As the regular season came to a close for the Utah State Aggies, BYU Cougars and Utah Utes this past weekend here’s a quick thought on each:
Utah State: A season straight out of Hollywood. You know how those sports movies go–downtrodden team where nothing ever seems to go right with years of losing, limited resources and fans–a complete laughingstock. But then the school hires the right coach and slowly but surely turns the program around to where the movie ends with an almost packed stadium with fans rushing the field celebrating a championship. That pretty much sums up the Aggies regular season ending win over Idaho with Gary Andersen and his team celebrating a WAC title and the acceptance of the Potato Bowl bid on the field with their fans. Credit to their faithful for finally putting down their hunting rifles and showing support for this team. Now you must hope Andersen will return for the sequel.
BYU: What if? What if Bronco Mendenhall would have gotten over his mancrush of Riley Nelson earlier in the season and made James Lark the starter? With Lark starting would BYU have turned the close losses to Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame and San Jose State into wins and perhaps finish with a 11-1 record? Yes, Lark’s great performance came against one of the worst teams in college football in New Mexico State but just the fact he was able to read the defense, complete passes to receivers in stride as well as throw on the run shows he should have been the starting quarterback from day one. However there is no “what if” on who Mendenhall will start when it comes to the Poinsettia Bowl. After the game he said he expects to start his boy Nelson as long as he’s healthy (see video above). Another “what if” if the Cougars lose that game.
Utah: Disaster. I remember sitting in the sunshine at Pac-12 football media day on July 24 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles when our first guest that day on 1320 KFAN was Ute coach Kyle Whittingham. He was in an upbeat mood talking about the prospect of what appeared to be an encouraging season as his team was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South. Four months later the Utes needed Reggie Dunn’s fourth 100 yard kick return of the season to barely post a win over Colorado ending the worst season in Whittingham’s coaching career. Everything that went wrong this year did. And now the pressure will begin mounting on the coach to right this ship. This offseason will be be one of the most intriguing in years as Whittingham needs to assess and analyze everything in his program starting with this coaching staff. And for those that think Whittingham is untouchable if he has another poor season next year, I’m sure many thought Auburn coach Gene Chizik was safe two years ago after winning the national title. Now he’s unemployed.