Utah State Aggies
|Utah State Aggies|
|University||Utah State University|
|Conferences||Mountain West Conference|
|Athletic director||Scott Barnes|
|Football stadium||Romney Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Dee Glen Smith Spectrum|
|Fight song||Hail the Utah Aggies|
The Utah State Aggies are the athletics teams of Utah State University (USU). The school fields men's varsity teams in basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, and track and field. Women's varsity teams include basketball, cross country, gymnastics, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. All teams competed in the NCAA Division I Western Athletic Conference (WAC). They joined the Mountain West Conference in 2013. USU has a number of club teams as well.
The first intercollegiate athletic event in the school's history took place on November 25, 1892, when the Agriculturalists defeated the football team from the University of Utah, 12-0. The football program has a rich history (Merlin Olsen and Phil Olsen are alumni) throughout the mid-20th century, but has struggled lately, following two ill-fated stints as an independent program and two more years in the geographically distant Sun Belt Conference, after the Big West Conference, which had housed the Aggies since 1978, elected to stop sponsoring football in 2001. USU's other teams remained in that conference until the school was finally invited to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in 2005. USU had lobbied to join its in-state rivals Utah and BYU in the WAC for many decades prior to 2005, and were only allowed in after the two other schools had left to form the Mountain West Conference.
Recently, the men's basketball team, under coach Stew Morrill, has become a nationally respected program, with several conference championships and trips to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. The basketball program has been one of the most successful programs in the country since 2000, winning at least 23 games in each season, many conference championships, and appearing in the NCAA tournament numerous times. In fact, many Aggie sports have been extremely successful for many years, though this is often overlooked due to the recent futility of the football team.
Following the great heights of the 1960s and 70's, Aggie football has fallen upon hard times in recent decades, leading to a disproportionate lack of USU sports coverage in statewide and national media. Many of the Aggie faithful attribute the decline to administrators at both Utah and BYU freezing then-superior USU out of the newly formed WAC. However, other factors cited as leading to the decline include a failure to upgrade facilities until recently, a lack of donors to athletics, and the complacency of past athletics directors. The futility of the football program has had an extremely negative effect on the perception of the university as a whole, and it is something that the Aggies are only now recovering from. 2011 saw the first winning season in many years, a bowl game, and in May 2012, an invitation to the Mountain West Conference, which will give USU its first stable, promising conference home in a half-century.
However, new athletic director Scott Barnes has recently inked deals with TV stations, replaced the head football coach, raised funds, and accomplished numerous necessary reorganizations, despite the athletics department's dismal budget in comparison with other state and WAC schools. In large part due to his efforts, USU Athletics was crowned the 2009 National Champion of the Excellence in Management Cup, which seeks to identify the university that wins the most championships with the lowest expenses. The Aggies brought in WAC championships in five sports during the 2008-09 academic year, tied for the most in school history.
As of January 2011, Aggie football has an overall record of 504–509–31 (.498)
After many years of futility, the Aggies experienced a renaissance under head coach Gary Andersen, who replaced Brent Guy following the 2008 season. The 2011 campaign was the team's first winning season in many years, resulting in a postseason bowl berth. 2012 has brought the school's first-ever 10-win season and WAC championship (its first outright conference championship since 1936), and national Top 25 rankings in all three major polls. Andersen left USU after the 2012 season and has been replaced by his former offensive coordinator Matt Wells.
The Aggies have played in eight bowl games in their history, winning three. The team's first victory came in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl against Ball State. The team has made three consecutive bowl appearances, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, in 2011 and 2012, and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, in 2013. The team lost to Ohio in the 2011 edition and defeated Toledo 41–15 in the 2012 edition. In 2013 USU defeated Northern Illinois University in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
USU football is played at Romney Stadium, which seats 25,513.
Other men's sports
The men's cross country team has been impressive in recent years, winning the WAC title for the past five years in a row—each year since joining the WAC. Members of the team have garnered numerous conference and regional awards, and have competed in the NCAA Championships. Likewise, the men's track and field team has long enjoyed success, with a bevy of All-American athletes from decades past. In recent years, the team has also won WAC championships in 2007, 2009, and 2010 (outdoor) and 2008 and 2010 (indoor).
Golf has spent many years attempting to return to the heights achieved in the early 1980s by alum Jay Don Blake. As a member of the Aggie golf squad, Blake won the NCAA Championship in 1980 and was named NCAA Player of the Year in 1981. He turned pro that year, and in 1987 joined the PGA Tour, where he has one victory and several top-10 finishes, mostly in the early '90s. He has won three times on the Champions Tour.
The tennis team has a difficult time attracting major recruits due to the lack of indoor on-campus facilities. The team trains and plays its home matches at an upscale local gym. Despite this deficiency, the team has produced a number of athletes who have won all-conference honors in recent years, drawing from both local and international talent pools.
Of women's sports at USU, gymnastics has probably been most successful historically, heading to the postseason 26 times, including five trips to the national championships. The soccer team has been successful as of late, finishing the 2008 season with a perfect record in conference play, as well as a WAC title. Despite falling in the conference tournament in 2009, Aggie soccer landed three players on the All-WAC first team.
Women's volleyball and softball are two of the sports at USU which can boast national championships in their history. Neither team has returned to such heights in recent years, though each has been consistently good. The women's tennis team struggles with the same disadvantages as the men's.
The women's basketball program began rebuilding in 2003 after a 16-year absence. At the time, USU was the only Division I school that did not have a women's basketball program besides the mostly male Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel. It took eight years for Utah State to post a winning record, finishing the 2010–11 season at 16–15 after reaching the second round of the WNIT. The 2011–12 team finished 21–10 for the first 20-win season in school history, exiting the WNIT in the first round. Following the season, Raegan Pebley, who had been head coach since the return of the sport, was hired away by Fresno State, with Jerry Finkbeiner being hired as her replacement.
