SALT LAKE CITY — Dennis Erickson is on the job, sporting a new hip and Utah football gear.
The 65-year-old coach, who was lured out of retirement to become Utah’s co-offensive coordinator, met with the media Wednesday afternoon — exactly two weeks after having hip replacement surgery.
Erickson was proud that he was able to walk to the gathering, even stepping up to the podium.
“I told my wife I am not going to the University of Utah with a cane. I’m not sending that message to those players,” said Erickson, who endured some extensive physical therapy before leaving Arizona for Utah. “If I have to crawl, I’m crawling in here.”
Erickson went on to say he liked the colors he was now sporting. He wore a red UnderArmour jacket with a Ute logo on it.
“I think it looks pretty good on me,” Erickson said in the midst of answering questions on a variety of topics, ranging from his national championship teams at Miami to his plans at Utah.
Erickson, who coached the Hurricanes to a pair of national championships, noted he was here to help Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham be successful and help the group offensively.
Whittingham’s blueprint, he explained, is to score touchdowns. Erickson said the Utes will operate out of the shotgun most of the time, run some read option and spread defenses out. They’ll pick up the pace, control the tempo and utilize a no-huddle scheme.
“We all believe in the same thing,” Erickson said of his meetings with the offensive staff. “It’s just a matter of all being on the same page and all knowing what we want to get done. All of us have the same goal to do it and just get better on offense.”
As for playcalling, Erickson joked that be had a pretty good track record as of late. He said he called all the touchdowns for his teams over the past five years.
Erickson went on to praise co-offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, expressing hope that they could learn from one another.
“Brian Johnson is a superstar in our business,” Erickson said. “He really is.”
Utah athletics director Chris Hill attended the press conference and referenced comments that Whittingham made when announcing the hiring earlier this month. Whittingham said that Erickson “brings a wealth of knowledge and coaching experience” to the Utes.
“I think it’s exciting. Kyle probably said it all but it brings us some experience, a nice match and somebody that really has a lot of knowledge of the league, too,” Hill noted. “And a track record of having a lot of winning in his back pocket.”
Erickson’s extensive coaching career includes head coaching stints at Idaho (1982-85, 2006), Wyoming (1986), Washington State (1987-88), Miami (1989-94) and Arizona State (2007-11) in the college ranks, as well as NFL stops with the Seattle Seahawks (1995-98) and San Francisco 49ers (2003-04).