Merlin Olsen statue unveiling ceremony slated for noon Saturday

LOGAN, Utah – To honor one of its greatest alumnus and the most decorated football player in school history, Utah State University will be unveiling the larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Merlin Olsen on Saturday, Oct. 23 at Noon. The ceremony will be held on the South Plaza of Romney Stadium as part of USU’s Homecoming festivities, leading up to the Aggies’ football game against Hawai’i at 3 p.m. on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. The ceremony is open to the public and admission is free. Guest speakers for the ceremony include USU President Dr. Stan Albrecht, USU Director of Athletics Scott Barnes, Steven Perry from the National Football Foundation, the statue’s sculptor Blair Buswell, Douglas Mayberry, who was one of Olsen’s USU teammates, along with Olsen’s widow, Susan. NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, the greatest athlete in Utah State University history, passed away at City of Hope Hospital near Los Angeles on March 11, 2010 after a courageous battle with cancer. Olsen was a three-year lettermen on the offensive and defensive lines for Utah State’s football team from 1959-61, earning All-American honors during both his junior and senior seasons. During his senior season in 1961, he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s outstanding interior defensive lineman. Olsen also was a three-time academic All-American at Utah State and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Kappa Phi in 1962 with a degree in finance. The statue was created by nationally renowned Utah artist Blair Buswell and is 25 percent larger than Olsen’s 6’4″ frame. When mounted on its base the statue is over 11 feet high. The statue depicts Olsen during his college playing days at Utah State, in full uniform and pads, with his helmet under his arm. The base of the statue is adorned with two plaques. One lists many of Olsen’s accomplishments as a college and pro football player, as an actor and member of the media, and as a philanthropist and humanitarian. The other plaque lists Olsen’s personal mission statement, an inspiring list of Olsen’s personal priorities. Additionally a list of all donors to the Merlin Olsen Field Campaign whose gifts were received prior to August 1, 2010 are mounted adjacent to the statue base. The statue, when set on it’s base, has at least one unique element. According to Google maps, Olsen’s gaze will directly face toward the Olsen family home in Logan where he grew up, roughly two miles in a direct line from where the statue will rest. In preparation for the statue to be installed a small courtyard was created with seating areas for contemplation. The block cement was used to convey Olsen’s personal strength, and the vertical columns represent his personal mission to celebrate others. The Merlin Olsen Field Campaign began on December 5, 2009 when Aggie legend Merlin Olsen was introduced before a packed Dee Glen Smith Spectrum basketball crowd. Director of Athletics Scott Barnes announced that “from this point forward the field at Romney Stadium will be named Merlin Olsen Field”. The Merlin Olsen Field Campaign raised over $600,000. These funds will; start an endowed scholarship in the name of Merlin and Susan Olsen, support the Football Competitive Excellence Fund, and allow for the creation of a bronze statue of Aggie legend Merlin Olsen. As part of Homecoming 2010 the final two Utah State teams Merlin played on (1960, 1961) are being honored as Grand Marshalls. The greatest two-year stretch in Utah State Football history was in 1960 and 1961, when these two teams, led by head coach John Ralston, combined for an 18-3-1 record and claimed back-to-back co-Skyline Conference Championships. The 1960 team finished the year 9-2 and played in the Sun Bowl, while the 1961 squad went 9-1-1 and played in the Gotham Bowl. That 1961 team featured Olsen at senior tackle, a consensus first-team All-American and the 1961 Outland Trophy winner. Almost two dozen other members of these teams played professional football in either the NFL or CFL. Roughly 30 of the players and coaches from those teams have confirmed they plan to take part in this weekend’s ceremonies. Utah State hosts Hawai’i, the first-place team in the WAC, on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. Saturday’s game is part of a full Homecoming weekend. The complete Homecoming activities schedule is available at www.usu.edu/homecoming/schedule. The USU volleyball team is also in action Saturday as part of Homecoming activities, hosting New Mexico State at 8:30 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Fans can get in to the volleyball match free with a ticket stub from the Aggie football game. To purchase tickets, or for more Aggie football ticket information, fans can contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305, in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or on-line 24 hours a day at www.utahstateaggies.com under the “tickets” drop down menu. Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on the USU football blog at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics. -USU-

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