In terms of social capital, he's got a lot of support behind him. —Timpview principal Todd McKee
PROVO — Timpview High School has a new head football coach, and it's a man the community already knows and loves — Cary Whittingham.
The younger brother of University of Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and the program's defensive coordinator under former coach Louis Wong was offered and accepted the job on Monday, according to Timpview principal Todd McKee.
"I think (the community) will be overjoyed," said McKee, who formed a committee of teachers, parents and students to help him select the man who would replace Wong, who was fired last month. "They were hoping it would be somebody around the program, that they are familiar with. So in terms of social capital, he's got a lot of support behind him."
The committee looked at more than 20 applications and talked with several candidates before recommending Whittingham and another candidate, both members of Wong's staff. Their hope was that they could retain some of the aspects of Wong's program that extended beyond the football field. They felt someone who knew the boys, the school and the community could best help lead the program out of the turmoil that has engulfed it for nearly a year.
The community concerns were some of the reasons Whittingham put his name in the hat.
"I've been part of the program for a lot of years and I have a vested interest in the boys there," Whittingham said. "That would be a very big reason, as well as the rest of the coaching staff, which is still in place. I would also like the opportunity to be a head coach."
He said the coaches had made plans for the summer program to begin June 4 in hopes that the administration would hire a new coach before the end of school.
"I'm really excited," said Whittingham, who understands very well how difficult his new job promises to be. "Coach Wong is a good friend of mine and they are big shoes to fill."
As for the turmoil, he feels it's best for everyone involved "to move forward," and the best way to do that is to "make it football as usual."
McKee said it wasn't just that Whittingham, a Provo alum who played linebacker at BYU from 1981-1985, was already a member of the school community as a coach and teacher.
"I think we've got a great person to take over," said McKee. "First and foremost, it was his honesty and integrity (that led to the administration's decision)."
And prep coaches don't often come with better coaching pedigrees.
"But really what did it for me is seeing him as a staff member in a variety of positions," said McKee. "You put all of the pieces together and get in put from people around you and make a decision."
McKee said he's had a long-standing practice of forming committees that help him make bigger, more high profile decisions at the schools he leads.
"I think it gives the candidates the social capital and support to get off to a good start," he said. "It's something I've done for a number of years and it's always played out well."
Whittingham will have a tougher job than most new coaches as the program has been battered by controversy since last fall when district officials began to question the financial dealings of the program led by Wong.
McKee said Whittingham is well aware of the difficulties that lie ahead and he's hopeful that in choosing someone from Wong's staff the healing can begin immediately.
"I hope so," he said. "It's been a tough year for the community and everybody associated with the program. It's time to get back to focusing on what's best for kids. Timing wise, it was time (to hire a new coach)."
He said there was "some anxiety" in the community because the team is scheduled to start summer workouts on June 4.
He's hopeful Whittingham's decision to take on the head coaching duties will make the transition as smooth as possible.