The Utes are set for their first scrimmage today and the coaches hope it'll go along way toward answering some questions that have dominated spring ball.
So far, camp has been a mixed bag for the Utes, who are looking to improve on last year's 5-7 record - the first losing season in ten years. While some groups have improved, as both Kyle Whittingham and Dennis Erickson have pointed to the offensive line as a strength, the receivers and defense continue to lag behind a great deal of the rest of the team (though the receivers improved earlier in the week and Dres Anderson appears to have picked up his game greatly). Hopefully Friday will show across the board improvement, since I know we're all a bit antsy after last season's disastrous results.
On a semi-related note, I tweeted out yesterday an Athlon article ranking Pac-12 coaches. Kyle Whittingham came in 9th - behind Mike Leach and Mike MacIntyre. I asked my followers if they agreed with the ranking and some did. I don't. I think Whittingham's stock has clearly fallen the past two seasons, and it's absolutely justifiable to drop him in rankings (before the '11 season, you could make the case Whitt was a top-three coach in the conference ... that case is strained now), but I have a hard time putting him behind Leach and MacIntyre, and both for similar reasons.
1) Leach gets the benefit of the doubt, even though his season at Wazzu was worse than Whittingham's last. If Leach was a first-year head coach with that record, I doubt you'd rank him 5th in the conference. Likewise, it seems Whittingham is dogged entirely by the last season, which doesn't necessarily negate every other year he's coached. I know '08 is becoming a distant memory - but let's not forget that was also the last season Leach did anything of importance in college football too. If Leach is 5th, Whittingham has to be right there with him.
2) Mike MacIntyre very well could prove to be a good coach. He certainly did well at San Jose State last year. But his resume isn't anywhere near as good as Whittingham's, and he certainly hasn't sustained any success, so, to me, he's as much a wait and see as Sonny Dykes at Cal - who they rank behind Whittingham. It makes no sense to me.
And if they're only going by last year's results, Leach at five makes even less sense. So, what exactly is their method?
Of course, to their credit, it's very hard ranking the Pac-12 coaches because there is a lot of contradiction. Is Whittingham a better coach than Steve Sarkisian? Well, Sark is 2-0 against Whittingham - but his best season is only two wins better than Whittingham's worst and I'll confidently say that Washington has been a semi-disappointment the last two seasons with their back-to-back seven-win seasons - especially when you factor in the recruiting classes they're hauling in. But I don't know if I could put Whittingham ahead of Sark because of the fact he has yet to defeat him ... and that, IMO, is an important factor unless Utah was just doing absolutely better than the Huskies (which they're not).
So, who knows. Still, I have a hard time putting Whittingham below those two I mentioned already, so, drop 'em below Whittingham and he's at 7th instead of 9th. Not that great.
Later this spring, or sometime this summer, I'm going to write an article about Whittingham's falling stock and how he needs to get it turned around this season (not because he'll be put on the hot seat, but because this is a 'what have you done for me lately' game and we're losing our position with every struggling season). A 2012 redux won't do anyone any good - especially Whittingham, who, not that long ago, was thought to be one of the best coaches in the country.
Do you still consider him one of the best coaches in college football?