After 20 years of coaching Division I football and seven years as the head coach of Weber State University’s football team, Ron McBride has announced his retirement at the end of the 2011 season in a press conference at Stewart Stadium on Tuesday.
McBride said he decided it was time to step down because, while he feels the team is in a good position and has a bright future, a new voice is needed.
“It was my decision, nobody else’s decision,” McBride said. “I looked at where this program is. All the players are in the right classes, the program is exactly where it needs to be, and I just felt they need a new voice at the top.”
WSU Athletic Director Jerry Bovee said, while McBride wanted to quietly step away, it was important to give the fans a chance to say goodbye.
“Coach came to me last week,” Bovee said, “and started to talk about in his mind how retirement would go for him, and frankly, doing this today was important to our program so that our fans have the opportunity on Saturday to be here and celebrate his career.”
An emotional McBride said coaching has been a part of his life for so long, he isn’t sure what he will do now.
“The last 60 years has been football only,” McBride said. “That has really been my whole life.”
McBride came to WSU in December 2004 and took over a struggling WSU football program. In his seven years in Ogden, McBride revitalized the program and led the Wildcats to the Football Championship Series playoffs two years in a row. He had an overall record of 38-32 and a Big Sky Conference record of 29-18. He said the most important thing to him is the success of WSU.
“I want to do what’s right for Weber State,” McBride said, “not what’s right for Ron McBride.”
He also said the hardest part of the retirement process was telling his players.
“The hardest thing about this whole deal was telling the players,” McBride said, “because I always tell them you can’t ever quit. You can’t ever do this, you can’t ever do that, and then I’m sitting there and telling them I’m retiring. Some of them took that real personally.”
In 2008, the Wildcats came out of nowhere with a 10-4 record and won the Big Sky Conference title. The team also advanced to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1991.
WSU has struggled this season and will finish the year with a losing record following last Saturday’s loss against Montana State University. McBride said he feels WSU has strong players and is close to becoming a strong team.
“We just need a little bump,” McBride said, “and I think that bump will come with a new head coach . . . retiring is not my favorite thing to do, but I think it’s the right thing at this point.”
He said he always assumed he would spend his entire life on the sidelines.
“I never really saw myself retiring,” McBride said. “I saw myself, you know, dying on the field. I pictured my heart blowing up, and somebody hauling me off the field. You know, that’s how I always pictured it.”
A question session followed McBride and Bovee’s comments. During the question period, an emotional faculty member, Bruce Handley, expressed his gratitude for McBride’s service to WSU.
“I’ve been a big fan of Weber for 50 years, a faculty member for 40 years, and I just want to tell you how grateful I am,” Handley said. “You’ve done a great thing for Weber. We love you, Coach.”
McBride peppered his speech with colorful language. At one point, he said, “Since I’m not going to be the coach anymore, I can probably swear more.” Bovee asked how McBride swearing more would be any different from usual.
Saturday’s home game against Northern Arizona University will be McBride’s last game coaching at Stewart Stadium. He said he’s unsure what he will do after this season.
“I have no idea what I’ll do without football, because I don’t know anything else,” McBride said, “because I don’t have hobbies, I don’t have anything else. I know one thing — that we have a very good coaching staff here. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep all of that intact, and I’ll have some say in who we’ll hire.”