Brent Guy, the Utah State coach with just six wins in three years, is not in jeopardy of losing his job.
That's the official line from Aggie brass as USU enters the football season barely a month way.
"There is no magic number," newly hired Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes said. "It's looking at the total direction of the program and, right now, we want to see significant progress, but we have not given him a number of wins he has to get to save his job.
"That's not what I want to do."
Still, there is a growing chorus of calls for Guy's head from boosters and fans who long for a return to mediocrity, let alone championship contention.
And so, while there may be no official line drawn in the sand for Guy to cross, the pressure to win is undeniably there.
"We've got to show progress," Guy said. "There's nobody more frustrated in not having more wins than I am."
The Aggies were predicted the finish last in the Western Athletic Conference by both the media and coaches at meetings this week at the Salt Lake City Airport Hilton. The poll results, while not necessarily of any value other than a conversation piece, have left some USU players a little hungry to prove they are not, in fact, as bad as everyone expects them to be.
"You have to earn people's respect," USU senior linebacker Jake Hutton said. "We haven't done that here."
Barnes, who has had only a few months at USU to evaluate the football team and try to figure out a way to help it improve, said there is one overwhelming reason the Aggies have struggled for as long as they have independence.
Guy inherited a program that struggled to survive as an independent and a short-time member of the far-away Sun Belt Conference. Former USU coach Mick Dennehy, Barnes said, probably overachieved considering the handicap of playing without a conference he was saddled with.
When Guy was hired to replace Dennehy, Barnes said, the program was near rock bottom with morale, resources and talent as bad as he could imagine them being.
"The program was decimated," Barnes said. "Brent could have come in and tried for a quick fix with JC kids, but that wouldn't have solved anything in the long run. Brent's focus has been on recruiting freshmen. Because of that, it does take time.
"He's put the program in the position to finally see the fruits of his labor."
Perhaps. But for the first three years, those fruits have been frustratingly sparse for Aggie fans.
Guy admitted he is on the coaching hot seat. Another season with just two wins will likely spell the end of his coaching tenure with the Aggies.
Regardless, he's committed to following a plan he hoped would work when he took the USU job three years ago.
In his first spring practice, he had only 56 players, including walk-ons.
The Aggies were forced to play true freshman far more than any coach would like, and it's not until this year, Guy said, that USU is a complete team.
"I'm finally at 85," he said.
That means players actually have competition for playing time. That, he said, has made the difference between being a team that gets beaten up on a weekly basis to a team that held fourth-quarter leads in six games a year ago.
It's also given him a new measuring stick he says is every bit as important as the win totals.
"Not give up a fourth-quarter lead. Just don't do it," he said. "We have to get those games. You've got to get the lead and hold on to it."
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