Team preview: Utah
Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2005 college football season, exclusively on Insider.
Last season's non-BCS poster program breaks in its third head coach and third offense in four years in 2005.
Kyle Whittingham, 46, turned down the same position at his alma mater, BYU, to become the 20th head coach at Utah. As a Utes assistant for 11 seasons, he was integral to the program's rise to national prominence. Utah was 86-41 during that span and played in six bowl games, winning five.
He succeeds Urban Meyer, who left for Florida after going 22-2 in two seasons in Salt Lake City. Whittingham served as co-head coach with Meyer when the Utes upended Pittsburgh in the New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl, 35-7, to become the first "outsiders" to win a BCS game.
Not only was he the Mountain West's longest-tenured defensive coordinator, Whittingham was arguably its most successful. Utah led the league in total defense three times under his watch (2000, 2001 and 2002) and led the conference in scoring defense in four of the last six seasons.
Having to practice every day against Meyer's high-octane shotgun/spread/triple-option attack gave Whittingham a solid understanding of offensive strategy.
"I learned a lot about offense from Urban," he said. "We'll have a new offense, but we'll keep a lot of the elements that worked well for the past two years."
Andy Ludwig was brought in to succeed offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, now the head coach at UNLV. Ludwig, offensive coordinator at Oregon from 2002-04, also choreographed the 2001 Fresno State offense that ranked fourth in the nation in scoring and total offense under No. 1 NFL draft pick David Carr.