I don't ever recall a time at the University of Utah where the football team was more successful than their basketball counterparts. And hell let's not kid ourselves, it isn't like Utah football is all that great either.
This struggle has been difficult to accept because just three years ago Utah was probably the hottest athletics program in the country. Urban Meyer had led the Utes to an undefeated, BCS busting season, while Ray Giacoletti actually had initial success in his first season, taking the Utes to the Sweet 16. But all that made that success was lost, either in the form of a coaching change or an entry into the draft and it seems the Utes haven't rebuilt since.
Losing Alex Smith, Urban Meyer and Andrew Bogut took a larger toll on this program than anyone could have ever imagined. And even though it looks like the football team will be alright, the basketball program has yet to rebound and probably won't for a while. So why has the football team been able to at least sustain some success, while the basketball team has essentially collapsed? We may never know the exact answer, but it doesn't hurt to speculate why this happened.
Kyle Whittingham took over a very young Utah team fresh off its best season in history. Growing pains should have been expected and we felt them, yet even when the season looked its bleakest, it was never as bad as what's happened with the basketball team. Utah still managed to win 7 games in Whittingham's first year, upsetting both BYU and Georgia Tech to end the season. And in his second, though plagued by the same problems in his first, Utah again bounced back and nearly stunned BYU before beating Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl. Now Whittingham has to fix the errors and put a complete season together and Utah football should be back amongst the top-25 and contending once again for a conference championship. For Giacoletti, well I'm guessing he's already a lost cause.
Both Utah football and basketball had similar paths to failure, but currently it would appear the football team is far better off. Let's hope the basketball team can get it together and join football among the top in the Mountain West once again.