Weber State's football program is neither lovable nor detestable, it's just ... yawn.
It's an afterthought.
It's quiet, nonthreatening elevator music.
It's 50 shades of beige.
When it comes to college football in our state, there is love and there is hate but there's no denying the passion that comes with those two emotions. Unfortunately, when it comes to WSU's football program the prevailing emotion is indifference.
It saddens me to write such a thing because I care about Weber State and I think we're all better off when the Wildcats are playing well, especially on the football field.
But it's been too long since WSU mattered, which is why I'm interested to see what will come of the school's search for a new head coach. As much as I liked coach Jody Sears personally, I can't argue with the decision to fire him after this year's 2-10 campaign.
Although he was in many ways a sacrificial lamb in the whole mess created by John L. Smith's sudden departure, Sears needed to go in order to create a fresh start.
And now that the clean break has been made, it's imperative athletic director Jerry Bovee and the other decision makers at WSU hire a coach who can make the Wildcats matter once again.
First things first, they need to find a coach who genuinely cares about the program, the school, its students, faculty, staff and, of course, its fans.
Secondly, they need to find someone who has a plan in place and a blueprint by which that plan can be implemented.
Thirdly, they need to find someone whose name will carry weight in the state and whose voice will be heard loudly and clearly in the locker room.
Admittedly, that's quite a shopping list and, of course, it's easy for me to write it and hard for those in charge to actually carry it out.
But here's the thing: Weber State is too good a school not to have a great football team and coaching the Wildcats is too good an opportunity not to land the right coach.
Frankly, there's too much at stake to foul it up any more than it already is. I know it's a well-wore opinion and fans have grown weary of hearing it, but Smith's departure left the program in a terrible state. A former WSU player and a one-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, Smith came back to Ogden with a great deal of fanfare.
He left through the back door without ever having coached a single game, chasing a better opportunity.
Sears was asked to pick up the pieces and he tried to do it but the 'Cats went just 4-19 over the past two seasons and ultimately the program needed new blood. Make no mistake though, WSU football has taken a beating but it's not broken.
There are a number of qualified candidates to take over, chief among them current Southern Utah head coach Ed Lamb, followed closely by former BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman, BYU defensive coordinator Nick Howell and Utah special teams coordinator Jay Hill.
As a caveat, I've not spoken to any of the men I've listed and, frankly, I don't know what interest level any of them has. I've heard the rumors, but it's my own shopping list, based on my own opinions.
But they all have something in common: they've got local ties and they understand what it's like to coach football in Utah. They know how to recruit to Utah schools and understand how to juggle outgoing and incoming LDS missionaries.
It's time to face the fact that Weber State's coaching gig will be seen as a stepping stone. There are exceptions, of course, but coaching is a business and at the FCS level there is no shortage of good young coaches looking to enhance their resumes with proven success.
Not only should WSU not shy away from this fact, Bovee and the search committee should embrace it. I'm not saying the school should install a revolving door in the head coach's office, but why not at least sell the job to energetic young coaches as a place to establish themselves by revitalizing a program and giving it a proper foundation?
If a larger program comes along in a few years, fine, but the right coach will have already established a system that can stand on its own.
Weber State football isn't insignificant and it shouldn't be considered a punchline or even an afterthought here in Utah. Coaching the Wildcats is a plum job with excellent infrastructure already in place.
But, realistically, the program is at risk these days and that's troubling. That's why it's critical those tasked with finding the right man for the job sell it the right way.