Kyle Whittingham Talks Coaching Influences At Pac-12 Media Day

Jul 29, 2022, 6:12 PM
Kyle Whittingham - Utah Utes - Rose Bowl...
Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes looks on during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES- When you’ve been coaching as long as Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, you run into a lot of people who influence how you do the job. At Pac-12 Media Day, Whittingham was specifically asked about the influence his old coach, BYU great, LaVell Edwards had on his coaching style and he had a very thoughtful response.

“There’s really three head coaches that I’ve gathered knowledge and information from that really have molded me,” Whittingham said. “That’s LaVell, Ron McBride, and Urban Meyer. I had a chance to work for all three of those guys. Terrific coaches. Each had their sets of strengths.”

Whittingham’s Coaching Influences

Whittingham has been around the game of football all of his life due to being the son of a football coach himself. It only seems natural for Whitt to find coaching influence from Fred Whittingham Sr. (affectionately known as “Mad Dog”) as he has gone through his career. While Whitt did follow his dad around during his playing career, perhaps where his father’s influence was felt the most was when he was the defensive coordinator at BYU (1978-1981) during Whittingham’s playing days. Both men eventually found their way to the University of Utah where they coached together for a year in 1994.

“As far as me as an X’s and O’s guy, a football coach in general, my father was the biggest influence on me,” Whittingham said. “Had the opportunity to play for him in college. Best defensive football coach I’ve ever been around.”

On top of having an amazing mentor in his father at BYU as a player, Whittingham also benefitted from one of the best head football coaches in the country at the time in LaVell Edwards. Edwards was a winner on the field (257 career victories) as well as off of it. Perhaps the most ironic line to draw between Whittingham and Edwards is their success in taking a smaller school and turning it into a bit of a juggernaut with the ability to mess with the college football hierarchy.

“LaVell, I had the opportunity to play for him,” Whittingham said. “I was able to be a graduate assistant for him a few years later. Great person, great coach. It was a great opportunity to learn from him.”

Former Utah football head coach Ron McBride was another man Whittingham spent a lot of time learning from as a coach. It only makes sense Whittingham would find inspiration under the man who was not only Edward’s rival in the state of Utah, but one of his best friends. McBride’s greatest feat was turning a program that had fallen into a bit of squalor, into a competitor- a trait that Whittingham seems to have employed since taking over as head coach of Utah in 2005.

Finally, though it may have been the shortest amount of time Whittingham spent with anyone, it’s hard to argue the impact Urban Meyer had on Whittingham during his two years as head coach of the Utes in 2003-2004. Meyer brought a killer instinct to the team that Whittingham was able to watch and adapt as his own as Meyer’s defensive coordinator.


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