I’m not sure this has been mentioned here, but with a win this Saturday, Whittingham would tie Ike Armstrong as the winningest coach in Ute history with 141 wins. That record has stood for a long, long time. My grandfather actually played for Armstrong at the U in the early '30s.
I’ve seen it only a couple of times, it doesn’t seem to be getting much play, but this is kind of a big deal.
I mentioned it, and I also agree that it isn’t getting enough attention.
I feel like the marketing department is dropping the ball here. Ike Armstrong is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and the U isn’t doing enough to highlight what a big achievement this is.
Maybe Whit asked the athletic department to downplay it. I don’t know. But it’s a big deal to me. I think I read recently that Whit originally saw himself coaching here for three or four years and then moving on to the NFL as a coordinator. Glad he stayed. It has taken 75 years for someone to get to Armstrong’s record. In this day and age of short coaching tenures, I suspect Whit’s winning total will stand for a long, long time.
In the post game interview from yesterday, one of the sport’s writers ask Whit if he knew he was on the threshold of breaking that record. Whit said he was not aware of it, until that moment. But what really impressed me was what he said next, how all of his success was really the work of the student athletes, coaches and others surrounding the FB program. Classy.
I can say this, I remember vividly when LaVell Edwards got to 200 wins (I think in 1994)—and this was long before social media and even before fan message boards like these—it was a huge deal in the media. The guy deserved the credit for sure. But you would think more would be made of this accomplishment. Oh well, I’m sure Whit doesn’t mind.
It would be fun to compile a list of his top-10 most memorable, significant wins.
Your comment about LaVell Edwards reminds me of when Andre Miller climbed into the top 10 of the NBA for all time assists. It took over a week before anyone in the local media even mentioned it. Meanwhile, any time James Fredette even entered an NBA game, the local media were sure to mention it.
As for Whit’s Top 10 wins, we are really talking about wins 2-10, because any list that doesn’t have the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama as #1 is completely illegitimate.
So here are my choices for best wins 2-10 for Whit:
#2 TCU (2008) - this is the game that made it all possible to beat Alabama.
#3 USC (2016) - Sam Darnold led USC to a Rose Bowl victory and a #3 ranking in the final AP poll. By final AP poll ranking, this is Utah’s best win of all time.
#4 Oregon (2015) - The previous year, Oregon was in the College Football Playoff final. Utah shellacked them 62-20. This was the beginning of the end for Mark Helfrich.
#5 Michigan (2015) - This was Jim Harbaugh’s first game as Michigan head coach. Michigan ended the season ranked #12 in the AP poll.
#6 Stanford (2013) - Stanford entered the game ranked #5 in the nation and finished the season ranked #11. Until this, Utah did not have any signature Pac-12 wins.
#7 Georgia Tech (2005) - Some people were wondering if Coach Whit was going to be a good coach. In his first full season, Coach Whit guided the Utes to a bowl game and a stomping of Georgia Tech who entered the game ranked #24.
#8 BYU (2011) - Most fun I’ve ever had in Provo, bar none
#9 UCLA (2014) - UCLA entered the game ranked #8, finished the season ranked #10. This was Utah’s first victory in the Rose Bowl.
#10 Pittsburgh (2005) - Urban Meyer was off recruiting for Florida so Coach Whit did all the game preparation for the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. As “Co-head coach,” he helped Utah get one of its most important victories.
Well yes, of course that’s true about the Alabama game. As for Andre Miller, I completely agree. His entire career was pretty much under the radar.
There’s a story about it in the Tribune today. It also sounds like Kyle wasn’t aware of it until yesterday, and doesn’t want to take credit, instead lauding his players and staff over the years. Classy.
Here’s a key paragraph for those of you who don’t have access:
“It does things in terms of feeling fortunate and blessed of all the great players I’ve had the chance to coach and that have come through here,” Whittingham said. “That’s not my record, it’s a culmination of a bunch of really good players, a bunch of really good assistant coaches, a bunch of good support from the administration all tying together.
