After walking down to the field, Meyer remembered how hard everyone worked to build the program. He recalled coming out of the tunnel for his final home game with the Utes, a victory over BYU that secured the BCS berth.
"The 2004 team will go down as one of the best teams I've ever been around, and we've had two great teams at Florida. It's hard to differentiate," Meyer said. "But that '04 team and the players and the complete commitment to doing it the right way. That was awesome."
So, too, is how Whittingham "came in and kept the accelerator on it."
Meyer was pleased to hear that membership in the MUSS has grown to more than 6,000. Other plusses like Utah being an A-1 school and Salt Lake City, he added, have contributed to the program's continual success.
It all factored into Pac-12 membership.
Meyer said a successful transition will be on "everybody" from the training room to recruiting to fans. Playing at that level each week will be different than occasional games each season where the Utes could step up to the challenge against Pac-10 opponents.
Meyer, however, is confident they'll do well. After watching the Utes practice, he considers them a "very talented team." He was especially impressed with the stable of backs and the program's typical big defensive line.
Besides Meyer, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo and former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach were also on hand to observe Utah's practice.
"All three guys are close friends of mine and just happened to be in town at the same time," Whittingham said. "It was great to have them out here."
Several former Utes, including Paul Kruger of the Baltimore Ravens, watched from the sidelines.
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