Here we go again. Maybe.
Every time a decent head coaching job opens up in college football, we Ute fans are almost always treated to speculation or reports that Kyle Whittingham is being considered for or has been offered a new gig somewhere else. In fact, Whittingham seems to be among the top coaches always sought for such openings.
I can think of several instances in recent memory when we were threatened with the idea of Whittingham leaving the Utes: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Miami (FL), Penn State, UCLA, and Arizona State are examples from the last few years.
Is Arkansas going to be next?
While no traditionally credible news source has put Kyle Whittingham and Arkansas in the same sentence since Bobby Petrino was fired on Tuesday, I'm sure it's a possibility that has flashed across some peoples' minds in recent days. And while most (like me) probably don't think there's too good a chance Whittingham would leave Utah for Arkansas, let's take a look at it.
Why WOULD'NT Whittingham leave?
- THE GIG: Whittingham has been plugged in at Utah for a very long time. How many coaches can you name who have been with their current team since 1994? Not many. Kyle is from Utah and he likes it in Utah.
Furthermore, is Arkansas that much better? Utah is now a BCS program on the same level as Arkansas. Utah is also an up-and-comer program. I'm certain that Whittingham enjoys the tenure he has put together here, and the fact that he is heavily responsible for making Utah what it is today: A true contender from an elite BCS league. Going to Arkansas seems like only a slightly better gig, or perhaps a lateral move.
- He is LDS: For coaches of the LDS faith, where better to coach than in the state of Utah?
- His TIES: His family is from Utah and they love Utah. It's difficult to imagine the Whittingham family not wanting to remain in a location where Kyle is so beloved for the tremendous success that he has cultivated here.
Why COULD Whittingham leave Utah for Arkansas?
- It's the SEC: No need, really, to say anything more. In Arkansas, Whittingham would be at the geographical center of the most respected conference (and division) in college football. If Whittingham has the ambition and desire to prove he can win in the toughest league in the land, he may see Arkansas as the perfect opportunity. This is something that none of his prior suitors could offer.
- MONEY: Again, no need to elaborate. He makes a boatload at Utah, but could probably double or triple that at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have shown in the past that they are willing to throw lots of money at coaches they believe can take them to the Promised Land.
- CHALLENGE: Most every Ute fan knows that Whittingham is extremely competitive. It's part of the reason Utah has seen the heights it's seen. Whittingham loves winning and hates losing, so don't think for a second that there isn't at least a part of him that would love the notion of battling with Bama and LSU every single year.
- CHANGE: One of the 'pros' from the above list could also spell a 'con' on this list. Whittingham has been here since 1994. Is it possible that the competitor in Kyle would urge him to try something different? It's definitely possible.
But the real question is: Is it probable?
I'd have to say no. But I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again.