Birth Of An Aggie Fan
Get to know our newest Utah State writer.
How did Sam become an Aggie fan
I’m Sam McConkie and am a new contributor to the Mountain West Wire and I’ll be covering Utah State Aggie football. Fortunately for me, I’m surrounded by a great fan base that has grown increasingly passionate in the last decade. This makes for fun fall seasons and intriguing spring off-seasons.
I would know. I was there for the re-birth of Aggie football. Gary Andersen’s squad went from barely turning my head to completely winning my heart, despite how many times they stomped on it, that magical 2011 season.
I ventured to Utah State University then as a junior. I traded in Snow Badger blue and white (now a sickly orange and blue hue, like a certain Mountain West program in Idaho) for the Aggie blue and FIGHTING white. Excitement in sameness, I tell you.
Though I didn’t care much for football at the time, I did care about school spirit. I wore it on my sleeve with pride. In what is now a legendary near-miss, I heard the story of how a freshman Chuckie Keeton nearly knocked off the then-defending national champions at Auburn. Emotion hadn’t entered into it yet for me, but it nonetheless got my attention. Perhaps I should check out a game.
My next experience was euphoric and soul-crushing at different intervals. I watched a 1-2 Aggie squad venture down to Provo and blow a halftime double-digit lead against BYU. I may not have totally liked football yet, but I had grown up in a family of Utes. Cougar disdain was partly in my DNA. That fateful September night cemented that disdain for good.
Bobby Wagner and Levi Koskan made big plays. Chuckie Keeton showed electricity and leadership. As an additional layer of drama, Riley Nelson previously suited up for the Aggies. That made it all the tougher to stomach watching a tipped Riley Nelson pass (by Aggie great Will Davis) fall into the hands of Marcus Matthews in the endzone. There would be several more soul-crushing losses to come.
I watched in disbelief as we blew significant leads against Fresno State and Louisiana Tech. I watched in horror as Chuckie Keeton lay lifeless on the turf at Hawaii after a vicious hit. Down 28-7, Oahu was not only a place which USU hadn’t won at since the 1960s, but it also appeared to be the final destination of a once-promising season.
Gary Andersen and his boys decided enough was enough. This program was going to win.
Only rumors exist of what was said in that locker room at halftime, but the Ags came out swinging and finally found a way to win in the closing seconds, 35-31. I was up at 2:00 a.m. alone in my apartment, but the rest of the Aggie diehard fans were there with me in spirit. All of us were incredibly loud in our hearts. We all knew the switch was flipped.
After frustratingly close yet exhilarating games versus San Jose State, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico State, Gary’s once-beleaguered squad now found themselves in a bowl game for the first time since 1997. I don’t care that it was potato-themed. It was special, dagummit!
I’ll even admit some shame here: I left the San Jose game at halftime on a snowy Logan day because I believed we blew it then. Not only was I wrong, it felt like Bobby Wagner blocking that field goal at the end was his personal way of telling me to get my priorities right. It helps the sun came out after halftime, too.
I would not abandon this team again. Gary never quit coaching and loving them. Those players never gave up on him. And I’ve been coming back each and every fall like a junkie for my Aggie fix. I blame Gary Andersen but have loved him for it ever since. We all do, quite frankly.
We’ve got a terrific 2019 season in store, Aggie fans. I can’t wait to experience it with you and provide you good content in between what are sure to be some awesome gridiron bouts.
A Mountain West championship is within our reach. Gary Andersen taught us to believe that we will win.
Let’s prove him right.