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Did Big Rick sabotage BBall program?

With this weekend, being the 25 year anniversary of the 1998, NCAA runner-up Utah basketball team, there have been a lot of interviews on local sports radio from some of the greats from that team, Britton Johnson, Alex Jensen, etc.  (if you didn’t hear the Britton Johnson interview live on DJ&PK yesterday, you should go back and listen to it. Britton was amazing! Great interview and great memories, especially for those of us who remember that 1998 season like it was yesterday ).

I do believe that losing that national championship game to THEM had a lasting negative impact on Rick Majerus, but I do not believe that he undercut the system or the program before he left it in the night on the airplane to Santa Barbara, California.

My main point in saying that is that he left a team that included players like Andrew Bogut, Tim Drisdom, et al who were not only good, but Ray freaking Giacoletti was able to parlay that group into a Sweet 16 team.

I am not a Rick Majerus apologist by any means. He was an unbelievably great coach, the likes of which we will probably likely never see again at Utah, but had some massive flaws that were ultimately his demise at Utah. That said, I do not believe that he purposely or intentionally undermined the team or the success of the future team. 


  • NarfUte

    Nah it was Chris Hill trusting the recommendations of Mark Few and Tom Izzo that really set Utah back.

  • Tony (admin)

    If he undermined anything, it was himself. 

  • D T

    Legend & always will be.

  • During the interviews on local sports radio from some of the greats from the 1998 team, was there mention that Majerus sabotaged/undercut the program when he left? If not, where does this idea come from?

    • Losing the 1998 final hurt all Ute fans and was in particular a crushing blow to Big Rick.  

      He never really did recover from that.  In his autobiography he wrote about what a massive difference it is between winning the tourney and finishing runner up.  

      He certainly never wanted anything but the best future success for Utah after he left.




  • Rick

    Like so many, I have nothing but respect for Coach Majerus. I had the opportunity to get to know him a little and watch a number of practices simply due to connections at the time.

    I do think he made one overall mistake. He did not promote his assistants enough. For whatever reason, Rick did not like limelight shining on his staff. I think that changed some in his years at St. Louis because I think he advocated for Alex Jensen. In fact, I know he did when Alex applied to be a member of Larry’s staff.

    Jeff Judkins was the major fallout of Rick’s tendency. Losing Judkins when we did hurt the program. Rick underestimated Jeff’s role and I think even begrudged it a little. Jeff had such a terrific relationship with the players -as did Donny Daniels, but Rick and Jeff were not getting along well the last year together. 

    I don’t mean to sully Rick. The program stayed strong for a few more years but losing Jeff was big. I know people were mixed on whether or not Jeff could become a head coach but count me as one who wishes he was on the staff when Rick left and had been offered the head job. It’s one of those “what ifs” for me.

  • Likely 3 HC jobs open in Utah this year

    SUU (Went to Bowling Green), UVU (Likely going to CAL), and USU (Going to VCU)

    Hope we can hang on to Burgess through it all.

  • Yergensen

    Good point

  • Heads up!

    Today is the deadline for season ticket and tailgate pass renewals. I just did mine. It was either that or buy a car. Yikes. I chose football.

  • A sensible choice choosing football over a vehicle.   Love my Utes and taking my father to the games, but really starting hit take a chunk out of the pocket book.


    • Yeah especially with the extra game. I have 3 seats. 

