For Whittingham, Being Back At Holiday Bowl Is ‘Surreal’

Dec 30, 2018, 2:36 PM | Updated: 2:51 pm
Left: Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham talks into his headset as BYU and Utah play at Rice Ecc...
Left: Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham talks into his headset as BYU and Utah play at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. Utah won 35-27. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News) Right: BYU's Kyle Whittingham, front, celebrates the Cougars' Holiday Bowl victory on Dec. 19, 1980, in San Diego. (BYU Photos)
(BYU Photos)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – For Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, being back at the Holiday Bowl is “great, and some ways, surreal.”

Whittingham, who was inducted in the Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame in 2009, told KSL Sports’ Rod Zundel that referring to him as a Holiday Bowl Hall of Famer wasn’t necessary, but that he appreciates having that honor.

After all, the Whittingham’s history and the history of the San Diego-based bowl are intertwined.

Whittingham’s Holiday Bowl History

As a linebacker at BYU from 1979-1981, Whittingham played in the first four Holiday Bowls.

The Cougars dropped the first ever Holiday Bowl in a 23-16 decision to Navy.

The next year, they lost again, this time to Indiana, 38-37.

In 1980 they won in one of college football’s most thrilling finishes in a 46-45 win over SMU.

The next year, in 1981, the Cougars narrowly defeated Washington State, 38-36, in Whittingham’s final college football game. He was named the game’s defensive MVP.

Good To Be Back

So to be back, nearly 40 years removed from his first Holiday Bowl appearance, Whittingham is excited to return to roam the sidelines in San Diego.

“To able to come back some 40 years later is pretty incredible,” said Whittingham. “We’re just honored to be in here. We had a chance to play in the championship game and fell short, which put us in the Holiday Bowl and this is where we wanted to be. If we we’re going to get to the Rose Bowl, this is where we wanted to be. Our guys are having a great time.”

Big Recruiting Tool For Utes

It’s also great to be in Southern California, says Whittingham, considering how much recruiting the Utes do in that area.

“If you look at our roster, the bulk of our team is from Southern California,” said Whittingham. “So to be able to play in that footprint is a plus and our coaches work this area hard every year and have done so ever since I’ve been at Utah. So that definitely is an added bonus to playing down here.”

Broadcast Info

The Holiday Bowl between Utah and Northwestern will kick off Monday at 5 p.m. and be broadcast on FS1.

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For Whittingham, Being Back At Holiday Bowl Is ‘Surreal’