RIP #22


Wayne Howard

Wayne Howard played a significant role in where Utah is today with our football program.

I know many of you on here do not remember him or maybe haven’t even heard of him.  In 1976 the Utah football program was in a dire position.  We had won only 5 games in three years and BYU was exploding, getting national attention and going to bowl games.

Utah hired the coach from Long Beach State named Wayne Howard.  His first season they went 3-8, but were competitive.  A blowout loss to BYU at the end of the season really p**sed him off, especially since BYU put Marc Wilson back into the game late to set an NCAA passing record.  In 1978, we upset the Cougars 23-22 in an amazing comeback.  We ended the season 8-3.

Wayne turned a horrible program around and on top of that he brought in Ron McBride as his offensive coordinator.  Ron fell in love with Utah and eventually became the head coach and took Utah to the next level.

Wayne left Utah after an 8-2-1 season in 1982.  He always struggled with Utah not being the fan-favorite in their own hometown.  He didn’t know how to change that.  In the 90s, Mac started the evolution to make Utah the most popular team, not only in Salt Lake but all of Utah.  And he brought in a young coach named Kyle Whittingham.

Wayne Howard started the change that led us to where Utah football is today.


  • MDUte

    Thanks @ProudUte. I wasn’t aware of this piece of history as Wayne Howard was before my time. My fandom started with the Jim Fassel era. Great to know the influence he had on the program, especially with bringing in Ronnie Mac! 

  • Central Coast Ute

    Good post. I was born in 1979 so I’m too young to remember him. The first game I remember was mid 80’s-ish. Thank you for sharing this.

  • ProudUte

    I found this quote from Wayne Howard on the Utah/BYU rivalry:

    In an interview after retiring, Howard hinted that he did not like aspects of the BYU rivalry. “There’s too much religion involved,” he said referring to the fact that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns BYU, and many fans of the two schools inject religion into the rivalry. “I did not like that. I really didn’t.

  • dystopiamembrane

    That’s one of my favourite aspects of the rivalry, @proudute. It invigorates me when I think about it. To each their own.

    • dystopiamembrane
      1 3

      A personal opinion I don’t agree with? Thumbs down!

    • dwainegf

      You don’t have to be anti LDS to love the Utes. I’m not LDS but I went to high school in Idaho Falls. I pulled for BYU because they were on TV and even considered going there on a baseball scholarship. After moving here and attending the U, I am now a staunch Utes fan. Because I lived in SE Idaho and here for most of my life, I would have to be blind to not see the influence of the LDS religion on the area we live in. I would also add that the influence is much more positive than negative. I can’t think of another city that is equal in size, that I would rather raise a family in.

  • Chester Copperpot

    Why did he leaver? Better opportunity?

    • bopahull

      He was very upset with how our fans reacted when he had a good season 8 and 3 if I remember correctly but many fans were upset we lost to TDS again. He quit , I don’t know that he coached anywhere after that.

    • ProudUte

      Wayne Howard gave up coaching major college football when he left Utah.  I understand he spent a few years coaching at a two-year community college, but never coached major college again.

      His leaving was a total surprise.  I could sense his frustration in his post-game interview with Marcroft after losing to a ranked BYU team 56-28.  The winner of that game would be the conference champion.  Jim McMahon was amazing that afternoon.  Utah made it 35-28 in the third quarter, but BYU scored 21 unanswered points to end the game.


  • Charlie

    If I remember right…   He was critized for starting a coache’s show on the radio after a game with the Y with the comment something like ‘gosh I hate BYU’.  Many thought that was vile and unacceptable.  Unknown to the radio listeners, after a loss to the Y he had to quickly leave his team and climb the stairs up to the press box in Provo.  Just as he got to the top he passed a BYU fan that spit in his face.  He then walked thru the door and began the radio show with the comment.  It would seem loosing to the rival, running up the stairs, and having someone spit in his face was too much to keep him from the small slip in behavior.

    Actually, in the middle of those dark years, I liked Wayne Howard.  I  understood the battle of lack of resources that those coaches tried to fight thru.  I still enjoyed going to games, good season or bad.  Before the Y took off, I remember a couple of years, probably 68 and 69, when Wyoming was impossible for everyone to play with.