Florida Coaching Candidate Profile: Utah HC Kyle Whittingham

With the news of Will Muschamp's firing, we're profiling the candidates to take over as Florida HC. Today, we're taking a look at Utah HC Kyle Whittingham.

Whittingham was a WAC standout in his days as a Boise State linebacker, and had a ten-year journeyman career that took him through the USFL, CFL, and NFL practice squads. His first coaching job came as a graduate assistant at his alma mater while still trying to sustain a playing career, but in 1987 he hung up his cleats and took the Defensive Coordinator job at Eastern Utah.

Eastern Utah quickly led to a position coaching job at Idaho State, and Whittingham impressed enough to earn a spot on his father's staff at Utah. Working his way through the ranks, Whittingham spent ten seasons as defensive line coach/defensive coordinator, and in 2004 he was officially named head coach when Urban Meyer left for Florida.

Whittingham sustained Utah's success after Meyer's departure - the Utes won a bowl game in his first six seasons, including a Sugar Bowl win and a #2 overall ranking after the 2008 season.

The Good:

Whittingham has close ties to Urban Meyer, and the Gators certainly didn't regret it the last time they hired a coach from Utah. Utah is at a major recruiting disadvantage in the Pac-12 (selling Salt Lake City to recruits is no cakewalk), but Whittingham has still been able to put together a consistently competitive (and occasionally dominant) program.

Whittingham's teams play tough, solid defense, and he was recognized for his coaching efforts with the 2008 AFCA Coach of the Year and Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards.

The Bad:

The Utes haven't been as dominant since joining the Pac-12 (25-22 overall), and while they've looked good this season, there are still question marks about Whittingham's viability in a brutally competitive conference like the SEC.

Whittingham is also a member of the Mormon Church, and there's no guarantee he'd uproot his family for Florida if the opportunity presents itself.

How Would The Fans React?

Whittingham might not be the instant home run that a guy like Jim Harbaugh would be, but there would be plenty of fans happy with anyone not named Will Muschamp. While there would be some doubters questioning Utah's recent record, Whittingham's past success and ties to Urban Meyer would make him a perfectly acceptable candidate for the majority of fans.

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