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Did Utes' Whittingham make a home run decision?

Published February 2, 2012 10:51 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In discussing the Utes' recruiting efforts to sign some of the best players in the west, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham used some baseball terminology, saying he liked the 'slugging percentage,' of getting three of the nine to sign. We'll stick with the baseball terminology in discussing the coach's latest announcement. He either hit it out of the park with his decision to hire Brian Johnson as his offensive coordinator or whiffed, in a big way. Just a few weeks ago Whittingham was telling reporters he couldn't believe some of the names who had applied for the position and credited Utah's move to the Pac-12 as one of the reasons the Utes were such an attractive program now. Former BYU coach Gary Crowton interviewed and other seasoned, if not always successful, coaches such as Steve Fairchild and Mike Sanford were also known to have been in the mix. Instead of going with a big name, Whittingham tabbed the young and inexperienced Johnson as his coordinator. Since Aaron Roderick has been promoted to 'passing game coordinator,' and Whittingham is known to influence the offensive calls too despite his background in the defense, it sounds like Johnson won't be THE guy in charge. But still, it seems a gutsy hiring, doesn't it? When Chow was interviewing for the Hawaii job, Whittingham said several times he didn't consider age a factor either way, young or old, and used defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake as a young coach who seemed much wiser than his years. At least he backed up his talk with a super bold move of his own. We'll all have to wait and see if his decision was a home run. - Lya Wodraska