Morgan Scalley

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Utah locks in defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley to new deal for ‘long-term’ future

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One potential head coaching candidate for a handful of schools has been taken off the table. Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley agreed to a revised contract to remain a part of the coaching staff, Utah announced on Monday.

“We are excited to announce that Morgan Scalley will continue to be a part of Utah football for years to come,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a released statement. “Morgan’s impact on our program as both a player and a coach has been invaluable to our success.”

“I’m grateful to be in this position, and fully committed to the Utah Football Family,” Scalley said. “I sincerely appreciate Coach Whittingham and Mark Harlan for their trust and belief in me. I love this place, my family loves it here, and I am excited to continue working with our staff and players to build something special at the University of Utah.”

The announcement from Utah didn’t specify the exact length of the coaching contract, but the specific use of the phrase “long-term” seems to suggest there could be more to the plan for Scalley and his future in Salt Lake City. A potential opportunity to be the successor to Whittingham has been a popular reaction once the news broke Monday, and that would seem to make sense.

Scalley has been a part of the Utah coaching staff for 12 years. He is also a former Utah football player, earning All-American honors to go with All-Mountain West Conference honors and being named a Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West in 2004. After completing his playing time with the Utes, Scalley quickly joined the Utah coaching staff under Whittingham, first as an administrative assistant in 2006 and later as a graduate assistant before taking on the role as safeties coach in 2008.

Whittingham, who turns 61 next season, still has some good years in front of him after guiding the program to the Pac-12 championship game this season, but finding a way to secure Scalley for a long-term future is a pretty sensible move by Whittingham and the program. At least for now, it will keep Scalley from leaving the program to take on any number of Group of 5 coaching opportunities.

Utah stays in house to replace retired DC John Pease

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On Monday, amid a flurry of announcements about players declaring early for the NFL Draft and some assistant coaching changes, Utah announced the retirement of defensive coordinator John Pease. Morgan Scalley, who had been the safeties coach for the Utes, has been promoted to the defensive coordinator role by head coach Kyle Whittingham.

“We appreciate the passion, energy and coaching expertise that John Pease brought to our program on a daily basis,” Whittingham said in a released statement. “While we completely understand his decision to retire, players and coaches alike are sorry to see him leave. Through the years, John has had a major impact on Utah football as a player, coach and longtime friend and advisor.”

Utah had the Pac-12’s second-best total defense in 2015, holding opponents to 366.8 yards per game (only Washington allowed fewer yards per game). the utes also allowed just 22.3 points per game in the 2015 season and held six opponents to fewer than 20 points, including Michigan, Arizona State and UCLA. That defense is now placed in the hands of Scalley, a former Utah player and former Mountain West Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year. Scalley joined the Utah program as an assistant coach in 2006 as an administrative assistant. After a season as a graduate assistant in 2007, he was awarded a full-time role on the staff in 2008.

“Morgan has played an ever increasing role in our overall defensive scheming the past few seasons and is ready to take the reigns as the defensive coordinator,” said Whittingham. “He is bright, innovative and hard working.”

Utah was not the only Pac-12 program to make an adjustment at defensive coordinator on Monday. Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich demoted Don Pellum from his defensive coordinator role down to linebackers coach as Erik Chinander left the position open to accept a defensive coordinator role at UCF. Oregon is now searching for a new coach to come in and serve as the defensive coordinator of the Ducks.