Here are the facts. The Utah Utes football team hasn't been to a bowl game in three years. Here is another fact: the Utes haven't won six games, the measure by which all Division I teams are measured, in three years.
The Utes have a chance to change their misfortunes this year and get that bowl game patch stitched on their jerseys. According to several media sources, Utah should have the tools to do so in 2014, thus reversing three years of futility.
A Salt Lake Tribune report on Wed. Aug. 27 found that Whittingham--along with other assistant coaches--have precisely 10 months and counting on their contracts to get things turned around.
The sky is not yet falling in Uteville--but if you happen to be in the Salt Lake Valley and look eastward, the sky is beginning to turn a shade of crimson. That's because fans are preparing to invade Rice-Eccles Stadium for the Utes' home opener against opponent and sacrificial lamb Idaho State of the FCS on Thurs. Aug. 28--a perfect opponent for Utah to take its frustrations out on.
If any year is the year for the Utes to get back into the thick of things, this is the one. Media outlets are lining up left and right to say this is the year Utah gets back to a bowl game.
On Thursday Bleacher Report released its annual bowl projections, sending Utah to the Heart of Dallas Bowl to take on North Texas.
FOX Sports has the Utes going back to the Sun Bowl, the post-season game where Utah last played--and won in a nail-biter over Georgia Tech in 2011. Utes fans remember that game vividly because, well, it was the last time Utah felt like it could win consistently.
Of course talking about a 7-5 team as a team that wins consistently might be a stretch, but if you're a Utes fan who watched their team struggle through two consecutive 5-win seasons, you'll take what you can get.
And what you can get right now from media sources is the confidence that your team, the Utah Utes, will go bowling. Even Sports Illustrated believes the Utes will make it to the postseason in the Big Ten's fill-in spot, playing Pitt--a longtime bowl foe--in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. Yet none of these media sources believe the Utes will win more than six games this season.
If these pundits are right, Utah may well get back to a bowl game. Whether getting back to the postseason helps Whittingham keep his job, however, depends on the number of wins the Utes get--and the bowl game it makes.