By the time the second half had begun, snow was slanting hard and unrelenting. It was only mid-afternoon, but heavy skies made it seem as though night was coming. How else do you describe what is going on with Utah State football? Night deep, dark and endless.
The Aggies fell 34-18 to Utah, Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, marking their 10th straight loss to their in-state rival. If you want to call them rivals. It's hard to make a case when one team has won 10 straight, 18 of the last 20 and 24 of 27.
Still, they've been playing since 1892. If not a rivalry, it's certainly a long, rich association.
Long and one-sided.
Saturday's outcome momentarily diverted attention from unrest surrounding the Utes, who are still just 2-3 and 0-2 in the conference. Already talk shows and newspaper columnists have speculated this could be Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's final year. At least for a few days, Whittingham won't have to try explaining the crazy highs and baffling lows that have accompanied his term.
Although Whittingham's record as a head coach is so-so 17-14 (9-9 in conference), he was only the second-most vulnerable coach in the stadium. On the opposite sideline stood Aggie coach Brent Guy, who is also trying to right a program. As bad as the Utes have been at times, as unpredictable and star-crossed as they are, there's always this consolation: Things are worse in Logan.
Which raises the question: How come nobody's saying anything about the security of Aggie coach Brent Guy?
While most of the media and public have been preoccupied by Whittingham's plight, Guy has quietly flown beneath the radar. One of the best things that can happen to Aggie football is for the Utes to have a bad season. That usually seems to take the heat off USU, which has struggled for decades. Underfunded, outgunned and largely ignored, USU hasn't had a winning season in 11 years. Its current losing streak is 11 games, dating back a year.
Talk about a football graveyard.
Whatever failures the Utes have suffered, it's nothing close to what's occurred in Logan. USU hasn't been to a bowl game since 1997. Guy's career record is just 4-24. Yet comparing Guy to Whittingham who has far more resources and much better facilities isn't the only measuring stick. Guy's .143 winning percentage is well behind predecessors Mick Dennehy (19-37, .339) and Dave Arslanian (7-15, . 318) both of whom were fired.
The Aggies are 0-3 against Utah and 0-1 against BYU under Guy.
With Guy in the third year of a five-year contract, one must wonder whether USU could afford to fire him. It would take $600,000 to buy him out. That's pocket-change in today's coaching terms, but for financially strapped Utah State it's considerable. Still, the school found money to fire Arslanian, who had two years remaining on his contract, and Dennehy, who had one.
Asked if he felt his program was progressing, Saturday, and whether the loss to Utah was a "big step back," Guy first said he didn't understand the question. Then he replied, "No, not a big step back." He added, "No, we're not taking steps back, we're just not executing any better than we did the week before. We're making the same mistakes over and over, and that's what's upsetting to a coach."
Upsetting to the fans, too.While 0-5 USU could still wind up slightly better than last year's 1-11 team, that doesn't mean a lot when you're trying to raise donor money. A pig is still a pig, no matter how you dress it up. Consequently, when things look darkest to Whittingham, and his job status appears shaky, he could hardly be blamed if he looked northward and said, "Me? What about that Guy?"