The most used sports venue is the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, where basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics events are held. TV and radio announcers visiting the Smith Spectrum for the first time commonly state that the spectrum is one of the loudest basketball venues in the country with one of the most enthusiastic crowds in the country, rivaling Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke University. It is a tradition that near the beginning of games the crowd chooses one player from the other team who commits a blatant foul, taunts the crowd, etc., and every time that player touches the ball the entire crowd boos loudly until he passes the ball. This pressure on opposing players created by this tradition has cut many outstanding players down to below average while at the Spectrum.
The football team plays in Romney Stadium, slightly north and west of the main campus. The stadium had natural grass until 2004, when artificial turf was installed. Romney Stadium is built on a hillside, and appears much smaller from outside than it actually is, as much of the seating and the field are below street level. In 2009, the field at Romney Stadium was named Merlin Olsen field, in honor of the Hall of Fame alumnus.
Aggie name and mascot
The name Aggies, short for Agriculturalists, is a fixture of many universities that began as land-grant and agricultural colleges. Early USU sports teams were sometimes simply referred to as the "Farmers" as well as the Aggies, though the former name was never official. Beginning in the 1930s, an image of a "bean-pole farmer" with a pitchfork in hand and hay stalk in mouth began to be used to represent the college, though this too was never made official, and disappeared following the transformation into a full-fledged university in 1957.
During the late 1960s and early '70s, a movement began on campus to shed the Aggie name in favor of the Utah State Highlanders, but the movement met with widespread opposition and was abandoned. The name "Highlanders" was a nod to the university's historic ideological tie to Scotland, which came about very early on in the college's history, mostly due to the university's setting on a hill in a high mountain valley. In fact, for a brief period, USU's teams were indeed nicknamed the "Scotsmen" as well, and a remnant of this era lives on in the current and popular fight song "The Scotsman".
A November 7, 1901 meeting decided that the college's official color would be blue. It originated as more of a royal blue, morphing fully into navy by the 1920s.
The term "Big Blue" came about in the 1960s simply to refer to the uniform color, as opposed to any particular mascot. The image of a bull first appeared on a football game program in 1975, and the following year it was adopted as USU's mascot.
For a few years, USU used an actual white bull, painted blue, which was brought to sporting events and corralled on the sidelines. However, when the Smith Spectrum was built, there were concerns with the bull ruining the floor. For a short time, the bull was outfitted with rubber boots, which did not pan out. The bull was retired and a costume was designed in 1987.
The costume has since undergone at least one redesign, but is now one of the most active and recognized college mascots in the region. Possibly Big Blue's most well-known antic is his tradition of rappelling from the JumboTron to kick off team introductions for men's basketball games. He also enjoys crowdsurfing. As of 2003, four of the six people who had played the Big Blue role had gone on to become mascots for professional sports teams.
The true identity of Big Blues past and present have always been well-kept secrets on campus.
The HURD is the name of the student section that supports all of Utah State University Athletics. The HURD started in 2006 and has grown every year since. Membership in the HURD is available to every Utah State University student starting usually in June for the upcoming academic year. The HURD helps organize major activities such as tailgates, camp outs, away game watch parties and more for their members as well as the entire student body. The HURD makes sure that the teams who visit Utah State will experience the best atmosphere in the country for collegiate athletics by being known as the craziest student section in the country.
Hail the Utah Aggies
The Aggies' principal fight song is known as "Hail the Utah Aggies" as well as simply "Fight Song". It was composed in 1933 by Mickey Hart, with words by Darwin Jepsen and Mark Hart. The main verse is sung twice, with the chant once in between.
Hail the Utah Aggies
We'll play the game
With all our might
See the colors flying
The Aggie blue
And fighting white
How they stir us onward
We'll win the victory all right,
Hail the Utah Aggies
We're out to win
So fight, fight, fight!
(Chant) Utah State, hey
Aggies all the way
Hey, hey, hey!!
The popular Scotsman song was composed by student Ebenezer J. Kirkham, class of 1918, though a similar song had been used by other colleges for at least a decade. At athletic events, "The Scotsman" is often sung immediately following "Hail the Utah Aggies". The words are sung twice through without a break, accompanied by synchronized arm gestures originally created by a small students in Section K of the Spectrum in the early 90s, which eventually spread to the entire student section. While the original reason for the arm movements is unknown, the prevailing theory is that they were based on the movements of the Bushwhackers, a tag team wrestling duo popular at the time. The motions are yet another example of USU students ingenuity creating longstanding traditions at sporting events. During the final words of the second "verse", the students' pitch often rises to a full-out yell.
Show me the Scotsman who doesn't love the thistle.
Show me the Englishman who doesn't love the rose.
Show me the true blooded Aggie from Utah
Who doesn't love the spot . . .
Where the sagebrush grows!
- Volleyball: 1978
- Softball: 1980, 1981
- Handball: 2013 (Men's Div. 2 Singles - Ryan Campbell), 2013 (Men's Div. 2 Doubles - Ryan Campbell & Jonathan Larson)
- Basketball: 1980, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
- Cross Country: 1992, 1993, 1994, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
- Football: 1978, 1979, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2012
- Indoor Track: 1993, 2008, 2010
- Outdoor Track: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
- Wrestling: 1978, 1979
- Cross Country: 1998, 2006, 2008
- Gymnastics: 1992, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005
- Indoor Track: 1994, 2012
- Outdoor Track: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2012
- Soccer: 2008, 2011
- Softball: 1993
Men's Track and Field
Discus: '58, '59; Long Jump: '67
Hammer: '95, '99, '00, '01; Discus: '01
Women's Track and Field
Mile: '93; 5000: '93
Men's Cross Country
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