I really hate turning this blog into a Fire Whittingham campaign and I promise that all my posts will not be related to that cause. However I think that's the most prudent subject we must discuss at this stage, because Utah football is in a tailspin currently.
The week leading up to the TCU game, after the Boise State loss, I stated how that was the most crucial point in Whittingham's career. During the Ron McBride days, a loss like Boise State would have set the season into the tank and if Whittingham could get the team to bounce back, then maybe it was premature to write him off. Utah did bounce back, but it only prolonged the inevitable because 5 days after their TCU win, they were embarrassed by Wyoming. Now after starting the season with a 4-2 record, the Utes have lost 2 straight and have limped to a 4-4 record. Tanking the season, which had become so common under McBride, has returned and in much uglier fashion -- as the Utes have been constantly owned in all of their losses this season.
I maintain that a good head coach finds ways to motivate a team to victory. When it's all on the line and the season is on the brink, those coaches that have it can get results and those that don't, well don't get the results. New Mexico was that game for the Utes and they failed to get the results they need to build on. Instead of rolling into Albuquerque and leaving with a 5-3 record and a realistic shot at a conference championship, they dropped to .500 and have all but killed any chance of a conference championship. But beyond that, they've most likely killed any lasting confidence the team had remaining. That does not bode well for Utah, because their toughest part of the conference schedule is just ahead.
I think it's too late to save this season because so much was lost in the first 8 games of it. Utah was supposed to contend for the conference championship and now they're right in the middle, the exact spot they were last year. The Utes failed to capitalize on the momentum built after last year's strong finish and now will have to hope for another miracle. But if the Utes actually get it together and win out, which I think is highly unlikely, it only sets up more false hope that this coaching staff can get it done. It will, much like the TCU win earlier this month, prolong the inevitable.
Whittingham's problem the past two seasons has always been Utah's inability to defeat the teams they should. That's eerily similar to how they played under McBride. Last season it was Colorado State, San Diego State and New Mexico, three losses that should have had been wins. This season, it's Wyoming, New Mexico and who else? Well, I guess we'll see, but really good coaches do not lose games they should win on a regular basis.