It’s been a wild, wild year in Wildcat Nation.
Who would have predicted last December after John L. Smith’s introductory press conference to become the coach at his alma mater Weber State that Smith would be out of a job right now — as the interim head coach at Arkansas — while the majority of the staff he hired in Ogden remains in place?
Who could have looked in their crystal ball and foreseen that then-defensive coordinator Jody Sears, who arrived at Weber State in January but wasn’t even officially announced on the staff until April, would be named Smith’s interim successor just a few weeks after that announcement, then given a three-year contract after the season to make the program his own after serving as interim head coach?
Or that Smith, who cited the opportunity to coach a top-10 team with national title aspirations as his reason for bolting Weber State for Arkansas, would draw more attention this season for his bankruptcy proceedings and clips on Youtube showing him admonishing reporters for being late or telling them to “SMILE!” than for Razorbacks victories?
While we’re at it, how many of you went to Las Vegas last year and put money on Damian Lillard to be not just a first-round NBA draft pick but a top 10 pick who is now seen as one of the leading contenders for the NBA’s rookie of the year award instead of the leading candidate for a third Big Sky MVP award?
Or that Lillard’s stats in his first few professional games as the Portland Trail Blazers’ starting point guard would be compared with Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas and that he would currently be leading all NBA rookies in scoring?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
If you raised your hand for any of these questions, book your trip now for the World’s Biggest Liar competition. It’s held in annually in mid-November at the Bridge Inn at Santon Bridge in northwestern England, but please note, according to The Associated Press, “politicians and lawyers are barred from entry, as they are considered to have an unfair advantage.”
Yes, it has been a wild, wild year in Wildcat Nation — what’s next?
Weber State’s football program didn’t exactly tear up the FCS national statistics rankings charts this season, but the Wildcats do boast top 10 rankings in a couple of categories.
WSU safety/punter Tony Epperson, a Park City product, was leading the nation in punting average prior to his season-ending injury, but Tyler McNannay did an admirable job as his replacement, combining with Epperson to help the Wildcats place sixth in the national rankings in net punting (38.67).
And second-team All-Big Sky Conference linebacker Anthony Morales missed Weber State’s final game of the season after having his appendix out, but is tied for third in the country in tackles per game (12.0).
Junior forward Davion Berry has led Weber State men’s basketball in scoring in each of his first three official games since transferring from Division II Cal State Monterey Bay and sitting out last season. He averages 16.3 points per game for WSU, which is 1-2 with one more game to go in a three-game road stretch.
Berry got his first taste of Weber State’s in-state rivalries Saturday against Utah State in the Smith Spectrum. He said WSU coach Randy Rahe, a former USU assistant, cranked up the music in practices to prepare the Wildcats for the rowdy student section and environment so it wouldn’t affect them.
“I loved it here,” Berry said. “It was a great atmosphere for a basketball player. We embraced it. (My first in-state game) was fun, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to so it’s not fun, not anymore.”
The game turned into a free-throw fest and Weber State shot just 16 of 29 from the stripe while USU made its shots and pulled away from a close game with a 65-55 win in Logan.
“We can’t worry about the officiation,” Berry said. “We’ve just got to play our game, worry about what we’ve got to do. We can’t worry about the calls. They got called so we’ve just got to play through it.”
Roy Burton covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner. Follow @RoyBurton on Twitter, read more about the Wildcats at blogs.standard.net/wsu-sports-blog or reach him at email@example.com.