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10-Year Anniversary of the 2004 BCS Busters: The coaching staff

The 2004 Utah Fiesta Bowl team is one of legend. When you examine the coaching staff a little bit more, you can easily see why.


Utah's 2004 Fiesta Bowl team really put Utah on the college football map. They were the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to qualify for an at-large selection for a BCS bowl, and they did it under the strictest rules. Under the old rules, before a change preceding the 2005-2006 season, a non-AQ team had to be ranked in the top six of the final regular season BCS standings - and that's the only way a team could get in back then.

The names that were on that team are ones everyone can name off - Smith, Weddle, Scalley, Warren, Savoy, and many more. Of course there are two names that people think of when that 2004 team is discussed, co-head coaches for the Fiesta Bowl, Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham. Coach Meyer lead a loaded coaching staff that season, that produced the amazing results on the field. Fans now, looking back, may not realize the talent that coaching staff had on it. I'll list out some names that people may have forgotten, or didn't realize was on that staff, and where they have been since that amazing season.

Urban Meyer

Obviously, Urban Meyer has went on to the most national success since Utah. His story is well documented, going to Florida and now at Ohio State. Here are some of numbers when he was at Utah, and at his other schools since he left.

School Years Wins Losses Conference Titles BCS Appearances
Utah 2 22 2 2 1
Florida 6 64 14 2 3
Ohio St 2 22 2 0 1

Urban Meyer has been one of the most successful coaches in the BCS era, winning two National Championships, and being on the verge of another Championship Game birth in 2013 before losing in the Big-10 title game to Michigan State. The Meyer coaching tree is turning into an impressive one.

Mike Sanford

Mike Sanford was the offensive coordinator during Meyers time on campus, and ran the prolific 2004 juggernaut that was piloted by Alex Smith. Although, it has been whispered that another coach was really responsible for that success, and he'll be discussed in a moment. Sanford left Utah before the Fiesta Bowl to take over at UNLV. Sanford just couldn't get it going in Vegas, but the team did show some flashes, even beating Utah in that horrific showing by the Utes in 2007. He's since bounced around as a coordinator and position coach, even spending some time up in Logan at USU. Here's his resume as a head coach:

School Years Wins Losses Conference Titles Bowl Games
UNLV 5 16 43 0 0
Indiana St 1 1 11 0 0

Gary Anderson

Coach A was the defensive line coach under Meyer, and had studs Sione Pouha, Steve Fifita, Jonathan Fanene, and Marquess Ledbetter on his unit. He took over as defensive coordinator once Coach Whitt took over, and turned that into head coaching positions at USU and now Wisconsin. The biggest feather in Coach A's hat is the fact he turned USU into a winner. USU was bad, really bad before he took over. He almost beat Auburn down in Alabama, ended the losing streak to the Utes, and should have had a BCS buster in 2012, but some missed kicks kept the Aggies from breaking through. Here's a look at his resume since leaving the Utes:

School Years Wins Losses Conference Titles Bowl Games
Utah St 4 26 24 1 2
Wisconsin 1 9 4 0 1

Coach A will always be a Ute fan favorite, and one day it would be nice to see him come home.

Dan Mullen

One of the names that may fly under the radar that was on that 2004 team is Dan Mullen, the then quarterback coach for Alex Smith and Brian Johnson. I've heard many people credit Mullen for the productivity and potency of that 2004 squad. He did coordinate and call plays in Mike Sanford's place during the Fiesta Bowl. He went with Meyer to Florida, as OC and QB coach, but was eventually offered the head coaching position at Mississippi State. Mullen has done a nice job at MSU, but has yet to have that great season. Adding former QB and Utah OC/QB coach Brian Johnson should help him, especially in recruiting.

Here is Mullen's record while in Starksville:

School Years Wins Losses Conference Titles Bowl Games
Miss State 5 36 28 0 4

Billy Gonzales

Billy Gonzales is a bit of a cult figure among some Ute fans. Utah's receiving coach in 2004 has gone with both Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen to their various stops. Gonzales has also jumped around a little bit, going from Florida to LSU to Illinois last season. Gonzales is currently the Co-OC for Mullens MSU Bulldogs, and every time Utah's had rumors around a potential new OC, Gonzales name is usually at the top of Ute fans wish list. Gonzales has coached a lot of great wide receivers, here is a bit of his bio from MSU's athletic website:

From 2005 to 2009, Florida produced seven all-SEC wide receivers, including first-team selections Jackson (2005), Dallas Baker (2006), Harvin (2007, '08) and Brandon James (2008), and second-team honorees Cornelius Ingram (2007) and Riley Cooper (2009).

Kyle Whittingham

And of course, Coach Whitt was on that staff as defensive coordinator. Whittingham was a holdover from Coach Mac's staff, and Urban Meyer did a great thing for himself and the program by retaining Whitt as his DC. Obviously, not much needs to be said about Whitt's career on The Hill. For those of you who are a little hazy on his record here at Utah, here you go:

School Years Wins Losses Conference Titles Bowl Games BCS Games/Wins
Utah 9 77 39 1 8 2

Looking back at that 2004 team, not only were the players special, but that staff was special too. From that staff you have four coaches, including Meyer, that would go on to have successful careers as head coaches at other schools. Sanford, while never reaching the success he did at Utah, has managed to stay attached to football, and currently back in the head coaching game at Indiana State. Gonzales seems to be really close to taking that next step. From wide out coach, to passing game coordinator, to a Co-OC, Gonzales has had some great jobs in the SEC and Big-10 and is building a nice resume.

Combine the players in 2004 and this staff, it is easy to see why that was a team that Ute fans will never forget.