Keep Whittingham, lose Ludwig

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The phrase “that’ll be a tough act to follow” has rarely been more fitting than in the case of Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham.

For two years, Meyer put on the ultimate show, captivating Ute fans and enraging the BYU faithful. The Urban Meyer Show had it all, including a thrilling finale that featured a cast of thousands and, yes, even pyrotechnics.

Meyer left the stage the leading protagonist in a thrilling real-life tale of David vs. Goliath. When he moved away from Utah, he had become one of the state’s demigods, right up there with Brigham Young and John Stockton.

And then Whittingham stepped out of the shadows.

When Whittingham took over the team, expectations were sky-high (read: unrealistic). The Utes had just accomplished a remarkable feat, and there were (overly optimistic) Ute fans who thought the Utes, under Whittingham, had a chance to duplicate the previous two years’ success.

Of course, it didn’t happen.

Consider this: In all his years as head coach of the Runnin’ Utes, Rick Majerus guided the team to one Final Four. One.

It’s a grueling process to climb to the summit, and once there, it’s impossible to set up camp.

Does that mean Utah should settle for mediocrity? Of course not. But fans need to remember that 2004 was magical because the Utes achieved the impossible.

Prior to Whittingham’s first season at the helm, the Utes lost star quarterback Alex Smith to the NFL. Last year, quarterback Brian Johnson was sidelined and subsequently replaced by Brett Ratliff, an inexperienced senior. Because of these setbacks, we’ve yet to see what Whittingham is capable of.

2007 will be the year that Whittingham spreads his wings. To accomplish that, he simply needs to be himself — which means knowing his limitations. He’s a defensive specialist. Just because he’s now head coach doesn’t mean his brain has suddenly been infused with the knowledge of how to run an effective triple option.

And that’s OK. He doesn’t need to be Urban Meyer or Mike Shanahan. That being said, when a team has a defensive-minded head coach, it is imperative that his offensive coordinator be brilliant.

Which brings us to the point.

Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig needs to be sent packing la Ray Giacoletti. When Whittingham accepted the head coach position, he called up Ludwig and asked his close friend to join his staff.

At the time, Ludwig was finishing up a 5-6 campaign and sucking the life out of a quality team (that dons stylish uniforms, I might add). The two years prior to Ludwig coaching at Oregon, the Ducks went 10-2 and 11-1. With Ludwig calling the plays, the Ducks went 7-6, 8-4 and 5-6. The year after he left, Oregon returned to its winning ways and posted a 10-2 record.

Whittingham has at least proven himself to be a talented defensive coordinator over the last 10 years with Utah. If anyone deserves to be chased out of town by an angry mob wielding pitchforks, it’s Ludwig.

Now, where did I put my pitchfork?

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