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Whittingham may get chance to be head coach

Published December 2, 2004 1:21 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While Notre Dame courts Urban Meyer and Brigham Young searches for Gary Crowton's replacement, Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham wonders if his time has finally come.

After two decades as an assistant - including the past 11 years with the Utes - Whittingham could be on the threshold of his first head coaching job.

If Meyer is hired at Notre Dame - and that remains a near-certainty - Whittingham might be a candidate to become the Utes' new coach.

Whittingham also is considered a possible replacement at BYU, after Crowton tendered his forced resignation Wednesday.

In other coaching moves, Gerry DiNardo was fired by Indiana after three straight losing seasons and David Cutcliffe's first losing record in six years at Mississippi (4-7) led to his dismissal.

Asked if he already had been contacted by Cougar officials about the job at his alma mater, Whittingham said, "I can't comment on BYU at this point."

Still, Whittingham sounded interested in the opportunity to coach in Provo.

"Brigham Young University has a ton of potential," he said. "There are a lot of good jobs in the country and that is certainly one of them."

If Meyer leaves and Whittingham does not get the head coaching job at Utah or BYU, he could end up following his boss to Notre Dame.

"It's been a great run here the last two years with coach Meyer," Whittingham said. "And it would be attractive to stay with him, if in fact he moves on. But right now things are very unsettled. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Utah athletic director Chris Hill, back from an NCAA basketball committee meeting in Indianapolis, declined to comment on the sudden turn of events regarding Meyer and his staff.

"Urban has done a great job here," Hill said. "We know other people are interested in him. We will do our best to assure that he stays, but that's all I'm going to say at this time."

Meyer remains atop Notre Dame's wish-list as a replacement for Tyrone Willingham, who was abruptly fired Tuesday morning.

If Meyer leaves Utah, Hill's list of possible replacements could include Whittingham, Ute offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, Southern Cal offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Boise State coach Dan Hawkins.

Besides a possible candidacy at Utah, Sanford also is a candidate for the job as offensive coordinator at Clemson.

Chow, a Utah graduate, is one of the most respected assistants in the country. Since Tuesday, his name has been linked to the head coaching job at Stanford.

Brandon, 48, stayed at Bowling Green after Meyer was hired by Utah two years ago.

Leach is a BYU graduate who has turned Texas Tech into one of the most explosive offensive teams in the country. He is considered a top candidate for the vacant job at Illinois.