After a two-week hiatus, the Ute Insiders newsletter is back. 

A lot has happened since the end of May, including the death of former Utah football coach Jim Fassel at age 71, the hiring of a new gymnastics coach and the hiring of a new baseball coach.

Deseret News columnist Doug Robinson spoke to former Ute QB Scott Mitchell, a lifelong BYU fan at the time, about how Fassel recruited him to the U. 

“‘I look at coach Fassel and his life; he wasn’t afraid to try the impossible,’ says Mitchell. ‘He thought big.’ As Mitchell tells it, he was considering Stanford and BYU but leaning toward the latter three days before signing day,” Robinson wrote. “He began to pray to know which school to choose and during his prayer the phone rang. It was Fassel. ‘I didn’t want to talk to him; I was trying to get an answer to a prayer,’ Mitchell says. He picked up the phone anyway. ‘I didn’t hear a word he said; it was just a lot of coach talk, and I was zoned out,’ recalls Mitchell. ‘But halfway through I had this incredible feeling of warmth and peace and I knew that’s where I should go.’”

As for Fassel’s impact on Utah’s football program from 1985-1989, Robinson wrote, “The hallmark of the Fassel era was a wide-open offense at a school that had lived and died with old I-formation football. Fassel was the innovator, the mad professor with a football field as his lab. Jack Reilly was his offensive coordinator and a brilliant innovator himself, but Fassel’s calling card was offense, too, as he would prove in the NFL.”

Numbers game

25-33: Jim Fassel’s record in five seasons as Utah’s head coach from 1985-1989.

1997: The year Fassel was named NFL Coach of the Year.

2000: The season that Fassel led the New York Giants to the Super Bowl. 

From the archives

‘He wasn’t afraid to try the impossible’: Former Ute remembers Jim Fassel
Pac-12 preview: Does Utah have pieces to finally claim first Pac-12 title?

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers

“I played for coach Fassel from 1987-1989. Coach Fassel made a huge impact on my life and he will be missed. Awesome football mind but even a better person. Thanks Coach for the memories!”

View Comments

— PleaseConsiderAnother Perspective

“I had the chance to know coach Fassel well as the head coach of the Utes. He was a professional in all of his postgame interviews, and more, he was just a fine guy. His offensive mind was on another level. His only weakness was that he felt he could always control a game with offense ... and in many cases proved that. The day he dismantled BYU in 1988 was really something, and that season was not at all bad. He was always a great representative of the New York Giants as well. He always followed up on correspondence in a personal way. Even in the hard times it was great to work with Jim and Bill Marcroft on the radio. Both guys are missed. My sincere sympathies to the Fassel family, he was one of my favorites on the hill.”

— stathis

Up next

Sept. 2 | TBD | Football | vs. Weber State | @Rice Eccles Stadium

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.