Interesting discussion here with Athlon ranking the Pac-12 football coaches. Utah's Kyle Whittingham was ranked just the ninth best coach in the league. That placing is a far cry from a few years ago when he won the National Coach of the Year award after leading the Utes to an undefeated season in 2008.
So what happened? The Pac-12 happened.
The Utes expected an adjustment period as they moved up to the big leagues. The move has definitely taken its toll with Utah failing to qualify for a bowl game last year.
The move up to a BCS league plus all the transitions with offensive coordinators and quarterback injuries didn't help.
Whittingham has all but admitted promoting Brian Johnson to offensive coordinator was a premature move for a young coach.
A few days ago Whittingham said he decided to take a shot at hiring Dennis Erickson, believing it couldn't hurt to ask.
He scored and brought aboard a master of an offensive mind who hopefully can make Utah's offense more of a threat than it was a year ago.
It was a daring hire, one Whittingham needs to succeed. He has always cautioned that the transition to the Pac-12 would be a "process," and not a one-year deal. But Utah fans are getting antsy for wins and others are questioning Whittingham's talent as a coach.
Whittingham has been successful enough and has enough deep ties to the Utah program that I don't think he is anywhere near the so called hot seat. However, it feels like 2013 is going to be a critical year for him.
Personally, I think the ranking is harsh. To make the transition to the Pac-12 could take 3-to-5 years as the Utes build depth and make inroads in the Pac-12 recruiting wars.
But it is time for the Utes to show they are at least moving in the right direction.
If the Utes have another bad season, the pressure will certainly be on Whittingham.
- Lya Wodraska
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