Chris Hill

Utah approves $3.3 million restroom upgrade at Rice-Eccles Stadium

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The need to upgrade the game-day experience is real around the world of college football. While much of the talk generally leans toward luxury boxes, better WiFi and monster scoreboards, we should not forget one of the most important stadium upgrade options; the restroom. Utah is moving forward with a solid investment in upgrading the bathrooms at Rice-Eccles Stadium, with trustees approving a $3.3 million plan to add more men’s restrooms in the north end zone.

The addition of men’s rooms in the north end of the stadium are designed to reduce congestion caused by fans walking to the west or east concourse to use the restrooms. The approved plans include 2,260 square feet of new men’s restroom space with 40 toilets and 20 sinks in the northwest corner of the stadium and 2,685 square feet of men’s restroom space with 48 toilets and 25 sinks in the northeast corner of the stadium. The concourse area will also be expanded to allow for easier traffic flow, and thus a better fan experience.

“We’re trying to make sure we build it so that it’s in the right place for a long time,” Utah athletic director Chris Hill said to The Salt Lake Tribune. The restroom construction is scheduled to be completed in time for Utah’s 2015 season opener at home against Michigan on September 3.

Report: Rift grows between Kyle Whittingham and Utah’s AD

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Kyle Whittingham is the most successful coach in Utah Utes history. During his 20 years as an assistant coach, coordinator and head coach, Whittingham has been involved in 170 victories. But Whittingham may finally be living on borrowed time as the head coach of the Utes.

The Utah football program is coming apart at the seams.

After losing defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake and offensive coordinator Dave Christensen to other programs in less than a week, Whittingham reportedly isn’t very happy with the current status of his program.

“In the time since, three assistant coaches have left the program, and sources familiar with the situation tell The Salt Lake Tribune that the relationship between Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and athletic director Chris Hill is severely fractured, perhaps irreparably,” Matthew Piper reported.

“Those sources, who requested anonymity so as not to not compromise their ties to the program, say Whittingham and Hill were on poor terms before the start of the season, and that the rift widened in recent weeks. The two were scheduled to meet Friday, a source said.”

The reported conflict stems from Hill’s inability to provide the financial backing for Whittingham to retain his coordinators.

“A source said Hill’s inability to lock up Sitake made Whittingham feel that Hill was trying to sabotage his program,” Piper added.

With Whittingham growing dissatisfaction with Utah and Hill’s leadership, the Utes’ head coach is actively searching for positions around college football.

“The source confirmed speculation that Whittingham has met with administrators at other schools,” Piper continued.

If that’s the case, Whittingham may be a respectable fallback option for the University of Michigan, which is still attempting to lure Jim Harbaugh from the NFL ranks.

After all, a program like Michigan could do worse than hiring a coach with a 85-43 career record,  eight bowl appearances in 10 years and the 2008 National Coach of the Year on his resume. It was rumored two weeks ago that Whittingham had met with Michigan officials.

Sportswriter suggests Utah coaching staff could be ready to split

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A failure to show a financial commitment to the coaching staff at Utah could prove to be a costly move by Utah athletics director Chris Hill, as one sportswriter suggests.

In the past offseason Utah opted not to extend contracts for members on the football team’s coaching staff as the coaches moved to the final year of their current contracts. According to Salt Lake Tribune writer Gordon Monsoon, that decision was not received well by some on the coaching staff. It allegedly could lead to assistant coaches weighing other options even if it is for a lateral move to another program. Only three assistant coaches on Kyle Whittingham’s staff have contracts beyond June 2015; Dave Christensen, Jim Harding and Taylor Stubblefield. All other coaches have contracts expiring at the end of this season.

It should be noted that Utah has extended coaching contracts earlier in the past, and this is in no way a suggestion that none of the coaches will receive extension offers. Not extending contracts also leaves the door open for any potential changes that may have been needed to help Utah continue to improve in the Pac-12 if things did not go well this season. They have though, so offering to extend contracts is likely.

Utah may have dropped its most recent games, but the Utes are having the best season in the Pac-12 since joining from the Mountain West Conference. Consistency on a coaching staff is incredible valuable for any program. Having a coaching staff locked in helps with recruiting and allows players to play under the same system from one year to the next.

Winning has a way of making everybody happy. If Utah continues to grow and win a few more games, odds are programs looking for candidates to fill some staff vacancies, perhaps with a promotion available, Utah could be a program worth reaching out to.