SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – 11th-ranked Utah will play its final non-conference game this Saturday against Idaho State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham actually got his coaching start at the D-1 level in in Pocatello, where he spent six years as a Bengals assistant from 1988-1993.
“It was an excellent experience for me because I was able to be the special teams coordinator the first four years and the defensive coordinator the second two years,” said Whittingham. “So it was very good for my development and learning. I was just a young coach that didn’t know what he was doing and forced to learn pretty quickly.”
And in the “irony can be so ironic” department, Whittingham’s first game with Idaho State was in Salt Lake City, against the Utes. Utah quarterback Scott Mitchell torched Whittingham’s defense for 511 yards of passing that day, and he remembers it well.
“It was our opener that very first year, in 1988 and I think we hung around for a quarter or two,” Whittingham said. “Then we got run out of the stadium like you’d expect, but I do remember it was a pretty exciting experience for me to be in a stadium that size and a team like Utah and being in that environment was pretty cool.”
Utah beat Idaho State that day 41-16, one of many loses that Whittingham was a part of on that Bengals staff. He said the losing was hard, but it did not sour him on the job of coaching.
“You know, it was a tough six years in a lot of respects with the wins and losses,” he said, “And it was a little bit frustrating, but I was just excited to have a job and just be in the profession and so at that time I was just elated to have a group of guys to coach.”
Utah (2-0) will host the Bengals at 2:15 p.m Saturday.