No sour grapes here

By By Blake Moore

By Blake Moore

It would be hypocritical to say that I did not feel some sort of retribution this past weekend when I heard that Utah State’s football coach, Mick Dennehy, was fired.

The report came after the Aggies (2-7) lost their fifth straight game on Saturday to Louisiana-Monroe. Dennehy and the Athletics Director Randy Spetman met and they decided he would coach the final two games and then resign. He has one year remaining on his contract. Dennehy is in his fifth season with USU and has compiled a record of 18-36.

So why should this news concern a part-time sports writer for The Daily Utah Chronicle? Well, six years ago I signed a letter of intent to play football for USU and then first-year coach, Dave Arslanian.

By doing this, I committed the next five years of my college life to the football program. After I graduated high school in 1998, I began working out with the other quarterbacks in preparation for my freshman season. After a red-shirt season, I left to serve an LDS mission in Seoul, Korea.

During my mission, I received news that coach Arslanian had been fired after only two seasons. Shortly after Dennehy was hired, he sent me a letter expressing his excitement of my return.

A few months later, one of his assistant coaches spoke to my mother and informed her that they were cutting my scholarship.

My two roommates and other recruits on missions were also informed that their contracts would not be honored upon their return.

Neither the coaching staff nor the athletics department contacted me concerning these changes. I knew serving a mission would risk my football career, and I also knew the politics and luck associated with being a successful student-athlete.

Neither aspect of college football favored me.

I hesitated writing this column because I feared coming across as someone who is bitter and vindictive. It is human nature to feel slighted by situations such as this, but I never sought revenge on the program.

I had a great experience playing at Utah State under Arslanian. There were many who encouraged filing a lawsuit against the athletics department. My family and I wanted nothing to do with that.

College coaches have the right to recruit, sign and play the players they feel will help their team win. Dennehy and his staff did not recruit me, and therefore felt no obligation to involve me in their program. I understand the decisions made by the coaching staff, but I felt the situation should have been handled differently.

People who knew the circumstances expected me to be sour. That was not the case. I had many friends that I wanted to see thrive in the program. I am also excited to see how they will fare in the WAC next year. I wish Dennehy and his staff luck in their future endeavors. I do admit, however, that when the Utes played at Romney Stadium earlier this season, I sat on the front row in the Aggie student section wearing the reddest shirt I own, relieved I didn’t have to face the Ute defense.

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