Do you approve of the job Kyle Whittingham is doing?
It's a pretty easy question. In fact, I could ask it and just end my story here and then read your replies.
But there is something particular I'm looking for and why I asked it a certain way. You'll notice it's open-ended, do you approve of the job he is doing ... not do you approve of how he handled the 2012 season. That's too easy. I think we'd all agree he didn't handle it well and because of that, we'd give him low scores. So, I see no point in asking. What I want to know is whether you still trust Whittingham ... if, overall, you still approve of him as coach and believe he really can turn it around.
I want to know if you're still invested in his leadership ... a true believer in his ability. I mean, one can disapprove of the way he's handled his job the last few months but still approve of him as coach. So, the question is much broader for a reason.
From my perspective, answering this question has been hard because when it comes to whether or not I approve of the job he's doing, I often find myself needing to grasp at what happened a year, or two or four ago to legitimately make the case in my head that I do approve of him. What I mean is that I approve of him because of his overall record, the bowl wins and the 13-0 perfect season in 2008. But none of that means much right now ... it's all in the past. So, I also find that my mind is leaning more toward recent events that bring into question some longstanding feelings I've had about Whittingham. And that's not good because for the last five or so years, at least once I got over the shock of the UNLV debacle in '07, I bought the hype and really began believing. I felt Whittingham was not only the best coach for Utah - but potentially the best coach in the nation.
I don't know if I believe that anymore ... on both accounts. I hate even hinting at this idea, but the past season, how things have been handled since Norm Chow's departure, I'm left shaken. I do feel like a lover whose entire foundation was rocked by infidelity and I really have yet to get my bearings.
Don't get me wrong, I hope Whittingham succeeds because I want to believe again. I think he's a great guy, and a great face for our program. I do not want to even begin to believe that this is the start of something bad and yet, when I try to convince myself it isn't, the case is often light.
That's never how you want to feel about any coaching staff.
And maybe I'm overreacting to just one bad season. Lord knows we saw Oregon State fans question their program's direction after last season and now, Mike Riley is a Corvallis Saint again. It's easy to overreact, on both ends of the spectrum, when it comes to sports ... and I'll readily admit that I'm often too passionate to be even-keeled.
But I also can't get over this nagging feeling that we really dropped the ball the last two years. I don't like how this program has transitioned its way into the Pac-12. I've seen too many bad losses and hardly any memorable wins the last two seasons for me not to question our standing in the conference.
Overall, I guess I'm stuck. I definitely don't approve of his handling since the Sun Bowl ... but I still go back to what he has done and pray, in the end, it's enough so that he can bring things back around again.
For that, I'm leaning toward slightly disapprove in hopes that 2013 is a much more successful year.