Guy trying to turn around Utah State
Appeal Sports Writer
When Brent Guy was hired at Utah State two-plus years ago, he knew it would be a lengthy process getting the Aggies’ football program turned around.
On the field, the last winning season for the Aggies was in 1996 under former Idaho and Michigan State coach John L. Smith. Utah State has had only two winning seasons in the last 25 years.
Off the field, Utah State has tried to upgrade its Romney Stadium facility, and that takes money. So, instead of buying out of contracts to play lesser opponents and win more games, the Aggies have played the likes of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Clemson and Alabama in the last four years, and the result has been lopsided losses.
“That’s part of what I accepted (money games) when I took this job,” Guy said from his office in Logan, as he gets ready to host Nevada this weekend. “I’d certainly like to play a 1-AA game every year. We don’t have any on our schedule this year or next. I have to live with it; learn to win the tough way.”
The win-loss record has certainly been tough to swallow. The Aggies are 4-25 under Guy and riding a 12-game losing streak, dating back to the final six games of the 2006 season. The Aggies’ last win was a 13-12 upset of Fresno State last Oct. 6.
At the end of the season, Guy will have two years left on his five-year contract. Will he be given the full five years is anybody’s guess. Certainly, Utah State officials should realize selling their tiny college town to prospective recruits isn’t easy, nor is it easy to win these days in the WAC.
“I haven’t had that feeling yet,” Guy said when asked how secure he felt. “No one has come to me and said we have to win this year. I’m sure we’ll sit down at the end of the year. I always feel pressure to win.”
Randy Spetman, USU athletic director told Salt Lake Tribune reporter Steve Luhm on Tuesday that “I think he (Guy) will be successful here and I’m willing to stick with him.”
When you ask coaches in the Western Athletic Conference about the Utah State program, the remarks are favorable. Besides being well-liked, Guy also is a good coach as his past stints at places like Boise State, Oklahoma State and Arizona State would suggest.
“I do think they’re better,” Hawaii coach June Jones said. “He’s done an unbelievable job of getting the players to play hard. He does a good job with the kids. That’s hard to do when you have lost a lot of games in a row. A few more good recruiting classes, and he has a chance to turn it around.”
San Jose State’s Dick Tomey, whose teams have had some great battles with Utah State the last two years, agreed with Jones.
“I think Brent has done a terrific job,” Tomey said. “Utah State has been a nightmare for us since Brent got there. They are tough and physical. I know it’s been a disappointment from the standpoint of winning games. We were fortunate to win there a couple of weeks ago.
I think back to Mack Brown (now at Texas). He went 0-11 twice at North Carolina. They stuck with him because they saw good things.”
Indeed. Brown guided the Tar Heels to a 10-1 record and was snapped up by Texas where he led the Longhorns to a national title two years ago.
Like his WAC peers, Guy believes there are better days ahead for the Aggies.
“We are a better football team,” Guy said. “We are a better team than the one that beat Fresno State last year. Once we win a game, the team will be able to loosen up. When you have a losing streak over your head, you’re tighter than you want to be. Guys need that shot of confidence that will come with a win.
‘We’ve lost some close games, but I believe we are getting better each week. Last week (two weeks ago vs. Hawaii) was our best game offensively in terms of yardage and points (370 yards, 37 points).”
The biggest rap against the Aggies has been their inability to finish games. They have been ahead or tied in the fourth quarter of games against UNLV, Wyoming and San Jose State, and come up empty each time. Put those three games in the win column, and this year would have been a different story.
Against UNLV, Frank Summers scored with 1:02 left, snapping a 16-all tie and giving the Rebels a season-opening win. Utah State led Wyoming 18-17 after three quarters, but the Cowboys scored 15 unanswered points in the final quarter to win.
The loss to SJSU was even more galling. Utah State led 20-16, but the Spartans scored on a 31-yard pass play with 53 seconds to go ahead. On the ensuing kickoff into the wind, the Aggies failed to cover up the kickoff and the Spartans ran out the clock.
Guy said that problems in the red zone contributed in all three of the aforementioned losses.
“We get first and goal inside the 10, and we have to settle for three points, or in a couple of cases, no points,” Guy said. “When you can only get three instead of seven, at the end of the game it makes a difference.
“Peter Caldwell has done a good job (kicking), but he’s had to kick some short ones. His longest is 47 yards.”
•Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281