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Kyle Whittingham: This Is The Busiest Time Of Year, Beats The Alternative

Dec 10, 2022, 12:07 AM

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)

SALT LAKE CITY- Two weeks ago it pretty much looked like Utah football’s season was over with only a bowl game left to worry about. Fate had other plans. A week later the Utes are now consecutive Pac-12 Champions and eyeing their second Rose Bowl appearance. Head coach Kyle Whittingham noted on Unrivaled that it’s the busiest time of the year for the Utes with the addition of going to the Pac-12 Championship, the Rose Bowl prep and all the recruiting that needs to happen in between, but that it beats the alternative of staying home.

“I think right now is the most chaos,” Whittingham said with a chuckle. “We’re getting ready for a bowl game; we’re monitoring the portal and trying to figure out who our targets are there. We’re recruiting high school athletes and juggling all of that being on the road and back in town for practice. This is the busiest time of the year, but it beats the alternative. We’re thrilled to be able to be doing it.”

Life Is Good, Man, Ya Know What I Mean?

On top of the high feelings that come from winning a second straight conference title and Rose Bowl appearance, the Utes are also experiencing some recruiting highs as well. Per NCAA rules, Whittingham couldn’t speak directly about the who and what, but anyone paying attention to the week Utah football has had, knows life is good heading down the stretch of the 2023 Signing Class.

“Nothing helps recruiting as much as winning,” Whittingham said. “That’s the main thing you can do to give yourself a little bit of a spike and a bump in recruiting. Players want to go where you win and compete for championships. I don’t know if you can measure it exactly, but I just definitely know it helps you and being on that national stage also gives you exposure across the country when you come across a kid that’s maybe not in your recruiting footprint.”

Trusting The Process

One of the more unique aspects of Utah football in a college football world that has turned to instant gratification with the NCAA Transfer Portal is their overall retention of players. That’s not to say the Utes don’t have guys transfer in and out when necessary, but the rate at which it happens is much slower than most places. Whittingham credits the culture that has been built and athletes seeing the repeated success Utah has had with former players that have trusted the process and waited their turn.

“I think that speaks to our culture- our players really enjoy being in this program,” Whittingham said. “It’s a demanding program- it’s tough, but I think they really appreciate that. Players appreciate structure and discipline. That speaks to Cam Rising and what kind of person he is and who he is that he stuck it out. When things got tough, he didn’t turn tail and run away and jump into the portal- as well as a lot of other guys.”

Some Penn State Scouting

The Utes are preparing for another historic run at the Rose Bowl, this time against Penn State. While Utah put on a show in their debut to the “Grandaddy of them All” against Ohio State a season ago, Whittingham and company are hoping for slightly different results against the Nittany Lions.

Whittingham acknowledges the challenges Penn State presents in Utah’s quest to bring the Leishman Trophy home to Salt Lake City, musing at how similar both teams are ahead of their first-ever meeting.

 

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“First of all, Penn State, there is a lot of similarities between the two teams,” Whittingham said. “They put pride in their defense and play really physically. They are sound fundamentally and technique-wise and we’d like to think we are along those same lines. Committed to the run and play-action pass off of that. They have two terrific freshman running backs, both approaching 1000 yards. Older quarterback- fifth, sixth year quarterback, some really good receivers. We have our hands full.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

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Kyle Whittingham: This Is The Busiest Time Of Year, Beats The Alternative