|photo by Douglas C Pizac|
Prior to Urban Meyer's arrival in Salt Lake City, the Utah football program had just one Top 25 finish in its entire football history. Under the likes of Wayne Howard, Chuck Stobart, and Jim Fassell, the Utes simply couldn't get out of the shadow of their southern rival Brigham Young University. BYU's national success, prestige on the football field, and utter dominance of Utah in football since the early 1970's weighed heavily on Utah almuni and coaches alike. It also gave the Utah administration incentive to compete better in the marketplace. And once the flame was ignited, it grew precipitously.
Enter Ron McBride. The fiery head coach brought the Utes out of the Cougars shadow and redefined the rivalry with BYU. This cannot be overstated. Utah began to become its own entity, outside of BYU's sphere of influence, and began charting its own course. All who looked at the program on the Hill saw its potential. McBride was able to capture a portion of this and when Meyer took over in 2003, the foundation was set for an explosion of success.
What followed was four Top-25 finishes, two of those being in the Top 4, in just an eight year span. Two BCS victories and seven bowl wins later, the Utes were now a force to be reckoned with in college football. Kyle Whittingham picked up the program after Meyer's departure and continued the train ahead. The Utes have back-to-back-to-back 10-win seasons under their belts and since 2003, are an impressive 18-5 record against BCS opponents, including a 7-3 tally against members of the Pac-10
The increased exposure, revenue, and recruiting possibilities will only add to the stature and future success of the University of Utah football program. The sky is the limit for the Utes. July 1st, 2011 will long be remembered in the Salt Lake Valley as the day the Utes made their next step toward a national profile. The terrific Utah fight song states: "A Utah Man Am I!" Folks in the Pac-12 footprint and around the country will soon hear the sound of the mighty Utah football program in a way they haven't heard it before.