Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan: We Want To Be Back At That Championship Level

May 30, 2024, 11:42 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan says Utah football is chomping at the bit to be back in the conference championship conversation after a hiatus last season.

The Utes are heading for the Big 12 Conference in 2024 after spending 13 years with the Pac-12 and having a pretty dominant run in the league’s final seasons going to four of six conference championship games and winning two. It’s a trend Utah is gunning to keep going in their new home.

Harlan gave KSL Sports an update of how head coach Kyle Whittingham and Utah football are approaching their first season in the Big 12 while attending meetings in Dallas, Texas.

Utah Football Want To Be Back At That Championship Level In 2024

Utah football had a tough go in 2023 with a laundry list of injuries that kept them from their true potential during the Pac-12’s swan song season.

Still, despite having what felt like half their roster sitting out, the Utes stayed in the conference title conversation deep into November. However, anyone that has ever had a taste of winning at that level knows that simply being close usually isn’t good enough.

Utah AD Mark Harlan says Utah football has taken to heart their tough season and are determined to not have a repeat.

“I’m very excited about the work they have put in since the season ended,” Harlan said. “There is a real commitment by the team- certainly led by the returners, the upper-classmen that know they want to be back at that championship level. Not being in the championship this last year after being in it four out of the last five and certainly the last two- was a taste no one liked.”


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Harlan noted there is a lot of excitement in the building as to what this version of Utah football could be and accomplish. Not only are the Utes a very veteran-led team in 2024, but they also have the advantage of an expanded College Football Playoff which is something they’ve flirted with in years past but have yet to make.

Still, there is a lot of work left to do to get to that point, and Harlan says the guys are putting in the effort this summer to hopefully make something special happen.

“It’s a mixture of a very veteran team with some newcomers we are all excited about,” Harlan said. “Of course, that starts and stops with coach Whittingham, his staff and the work they have put in. There is a lot of excitement but a lot of work to do. Summer is so important for fall sports and certainly football to be ready to roll. The old days of showing up to camp to get in shape? Those days are over. The guys are continuing to work through summer, but I know there is a lot of excitement within the Eccles football facility.”

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 XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan: We Want To Be Back At That Championship Level