Stew Morrill Leads Utah State into New Territory

19 Nov

We all know the best coaches in the college game; Izzo, Kryzewski, Self, Calipari, Pitino, etc.  There are more than just the handful of hall-of-fame coaches at big-name schools, there are a few that have been at smaller schools across the country like Rick Byrd at Belmont, who upset North Carolina this weekend, that have become institutions at their current schools.  Another one of those institutions is in Logan Utah where Stew Morrill has built Utah State into one of the most consistent programs in the country.

Morrill is now in his 16th year at Utah State.  Morrill began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of Gonzaga in 1974.  He moved today the same position at the University of Montana under current California Head Coach Mike Montgomery in 1978.  He remained in that position until 1986 when he took over the head chair when Montgomery left for Stanford.

He remained at Montana until 1991 when he took the head job at Colorado State.  In 1998-99 he left to settle in at Utah State.  Not only is Utah State a consistent program but Morrill has been amazingly consistent since becoming a head coach considering the level of programs he has taken over.  Prior to this season Morrill has been a head coach for 27 seasons, only once has he finished below .500, 14-17 in his first year at Colorado State and only once has he fallen below .500 in conference play, 7-9 in his 2nd year at Montana.

At Utah State is where Morrill has made his mark getting 366 of his 584 wins (before the season) with the Aggies.   For those scoring at home that is over 21 wins a season over his head coaching career and over 24 a year while at Utah State.   Morrill has 15 trips to the NCAA Tournament or the NIT including 12 in 15 years while at Utah State.  How good has Morrill been at Utah State?  Three schools have won at least 23 games a season from 1999-2011; Kansas, Gonzaga and Utah State.  Over the same span the Aggies had the 4th best winning percentage (.764) in the country behind Duke, Kansas and Gonzaga.

Image Courtesy of Bleacher Report

 

Utah State is now in their third conference under Morrill having moved from the Big West to the WAC and now to the Mountain West.  The competition for the Aggies will certainly be stiffer but the same can be said for their new foes.

Typical of Morrill teams the Aggies are deep and play nearly everyone on the roster.  11 of the 13 players that have seen action, have played in all three games so far and not just played but are averaging at least 10 minutes per contest.    Utah State is led by a quartet of seniors; Jarred Shaw, Preston Medlin, TeNale Roland and Spencer Butterfield.   The depth comes from the underclassmen including three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.

Morrill has done it at every stop he has had, don’t be surprised if come February and March if Utah State is the team battling the likes of New Mexico and Boise State atop the Mountain West.

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