While watching Rick Majerus do what Rick Majerus does best in the NCAA Tournament, I realized, as many Utah fans have over the last few years, just how much I miss the Big Guy.
It's hard to put into words exactly what Rick Majerus did for Utah basketball. He took a once strong regional power and made them the talk of the college basketball world. For a stretch in the 90s, no one could get enough of Majerus and our scrappy Runnin' Underdogs. Hell, he even appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
It doesn't get much bigger than that.
Sadly, this is a story that didn't have a happy ending. Majerus resigned abruptly only a few years removed from taking the Utes to the national championship game and the feud between him and Chris Hill is a dark cloud that hangs over his legacy.
It's why, almost a decade after his resignation, the Utah basketball program has yet to honor him in any way. There has been no retirement ceremony or even a commemorative plaque.
Outside Majerus Court, a suburban Salt Lake street named after him in 1991, you'd think he was never here at all. No WAC championships, no Sweet Sixteens and definitely no Final Four in '98.
For a program that prides itself on its basketball tradition, you'd think they would want to embrace the legend that is Rick Majerus. There isn't a basketball coach in Utah, minus maybe Jerry Sloan, who was near the institution Majerus became during his 15 years here. Not Jack Gardner or Jerry Pimm or Stew Morrill or Dave Rose. And let me clear, that's not to take anything away from those coaches, as they all do, or have done, amazing jobs - it just shows how big of a legacy Majerus had here.
He was Utah basketball. He was, along with only a handful of other coaches, someone who defined the sport throughout the 1990s.
It's time we honor that. It's time this administration puts the past where it belongs (hint, in the past) and recognizes what he did not just for our basketball program, but for our athletic program and the state as a whole.
This is something that shouldn't be up for debate and something so long overdue that I'm guessing those who aren't Utah fans will be shocked that it hasn't happened yet.
But it hasn't and it needs to.
What they want to ultimately do is not important. They can name the court after him or retire his sweater, but the act has to happen. He did so much for Utah basketball to not get a Hero's Welcome. I want my last memories of Rick Majerus in the Huntsman Center to be him tearing up over a banner or honor that celebrates his time here and not the way it ended. It ended badly and we all know that. But we can make it right. We need to make it right. I hope, one day, we will make it right.
Please, Dr. Hill, honor the great Rick Majerus.