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Over the winter holiday break, Weber State University Athletics announced the hiring of Jay Hill as the 11th head football coach in WSU history.
“I’m so excited to be here,” Hill said. “I’ve coached football in this state for a long time, and I’ve always admired Weber State University, and I am super excited to be a Wildcat.”
Both WSU President Charles Wight and Jerry Bovee, WSU director of athletics, said they were elated with the hire.
“It’s a great day to be a Wildcat,” said Wight at a press conference. “I’m not a football player, I’m a chemist, so I had a lot of really great help in this very successful search.”
Bovee followed Wight in welcoming Hill into the WSU family. He gave some of the reasons Hill emerged as the top candidate for the job.
“Over two weeks ago, we embarked on a search for a head coach to direct our football program,” Bovee said. “We looked in many different areas and at many different candidates with a number of different backgrounds, strengths and skill sets. We have sought to find someone who met a certain set of criteria that we thought was very important to our program and our institution.”
Among other things, the criteria Bovee listed were someone who had a track record of being a proven and respected leader, who valued the academic success of student athletes, is committed to building a strong program and is able to connect with people in a positive way.
“We believe that Jay Hill is uniquely aligned with the attributes that we were looking for in a head football coach,” Bovee said. “We are excited to welcome Jay to our Wildcat family, along with his wife Sarah and his four children.”
Hill played for the University of Utah for two years. After being cut multiple times by various NFL teams, Hill received a call that changed his career field. Ron McBride, then head coach of the U of U, offered Hill a position on his coaching staff.
“I owe Coach McBride a lot,” Hill said. “He was my coach when I was in college. I know he has had a great tenure in this state as a coach and also at this institution.”
Hill coached multiple positions over 13 seasons at the U of U. He was mentored under McBride, national championship-winning coach Urban Meyer and current coach Kyle Whittingham.
“I sat with Urban Meyer for two years, and I took every note and everything I could take from that guy — notes, philosophy, scheme,” Hill said. “He was a true mentor to me, and his success obviously speaks for itself. After Coach Meyer was Coach Whittingham. He was the one who gave me my first full-time coaching responsibility. He taught me about discipline and structure and what it takes to have a great program.”
Hill was also brought in because of his ties to recruiting in the state of Utah.
“I’ve recruited in state as the head recruiting coach at the University of Utah since 2008,” Hill said. “If there is anyone that knows the recruits in state, I know them. Now we’ve got to get them here. I know what it takes to get them.”
Hill promised during his press conference to bring back the winning ways WSU had under McBride. He said that if he didn’t think he could win at WSU, he wouldn’t have taken the job.
“There is a tradition here,” Hill said. “We’ve won football games in the past. I know we can win football games again. Just recently, Coach McBride was here and took this team to the playoffs, and we expect to be back in the playoffs, and I know we can do it.”
Hill has already begun putting his staff together and has started the recruiting process for next season.