It has not been an easy last two years for the Runnin' Utes. Every gain they've made has been met by regression and because of that, Jim Boylen has had a helluva time finding a solid footing to build a sustainable program here.
Now Utah is once again working on a three game winning streak and they're hoping this one sticks. They've been here three times before this season and each time, after stringing together a few decent wins, the program inevitably reverts back to its losing ways - as they've managed seven and five game losing skids following some of their best play of the season.
That up and down journey has put Jim Boylen on the hotseat and in the position where he might need to win out to justifiably save his job.
So that's where the program finds itself heading into its final two regular season games of the year.
Which is actually close to a perfect scenario because either outcome should give us an idea of what type of coach Boylen is and whether or not he's the right man to lead this program.
If Boylen is going to save his job, he's going to have to do something he has failed to do the last two seasons - find consistency. If they can build on their last three wins and beat a decent CSU team on the road and then end it with a victory at home against a good UNLV team, he will have made his case for another year.
But if Boylen can't get it done and the past problems that have plagued his teams this season and last show up again this next week, it will be hard to support his being retained.
Basically, it comes down to two games. If Jim Boylen is the guy for Utah basketball, he has to prove this team is progressing. Another lapse into a losing streak would only reinforce our biggest doubts and I don't know if there is any coming back from that.
Of course, there is a gray area here. Utah could lose to CSU, beat UNLV and maybe win the first round of the conference tournament. The Utes would still finish below .500 - but be better positioned than if they lose out.
Is that a likely scenario? I don't know. If this team does lose to the Rams Wednesday, I've got to think they'll be too inconsistent for that to play out.
But it's a possibility and one that could leave Chris Hill with a very difficult choice to make in a couple weeks.
For Boylen, though, it's all about baby steps. If he's going to build a case to save his job, it will need to start with a win Wednesday against the Rams.
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