The Utah Utes' football program appears to be in a bit of disarray, after reports surfaced of discontent between athletic director Chris Hill and head coach Kyle Whittingham. Hill responded to those reports on Tuesday, denying that issues were present.
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Utah AD Hill Responds to Reports of Rift
Tuesday, Dec. 30
Chip Patterson of CBS Sports reported on athletic director Chris Hill's statement on the situation in Utah's football program:
"As the athletics director, it is my job to meet with our head coaches to address aspects of their programs that can be improved," Hill said. "Coach Whittingham and I met twice in person this week for this reason. I want to reassure our fans and recruits that Kyle Whittingham is our head coach and any rumors to the contrary have no validity.
"As for Kalani Sitake, I am sorry we could not retain him as our defensive coordinator. Prior to the bowl game I offered him a three-year contract worth $750,000 a year plus bonuses that brought it to $800,000."
Tension Could See Whittingham Leave Utah
Monday, Dec. 29
Utah Utes head football coach Kyle Whittingham has found serious success since taking over 10 years ago, but his time with the school could reportedly come to an end due to tension within the program.
Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune reported Whittingham’s possible next move:
I can’t report it as a fact—not yet—but it’s what is happening, based on what I’ve been told. And I believe what I’ve been told…Utah athletic director Chris Hill and Whittingham had seen things differently on many counts for a long time, enough for the subterranean pressures between the two to finally emerge and erupt. After 10 years as the Utes’ head coach, and equally as long as an assistant before that, Whittingham will step away from the job he once loved, no longer able or willing to work for the boss who hired him.
Bryan Fischer of NFL.com agreed that a rift had formed between the coach and athletic director:
Whittingham, 55, took over for Urban Meyer for the 2005 season and has not looked back since. With an 85-43 career regular-season record and an 8-1 record in bowl games, the head coach has made Utah a consistent presence in the Top 25 polls.
Monson suggests in-state rival BYU as a possible landing spot for Whittingham if he does indeed leave Utah.
If Whittingham does leave Utah, it would come at a terrible time for the program. Since making the move to the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah has been slowly building a reputation in one of the nation’s top conferences.
Losing its head coach would be a big step backward. Losing its head coach to a rival like BYU would sting even more.
*Stats via ESPN.com.