The Year Without a Homecoming: 1943


By 1943, the United States had been involved in WWII for over a year. To assist with the war effort, young men from all over the country, including USU, were drafted to the armed forces. The Utah State campus served as a training ground for the Army Air Corps and the Navy Signal Unit. While many of the classes and activities continued on as normal, others, like homecoming, were scaled back or cancelled for the year. With all able-bodied male students, including the Aggie football team, called into service during the war, it became impossible to field a team in 1943. In addition, the college prevailed on Coach Dick Romney to take upon the extra duties as both Dean of Men and liaison to the military trainees on campus.[1] Without a football team or a fulltime coach, the homecoming game and all other festivities were cancelled. The poem below appeared in the 1944 Buzzer, published the spring after Homecoming was cancelled in 1943. USU students were patriotic to both their country and their university, an emotion nicely captured in this student-composed poem. 

Bleachers - packed with cheering crowds in pre-war days: desolate, bleak as you glanced at it on a winter day - hope of future triumphs...Few athleticly(sic) inclined men: no football team, so you yelled for the navy-marine team in the stadium on October Saturday afternoon...You booed the referees' decisions, swore when the team lost, and vowed you wouldn't come back again.[2]

A page from the "Student Life" newspaper, October 14, 1943
[click the image to enlarge, click again to view all pages in document]


As described in these articles from the October 14, 1943 issues of Student Life, Aggie athletes were frequently called off to war, leaving USAC without many of its usual sports teams. Some examples of these articles include, "Former Aggie Man Receives Distinction in Battle of Sicily," "Sports Writer Sees Slow Year For Athletics at Utah State," "Former Football Ace Retains Popularity in South Pacific," and "Competition in National Football Race is Keen Despite Restrictions."

In 1944, the college reinstated a modified Homecoming celebration. The college returned to conference play with a team "composed of discharged servicemen, men with physical exemptions, and 17-year olds." The Homecoming game was played against the Idaho Southern Branch Bengals and USU won 8-7. Students also resurrected the downtown parade held a formal ball. They elected Betty Wright as their homecoming queen.[3] Their celebration is documented in these stories from Student Life and pages from the 1945 Buzzer yearbook. 

Homecoming came roaring back to life at USU in fall 1945, barely two months after the end of hostilities in WWII. The Homecoming game featured a 13-0 victory over Colorado State University while students excitedly revived such traditions as the bonfire rally and the tug-of-war, electing Cammy Grant as homecoming queen.[4] Once again, the Buzzer yearbook documented the occasion.

[1] Parson, 14, 48-50.

[2]The Buzzer, 1944. University Archives Record Group 25.5/7. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library Special Collections and Archives. Logan, Utah. Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/buzzer/33/

[3] Buzzer, 1945. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/buzzer/38/

[4] Buzzer, 1946. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/buzzer/39/