University of Utah NBA and NFL Number One Picks

Salt Lake City is the geographic home of the University of Utah Utes and to even casual college sports fans this seems like an unlikely place for the number one overall NBA and NFL draft picks to come from in the same year, but that was not the case in 2005.

Despite not having a reputation as a traditionally dominate football or basketball program the University of Utah made American sports history when it became the first college ever to have players from its teams be chosen with the number one draft picks in both the NBA and NFL Drafts in the same year. The NBA and NFL reign supreme in the world of professional American sports with Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL) coming in very distant third and fourth places in terms of team sport popularity. While baseball has had its heyday in the past and still sees record attendance numbers (thanks in part to a season with more than ten times as many games as the NFL and twice as many games in ballparks four times as big as what the NBA offers) the consensus is that the NFL and then the NBA are the most popular professional sports in the United States.

The hiring of eventual uber successful college football coach Urban Meyer ushered in a new era of twenty-first century football success for the public university with about 28,000 students. Prior to the arrival of Coach Meyer the school had previously barely made a blip on the national college football radar. The 2004-2005 college football campaign under the direction of Meyer went 11-0 in the regular season before besting the University of Pittsburgh in the January, 2005 Fiesta Bowl to win a landmark BCS bowl game for the college out of Salt Lake. The perfect 12-0 season was good enough to position the Utes in the number four spot in the polls at the end of the season and propelled on field signal caller Alex Smith to be taken by the San Francisco 49ers as the number one overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

The University of Utah has had less recent success on the hardwood than the gridiron. With the exception of a 1998 run to the Final Four the only other accomplishment of note on the basketball Utes resume is a 1944 NCAA title. Despite not having a standout year record wise during the 2004-2005 basketball season the University of Utah Utes did send Australian born sophomore Andrew Bogut to the Milwaukee Bucks who selected him with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft that summer. Coming off of a serviceable freshmen season where Bogut won Freshman of the Year honors in the subpar Mountain West Conference the seven foot Australian had a breakout season in his second year that resulted winning numerous college player of the year honors.

At this point in their relatively young careers both quarterback Alex Smith and forward Andrew Bogut are consensus disappointments. While both players will likely go on to have meaningful role player type careers in their respective sports the expectations for number one draft picks are so high that anything short of single handedly turning around a long failing franchise is commonly considered a colossal disappointment.

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