SALT LAKE CITY- Utah football has been on the rise arguably for decades, but have you ever stopped to think about the catalyst for that success? We asked Utah football fans to Tweet us the teams or eras they felt like jump-started the Utes’ to their current status and got a lot of different answers. Here is what you all had to say:
The Lone Fassel Fan
While it is true the Jim Fassel era was overall very underwhelming in terms of wins and losses, the one thing it gave the Utes was hope for an explosive offense. Those teams knew how to put points on the board. The only problem was they didn’t know how to keep opposing team’s offenses off the board either. It feels weird to talk about bad Utah defenses, but they did exist in the ’80’s. These days the Utes are looking pretty good on offense and defense. Is it possible to draw a line from those offenses to Utah’s current offense? We’ll allow it.
1993? Fine By Me.
There are quite a few fans who voted for the 1993 team, not because they set the world on fire, but because kicker Chris Yergensen destroyed BYU’s with a game winning field goal. This dub for the Utes in Utah and BYU’s rivalry certainly could mark a changing of the guard with momentum swinging in the Utes’ favor. In many ways, getting consistent wins again against the Cougars could be argued as the beginning of Utah’s rise.
More For ’94
You can’t have this conversation without talking about the 1994 Utah football team and head coach Ron McBride’s impact. After, years, and years, and years of mediocrity at best, the Utes finished the season ranked number ten in the AP Poll and number eight in the Coaches Poll with a 10-2 record. They also had big wins over three ranked opponents, number 12 Colorado State, number 20 BYU and number 15 Arizona in the Freedom Bowl.
Taking It To A Heavy Weight
In 2001, the Utes earned a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl to take on a Pete Carroll led USC and beat them. Utah is known for having some moxie against teams that are slated as being better than them by a lot, this very well could be the first real game they encountered that put everyone on notice. The Utes are here. They are taking names, and they kicking butt.
2003 For Me, Please!
For many Ute fans switching the guard from McBride to this unknown at the time, young coach from Bowling Green is where the magic for Utah really started. Despite how you feel about Urban Meyer as a person, there is no denying he can build winners in college football (yes, we are making sure to be very specific about that) and the Utes in a lot of ways might be his crowing achievement. They were virtual nobodies in college football that are now flirting with being the new hot thing that everyone wants to be a part of.
The Utes Go Undefeated, Twice
On the more surprising side, only one fan mentioned Utah’s two undefeated seasons. Busting the Bowl Championship Series twice was a major accomplishment for tiny Utah. It put them on the map. It forced people to have to pay attention to them. Those two seasons in 2004 and 2008 most likely played the biggest factor in the Utes receiving their invite to the Pac-12 when conference expansion was happening.
Enter 2014 and 2015
Utah’s entrance into the Pac-12 wasn’t the smoothest. They had a pretty impressive inaugural season in 2011, but then things got hairy in 2012 and 2013. While there was frustration at the 5-7 finishes those two years since joining the Pac-12, it wasn’t like Utah wasn’t competitive. They just didn’t have enough horses to finish a season strong. In 2014 Utah took a major step forward and then elevated it again in 2015. Those two seasons were very key for the Utes to put the rest of the league on notice that they weren’t planning on being conference doormats year-in and year-out.
The Hallandale Trio
This pick is very modern in Utah’s history, but quarterback Tyler Huntley, running back Zack Moss, and receiver Demari Simpkins leaving Florida to go to school in Utah was a game changer. They opened up a “pipeline” from Florida to Salt Lake City that the Utes are continuing to benefit from. It was a huge gamble for the three of them to be so far from home and yet it paid off.
The Fans Who Couldn’t Pick Just One
In fairness this was a hard question that really doesn’t have a wrong answer depending on your perspective and knowledge of Utah football history. End of the day it’s all connected and led up to this point for the Utes.
The One Fan Who Picked Themselves
Lets be real here, college athletics are largely successful (or not) because of you, the fan. If you don’t buy in, don’t care, and don’t show up it does have an affect. So kudos to you, good sir for recognizing the importance of you joining Mac’s Kids back in the day.