TEMPE, Ariz. — Coach Urban Meyer got upset with broadcaster Bill Marcroft after the Utes beat Texas A&M in the season opener because Marcroft referred to his team as "a team of destiny."

Meyer told Marcroft that implied that the Utes would win all their games without having to try, and they would have to try hard to do that.

As Marcroft called his final radio play-by-play as the Utes' regular broadcaster Saturday night in the Fiesta Bowl, he figured it was not only a team of destiny but it was his destiny, too, to go out with what he calls the best Utah team and coaching staff ever — and he's broadcast for 38 Ute football teams, 35 as the main guy.

Win or lose, that Fiesta Bowl game was going to be his most memorable, and the San Antonio Final Four was his best basketball memory.

Marcroft wanted to talk about the others in his broadcasting life, rather than himself, crediting the late Bill Howard, who did Utah play-by-play for Marcroft's first three years on the broadcast team, while Marcroft did only home-game color; or coaches like Meyer, Kyle Whittingham and Ron McBride, and what they've done for the U.; or his young partners like color man Frank Dolce and field reporters Bryan Rowley and Sharieff Shah, all former Ute players who've made his job more enjoyable.

Marcroft was honored with stories and accolades when making his last home broadcast in the BYU game on Nov. 20, but now, "This really is the last one," he said in that booming voice.

Well, except that he might want to do some broadcasts of gymnastics or other sports for the new College Sports TV network, if he can — something where he didn't have to travel constantly. "I'm certainly not anywhere near finished," Marcroft said.

HOT DOG CHAMPION: Donnie Beck, brother of former Ute return specialist/defensive back Cal Beck and a junior education major, was a member of a five-man Utah team that won a hot dog eating contest at the Fiesta Bowl pre-game tailgate party.

"They recruited me and said, 'We've got a ringer,' " Beck said.

Amid loud chants of "Utah, Utah," Beck downed five of the team's required 15 hot dogs (hot dog and bun with no condiments, with water to wash them down) to beat a group of University of Pittsburgh fans by half a hot dog.

"I knew before we started we would beat these guys," said Beck, who graduated from Cottonwood High School.

Not only did Beck and his teammates earn the title of Hot Dog Eating champions, they also received a plaque and $100.

IN THE DARK: The Utes played the Fiesta Bowl minus former offensive coordinator Mike Sanford.

Not that Sanford didn't want to be there. Since becoming head coach at Nevada-Las Vegas, he has been busy recruiting for his new team. But he told Las Vegas reporters he would have liked to have been with the Utes on Saturday. (He was prevented from coaching in the Fiesta Bowl by Ute officials, who told him they wouldn't allow a future conference opponent to coach with them in the bowl game.)

Meanwhile, Sanford has his work cut out for him. He described the recruiting when he arrived in Las Vegas as "still in the dark ages." In fairness, former UNLV coach John Robinson battled family health issues all last season.

PREGAME FESTIVITIES: Former Ute all-American Larry Wilson and Pittsburgh alum Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals served as honorary captains for the coin flip. The coin was tossed by Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch of the U.S. softball team.

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Two decorated members of the armed forces with ties to Utah were honored before the game. First Lieutenant Cori Lynn Chapman of the U.S. Army and Captain Sam Porter of the U.S. Marines, a graduate and graduate student at the U., respectively, were introduced to an appreciative crowd in pregame ceremonies.

A 100-yard American flag was unfurled after the U.S. Air Force's Wings of Blue parachute team descended on the field. The Phoenix Police Chorus sang "God Bless America" and the United States Military Academy Cadet Glee Club followed with the national anthem. Three Apache helicopters then flew over the stadium.


Contributing: Brad Rock, Jay Hinton, Linda Hamilton