Whittingham mum on Pac-10, but Mac has plenty to say
Don't talk to Kyle Whittingham, a cat's got his tongue.
Well, hold on a second, that last statement's not entirely true. Turns out the University of Utah football coach is more than willing to talk, just as long as it's within certain parameters.
With the Utes' season set to kick off in a little more than a week -- Sept. 2 vs. Pitt, to be precise -- Whittingham is more than willing to talk about the Panthers.
Heck, he might even agree to discuss certain aspects of his own team, or even what the boys are going to be served for breakfast on gameday. Who knows? He may even discuss politics and/or religion.
But you know what he won't discuss? The Pac-10, that's what.
Oh, he did for a while. Shortly after Utah received an invitation to join the Pac-10 (soon to be Pac-12) earlier in the summer, Whittingham went on the record and said all the right things about his team's pending move to an actual BCS-approved conference.
And even at the annual Mountain West Conference media get-together down in Las Vegas, Whittingham discussed the pending upgrade. However, shortly before the Utes began training camp, he said, "That's enough." And he wisely put the kibosh on any further Pac-10 talk.
After all, the Utes are still in the MWC for the next few months and, well, it makes more sense to discuss the immediate future than it does the distant future.
So, once and for all, talk to Whittingham all you want about the 2010 season (as long as its one game at a time) or anything else relating to the here and now. Just remember: Nothing about the Pac-10, OK?
OK, now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about the Pac-10.
See, Whittingham isn't talking, but his former boss, Weber State coach Ron McBride, is willing to share his opinions on the subject.
McBride's got his own team to worry about -- WSU opens up at Boston College on Sept. 4. But shortly before the Wildcats got their own training camp under way, Mac had some nice things to say about the Utes and their pending jump to the Pac.
"I think it's awesome," McBride said. "It's great for the school, great for the program. It's unbelievable."
McBride, of course, is something of an authority on Utah football. He did three different stints as a coach in Salt Lake City, twice as an assistant and then as Utah's head man from 1990 through 2002.
As head coach, Mac oversaw a reclamation project, taking the program from something of a joke, to six bowl games and an 88-63 record.
And if they're being completely honest, most Utah fans will admit that, before McBride arrived, they held out little hope of beating the rival BYU Cougars any more than once or twice a decade. However, shortly after the Mac Era began, the Ute-Cougar rivalry heated up like the thighs on Rick Majerus' dress pants.
And it's still going strong today.
While discussing Utah's pending switch, McBride couldn't help but acknowledge his role getting the Utes from there to here.
"That program came from nowhere, absolutely zero, to where it is today," he said. "I don't know how many years ago it was. Kyle's been there five years, Urban (Meyer) was there a couple. I was there 13. So, some 20 years later it's a whole different program."
He's right, it is. And to give all the credit for the change to Meyer and Whittingham would be an injustice. Those two guys took the Utes farther than they'd ever gone before, but without McBride's influence, the program wouldn't have been worth having in the first place.
So, even though he's now coaching the 'Cats here in Ogden, McBride can be forgiven for taking a little pride in the Utes.
Whittingham may not be talking about the Pac-10, but Mac has now qualms about it, especially when he's asked if he thinks the Utes will be able to compete when they get there.
"Absolutely," he said. "Absolutely they will."
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can be reached at (801) 625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He Tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247