Utah State University will be unveiling the larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Merlin Olsen at noon today.
The ceremony will take place on the South Plaza of Romney Stadium as part of the Aggies' Homecoming festivities. USU and Hawaii will kick off 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 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 Aggie teammates, and Olsen's widow, Susan.
Olsen, widely recognized as the greatest athlete in USU history and an NFL Hall of Famer, passed away at City of Hope Hospital near Los Angeles on March 11 of this year after a battle with cancer.
Olsen was a three-year letterman on the offensive and defensive lines for USU from 1959-61, earning All-American honors during both his junior and senior seasons.
During his senior season, Olsen won the Outland Trophy as the nation's outstanding interior defensive lineman. He 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 Buswell, a nationally renowned Utah artist, and is 25 percent larger than Olsen's 6-foot-4 frame. When mounted on its base the statue is over 11 feet high. The statue depicts Olsen during his college playing days at USU - 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 and a list of his personal priorities.
Additionally, a list of all donors to the Merlin Olsen Field Campaign, whose gifts were received prior to Aug. 1, are mounted adjacent to the statue base.
The statue, when set on its 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 Dec. 5, 2009, when Olsen was introduced before a packed Dee Glen Smith Spectrum basketball crowd. Barnes announced that "from this point forward the field at Romney Stadium will be named Merlin Olsen Field."
The Merlin Olsen Field Campaign raised more than $600,000. These funds will start an endowed scholarship in the name of Merlin and Susan Olsen, support the Football Competitive Excellence Fund. The funds also allowed for the creation of the bronze statue of Olsen.
As part of Homecoming 2010, the final two USU teams Merlin played on (1960, 1961) are being honored as Grand Marshalls. The greatest two-year stretch in USU 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. The 1961 team featured Olsen at tackle. He was 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.