When he was little, Morgan Scalley thought his dad was a big football star. He remembers admiring his trophies, including one that sort of resembled the Heisman Trophy.
Of course, Bud Scalley never won the Heisman when he played for the University of Utah more than 40 years ago. He did receive a scholarship trophy as a senior, and the trophy little Morgan thought was the Heisman was actually one that Bud received from coaching Morgan's older brother in Mighty Mites football.
The fact is, in his whole collegiate career at Utah, Bud Scalley only gained about the same number of yards as a Heisman winner today might get in a single game. But he was a feisty competitor who will always be remembered by Ute old-timers for one moment of glory, when he scored the winning, and only, touchdown in an unforgettable victory over a nationally ranked, unbeaten, Merlin Olsen-led Utah State team in 1960.
This week, 44 years later, Morgan, the starting free safety for the 14th-ranked University of Utah team, gets his final shot at Utah State with the team roles reversed. This time it's the Aggies who will be trying to knock off an unbeaten, nationally ranked Ute team Saturday at 5 p.m. at Romney Stadium in Logan.
The 1960 media guide lists Bud Scalley as one of 60 players on the Utah football team, although he didn't warrant a number on the roster.
The preseason four-deep chart didn't even list Scalley, a 19-year-old sophomore, as one of the top 12 backs (two halfbacks and a fullback) on the team.
Scalley, who works as an attorney, played for Bear River High School and walked on the U. team as a freshman, back when freshmen weren't eligible and there was a separate freshman team. After a good spring game that season, Scalley was invited to play for the varsity. By the time the season started, the 5-foot-9, 162-pound Scalley had worked his way up to fourth string. By midseason he was third string.
He made an impression on the Utah coaches in a November game at Colorado State, for a couple of mistakes he made, including one that turned out to be a touchdown for the Utes.
During the pre-game warm-ups while fielding a punt, Scalley inadvertently ran into a table on the sidelines where the scoreboard operation was set up, collapsing it and delaying the start of the game. One of the Utah assistant coaches was so impressed, he told the team, "I want you guys concentrating like Scalley today."
Later in the game Utah coach Ray Nagel called for Stanley Uyeshiro, the team's leading rusher that season, to go in at halfback. Scalley thought Nagel said "Scalley" instead of "Stanley" and ran into the game, where he promptly scored a touchdown. It wasn't until the bus ride back to Denver that Nagel told Scalley about the miscommunication.
Two weeks later on Nov. 19, Ute Stadium was packed with the third-largest crowd in history. The Utes were 6-2 and going up against a 9-0 Aggie team featuring Olsen and ranked No. 16 in the nation.
The game was a defensive battle as the Utah defense shut down the Aggies' great runner, Tom Larscheid. During the game, the Utes' top two halfbacks, Jerry Overton and Dennis Zito, were both sidelined, Overton with a broken leg and Zito with a knee injury.
That left Scalley, who was up to the challenge.
"They had no one else to use," he said, "so I played the remainder of the game."
With 6:15 left, Scalley, as reported in the Deseret News, "skirted the left side for 12 yards and the winning touchdown."
"They said it couldn't be done, but we did it," Scalley said, smiling at the memory of the unforgettable 6-0 victory 44 years ago.
Sitting in his parents east-side condominium one recent afternoon, Morgan Scalley laughs at the memory.
"I grew up thinking he was the Heisman Trophy winner," he said.
Even when he discovered his father wasn't the best player in America and only rushed for 337 yards in his career, Morgan still wanted to be like his dad and become a running back for Utah.
"That was my dream, that's what I wanted to do, follow in my dad's footsteps," he said. "I knew he wasn't the biggest player out there. But I grew up loving the game and knowing how it should be played because of him."
Bud gave his son a good start in football, coaching him beginning at age 8 up until junior high school.
Morgan still remembers his first practice with players doing a one-on-one drill. He was eyeing the opposite line and was relieved to see a kid about his size about to be matched up against him. However, when it came time to hit the opposing player, his dad grabbed a large Polynesian kid out of the line to go against Morgan.
After literally getting the snot knocked out of him, Morgan pulled himself up off the turf and said to himself, "He's not going to cut me any slack."
Bud, who had been a boxer growing up in northern Utah, had become a college football player largely because of his toughness, and he was going to make sure his son had the same quality.
