Regardless of your thoughts on the job Kyle Whittingham did this season, I am guessing most fans will readily concede 2013 was a disappointment.
The Utes, for the second-straight year, won't be bowling - something that hasn't happened since 1990. You know, when most the players weren't even alive yet.
There really is no spinning this season. It was bad. Utah now has to fix it or run the risk of another losing season next year.
But should fans expect better than 5-7? With the uncertainty of Travis Wilson and a similarly hard schedule, is there any evidence from this year's team that leads anyone to believe next year's will be good enough to win at least six games?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Ultimately, I think it comes down to Travis Wilson. If Wilson returns, and hopefully he can, Utah will field a pretty good team - one with talent on both the offensive and defensive end. If, however, Wilson is forced into retirement, and the program has to rely on either Adam Schulz or a redshirt freshman (whomever that may be), is there enough experience/and or talent at the quarterback spot to propel this team to a bowl game?
I'm not so sure. That makes 2014 a fairly uncertain year, which is problematic because it's also an important year for the coaching staff.
But I'll be honest, after everything that happened last year, and now this year, I don't see how anyone can feel unquestionably confident about Utah's return to the postseason next year. I want to believe, and, much like this season, think they can make a bowl game next year - but it's nothing close to being a guarantee.
So, what should our expectations be for 2014? A bowl game or even more baby steps? Should Utah fans concede .500 play might be too much, and hope for another 5-7 season with, like this year, a surprisingly good win (maybe over Oregon)?
Will our expectations make or break Whittingham next year?
It'll be interesting watch. I don't know if Utah will turn things around in 2014, but I hope it ends much more positively than this season because, frankly, it's absolutely depressing watching all these teams succeed an Utah toil in mediocrity.