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What Kyle Whittingham’s contract extension signals about the stability of the program

Last week, the U. coach, who turns 61 on Nov. 21, signed a contract extension through December 2027. The agreement extends his deal by four years and he would be 68 if he were to finish out this contract. 

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham speaks with members of the media after their spring training at the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 4, 2019.
Utah Utes coach Kyle Whittingham speaks with members of the media after spring camp at the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 4, 2019. Whittingham was recently awarded a contract extension that would keep him on the Utah sideline until 2027.
Silas Walker, Deseret News

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham has said recently that he can’t see himself coaching at age 65.

But last week, Whittingham, who turns 61 on Nov. 21, signed a contract extension through December 2027. The agreement extends his deal by four years and he would be 68 if he were to finish out the contract.

On Monday, Whittingham was asked about the benefits of extending his contract.

“For recruits, knowing that the staff and the program is stable and has the backing of the university,” he said. “Whether I finish out the contract or not is secondary to the fact that the recruits understand how confident our administration is in what we’re doing. That’s really what that predominantly is, a vote of confidence. That’s good for recruits to know that.”

In an interview with ESPN700 earlier this fall, Whittingham said, “I can just about guarantee that I won’t be coaching at 65.”

Whittingham is starting his 16th season at the Utes’ helm and 27th year on the coaching staff. He is the longest-tenured coach in the Pac-12 and the third-longest tenured head coach at the same school in the FBS.

The Utes are scheduled to open the season Saturday at UCLA (8:30 p.m. MST, Fox).

Whittingham has posted a career record of 131-64 as Utah’s head coach. He earned the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors in 2019.

In a statement last week, Utah athletic director Mark Harlan praised Whittingham’s myriad accomplishments.

“Kyle Whittingham has established a culture in the Utah football program that not only achieves success on the field, but also in the classroom, the community and in the development of student-athletes for their future beyond their time on campus,” he said. “This has been especially evident throughout the pandemic, as he has steadily demonstrated leadership, patience and flexibility, putting the priority of health and well-being for student-athletes above all else.”