Morgan also had speed and quickness, something Bud claims he never had, which helped him score numerous touchdowns in little league and in high school. He also was imbued with the family's competitive spirit ("if you saw one of our family Rook games, someone was always walking away crying or throwing the cards down," Morgan said).
As a sophomore at Highland High School, Scalley was only about 5-5, 125 pounds, not exactly the size you want to be to play football.
One day when he told his mother, Claudia, of his dream to play college football, she sighed and diplomatically told him, "Don't feel hurt if it doesn't happen."
"Frankly, we didn't think he'd go that far," Bud said.
By the time the playoffs came around that sophomore year, Scalley was returning kickoffs for the Rams. The next year he was a backup running back, but when the starter went down in the pregame warm-ups before the first game, Scalley was moved up and held the position for the next two seasons.
After an all-state senior season, Scalley had interest from schools such as UCLA, Washington State, Air Force and BYU. He didn't take any out-of-state visits, but he did take an official visit to BYU, during, of all things, the Utah-BYU game.
"I stood on the Utah sideline the whole game," recalls Scalley, smiling at the memory.
He committed to Utah and coach Ron McBride soon after that, and later BYU assistant Norm Chow told Morgan he wished he had waited and given BYU a chance.
Scalley was a "grayshirt" right out of high school, meaning he didn't attend school that first quarter. He went on a mission to Munich, Germany, and returned home wondering if football was in his future.
"I couldn't lift a weight to save my life," Morgan said. "I used to go and lift at Highland because I was too embarrassed to lift at the U. My legs didn't come back until the end of my freshman season."
Nevertheless, Scalley played that first season back in 2001 and was used as the Utes' primary punt returner, returning 26 kicks for 249 yards.
"It scared me to death," he said. "There was so much pressure. It was a tough first year."
He still wanted to be a running back and he was tried briefly as a receiver, but he could tell the offensive coaches at the time didn't see a future for him.
However, defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham and defensive backs coach Bill Busch were anxious to use Scalley and lobbied to get him over to the defense.
But Scalley resisted.
"I had always dreamed of following my dad as a running back," he said. "Then I slapped myself in the face one day and said, 'You idiot. You finally have coaches who want you.' I figured it was better to play for someone who wants you than have no shot with someone who doesn't want you."
The following year, he returned punts again and was the backup safety behind Antoine Sanders. He also was the Utes' punter for the Colorado State game when the Utes employed an unusual "rugby punt" scheme with Scalley having the option of running the ball or punting on the run like he did in high school as a rugby player.
When Urban Meyer arrived the following season his first thought on Scalley was one of puzzlement.
"I couldn't imagine why he hadn't played much," he said.
Scalley became the starting free safety and one of Meyer's favorite players as he started all 12 games, earning second-team all-MWC honors.
"He's not a good football player, he's a great football player," Meyer said.
When the Utes were down to one running back late last season, Meyer said he considered moving Scalley over, but decided against it.
"In real life, our defense is fairly complicated and it's not one of those things where you say, go practice offense for awhile," Meyer said.
"It would have been unfair to him because he's one of the best safeties in college football. But he could be a great running back and I know he could be a receiver tomorrow."
For a kid whose own parents wondered if he had a chance to play in college, the next step may be pro football for Morgan Scalley. He still fondly remembers a trip with his dad to see a Kansas City Chiefs game as a youngster when he watched Joe Montana and met Marcus Allen.
Scalley's dream is to be playing football on Sundays in the future.
"I would love to, but I know scouts aren't looking for 5-10, 195-pound safeties," he said. "Hopefully my quickness and competitive nature will help me out."
Because he has already earned his undergraduate degree (he was an academic all-American last year with a 3.953 GPA), Scalley is working on his MBA in finance. He's been on the student-athlete advisory committee for two years and is interested in working in athletic administration someday, perhaps as an athletic director.Comment on this story
He still has nine games left, hopefully 10, in his college career, and even though he was never able to walk (run) exactly in his father's footsteps, he's grateful for his example.
"I know he never won the Heisman. But to find out he was a walk-on who earned a scholarship . . . that made me think even more of him and his character."
For his part, Bud is almost embarrassed to be mentioned in the same story as his son."I was basically nothing more than a blocking back in college," he said. "He's so far ahead of anything I ever did."