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The Sports View

By Sun Advocate

For the last three days I have been steaming at the thought of the University of Utah firing it’s second most winningest coach in history, Ron McBride.
Before McBride, Utah had a series of coaches who were real losers. In fact they were such losers I can’t even remember who the coaches were between the days of Ray Nagle and Jim Fassel. What’s worse is that is the time period in which I went to school there, and attended football games regularly. I just remember us losing to BYU almost every year (except 1971).
McBride is a likeable and consistent coach. I had the opportunity to meet him a few years ago when I was working at CEU and the Utes would come down for “Camp Carbon.” He was a players coach and in person he was friendly, willing to talk with anyone.
Last night I heard one of the announcers on television say that with McBride you get what you see. From my estimation of my few minutes talking with him a long time ago, that is true.
It’s kind of funny, but when he stopped bringing his team to Price for that camp every year is when his fortunes at Utah started to wane. Maybe it’s the water, I don’t know.
Anyway, being a big Utah fan, I was appalled about McBrides potential firing and then Mondays announcement that he was going.
I was getting ready to write athletic director Chris Hill a nasty e-mail this morning telling him while I will never turn into a BYU fan, I was disgusted with the situation and was considering never going to a Utah football game again, no matter how good future teams may be.
But then I remembered that the media had not carried much about Hill’s point of view, mainly because when you are in administration, you can’t say much before the fact or after the fact for that matter.
This morning I decided to look at it from a different point of view and try to understand why this likeable guy is gone.
And while I am still upset about the situation, I now understand more than I did.
Giving both sides of the story a chance is important in all aspects of life.
McBride has had good success at Utah in many of his 13 years. However, as we all know, Utah has never been a powerhouse football program or even participated a very strong football conference. That makes the record less shiny.
Secondly, we have to face that major college sports is a business. Like it or not, that’s the truth. I believe in loyalty, but I also know this. The attendance has been falling; that is not directly McBride’s fault, but the teams record does have a bearing on attendance ( if you don’t believe it, just ask Larry Miller about that).
McBride said that this years attendance was up over 1000 per game, but that is largely due to the fact that the Utah-BYU game was held at Utah’s place this year and it was nearly sold out.
Finally, there is something few people know specific facts about. McBride is likeable, but in the kind of job he has, or any manager has (and that is what he is) he has almost assuredly made enemies over the years.
Most enemies are slight problems because they have little money, power or the will to go after somebody. But he has probably made some substantial enemies as well; it’s the nature of the beast.
Even those powerful enemies have a hard time pressing their influence when a coach is winning and building a program. They wait for chinks in the armor for that. In this case, with the failure of the last two seasons, McBride has no armor left at all.
We can’t know the pressures that Hill has faced this year. Between rabid fans who want a BYU like program (personally I’d prefer a Nebraska like program, they win more against much bigger foes), the administration which is in a financial crunch and private parties who have huge influences on everyone, he could probably only make once decision.
Should McBride be gone? As a fan of Utah and of him, I say no.
But if I look at it as a realist without the emotion, I understand the reasons Utah will now be looking for a new football coach.

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