Thursday, July 25, 2024

Big 12 Media Days: Utah’s Kyle Whittingham taking future ‘day by day’ with Utes solidifying succession plan

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USATSI

Utah made waves last week when it named defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley head coach-in-waiting, solidifying a succession plan for the future in an era where coaching changes happen at the drop of a hat. That naturally led to questions about 64-year old coach Kyle Whittingham’s future with the program. 

It was an issue that Whittingham addressed during his appearance at Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday. Though he didn’t specify a timeline for retirement, it doesn’t seem like he’s thinking about stepping away in the near future. 

“I take it day by day,” Whittingham said. “I’m as excited and enthused about the season as I’ve ever been. A lot of that is the excitement about going into a new conference; the new challenge, the new opportunity. But it’s just going to be a day-by-day process. I’m not getting any younger, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve got a lot of energy right now.” 

Whittingham certainly hasn’t slowed down as his career continues. His Utes left the Pac-12 on a high note with two conference titles in the past three years. He won eight games in 2023 despite dealing with a revolving door at quarterback set in motion by the year-long absence of longtime starter Cam Rising. 

The immediate Big 12 outlook is positive for Utah, as well. Rising is back for a sixth year with the Utes, and there’s a ton of production returning alongside him. 

Utah was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Big 12 preseason media poll, nabbing 20 of the first-place votes while edging conference stalwarts like Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Scalley’s defense, which consistently ranked near the top in the Pac-12, will be key for reaching that level of success. 

Whittingham has a lot of faith in the program once it enters Scalley’s hands. 

“Morgan Scalley’s an exceptional football coach,” Whittingham said. “He’s a proven commodity. He’s a Utah guy… He’s a guy that knows our culture inside and out. To me, it’s very comforting for when that transition time does occur and it’s time for new leadership, to have a guy that’s going to be able to carry on the values and the culture that we’ve put in place.” 

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