When your program is considered one of the best in the western United States and has been ranked one of the top 15 in college basketball history, there are expectations.

Utah men's basketball hasn't been great for a number of years, but has had some good seasons since going to the NCAA Finals in 1998. But fans are impatient. At Ute Fan Day, Saturday at Rice-Eccles, hoops coach Jim Boylen was among the coaches and athletes on hand to greet followers. One fan came came up to Boylen and said, "We want you to know we're still hanging with you."

While the fan meant well, you have to wonder how it felt to the coach. True, last season wasn't good. The Utes finished 14-17 overall and 7-9 in the Mountain West. At the same time, the Utes were 24-10 and 12-4 the previous year, tying for first place.

In other words, 17 months ago Boylen's team was a conference champion and playing in the NCAA Tournament — and fans are already acting like they're longsuffering.

Whatever the perspective, it's easy to see the program isn't what it once was. Utah hasn't won an outright conference title since 2004-05 when Andrew Bogut was playing for the Utes. Since then, the Utes have finished sixth three times, tied for fifth and tied for first.

For a program ranked 11th-best in history by Street & Smith's, it leaves a lot of ground for the Utes to make up.

Boylen isn't the first to face the expectations at Utah. Here's a link to a column I did on the last day of the Ray Giacoletti era. He, too, ran into high expectations.


Is Boylen the man to take the Utes into the Pac-10?