Come to Mass: New Aggie event honors Merlin Olsen

LOGAN –The turnaround of Utah State football strangely coincides with the unveiling of the Merlin Olsen statue that stands outside the front gates of Romney Stadium. Since it made its debut on October 23, 2010, just months after Olsen’s death, the team has posted a record of 19 – 5 in the stadium where it stands. Every season since 2011, the Aggies have had a winning record and made an appearance in a bowl game – something that was rare for Aggie football before.

Kyle Heywood and Steve Schwartzman, two USU students that host an Aggie radio podcast called “The Bangarang”, noticed this and wanted to find a way to honor the most decorated football player in school history. They had heard that students would now be able to get their football tickets during the week instead of at the gate the day of the game. This change in policy meant that students would be available to tailgate instead of waiting in line in hopes of getting the best seats.

Heywood and Schwartzman brainstormed and came up with an idea to incorporate the statue and new policy. They now have plans for what they are hoping becomes a new game day tradition. It is called “Merlin’s Mass” – a pep rally and information session held under the statue complete with guest speakers, the Scotsman and other activities designed to set the tone for game day.

The times of the Mass will vary week by week, but the first one is scheduled to start at 11:59 a.m. Saturday.

“We have this beautiful statue of Merlin Olsen in the front,” Schwartzman said. “We’re always finding ways to hold to the little bit of history that we have. We might as well incorporate that.”

The two said they want everyone to show up to Mass, not just students.

“If you’re an Aggie fan we want you there,” Heywood said. “If you’re not an Aggie fan we want you there. We’ll convert you.”

“The Scotsman” will be a familiar song for all the Aggies who show up, but a new song called “Ol’ Merlin’s Watching” is something new that will make its debut Saturday. The song is an adaptation of a soccer chant sung by the Derby County Football Club in England called “Steve Bloomer’s Watching.”

“The essence of the song is that even though Merlin’s passed away, he’s still watching over his Aggies and he’s leading the blue and the white into battle,” Heywood said. “It’s kind of a fun little easy beat, easy to pick up.”

“It fits almost perfectly,” Schwartzman said. “That Merlin is there at the stadium. He is watching. We just loved the idea of that.”

Schwartzman said he has informed the Hurd, Coach Matt Wells and alumni about the event and has gotten good feedback from everyone. He said he is hoping for a good crowd this Saturday.

“That’s the thing that excites me most about Mass becoming something huge is that we’re actually turning an emblem of our university into a tradition,” he said. “And that’s why I really hope it’s successful.”

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