Four Candidates To Be Utah Football’s Next ‘Head Coach In Waiting’

Jul 6, 2020, 5:30 PM | Updated: Jul 7, 2020, 10:04 am
utah DC morgan scalley...
Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley is interviewed following University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)
(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After the punishments were handed down from the University of Utah to defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, the football program’s “head coach in waiting” title is open.

Scalley and the University agreed verbally to a new contract extension in December 2019 to an annual compensation of $1.1 million. Now, Scalley’s contract will be a one-year deal worth $525,000.

On top of that, Utah AD Mark Harlan verbally offered Scalley the head coach in waiting title but that has since been rescinded.

Scalley was reinstated on July 1 after an independent investigation concluded when he sent a text message in 2013 that included a racial slur.

Now that the “head coach in waiting” is up in the air and Kyle Whittingham’s successor is unclear, here is four potential candidates that would be great options to take over Utah’s football program when Kyle Whittingham retires.

Morgan Scalley

Despite his offer being rescinded, it’s not over for Scalley to still be the next head football coach at Utah. During a teleconference on July 1 with Scalley, Harlan and Whittingham, the Utah Athletic Director didn’t rule out the possibility of Scalley earning it back.

But, Scalley has a lot of work to do to repair the damages he caused from sending that text message in 2013. Whittingham has mentioned that he wants to retire when he is 65 years old. He is currently 61 so the clock is ticking for Scalley to repair the damages before Whittingham calls it a career.

Jay Hill

Hill has proven himself as a head coach, albeit at a smaller program in Weber State. Regardless, Hill took over a Weber State football team that was in disarray, they didn’t have a winning season for a long time and were struggling to promote a strong and healthy culture.

If Hill were to take over from Whittingham once he decides to travel the world and spend more time with his grandchildren, Hill would not have to worry about changing the culture. Rather, Hill would be in a position to succeed from the beginning. If Hill can have success at Weber State, despite the chaos that ensued when he took over, then he will likely have success at Utah. It would be a safe move by the University to strongly consider Hill for the job. He is a proven winner, recruiter and program builder.

Kalani Sitake

Many think that Sitake is really happy at BYU and being the head coach of his alma mater. But, when you have been a big part of building the culture at the University of Utah, it’s hard to turn down a job opportunity like that if it is presented.

Sitake would make significantly more money as the head coach at Utah than what he is currently being paid at BYU. With limited resources, Sitake has done all that he can to recruit players to BYU. He would not be limited with resources at a power 5 program like Utah. Sitake spent 9 years at Utah including five seasons as the defensive coordinator.

Brian Johnson

There is a very good chance that Brian Johnson will eventually become a head coach one day. Since his playing days at Utah, he has bounced around the college landscape constantly bettering jobs. His coaching career started immediately following the conclusion of his playing career at Utah. Since then, BJ has had stints at Houston and Mississippi State and is now the quarterbacks coach at the University of Florida.

Johnson has recruiting ties to Utah and the west coast from his playing days, he has been around some of the most prominent head coaches in the business, including Whittingham and Dan Mullen. It would only be fitting that Johnson’s first crack at being a head coach would be with the University of Utah.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett. 

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Four Candidates To Be Utah Football’s Next ‘Head Coach In Waiting’