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Runnin’ Utes Coach Craig Smith Thanks Aggie Nation After Leaving Utah State

Head coach Craig Smith of the Utah State Aggies celebrates with his team after defeating the San Diego State Aztecs to win the championship game of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 7, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aggies defeated the Aztecs 59-56. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah State and current Utah men’s basketball head coach Craig Smith released a statement thanking Aggie Nation following his departure from Logan.

Smith was hired as the head coach for the University of Utah men’s basketball team on March 27.

Four days later, the former USU coach expressed gratitude for his time in Logan and his three years with the Aggies.

“For the past few days, I’ve struggled to find the words to express what the past three years have meant to me,” Smith began his statement. “It’s been incredibly humbling to reflect on the many memories and life-changing moments my family has experienced since moving to Logan. I’ll always remember watching our oldest son Landon graduate high school and moving him into his residence hall at Utah State. I’ll always remember watching our eleventh-grade son Brady and ninth-grade son Carson get into a varsity basketball game together for the first time at Green Canyon High School. I’ll always remember our daugther Lauren cutting down the nets with me after winning our first Mountain West Conference Championship. My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary together last year.”

“From the second we arrived in Cache Valley, my family and I felt like we were home. We’ve met so many amazing people and have developed friendships that will last a lifetime.”

“I’d like to thank John Hartwell — a man I am proud to call a friend — for hiring me to become the 19th men’s basketball coach in the history of Utah State,” Smith continued. “He believed in me when not many did, and I will forever be grateful for the relationship we’ve had and will continue to have for years to come. I’d like to thank his administration and the entire support staff at USU for their support over these past three years.”

“I’d like to thank the student-athletes we’ve been so fortunate to work with over the years at Utah State. We were privileged to coach some of the greatest young men I’ve been around in my 48 years of life. These young men have displayed character, integrity, toughness, selflessness, and pride. It has been one of the great honors of my life to share this time with you.”

“Thank you to the incredible Aggie fan base — and a special shout out to the USU Hurd. You brought energy and enthusiasm every single night. Your impact on our success is one that you will never truly understand. Your energy lifted us to higher levels of competitive greatness. And we will never, ever forget the Spectrum Magic we were lucky enough to experience together.”

“Word can never fully describe my gratitude and the positive feelings I have for Cache Valley and Utah State University,” Smith closed his remarks. “This has been three of the very best years of my life.”

“On behalf of all of us in the Smith family, thank you for welcoming us to your wonderful home.”

About Craig Smith

Smith will take over the Utah basketball program after three seasons with Utah State. Smith went to Logan after a successful run at South Dakota. He turned around the Aggies’ program with trips to the Mountain West Tournament Championship game in all three seasons, including two titles.

Craig Smith Taking Over For Larry Krystkowiak At Utah

The University of Utah announced the end of former coach Larry Krystkowiak’s time with the Utes on March 16.

Larry Krystkowiak took over the Utah basketball program in 2011, their first season in the Pac-12. He was tasked with making the difficult transition from the Mountain West to the Pac-12, which had its bumps along the way.

In his first season at the helm, Utah went 6-25 overall and 3-15 in conference play. They improved the next season by nine wins in 2012-13. Then they won 21 games in 2013-14, while reaching the NIT.

Led by Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl, Utah had one of their best seasons in Krystkowiak’s tenure when they posted a 26-9 record and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Duke.

The following season with Poeltl and Kyle Kuzma, Utah reached the second round of the Big Dance before losing to Gonzaga. The Runnin’ Utes reached the NIT the next two seasons, including an appearance in the championship game but lost to Penn State. Since that runner-up season, Utah has not played in the postseason.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.