Utah State Football

Utah State Football

The Utah State Aggies college football team began playing intercollegiate college football in 1892 and plays its home games at scenic Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah. The Aggies have won eleven conference championships in four different conferences during their history and have played in six bowl games. Overall, the Aggies have a record of 487–501–31(.493). Utah State currently plays in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of NCAA Division I but will be joining the Mountain West Conference in 2013.

The Aggies are coached by fan favorite Gary Andersen, who followed Brent Guy after the 2008 season. Andersen previously served as defensive coordinator at the University of Utah, and his excellent defense was a key piece of the undefeated 2008 Utes team that defeated Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

Aggies fans are excited about the rebuilding efforts of Coach Andersen and his staff. In 2011, Coach Andersen's third season, he led the Aggies to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and Utah State’s first winning season since 1997. While his first two Utah State squads compiled 4–8 records (5–11 WAC), Aggie fans note that three conference losses were very close, with margins of either 3 or 4 points – and the Aggies held leads during a significant portion of each game. This marks a demonstrable improvement over the seasons before Coach Andersen arrived.

Utah State Football History

Utah State has produced numerous All Americans and future NFL stars, including Hall of Famer tackle Merlin Olsen and his All American brother Phil; Rulon Jones (1st-team All American 1979, AFC Defensive Player of the Year, 1986); Greg Kragen (13-year NFL career with 3 Super Bowl rings), Donald Penn (starting left tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pro Bowl 2011); and Jarrett Bush (current DB, Green Bay Packers – in Super Bowl XLV he had an interception and four solo tackles). See below for many more famous Aggies stars.

Utah State has appeared in six bowl games winning the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl over Ball State. In 1997, the Aggies lost to Cincinnati in the Humanitarian Bowl, and Utah State played its seventh bowl game on December 17, 2011, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (formerly the Humanitarian Bowl), losing 24–23 to Ohio.

Early History

Utah State University's first intercollegiate sporting contest occurred on November 25, 1892, when the Agriculturalists upended the University of Utah, 12–0.That game was played on what is now the quad – and no more games were played until 1896. After resuming play, the Aggies teams of the early 1900s dominated regional play, recording their first perfect season (7-0) in 1907. In 1911, head coach Clayton Teetzel’s squad once again completed an undefeated slate. In fact, USU shut out its five opponents by a collective score of 164 to 0.

Through 1912, the Aggies played on the makeshift field on the quad, but in 1913 the team moved to Adams Field, two blocks west of campus (site of Adams Park now). This was a step up to be sure, but things really began to improve with the successful tenure of Coach E. L. "Dick" Romney, who arrived in Logan in 1918. Romney, the namesake of the current stadium, guided Utah State to a first-ever conference championship in 1921. Coach Romney’s teams recorded a 128–91–16 record over 29 seasons.

Utah State established a rich gridiron heritage during the early- and mid-20th century, when the program produced an impressive number of future NFL players, including the legendary brothers and consensus All-Americans Merlin Olsen and Phil Olsen. This era saw the Aggies finish the season with their only Top 25 rankings, finishing No. 10 in 1961 and No. 19 in 1972.

After the stellar decades of the 1960s and 70's, Utah State football struggled through some tough times. Many Aggie followers believe the decline was partly caused by administrators from both the University of Utah and BYU whom they feel kept then-superior USU out of the WAC. To be fair, however, many program-watchers also lament the failure to upgrade facilities until recently, a paucity athletic department donors, and problems with various conference affiliations.

Conference Affiliations

  • 1914–1937: Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
  • 1938–1961: Mountain States Conference
  • 1962–1977: Independent
  • 1978–2000: Big West Conference
  • 2001–2002: Independent
  • 2003–2004: Sun Belt Conference
  • 2005–present: Western Athletic Conference

After a series of unsuccessful attempts to join the WAC, Utah State played as an independent during 1962-1976, and from 2002-2004. It then joined the geographically distant Sun Belt Conference after the Big West Conference – home of the Aggies since 1978 – chose to stop sponsoring football in 2001. Utah State’s other teams stayed in the Big West Conference until the Aggies were at last invited to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in 2005. However, the Aggies gained membership after Utah and BYU had pulled out to form the Mountain West Conference with six other schools. By joining the Mountain West Conference in 2013, Utah State will finally share conference affiliation with its in-state rivals.

