SALT LAKE CITY — The banners are hanging high in the Dumke Gymnastics Center, as always, commemorating one of the sport's great dynasties. The snack-size athletes are still there, too.

But Rocky, the Marsden family’s golden lab, doesn’t come around much anymore. Nor does Greg, the man who built Utah gymnastics. He’s as gone as high gas prices.

So what has changed since the Ute co-coach retired last spring?

Everything and nothing.

Utah is still undefeated, ranked seventh — five spots below where it finished in last year’s national championships. Going into Monday’s meet with Arizona, the Utes are perfect in three outings, including last weekend’s Pac-12 opener against Oregon State. They’re still leading the nation in attendance.

With this program, there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. It’s just that Mardsen’s place is now in the kitchen. What’s he doing these days? Right now he’s seriously into meatloaf — the food, not the singer.

“He likes comfort food,” says Megan Marsden, his wife and current co-coach of the Utes. “Two nights ago he made the most incredible meatloaf. That’s not something that’s in my repertoire, not something he’s ever cooked for our family. But he found the recipe and it was amazing.”

Great. The guy’s an analyst on the Pac-12 Networks when he could be starring on The Food Channel.

For someone who spent 40 years wedging meals between practices, recruiting, scheduling and competition, this is quite the lifestyle change. For his wife — who was with him most of those years — work continues. But she notices the differences in snippets. Like two weeks ago, on the team bus to Southern Utah University. Megan sat in her usual seat, front row aisle. But Greg wasn’t on the other side, as he had been for decades.

Soon, though, the urgency of the moment overtakes her. The Marsdens didn’t win 10 national championships and earn nine second-place finishes by daydreaming. This year they’re minus four graduated All-Americans, which left "just" five remaining. But that number dwindled by one on Tuesday when sophomore Kari Lee tore her Achilles in practice.

Regardless of such setbacks, the Utes are consistently a national player, attracting top talent. Included on the roster are two qualified elites from their club careers. In addition, the team has co-coach Tom Farden, handpicked by the Marsdens to step in. They planned it that way so Greg wouldn’t hover after retirement.

The former coach doesn’t attend practice, or even the meets. His objective is to make sure the gymnasts know who’s in charge at Utah.

Hint: It’s not the guy holding a pasta fork.

A normal post-retirement day for Greg includes a morning of tending the team’s social media platforms (“He’s the best 65-year-old social media person I know,” says Megan), then a walk along the Shoreline Trail with Rocky.

Next, he gets online and picks out a recipe and visits the store for ingredients.

“He has a hot meal on the table when I get home,” Megan says. “I didn’t ask him to do that, but ...”

He was raised in Arkansas, so comfort food is a big deal.

“He loves to put a pot roast in the crockpot,” she says.

Lately he’s been experimenting with different potato recipes.

“Nothing comes out of the box,” Megan reassures.

For a coach who slept restlessly and sparingly for years, Marsden appears downright content in retirement. He does his TV commentary, which Megan admits, “I haven’t loved, because he makes little comments I don’t like. But he says, ‘Hey, I’m an analyst, I can say what I want on every team.’”

In past years, she and Farden would discuss issues and present scenarios, but Greg had the final say.

“Now there’s no place to take the decision anymore, which makes it a little weird,” Megan says.

Everything is on them.

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So that’s what happened to the guy who built a dynasty. Marsden has retired to the house, the food market, the dog-walking trail, the virtual world.

He’s no longer the coach.

But as a cook, you might call him the main dish.

Email: rock@desnews.com; Twitter: @therockmonster; Blog: Rockmonster Unplugged

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