Salt Lake Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe said it is essential that Utah not only win Thursday’s season opener against Utah State but also get a bowl game for coach Kyle Whittingham to get his program back on track.
Similarly, Trib counterpart Gordon Monson argued that BYU’s tough schedule this season needs to be the norm if they are to thrive as one of the few independent teams in college football.
So it went during a freewheeling 40-minute video chat with Trib Talk host Jennifer Napier-Pearce as the two columnists gave readers and viewers their takes on the upcoming college football season.
Both said that the Utes’ Pac-12 membership, while a boon to the program financially, has also put Whittingham and his program in a pressure-cooker situation. The Utes, entering their third year in the conference, can get by for another season of struggling in the conference, provided they sweep through a non-conference schedule that includes the Aggies, Weber State and BYU. But at some point soon, the Utes need to make their mark on the Pac-12 with a road win or a victory over one of the league’s powerhouse teams.
BYU, the columnists said, can be successful as an independent, but it will rely heavily on new offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s success in Provo. And at some point, Monson argued, Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall needs to get out of his own way and dispense with his sometimes controversial moves — Spirit. Honor. Tradition anybody? — and take his staff and players’ advice before plunging in.
Both columnists also believed Matt Wells will succeed at Utah State because of the solid program he inherited from predecessor Gary Andersen.