Weber State is an appropriate treat

By By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

It surprises me that most people don’t know what Homecoming Week is. Sure, most people recognize the name, but not the definition.

Not to patronize those that are hip to this little tradition, but essentially it is a school’s celebration of the return of the alumni back to the campus. The week culminates with a football game, aptly called “the homecoming game.” Plastic girls and guys with Colgate smiles collect crowns at halftime and yada yada yada.

In keeping with the gaudy spectacle that homecoming week has become, alumni expect a similar show on the football field. In other words, they expect a win that showcases how powerful the football team is. So personally, I understand why the U serves cupcakes for the homecoming game. This year, that cupcake comes with a little bit of extra frosting in the form of former head coach Ron McBride. He now coaches the Weber State Wildcats, so it’s fitting that the U gives its little brother from the north some love with a hefty cash bonus for playing in the game and the U campus gets to get a little nostalgic. And why not?

McBride resurrected this program when it was a floundering fish washed up on the shore of near obscurity. The two coaches before McBride8212;Chuck Stobart and Jim Fassel8212;collected losing records for the better part of the 1980s. Wayne Howard, Utah’s general from 1977 to 1981 fared a little better at 30-24-2 overall. Howard’s predecessor, Tom Lovat, had a 5-28 resume for his work in the mid ’70s. In all, Utah had exactly zero Bowl berths during that time. BYU owned a 14-2 record against us. Utah’s best records were an 8-3 showing in 1978 and an 8-4 record in 1985. Those were the hooks Utah hung its hat on.

After five seasons, McBride led Utah to a 10-2 record and its first AP Top 25 finish (No. 8) in school history. McBride turned this program around to the point that in 2000, his only losing season since his first year was no longer acceptable.

Having a homecoming with McBride involved is fitting, even if it’s Weber State joining him for the party.

And if you’re still thinking scheduling Weber State was a mistake, look at Utah’s homecoming record over the past 10 years. The Utes should probably be serving cupcakes more often. Utah has a 5-5 record in its last 10 homecoming games. That’s a .500 record for a team that is 70-40 (.636) overall and 41-16 (.719) at home during that same span.

Laugh all you want at Utah’s opponent. Weber State is going to allow the Utes to rest players who have been nicked up and refocus for the stretch run through conference play. The Wildcats might be softer than a week-old banana, but the timing and occasion makes perfect sense. And look at it this way: We still have Oregon State, No. 23 TCU and No. 11 BYU coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium this year. Enjoy the cake walk while it lasts.

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Tony Pizza