I've been pretty consistent in my belief that Kyle Whittingham is not a terrible coach. While I've often thrown him under the bus following an embarrassing loss (and there have been many), I've been quick to state that I think Whittingham is a fairly good coach. However, the issues I take with the way he coaches the Utes stem from their lack of true consistency. In my mind, this is because Kyle Whittingham coaches well only 70 percent of the time. For a team to be truly good, that has got to change.
Extremely good to great coaches typically coach well 80 to 90 percent of the time. Now obviously they aren't perfect (Pete Carroll losing to Stanford Saturday, Urban Meyer to Auburn two weeks ago), but on the average, they nearly are. Those slip ups are few and far between and often don't ruin a season. Utah, under Whittingham, has yet to reach that level and that has been on full display this season. If the Utes are going to return to its elite status, I believe Coach Whittingham will need to up that to 80 or 90 percent.
That does not mean, though, that I expect Whittingham to win 80 or 90 percent of his games at Utah. A coach can coach extremely well and still lose, while not coaching well at all and still win. There have been instances in the past where I thought Whittingham didn't coach all that great and still managed to win (NAU, USU and SDSU in '06) and coached great and failed to win (BYU last year). The 30 percent, however, is an issue he will have to overcome. You cannot build a solid, consistent program if you fail to win the games you need to win. Those poor coached games against teams that Utah should beat have been near season killers over the past three years and great coaches don't allow that to happen. Whittingham will need to change that, or this season will be no different from the rest.
Luckily, I'm a bit more optimistic today than I was last week. I believe San Diego State will be a huge test for this program and whether Whittingham can ultimately turn into an 80/20 or 90/10 coach instead of the 70/30 coach he currently is. A victory might signal that this program is ready to rise above mediocrity and that is huge for this coaching staff. Hopefully they can and by the end of the year we are discussing the rapid change of Kyle Whittingham instead of the same ol' problems.