So, BYU replaces Jeff Judkins with a high school coach from Idaho named Amber Whiting.

What should one make of this hire? 

Time will tell.

We can be certain it is going to be an adjustment for Whiting and a big challenge to replace Judkins. One of her first tasks will be to recruit every one of Judkins’ returning players because when an outside hire takes place, it is kind of like a divorce for players — that a member of their family, their special team, did not get the job.

It is way too early to judge Whiting, a former BYU player.

She has been given a tremendous opportunity and she sold herself to BYU’s administration.

And that’s what many can focus on, is the chance, the break, the opportunity.

BYU’s athletic legacy is wrought with hiring first-time Division I head coaches. It oftentimes goes this route rather than chasing established coaches. It’s kind of a rite of passage at BYU, known for saving money by hiring talent with potential and crossing fingers that it turns out OK, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Championship week is here for the Cougars
Why former BYU great and Super Bowl-winning tight end Dennis Pitta returned to school to get his degree

This was the case when LaVell Edwards was elevated to replace Tommy Hudspeth in the early ’70s. Edwards had never been a college head coach before. He made it to the Hall of Fame and ranks as one of the winningest coaches of all time.

It was the case two decades earlier when BYU elevated freshman basketball coach and former Jordan High and Dixie College coach Stan Watts as head basketball coach. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Frank Arnold, the last coach to take BYU basketball to the Elite Eight in the early ’80s, got his first Division I head coaching job at BYU after working as an assistant at Oregon and UCLA and being head coach at Clark Junior College.

Bronco Mendenhall got his first head coaching job at BYU in 2005, which he parlayed into millions before retiring at the University of Virginia. His replacement, current head coach Kalani Sitake, got his first head coaching job at BYU and is fresh off a 21-4 record the past two seasons after his hire in 2015.

Roger Reid, a successful high school coach and assistant coach at Weber State, got the call after Ladell Andersen quit. He became BYU’s all-time percentage winner before his stint as head coach concluded.

Reid’s replacement, Steve Cleveland, got his first Division I head coaching job at BYU, elevated from head coach at Fresno City College.

Just how loaded is this BYU track team heading into NCAA prelims this week?
Mitch Mathews on ‘Mangum’s Miracle,’ Kalani Sitake’s culture and why BYU has a good thing going

The program has a stellar record of giving women their first head coaching experiences at the Division I level. This includes current volleyball coach Heather Olmstead and soccer coach Jennifer Rockwood. Both have had dominating, successful coaching careers at BYU with championships and coach-of-the-year honors.

BYU tapped Elaine Michaelis to coach field hockey, basketball and volleyball, her first Division I coaching jobs. Michaelis ended up one of the top three Division I coaches in wins and at the time of her retirement, she led all divisions in wins.

The late Ann Valentine was hired at BYU from being an assistant at ASU and quickly became a dominating women’s tennis coach for the athletic program. After 27 years as head tennis coach, she has posted more wins than any Division I coach in college history and is in the College Tennis Hall of Fame.

Remember when NFL coach Andy Reid hired high school coaches Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy as NFL coordinators? They went on to be head coaches with the Eagles and Bears. Nagy was named the NFL’s coach of the year in 2018.

Jess Simpson was one of the most successful high school coaches in Georgia history. He skipped coaching college and went straight to defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.

Finally, Jeff Judkins had plenty of experience working as an assistant to Utah’s Rick Majerus, but he’d never been a Division I head coach until BYU tapped him to lead the women’s program. In the course of his career, he became the winningest basketball coach in school history — for men or women.

First-time Division I head coaching gigs have been a staple of BYU’s approach to athletics over the decades.

Time and time again, BYU has rolled the dice and avoided snake eyes.

Now, Whiting has received the call. She’s a rookie at the Division I level. She’s coming straight out of coaching high school and AAU hoops.

Will she succeed?

Nobody can make that prediction the week after her hire.

But she has been given a chance.

Sometimes chances are a portal. Michael Jordan found this out when a chance was taken away and returned later, after the head coach at Laney High sent him down to the junior varsity team to ripen him up. In time, he got called up to varsity and became a legend.

Sometimes a chance is all you need.