“That’s how I look at it.”
He’ll never do it, but wouldn’t it be great if Whit made his ‘All Whit Utah team’, naming his favorites to play/coach/etc.?
I think Weddle would be #1 on Whit’s list.
As for Whit’s top wins, this is a good list. I’d throw in for consideration the following (in no particular order):
2007 Louisville. The Cardinals were a year removed from a 12-1 year and an Orange Bowl win. Utah faced Louisville on the road and with a 2-3 record in Whit’s third year. I think the jury was still out on his abilities as a head coach. Utah had lost two weeks prior at UNLV in that infamous 27-0 shutout. The week before, Utah won a ho-hum game over a bad Utah St. team. In this contest, Utah’s offense went off, and the Utes won 44-35. Though Louisville wasn’t great that year, I think this was a turning point for Whit.
Oregon St. 2008. You had the BYU, TCU, and Alabama (of course) games from that year, so I’d throw this one on. Oregon St. had just beaten No. 1 USC and finished the year 9-4. The Sugar Bowl never would have happened had Utah not scored 11 points in the final minute or whatever it was.
USC 2014. Travis Wilson was a beast on that final drive of the last-second 24-21 win.
Oregon 2018. With its starting QB and RB out, Utah took down the Ducks 32-25.
BYU 2018. I think this one is significant because of the way in which Utah won. Down 20-0 at halftime and 27-7 late in the third, Utah reels off 28 straight points to win the only November game between the two rivals since Utah joined the PAC-12.
Washington 2019. The Huskies were just okay in 2019, but winning in Seattle for the first time ever was big.
USC 2021. Kind of like Washington above.
Utah beat Washington in Seattle in 2015. Utah is 0-3 against Washington in Salt Lake City (and 0-1 in Santa Clara). Both of Utah’s wins versus Washington were in Seattle (2-9).
Here’s my list (not going to count Alex Smith, who Whit coached as the head coach for just one game):
QB- Brian Johnson
RB- Zach Moss
TE- Brant Kuithe
WR- David Reed
WR- Dres Anderson
WR- Britain Covey
OL- Garrett Boles
OL- Tony Bergstrom
OL- Zane Beadles
OL- Jackson Barton
OL- Nick Ford
DL- Bradlee Anae
DL- Star Lotulelei
DL- Leki Fotu
DL- Nate Orchard
LB- Devin Lloyd
LB- Stevenson Sylvester
DB- Eric Weddle
DB- Jaylon Johnson
DB- Sean Smith
DB- Brice McCain
DB- Brandon Burton
PK- Matt Gay
P- Tom Hackett
KR- Reggie Dunn
PR- Kaelin Clay
I should have remembered that. Utah has never beaten Washington in Salt Lake.
Good list, although I’d put Wishnowski over Hackett at P for sure… and people may not like this, but Huntley over Brian Johnson.
For PK, I think I’d take Louie Sakoda. Matt Gay has more range, but Sakoda was crazy accurate.
Here is what I put together as my 2+ deep, mostly those drafted. I do wonder, rather than ‘BEST’, but which he loved coaching the most or were true ‘Utah Men’ and how’d that change to who played with the most heart, made the most improvement through hard work, etc.
Bold = drafted (since 2006, left of Josh Gordon). Some others played in the league. Italics = current team (exception Ty)
|QB||Huntley||Johnson, Brian||Wilson, Travis|
Numerous All-Americans (consensus - Weddle, Sakoda, Hackett, Wishnowsky, Gay, Anae), Ray Guy (Hackett, Wishnowsky), and All-Conference/player of year awards (Moss, Jordan, Asiata, Lotulelei, Orchard, Anae) amongst these fellas.
I think it’s clear looking at our lists and thinking about greats to play under Whit that Utah has had a steady stream of very good to excellent defensive linemen and defensive backs. Running backs have also been a strong suit. Wide receivers, not so much.