  • UofU Fanatic

    Chris Hill Ex AD on Canzano and Wilner new podcast episode

    Was a good episode for any Utes athletic fan

    4 1

    Why the PAC should invite Hawaii

    Probably not as a full member, but a “half member” or “associate member” of the conference or a contractual scheduling agreement – whatever language you want to use

    Imagine the PAC extends an invitation for the following to Hawaii

    • Scheduling Agreement where 8 PAC teams will play @Hawaii every year
    • Hawaii will receive 1/3rd the media rights (so say $8M-$10M on a $24M-$30M/yr/school deal)
    • PAC will have rights to all (home) Hawaii games (both those 8 with PAC teams and any others Hawaii happens to play)

    From the Hawaii perspective, it’s a huge win

    • Money: They go from making $4M/yr (MWC) to making $8M+/yr. Plus they have (minimum) 8 home games against P5 opponents – nice for tickets/concessions and reduced travel costs
    • Prestige/Visibility: Increased quality of competition and a better ‘in’ to potentially become a full member
    • Other 4 games per year can fairly easily be filled, especially since they don’t NEED more home games (could even take away paycheck games for more $$$

    From the PAC perspective, it’s likely also a win, mostly by taking advantage of the Hawaii rule (allows teams that play @Hawaii to schedule a 13th game)

    • Money: They’re paying $8M to add (a minimum of) 8 extra games of inventory (plus they’d own whatever extra home games Hawaii schedules), so would likely make that up (and much more) in any negotiation
    • Extra practice time: teams can’t officially start practice until 4 weeks before their first game – with 8 PAC teams now having a Week 0 game, that means an extra week of practice
    • Visibility: With 8 PAC teams playing in Week 0, the PAC could dominate the viewership in that week with unopposed football and shine a spotlight on the conference to open the season.  For one week every college football fan would basically be watching a PAC game and every station would have almost nothing besides PAC games to show
    • Recruiting: Would mean players get a trip to Hawaii regularly. People like going to Hawaii. Not huge, but a nice perk. More importantly, it would mean the only teams playing in Hawaii would be PAC teams so that would help PAC recruiting of Hawaii (and potentially other Polynesian islands)
  • That’s a lot of words, but I support adding them to the mix.

    • I’d love to have many of our former WAC mates back in the fold.

  • NashvilleUte
    1 1

    That makes way too much sense, what on earth are you thinking? We want the Dallas market! (Even though hardly anyone watches SMU) But, DALLAS! That will save the PAC! Not… A team all the way out in Texas all by themselves? Seriously, no. I’m sure they’re great people and a good school, but no.

    Someone at one point, not necessarily here, but somewhere, someone floated the idea of pairing Boise State as a football only member with Gonzaga for other sports. Using Hawaii as you recommend as a football only member to pair with Gonzaga would make more sense and be much more valuable.

    In addition to adding San Diego State, I think we’d be set (assuming something can ever come together for a media contract…) 🙄

    • Roy Rangum

      I can see the appeal of Hawaii, but I’m not sure if the PAC is ready yet to concede on their academic standards, although if anything could make them concede on that point I think it’s the current situation we are in.

      For SMU though, I think the appeal stems primarily from the fact that SMU has very wealthy alumni, and in the day and age of NIL, SMU has a lot of potential. And, getting a foot hold in Texas is not a bad thing either when it comes to recruiting.

      • krindor
        1 1

        Hawaii is an R1 research institution, with similar yearly R&D expenditures as Oregon St

        Here’s where they fall by 2021 R&D Expenditures

        1. Washington $1489M (#5 nationally – including non-P5 and non-FBS)
        2. UCLA $1455M (#6 nationally)
        3. Stanford $1274M (#9 nationally)
        4. USC $956M (#28 nationally)
        5. Cal $847M (#32 nationally)
        6. Arizona $770M (#36 nationally)
        7. Arizona St $677M (#42 nationally)
        8. Utah $625M (#47 nationally)
        9. Colorado $548M (#52 nationally)
        10. Washington St $358M (#78 nationally)
        11. Oregon St $277M (#94 nationally)
        12. Hawaii $272M (#99 nationally)
        13. Oregon $139M (#149 nationally)
        14. San Diego St $108M (#164 nationally)
        15. Southern Methodist $42M (#221 nationally)
  • Yergensen

    You serious Clark?

  • krindor

    Deleted – was intended to be in response to a different post so has been relocated

  • alexsmith

    I’d go to Utah @ Hawaii just for the trip!