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Utah Football: John Pease Retires as Defensive Coordinator, Morgan Scalley Named as Replacement

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Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

After possibly the best defense Utah has ever had, Kyle Whittingham will have a third defensive coordinator in three years. It was announced today that defensive coordinator John Pease is retiring, again. Pease was brought on last off season after Kalani Sitake took the same position at Oregon State with Gary Andersen. Everyone was very interested in how Pease would slide in for Sitake, and he did so with flying colors. Pease brought with him the mentality "four and a score," meaning four turnovers and one defensive score. That paid off as the Utes were 4th in the country in defensive efficiency. The Utes also racked up 22 interceptions on the season, tied for 4th in the country, and 12 fumble recoveries, tied for 12th.

Replacing Pease is pretty much the all time "Utah Man," Morgan Scalley. Known as an ace recruiter, and a master motivator, Scalley has been waiting in the wings for some time now. Many actually speculated (myself included) if Scalley would get the job last season. Morgan has been working his way up the ladder at The U, starting as just the safeties coach, adding in the special teams coordinator role, and now being named defensive coordinator. Scalley has been under some great defensive minds, including Coach Whitt, as well as Gary Andersen, Kalani Sitake, and John Pease. Scalley has the pedigree to be a great one, and fortunately for him, he will have Coach Whitt by his side the entire time.

The question is, was this the plan the entire time? To bring in Pease for a season and ease the transition to Scalley. Or maybe Coach Whitt was planning on Pease being around a couple more seasons. Either way, there are now a couple openings on the coaching staff, and we'll dig in more on what we think may be in store later.

Here is the official press release:

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah defensive coordinator and defensive line coach John Pease has announced his retirement after a season in which the Ute defense ranked in the top three in the Pac-12 Conference in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. It marks the second Utah retirement for the 72-year-old Pease. The former longtime NFL assistant also coached two seasons at Utah from 2009-10.

Replacing Pease as Utah's defensive coordinator will be Morgan Scalley, who has coached the Ute safeties since 2008. He was also Utah's special teams' coordinator in 2015 and the recruiting coordinator for the past seven seasons. While Scalley will continue to coach the safeties, a new coach will be appointed to oversee the special teams and recruiting.

"We appreciate the passion, energy and coaching expertise that John Pease brought to our program on a daily basis," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "While we completely understand his decision to retire, players and coaches alike are sorry to see him leave. Through the years, John has had a major impact on Utah football as a player, coach and longtime friend and advisor."

Whittingham didn't look far to find Pease's replacement. Scalley, a second-team All-American and the Mountain West Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year as a senior safety on Utah's 2004 Fiesta Bowl team, first joined the staff in 2006 as an administrative assistant. After a year as a defensive graduate assistant in 2007, he was appointed a full-time assistant in 2008.

"Morgan has played an ever increasing role in our overall defensive scheming the past few seasons and is ready to take the reigns as the defensive coordinator," said Whittingham. "He is bright, innovative and hard working."

Scalley has received several citations as a recruiter from Rivals.com, which named him the country's top "non-BCS" recruiter in 2010, and has coached two first-team all-conference safeties in Robert Johnson (2009) and Marcus Williams (2015).

A two-time first-team Academic All-American as a player, Scalley was the 2004 Anson Mount and MWC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Utah with a 3.96 GPA and received an MBA from Utah in 2006.