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Utah basketball: Five reasons Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak got a new deal

Mike Montgomery
Ezra Shaw

In this day and age, a coach having a good season in Division I often means he’ll receive multiple offers from competing schools.

In the case of Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak, his agreement to a five-year extension on Thursday, April 3 is tantamount to keeping him with the Utes program for as long as he is successful.

That’s right, buckaroos and buckarettes; nothing is granted in Division I college basketball. But, if you as a D-1 college coach win the majority of your games -- and keep your kids on the straight and narrow while doing so -- you too can earn a pile of money bouncing a rubber ball if your kids can shoot it into a basket.

Krystkowiak has done just that, taking a team that won a measly six games in his first year here -- to one that won 21 games in this, his third year at the school.

That work by Utah’s own “Coach K” got the attention of the Cal Bears, in particular -- who just watched their longtime head coach Mike Montgomery slip-slide into retirement.

That move by Montgomery definitely got the attention of the Utes -- who rushed to get their head coach signed as quickly as possible.

Here are five reasons Krystkowiak got a new five-year deal.

Mike Montgomery
Mike Montgomery Ezra Shaw

Mike Montgomery

Considering Krystkowiak played for Montgomery when he played at Montana, you figure the Utes put two and two together.

When the figure made several million per year or somewhere thereabouts Utah jumped on that figure, wrote some other larger numbers and presented the paper to Krystkowiak as soon as Montgomery‘s retirement was announced.

Recruiting Gene Sweeney Jr


Just when you thought BYU would come in and snag Jordan Loveridge, in came Krystkowiak to the rescue. Soon after that, you had the brother of NBA player Dorell Wright (or Delon) committing to the Utes and spurning Gonzaga.

And now, you have Roy High phenom Brekkott Chapman coming to Utah -- while the Team Down South lands a few sons of former Cougar players. Pretty soon if this keeps up, Coach K will pull a Rick Majerus and steal a Chris Burgess/Britton Johnsen/LDS/McDonalds All-American type, too.

Academics Gene Sweeney Jr


The bread by which Rick Majerus’ reputation was heavily salted, buttered and deep fried on both sides -- and devoured -- was academics.

Sure, he threw in the occasional inner-city youth who may or may not have had entanglements with books, the law and whatnot -- but he also staked his rep on bringing in good old Mormon boys fresh off their LDS missions who earned good grades.

Ditto, Coach K. Taking a page out of the Rick The Pick Playbook, Krystkowiak wasted zero time ridding the U of knuckleheads and welcoming kids who wanted to learn. The result? Five players named to the Pac-12 All-Academic team this year.

Winning Ethan Miller


All the bleeding hearts will say winning doesn’t matter but it does. A lot. If it didn’t, the Krystkowiak-to-the-Cal Bears rumors wouldn’t have taken full flight on fan sites panicking that the next best thing to Majerus was thinking about leaving.

Alas, Coach K did not leave; he probably wasn’t leaving, according to a Cal fan site -- and he may never leave. That is, until he starts losing. Then, like Jim Boylen, he will have to leave.

Attendance Ethan Miller


Sure, the Utes didn’t actually play anyone of note in the pre-season but a funny thing happened on the way to the Huntsman Center around December. There was traffic. And cars. All motoring along Foothill Drive until they all made a left turn on the street that borders that giant spaceship looking building.

Yes, there were fans in the Huntsman Center for the first time in a long time! Now THAT is something for the MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section) to cheer about.

And it was all due to Krystkowiak re-energizing the community that had long forgotten the Utes were once a college basketball powerhouse.