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Does Revolving Door Of Offensive Coordinators Signal A Problem At Utah?

Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes looks on against the Brigham Young Cougars in a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The revolving door of Utah’s offensive coordinators is spinning once again as Troy Taylor has accepted the head coaching job at Sacramento State.

The next offensive coordinator will mark the ninth different play caller in 11 years under head coach Kyle Whittingham.

Taylor is heading back to the area where he is most familiar with as he was a high school coach in the Sacramento-area and he spent five seasons coaching at Cal.

The status for Taylor coaching in the Holiday Bowl against Northwestern or directly getting started at Sacramento state is up in the air.

“We are hoping that if he can get things ironed out and get back here in a reasonable amount of time, in the next couple of days, then yes,” Whittingham said after Monday’s practice. “If it extends out, then we may have to just move on.”

If Taylor’s time commitment to Sacramento State is too much, then Whittingham will turn to offensive line coach Jim Harding to be the interim offensive coordinator.

Harding has the experience, as he was the Utes’ co-offensive coordinator during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Taylor was a key part with the Utes winning its first-ever Pac-12 South title, and he could have stayed around to possibly earn a head coaching job at a Group of Five team as his next move.

Instead, he will be taking a sizeable pay cut to be a head coach at the FCS level – a drop of pay and prestige. As the Utes offensive coordinator, Taylor was pulling in $525,000 in 2018, plus an extra $87,500 in bonuses.

Sacramento State was paying the recently fired Jody Sears $187,500 per year, which is about average for a Big Sky head coach, so it can be assumed that Taylor would be making somewhat of a similar salary.

For reference, the highest paid coach in the Big Sky is Weber State’s Jay Hill whose contract extension in 2017 is paying him $275,000 annually.

Taylor becomes just the third Utah offensive coordinator in that span to leave for another job. Norm Chow took the Hawaii head coaching job after the 2011 season, and while Brian Johnson did leave to be the quarterbacks coach at Mississippi State, it only came after he was demoted to quarterbacks coach at Utah.

Other coordinators were reassigned on staff, like Harding and Dennis Erickson, but only Aaron Roderick was fired from running the offense during this current string of coordinators.

KSL’s Unrivaled tried to make sense of the Utes’ constantly changing coordinators, and made note of the common denominator – Whittingham.


Utah OCs Under Kyle Whittingham

1. Andy Ludwig 2005-2008
Reason for leaving: Took same position at Kansas State
Current position: Vanderbilt offensive coordinator & running backs coach

2. Dave Schramm 2009-2010
Reason for leaving: Demoted to co-OC, and then to running backs
Current position: Weber State offensive coordinator

3. Aaron Roderick 2010
Reason for leaving: Demoted to wide receivers coach
Current position: BYU passing game/quarterbacks coach

4. Norm Chow 2011
Reason for leaving: Took head coach job at Hawaii
Current position: Not coaching

5. Brian Johnson 2012-2013
Reason for leaving: Took quarterback coach position at Mississippi State
Current position: Florida quarterbacks coach

6. Dennis Erickson 2013
Reason for leaving: Moved to assistant head coach/running backs coach
Current position: Salt Lake Stallions head coach

7. Aaron Roderick 2015-2016
Reason for leaving: Fired
Current position: BYU passing game/quarterbacks coach

8. Troy Taylor 2017-2018
Reason for leaving: Accepted head coach position at FCS school Sacramento State, taking a sizable cut in salary of an estimated $300,000-$400,000 annually to do so.


“I look at this, and if I am an offensive coordinator… I am really weary about coming to Utah, because it doesn’t look like you have the support from the head coach,” guest co-host and former BYU defensive lineman Jason Buck said on Monday’s KSL Unrivaled.

“He is a defensive-minded coach, and he probably has a strong hand in the offense and holds the offensive coordinator back a bit, because there is obviously a rub there – because why would you have 9 offensive coordinators in 11 years,” Buck added.

KSL’s Unrivaled host Scott Mitchell is of the mindset that Whittingham just doesn’t care all that much about the offense because he is laser-focused on the defensive side of the ball.

“I don’t think he cares who his coordinator is. It could be his grandmother for all he cares, and I believe that,” Mitchell said half-jokingly. “It doesn’t feel like there is a lot of thought that goes into one of the most important decisions you make as a head coach.”

MORE: Potential OC candidates for Kyle Whittingham

Mitchell did point out that the defense has always been the emphasis for Kyle Whittingham and Utah’s football program.

“To his credit, he has been very successful – but it has all been about defense. If you have a good player on offense, they get sent over to the defense,” said Mitchell.

While It is all about defense for Whittingham, maybe now that he has an elite defense in place he needs to go out and get an offensive coordinator who is allowed to do their own thing on that side of the ball.

Listen to the full segment from KSL’s Unrivaled