Just after the New Year, head coach of the Utah State Aggies mens basketball team Stew Morrill announced he would retired at the end of this season. It has been 17 years since Stew Morrill became head coach for the Aggies. His record at the school boast 401 wins with a winning percentage over 72 percent. His final night in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum was a full house; 10,270 fans came to bid farewell to Coach Morrill.
"It almost doesn't feel like it could possibly be real because he was such a fixture here for so long," Aggie fan Matt Sonnenberg said. Sonnenberg went to his first Aggie basketball game bac in 2003 and said he has been hooked ever since. "The idea of that no longer being the case, it's hard to just mentally come to grips with."
"He left quite a bit of legacy; he really built the program here, built it up real great with 17 years and saw a lot of post season play," guest services Doug DeSpain said. DeSpain has been working in the Sprectrum for 21 years. "He did a real great job here. I hate to see him go."
"I think the great part about him is he doesn't want any of the recognition, even though everyone is willing to give it to him," former guard Tyler Newbold said. Newbold played under Morrill from 2007-2011. "He wants his teams to have it. I just think he's a class act and a good dude. I loved playing for him. The next coach, it's going to be big shoes to fill, for sure."
Morrill was honored before the game started. A jersey was retired in his name and Wild Bill even came out of retirement for this one night.
"Once the game started, I was OK," head coach Stew Morrill said. "Once the game starts, that's where your attention goes. I appreciated the fans coming out and all of that; it was very very nice. I wish we could've given them a win in return, but it's an emotional thing, then the game starts and away you go."
"The thing about Stew that I really loved was even when we were having a lot of success, he never got comfortable," Newbold said. "He always kept pushing us, he always kept trying to get us to play to the next level, trying to win the next game. But, he enjoyed the process, too. Everyone talks about his sweep dance and I was lucky enough to see a lot of those, so we enjoyed it. We enjoyed the process and we had a lot of fun over those years."
After the game the players mentioned they wished they could have won the game for Morrill, and it may not have gone their way, but Morrill appreciates what his former and current players have done for him.
"They are good kids. I've said that all year long; they are really good kids. This has been a fun team. They've gotten better, they finished a lot better than anyone thought the could," Morrill said about his current team. "They were picked 10th and we were really bad early, I mean really bad and we made progress. For the most part they have played hard and tried to improve and I couldn't have asked for a better group to finish my career with."