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Utah’s Kyle Whittingham leaps into top 10 of this Power 5 coaches ranking

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Utah coach Kyle Whittingham hoists Pac-12 trophy after Utes beat the Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham hoists the Pac-12 trophy after the Utes beat the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Kyle Whittingham’s steady, upward trajectory of the Utah football program is bringing him further respect in the land of public perception.

CBS Sports annually ranks every Power Five head coach, and Whittingham took a significant jump up in this year’s list.

After leading Utah to its first Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl appearance during the 2021 season, Whittingham jumped from No. 14 to No. 8 on CBS Sports’ 2022 list.

“Whittingham cracks the top 10 for the first time, and while some of it has to do with coaches no longer here, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t always deserved consideration. Leading Utah to a Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl berth only solidified the job he’s done with the program,” CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli wrote. 

Since 2014, Whittingham’s Utes have finished ranked in The Associated Press final top 25 rankings five times, including a high of No. 12 last year. Utah has also won nine or more games in six of those seasons. 

“After a mediocre first three seasons in the Pac-12, Utah has gone 68-31 with four division titles and a Pac-12 title in the last eight. Nobody has better taken advantage of USC’s struggles than Whittingham and the Utes, but I wouldn’t recommend counting the Utes out now that Lincoln Riley is at USC. This program is simply too solid to slink into anybody’s shadow,” Fornelli wrote.

Where are the other Pac-12 coaches ranked?

Speaking of USC, first-year Trojans coach Lincoln Riley — who previously coached at Oklahoma — is the only other Pac-12 coach to make CBS Sports’ top 25.

Here’s where all the Pac-12 coaches rank on the list of the 65 Power Five coaches:

  • No. 4: Lincoln Riley, USC.
  • No. 8: Kyle Whittingham, Utah.
  • No. 28: Chip Kelly, UCLA.
  • No. 29: David Shaw, Stanford.
  • No. 37: Jonathan Smith, Oregon State.
  • No. 44: Justin Wilcox, California.
  • No. 51: Kalen DeBoer, Washington.
  • No. 54: Dan Lanning, Oregon.
  • No. 55: Herm Edwards, Arizona State.
  • No. 59: Karl Dorrell, Colorado.
  • No. 61: Jedd Fisch, Arizona.
  • No. 63: Jake Dickert, Washington State.

Edwards dropped 34 spots, the biggest drop on this year’s list, as the ASU program goes through an NCAA investigation into allegations of recruiting violations.

Riley fell one spot on the list this year, as Georgia’s Kirby Smart leapfrogged him after the Bulldogs won the national championship. 

“He’s gone 55-10 and reached the College Football Playoff three times. Few coaches in the sport can claim the same accomplishments, so there are few coaches ranked ahead of him here,” Fornelli wrote of Riley.