January 13, 2005 — Fans played a big role in the success of this year’s Ute Football team and so it’s only fitting that they be invited to celebrate the team’s undefeated season and Fiesta Bowl victory. The University of Utah will hold a Ute football celebration prior to the Utah/New Mexico basketball game on Jan. 22. The party is free to all and will get underway at 11:45 a.m. in a heated tent just outside the Huntsman Center. Tip-off for the game is 1 p.m.
The Ute football team was 12-0 this season and was the first non-BCS team to qualify for one of the four BCS bowl games, beating Pittsburgh 35-7 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Quarterback Alex Smith, who was selected as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, shared the Fiesta Bowl offensive MVP award with wide receiver Paris Warren, while nose guard Steve Fifita was named the defensive MVP.
Other options had been considered for a celebration for this year’s football team, but the University has now finalized plans for a party at the Huntsman Center. “We are doing this to recognize our team’s accomplishments and to say thanks to all our fans, and the community. We had considered doing something downtown or at The Gateway, but concerns about the weather and an attractive tie-in to the basketball game made the Huntsman Center the logical location,” said University spokeswoman Coralie Alder.
Football players and coaches will be at the party to hand out posters and sign autographs, while basking in the glow of their Fiesta Bowl trophy which will be on display. In a show of thanks to Utah fans who packed Rice-Eccles Stadium all season long, the first 500 people to show up at the party will get free tickets to the basketball game that afternoon. Fans can also register to win a pair of season tickets to 2005 Ute football games. Other freebies include popcorn and a variety of Ute merchandise.
At halftime of the basketball game, Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson will present the football team with the key to the city.