Notable players

  • LB – LaVell Edwards (1949–1951)... All-Mountain States (1950); Hall of Fame coach at Brigham Young University
  • OT – Len Rohde (1957–1959)... Two-time all-Skyline Eight; 15-year NFL career
  • DL – Merlin Olsen (1959–1961)... 2-time and Consensus All-American, Outland Trophy winner (1961); 14 Pro Bowls; current USU field named in his memory
  • DL – Lionel Aldridge (1960–1962)... Hon. Men. All-American (1962); 11-year NFL career, 2 Super Bowl rings with the Green Bay Packers
  • PK – Jim Turner (1961–1963) ... a QB in college, he kicked a then record 145 points in the 1968 regular NFL season, with a pro football record 34 field goals. Has one Super Bowl ring with the New York Jets, who defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Played 9 seasons with the Denver Broncos, including Super Bowl XII against the Dallas Cowboys. Was 304 of 488 (62%) on field goals and 521 of 534 extra points, giving him 1,439 total points over his career. Inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 1988; all-time second team, American Football League
  • QB – Bill Munson (1964–1964)...played in 16 NFL seasons from 1964–1979 for five different teams, starting for the Detroit Lions through the late 1960's and early 1970's
  • DL – Phil Olsen (1967–1969)... Consensus All-American (1969); 9-year NFL career
  • OG – Jim Hough (1974–1977)... 2nd team AP All-American (1977), 9 years in NFL
  • DL – Rulon Jones (1976–1979)... 1st team AP All-American (1979); AFC Defensive Player of the Year (1986)
  • QB – Eric Hipple (1976–1979)... All-Pacific Coast; 10-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions
  • QB – Bob Gagliano (1980)... Played for 14 years in the NFL with eight teams, and one season with the Denver Gold of the United States Football League (USFL)
  • DL – Greg Kragen (1980–1983)... 13-year NFL career; Pro Bowl, 3 Super Bowl rings
  • LB – Al Smith (1984–1986)... Big West Defensive Player of the Year (1986), 2-time Honorable Mention All-American
  • QB – Anthony Calvillo (1992–1993)...17-year CFL career including 3 Grey Cup Wins; 4-time CFL All-Star; CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award 2003, 2008, 2009; all-time record holder for touchdown passes
  • TE – Chris Cooley (2000–2003)... Led NCAA in TE receptions as a senior; NFL Pro Bowl (2007–2009) with the Washington Redskins
  • WR – Kevin Curtis (2001–2002)... 3rd team AP All-American (2001); finished career as USU receptions leader. Has played for the St. Louis Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles, Currently with the Kansas City Chiefs
  • Donald Penn (2002–2006)... Currently the starting left tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, named to the 2011 Pro Bowl
  • WR – Kevin Robinson (2003–2007)... NCAA all-time leader in all-purpose yards per play (16.16; 6,479 yds in 401 career plays)
  • DB – Jarrett Bush (2004–2005)... Currently a nickel back with the Green Bay Packers; in Super Bowl XLV, he had one interception, one hit on quarterback, one pass defended, and four solo tackles

Stadium

Utah State enjoys a home-field advantage at Romney Stadium, named for E.L. “Dick” Romney, the Aggies’ all-time winningest football coach and former athletics director. Dedicated on September 27, 1969, the actual first game in Romney Stadium was played on September 14, 1968 with Utah State defeating New Mexico State, 28–12. Prior to playing in its current facility, the Aggies played at a different, smaller venue which also bore the name "Romney Stadium" – it occupied the site of the current HPER building.

On December 5, 2009, Utah State University announced that Romney Stadium’s playing surface would be named “Merlin Olsen Field,” in honor of the Pro and College Football Hall of Fame member and former Aggie. In Fall of 2010, a statue of Olsen was dedicated to his memory in a plaza south of Romney Stadium.

 

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