Utes Insider – Former football head coach Ron McBride
As Utah's head coach from 1990-2002, Ron McBride turned the Utah football program into a consistent winner and laid the foundation for even greater successes in the years to come. He directed the Utes to 88 wins, six bowl appearances and a pair of conference championships.
During this edition of Utes Insider presented by Pepsi, McBride joins Mike Lageschulte in an interview recorded on August 5 to look back on his entire coaching career. He talks in depth about some of the greatest players and the greatest moments of his tenure with the Utes.
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A three-year starter at linebacker and offensive guard at San Jose State, McBride began a career in coaching that has lasted 50 years at his alma mater, where he spent the 1964 and '65 seasons as the freshman team defensive coordinator. After working three years at Piedmont High School, he returned to the collegiate ranks at Gavilan Junior College from 1969-71. It was there McBride began a long association with Wayne Howard. McBride served as Howard's offensive coordinator at Gavilan, then followed him to UC Riverside in 1972, Long Beach State in 1974, and Utah in 1977.
McBride worked five seasons for Howard and one more under Chuck Stobart at the U. before spending two years at Wisconsin. McBride returned to Utah in 1985, then headed to Arizona in 1987 to join Dick Tomey's staff as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach.
When newly-hired Utah Athletics Director Dr. Chris Hill was looking for someone to jump start his football program in 1989, he turned to McBride. Despite inheriting a program that hadn't played in a bowl game and had only eight winning seasons since 1964, McBride quickly got things headed in the right direction.
During the interview, he talks about how being a college assistant coach for 25 years, including eight years at Utah, uniquely prepared him to take over the Ute program.
After going 7-5 in just his second year in 1991, McBride led the Utes to a Copper Bowl berth in 1992. The Utes went bowling again at the 1993 Freedom Bowl. They also rekindled their rivalry with BYU, and making it even more fun for the fans was the jovial relationship between McBride and LaVell Edwards. Winning just two of the previous 21 meetings, Utah came away with a 34-31 victory over the Cougars in Provo in 1993 and went on to take six of the next 11 games in the series.
McBride's 1994 team remains one of Utah's all-time best. The Utes won their first eight games that season and took down BYU in the finale—again by a 34-31 score. Utah defeated 15th-ranked Arizona in the Freedom Bowl, finishing with the school's first 10-win season and a top-10 national ranking.
Utah won a share of the 1995 WAC championship—its first league title in 31 years—which was capped off by its third-straight defeat of BYU. With a revitalized fan base, Utah opened a rebuilt, 45,000-plus-seat Rice-Eccles Stadium in 1998. A year later, the Utes won a share of the Mountain West Conference title and defeated Fresno State in the 1999 Las Vegas Bowl. In 2001, McBride led Utah to another Las Vegas Bowl victory over USC.
After stepping down as Utah's head coach at the end of the 2002 season, McBride spent the next two years as the inside linebackers coach at Kentucky. Then he became the head coach at Weber State in December of 2004, leading the Wildcats to the 2008 Big Sky Conference title and a pair of NCAA Playoff appearances before retiring in 2011. He also coached arena football, including the Utah Blaze and the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles from 2013-17.
Coach Mac's record in 20 years as a Division I head coach was 131-101. He coached over 70 players who went on to the NFL, including All-Pros Jamal Anderson, Luther Ellis, Steve Smith and Jordan Gross—all former Utes. McBride talks in depth about the decision to recruit Smith.
McBride continues to run the Ron McBride Foundation, which supports schools, youth serving agencies, and programs that meet the needs of Utah's most vulnerable children.
Among his many honors, McBride has been named MS Society Sportsperson of the Year and the YMCA Man of the Year. He also has been honored by Prevent Child Abuse with its "Legacy of Hope" award and by the Boy Scouts of America. McBride was the recipient of the All-American Football Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, and was honored by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame in 2005 for "outstanding contributions to amateur football."
Ron met his wife Vicky while attending San Jose State, and they started a family while he finished his undergraduate and graduate degrees. They have four children: Danny, Mike, Kelly and Jill. In March of 2020, Ronnie and Vicky celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.