent Guy was fired last week.

This means that Barnes is following through on his recent vow to direct the search on a swift timeline. With the Aggies facing New Mexico State on Saturday, in what will be Guy's final game, it appears as though a new coach could be in place soon after that. Barnes has said that whoever gets the job needs a head start on the recruiting season.

While Baer, Canales, Anderson and Smith appear to be the frontrunner candidates, they aren't the only coaches interested in the Aggie job. Paul Rhoads, the defensive coordinator at Auburn, has made a push for the position in previous days, as has UCLA defensive coordinator De- Wayne Walker.

Walker and Smith - who has also coached at Louisville and Michigan State- have been linked with other coaching searches. Walker is a target of San Diego State's, and Smith appears to be a frontrunner for the Wyoming job. Canales, Baer and Anderson all have impressive local ties that make them attractive candidates. Canales confirmed his interest in the position in a Tribune story earlier this week.

tjones@sltrib.com