Commentary: BYU, Utah football both plagued by missed opportunities
The Utes are 17-19 since joining the Pac-12 in 2011 and 8-18 in conference. It would be one thing if Utah was making progress in its new conference, but the Utes will finish no better than 2-7 this year. Utah won four conference games in 2011 and three last season.
Fact is, Whittingham is in trouble.
Yes, Whittingham has a 6-3 record over BYU and a fantastic Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama on his résumé. However, this is Whittingham's third season in the Pac-12. That's three years to adapt to the increased competition, not to mention the advantages of being in the Pac-12 with recruiting.
To put this in perspective, former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik won a national championship in 2010 only to be fired two seasons later after finishing 3-9. Chizik got just one losing season, and Whittingham already has two.
Anyone really think he'll still be around if the Utes make it three?
The Utes had several opportunities to win conference games this season. Four of Utah's losses came by a touchdown or less. Imagine how things might have been different if Utah was 8-3 instead of 4-7. Utah would be ranked and in contention for a division title. That 27-21 win over Stanford would mean a whole bunch more.
Now it's just a footnote in a disappointing season.
Utah had a decent shot of at least making it to a bowl game if it had just taken care of business against Washington State. Instead, it took a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter because of two Adam Schulz interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
Quarterback play has been at the root of Utah's problems since the Utes joined the Pac-12. One quarterback after another has gone down to injury. The list includes Jordan Wynn and now Travis Wilson. Who knows how things might be different if Utah could just have a healthy quarterback.
So, both BYU and Utah face the same problems. Both teams had the opportunity to do something really great this season, but ultimately fell short.
Well, there's always next season.
Lafe Peavler is a sports writer intern at the Deseret News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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