OGDEN — After more than four decades of coaching college football, Coach Mac is saying goodbye.
Weber State coach Ron McBride will retire at the end of the season, the Standard-Examiner has learned from sources close to the program.
A news conference has been called for noon today at Stewart Stadium.
In his seven seasons with the Wildcats, McBride rebuilt Weber State from a program that had just one win the season before he took the reins into a team that went to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.
Weber State’s contest Saturday against Northern Arizona will be McBride’s final home game at Stewart Stadium. The Wildcats (3-6, 3-3 Big Sky) will finish their season Nov. 19 at Portland State.
McBride, who has one year remaining on his contract at Weber State, suffered a microfracture of his knee in a collision on the sideline during last Saturday’s loss to No. 2 Montana State, but the 72-year-old remained on the field.
An MRI on Monday morning determined that it was not a torn ACL, as originally believed.
McBride became the ninth coach in Weber State history in December 2004. The Wildcats had only qualified for the FCS playoffs twice in school history before McBride led the Wildcats to back-to-back appearances in 2008 and 2009.
Weber State shared the Big Sky Conference title with Montana in 2008 with a 7-1 league record and made the playoffs for the first time since 1991.
Before being hired at Weber State, McBride rose to prominence in the state as the University of Utah coach who turned the Utes’ lopsided losing history against BYU into one of the most fierce college football rivalries in the country.
He is also known for his camaraderie and humorous banter with longtime BYU coach LaVell Edwards, with whom he developed a friendship despite their competitive on-field battles.
McBride was an assistant coach with the Utes twice before becoming the Utah head coach in 1989. Although BYU had dominated the in-state rivalry, beating the Utes in 16 of their previous 18 meetings, McBride won six of his final 11 meetings with the Cougars.
McBride preached MAFU — mental toughness, attitude, fanatical effort, unity — to his teams and developed a blueprint of using in-state recruits, Polynesian players and LDS missionaries to become competitive at Utah, a formula that Utah State coach Gary Andersen, who played for McBride and was an assistant coach under him at Utah, is following in Logan.
“He’s a second dad to me. He’s someone that I lean on at times,” Andersen said before his Aggies played McBride’s Wildcats on Sept. 10.
“If I look back at people that I’m going to lean on, it’s people that I love and trust. Mac’s still one of those first guys on that list that, when I need something or I need advice, I go to very quickly. … Mac is a big part of me in a lot of ways.”
Andersen said McBride has been a mentor to him as a player and as a coach.
“He worked his tail off to mold me as a man and as a player, and he worked his tail off to mold me as a young coach that cared about players first,” Andersen said.
“(He was) always very demanding, always very driven, always expected a lot from me. That didn’t change as a player or as a coach.”
McBride, a native of Los Angeles, played college football at San Jose State from 1959 through 1962 and professionally in San Jose in the USA League before turning to coaching in 1965.
He has made coaching stops at San Jose State, Gavilan Junior College, UC Riverside, Long Beach State, Utah, Arizona, Wisconsin and Kentucky in his career.
McBride is the sixth-oldest coach in Division I football, trailing only Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Albany’s Bob Ford, Appalachian State’s Jerry Moore, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and Florida Atlantic’s Howard Schnellenberger.