For those still willing to defend Utah State football coach Brent Guy's 4-29 record, there's always the argument that if he's fired, the Aggies will have to start over again.
Start over from what? They're already the worst team in America.
How much worse can it get?
With New Mexico State (4-7) and Idaho (1-9) left on the schedule, there's always a chance the Aggies could sneak a win or two. Regardless, they're at rock bottom, lower than a shoestring tackle. They have lost 16 straight games, 21 of the last 22 and 27 of the last 29. The last winning season was in 1996.
Somewhere MacArthur Lane is weeping.
Utah State isn't getting better, at least not in the area that counts. The only important way to tell if a team is improving is by wins.
After nearly three seasons, the results are in.
This doesn't mean USU is guaranteed to fire Guy at the end of the season. Athletic director Randy Spetman has voiced support for his coach. The school still owes Guy around $600,000, which is a lot for a program like USU's. Combined with the cost of building a north end-zone facility to house sports medicine, equipment, locker rooms and team offices, firing Guy could be relatively expensive.
But no more expensive than keeping him.
How easy can it be to attract donors when your coach has four wins in three years? Guy's .121 winning percentage is the lowest in USU history. Dave Arslanian was fired after two years for going 7-15 (. 318). Chris Pella was axed after three years and a 9-24 (.273) record.
The Aggies are 0-3 against Utah and 0-1 against BYU under Guy.
If Guy were to stay, he'd have to average about seven wins over the remaining two years on his contract just to match Mick Dennehy (19-37, .339) the last USU coach to be fired.
There's always the argument that Guy hasn't had enough time; you don't turn around a depleted program overnight. Yet Bronco Mendenhall turned BYU around in his second year, winning the conference championship, and he's headed for a second. Sonny Lubick led Colorado State to a 10-2 record in his second year. Dennis Erickson has Arizona State in the Top 10 in his first season.
Although the aforementioned schools weren't as depleted as USU, nobody's expecting the Aggies to vault into the Top 10. But being respectable in the WAC isn't too much to ask.
Some would argue that for $300,000 a year, Utah State can't attract a better match than Guy. Yet there are outstanding assistant coaches at dozens of Division I-A schools, making less than $300,000, who would trade their firstborn to be a Division I (Football Bowl Championship Subdivision) head coach. Likewise, there are successful smaller-division coaches who would love to try their luck in Logan though that hasn't worked out so well (see Arslanian and Dennehy).
Against Boise State last week, there were more Bronco fans than Aggie fans at Romney Stadium. Attendance has slipped to a few thousand for other games.
If nobody's in the stands, nobody's going to donate to the program.
Perhaps there simply isn't enough money for any coach to win at USU. If that's the case, the school should move to the Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA). But Aggie administrators reject that. Fine. They'll just have to find a coach who can win with what he's given.
Allowing Guy to finish the final years on his contract may seem only fair, but it's not fair to boosters and alumni, or maybe even the players. USU has a proud albeit distant football history, and its fans deserve a reasonable chance of seeing their team win.Firing a coach and starting over is never easy, but it's easier than getting a program going once it has ground to a stop.