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Monday, November 17, 2008
Brent Guy should have gotten his final year


Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Utah State "officially" fired Brent Guy about an hour ago, though he was given his walking papers on Sunday.

Guy, who is in his fourth season with one season remaining on his contract, was 8-38 since 2005, including a 2-9 record this season.

 
 AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
 Brent Guy and the Aggies are 2-9 this year.
The Aggies have a bye this week and Guy will coach in his final game at home on Nov. 29 against New Mexico State.

"Brent has undoubtedly made some progress during his four years, but the program has yet to establish any significant or consistent momentum nor has that progress translated into wins," Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes said during the news conference. "I feel a change in leadership at this critical time in our program's history will help us create and sustain a new level of success."

I tried calling Guy last night, and like I expected, he didn't answer. But I did text him to say that I thought his firing was a mistake.

There's no doubt that Utah State was headed in the right direction. Over the past month, the Aggies started playing competitive football. Even though it hasn't shown in the win column, there's no doubt that this was a team on the rise.

I wasn't the only one who felt this way. I talked to BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall this morning and he said he spoke to Guy earlier today.

"I called him just to lend support," Mendenhall said. "It just saddens me. I think he's a good person, and I don't know enough about Utah State's situation and the resources and those around him, but I would just like to see coaches have enough time to truly bring their programs to fruition.

"I think with the money that's being paid currently at a lot of places, and I'm not saying Utah State is one of them, I think the culture right now is becoming more and more similar to the NFL where coaches are being fired mid-year and the timeframes that they're expected to produce results is becoming shorter and shorter. And really, I think you could say standard-wise, if you're not having significant success in three years, you're at risk. I thought he was making progress and I thought he tried to go about it the right way. It's just unfortunate that that opportunity is now over for him."

I've seen what sticking with a coach for longer than public opinion appreciates can do for a program.

Look at Gary Pinkel at Missouri. I was there when he was hired and he took over a severely dysfunctional team. I was there in 2004 when his team was ranked in the preseason, lost at Troy and the season went down the toilet. Most athletic directors would have fired Pinkel after that. But Missouri stuck with him and three seasons later Missouri beat Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium last year to win its first-ever North division title and went on to win the Cotton Bowl.

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to be able to rise up and reach your true potential. I think Guy could have brought a similar transition to Utah State. Maybe not to national prominence like Mizzou, but at least to being competitive in the WAC, which so few teams are this year. At least Utah State has shown progress this season. Teams like New Mexico State, Idaho and even Fresno State, considering their expectations, have regressed this year.

Guy will land on his feet, there's no doubt about that. He has too much coaching talent and experience not to land a quality job. And when he does, I hope he makes that team a winning program like he could have done at Utah State if given the time.

"I'd like to thank the university for providing me with the opportunity to be the head football coach here," Guy said during his new conference. "I'm extremely grateful to the coaches, players and support staff for their tremendous hard work, day in and day out. We didn't win as many games on the field as I would have liked, but we started down a path that I believe will benefit the university and this program very soon. I wish the university the best of luck in the future, and I wish these young men the best of luck in all their future endeavors, both on and off the football field."