LOGAN — In the small world of college football coaches there are a lot of friendly rivalries, but few have the roots that Utah State head coach Gary Andersen and Weber State head coach Ron McBride have.
"This is a Dad for me," Andersen said about his relationship with McBride.
"It is one thing to play against (Idaho head coach) Rob Akey at Idaho or what have you, that's a friend, or (Utah head coach) Kyle (Whittingham), that's a friend. This is different for me."
The relationship started in 1985 when McBride was coaching the University of Utah offensive line and Andersen was a center for the Utes. Andersen came back to serve as an assistant under McBride at Utah in 1997 and the two compiled a 39-29 record at Utah between 1997 and 2002, including Las Vegas Bowl victories in 2000 and 2002.
Both coaches have moved on from Utah and are now in a similar position, trying to lead their respective programs into the upper echelons of their conference. Both teams have already shown a lot of promise early in the season and each received excellent production from freshmen making their first NCAA appearance in week one. Weber wide receiver Xavian Johnson won National Freshman of the Week from The Sports Network after catching seven balls for 118 yards and two touchdowns in Laramie. Aggie quarterback Chuckie Keeton won National Freshman of the Week from Rivals.com after going 21-of-30 for 213 yards and adding 33 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
On the downside, neither team was able to escape with a victory and was subjected to a heartbreaking loss last week. Weber State led most of the way, only to see Wyoming to score the go-ahead touchdown with just 22 seconds remaining.
"Everyone in that program probably felt like they should have won that game and beat a Mountain West school. They had a lot of opportunities to get that done," Andersen said about the Wildcats' loss.
That same statement would easily apply for Utah State as well if you exchanged Mountain West for Southeastern Conference. The Aggies led defending national champion Auburn by 10 points with 3:38 to play, only to see the Tigers march down the field and score to cut the lead to three and then recover an onside kick and take the lead for good with 30 seconds left..
It will be bittersweet for one of the coaches as they will each be trying to beat a friend they admire to prevent starting the season in an 0-2 hole.
"Everybody that knows me knows how much I respect coach McBride, I would not be in this profession, would not have the opportunities I would have had without coach Mac," said Andersen.
While the two coaches have a mutual respect for each other, they both promise no punches will be pulled once they get on the sidelines on Saturday.
McBride in particular has taken a lot of pride in seeing the job his young apprentice has done so far in Logan, but still hopes he can teach Andersen a thing or two on Saturday.
"I don't wanna be a proud papa this weekend," McBride said.
Aggies & Wildcats on the air
Weber State at Utah State
Saturday 6 p.m. (MT)
Romney Stadium, Logan
TV: none Internet: ESPN3.com
Radio: 97.5 FM, 1280 AM and 610 AM