Utah HC Craig Smith Talks Renewed Games With Utah State
New Utah HC reiterates the importance of in-state play.
Former Aggie Head Coach hopes to have Utah State on Utah’s schedule going forward.
Craig Smith has been the head coach of the Utah Runnin’ Utes for nearly three weeks now. After successful stops at South Dakota and Utah State, Smith was awarded with an offer at the biggest job in the Beehive State.
Now, after hitting the ground running and securing commitments from his former fantastic freshman Rollie Worster and longtime opposing player David Jenkins Jr., Smith looks towards his first year in Salt Lake and how his roster will look but also who they might play.
Smith spoke on the Crimson Corner podcast recently, and was asked if he was up to playing his former employer more often than the previous coaching regime.
“Yes, I would be very open to that, as long as they are,” Smith told KSL Sports. “I’m a big believer in that, I’m a traditionalist. I am a history guy, you’re gonna hear that a lot, probably.”
The last time the two programs played each other, Craig Smith was still the head coach of South Dakota. That was on December 9th, 2017, at the Beehive Classic when Utah beat Utah State 77-67. Before that the two programs hadn’t met since November 24th, 2010 when the Runnin’ Utes visited the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan.
Back then even Larry Krystkowiak wasn’t the head coach at Utah, but his presence in Salt Lake only made the rivalry more silent. As their only meeting on the hardwood came during that Beehive Classic meeting. Though the newly appointed Utah head coach knows the importance of playing in-state programs.
“Obviously, we have BYU scheduled, I don’t know if we have a date scheduled specifically yet. I believe they’re coming to our place. When we were at Utah State, we played them (BYU). When we were at Utah State, we played Weber State, like home-and-home, how many Mountain West teams are playing at Big Sky schools, I would say not many. “We had Dixie State on the schedule, but we lost that game due to COVID. We played Utah Valley our first year,” Smith added. “That stuff is important.
For two programs with well over 100 meetings over the years, the last decade has been rather odd. Back in the early 2000s, the Runnin’ Utes played the Aggies every season during that decade, with Utah holding the all-time series lead 63-48.
“There’s a chance and we have nothing in place right now,” Smith stated. “Everybody likes to try to read between the lines and make something where there’s not. So, I would say that’s something that I’m very, very open to. So we’ll just see where this thing goes as we progress in those talks.”
Any progress on getting a game scheduled would be a very big step by coach Smith, though as stated nothing is set in stone or has even been discussed. But with the idea on the table, a longstanding rivalry in the state of Utah can possibly begin once again.
It will be nice to see, though coach Smith will now have to experience the Spectrum Magic he brought back to the program on the visiting squads bench.
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.