OGDEN — Weber State fans will have an opportunity to bid farewell to head football coach Ron McBride today when the Wildcats take on Northern Arizona University in their 2011 home finale.
McBride, the beloved 72-year-old coach who's wrapping up his seventh season at Weber State and previously spent 13 years as head coach at the University of Utah, announced Tuesday he'll retire at the end of this season.
"I always tell my players they can't ever quit, and now I'm telling them I'm retiring," McBride said emotionally during his retirement press conference. "It's not acceptable to quit.
"I love what I do. I love this game; I love the players. And I'm still excited about playing this week. I wake up thinking about football and go to bed thinking about football.
"But we've lost games this year we shouldn't lose," McBride said. "I don't like what I've seen on a few Saturdays. ... Sometimes it's been like a horror story."
The Wildcats, who are struggling through a three-game losing streak and close out their campaign on the road next week at Portland State, would like nothing better than to send Coach Mac off with a victory in his final home game.
But that might be easier said than done because, over the last two weeks — losses to Montana and Montana State — Weber State has been outscored by a combined 89-34. And in their last two home games, the Wildcats have been outscored 56-14 in the second half.
NAU and WSU have had strikingly similar results in Big Sky Conference play.
Both teams' three league wins came against the same opponents — Sacramento State, Northern Colorado and Idaho State — and both lost to Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington.
The Lumberjacks are led by sophomore running back Zach Bauman, who leads the conference and ranks fourth in the nation in rushing with 128 yards per game. He has piled up 1,152 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns thus far this season. And NAU junior quarterback Cary Grossart ranks third in the league in total offense and in passing with 251.6 yards per game.
Weber State owns a 17-6 advantage over NAU in games played in Ogden, and the Wildcats have won three straight matchups with the 'Jacks to take a 25-22 edge in the all-time series. But the Lumberjacks have won four of the last six games played at Stewart Stadium.
Today's contest marks the final home game for 13 Weber State seniors, who will be recognized prior to today's kickoff: J.C. Oram, Nick Webb, Gabe Bowers, Tyrell Francisco, Zach Higgins, Matt Miller, Mo Neal, Austin Raught, Pete Rolf, Kyle Shaney, Caleb Turner, Joel Turrubiates and Marvin Walker.
Wildcats on the air
N. Arizona (4-5, 3-4 Big Sky)
at Weber State (3-6, 3-3)
Today, 1:30 p.m.
Stewart Stadium, Ogden
TV: none Radio: 1280 AMT-Birds on the air
Southern Utah (5-4)
at Northern Iowa (7-2)
Today, 5 p.m.
UNI Dome, Cedar Falls, Iowa
TV: none Radio: 91.1 FM