I have something to get out of the way before moving on to the topic of Coach Ron McBride. Last week I wrote that 80 percent of the ballots cast in Davis County were cast as straight Republican ballots, leaving virtually no hope for any Democratic challengers. That’s not exactly the case. When the paper came out I re-read the piece and realized I’d screwed up. Sure enough, the next day I got an e-mail from Salt Lake Tribune political stud, Dan Harrie, who set me straight. I’ve been waiting to publish Dan Harrie and here goes: “Thought I’d point out that you misread voter statistics re Davis County. It is not true, as you stated that 80 percent of the votes cast were straight-party Republican. In fact, it was 28 percent. The 80 percent applied only to the straight-party tickets. In other words, Republicans got 80 percent of the straight party tickets cast, Democrats 20 percent. But, only a little over one third of all the ballots cast were straight party.” Thanks, Dan. Wanna job?
The point was that the Democrats up there got creamed, in no small part because of the 80 percent of the nearly 30 percent of people who voted straight party voted Republican, if you know what I mean. At any rate, I stand corrected and apologize for the error. It shouldn’t have happened, as I was very good in Mr. Newton’s math classes at Bingham High School. Really.
That said—this is the part that transitions into the McBride segment—the University of Utah should not fire Ron McBride. The math backs him up.
McBride has won more games than he’s lost. He’s taken the Utes to more bowl games than any other Ute coach I can remember. He’s won more bowl games as a result. He’s transformed a ragamuffin program to one rated in the top-10 nationally in 1994. His program has placed nearly a squad of players into the NFL. His players back him up to a man. He’s beaten BYU five times. And he’s going to beat BYU again this Saturday.
Oh, you say, how about those empty seats? Well, look at the stadium itself: cardiac stairways for plebes and elevators for bigwigs, confusing bus routing, light-rail construction, miserable parking, missing half the game buying a gyro, restroom lines to Provo, crowded concourses, little visible community outreach, funny start times, pricey seats. No, the empty seats cannot be lumped on McBride.
Athletic Director Chris Hill needs to take a deep breath and stand tall to the integrity and legacy of Ron McBride. Chris Hill needs to stand tall to the big money boys who pull his strings, and just say sorry, but firing “Mac” now will not help the program. Chris Hill needs to tell the generous Rice family and others that, influence aside, keeping Lance Rice in as quarterback was like hiring a left-handed bartender—you have to redesign the bar to make it work.
Chris Hill needs to tell McBride he has one more year and let the man walk away in the manner he arrived: as a Ute, a proud Ute, a come-hell-or-high-water Ute. In other words, Chris Hill needs to become a Ute himself.