For just the second time in his three-year tenure as Utah's head football coach, Kyle Whittingham has an opening on his staff.

Safeties coach Derrick Odum, a former Ute player, is headed to SMU to become the secondary coach under June Jones.

When Jones left Hawaii to take the SMU job earlier this month, he said it was "important to have some guys who have Texas ties" on his new coaching staff.

Odum fits the bill. He was Houston's defensive backs coach from 2003-04 and recruited the area for Utah the past two seasons.

As a player, Odum lettered at Utah from 1989-92 as a defensive back. He rejoined the Utes in 1996 and spent two seasons as a graduate assistant.

Odum's departure is just the second in Whittingham's tenure as head coach. Last February, Jay Boulware left Utah for a job at Iowa State. He was replaced by Aaron Alford.

Whittingham said he'll address hiring a replacement for Odum after National Letter of Intent Day on Feb. 6. His first priority is completing Utah's recruiting class.

Whittingham acknowledged that former Ute and current graduate assistant Morgan Scalley is a strong candidate to fill the vacancy.

After Utah's 35-32 victory over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl, Whittingham said he'd be surprised if the Utes didn't lose somebody to another program.

"I really like our staff. They're hard-working guys. They recruit exceptionally well," he said. "I think it's probably against the odds to say that we are going to have everyone back next season. But we'll see how things unfold.

"We've got to be ready to adjust and do what we need to do to be able to handle any change in the staff," Whittingham said.

E-mail: [email protected]