Kyle Whittingham: 'Dennis Erickson has the final say on everything'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday August 29, 2013

Kyle Whittingham hired Dennis Erickson in the offseason, and they’ll get an immediate test to see how the offense has improved.

The Utes host rival Utah State on Thursday night on Fox Sports 1.

Utah was No. 111 in offensive yards per play in 2012, so Whittingham hired the three-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year Erickson as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. Last year’s offensive coordinator, Brian Johnson, remained on staff as co-offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach.

Whittingham joined The Tim Brando Show and talked about the value of the hire.

“Bringing in Dennis Erickson has been huge for our football team on a lot of different levels,” Whittingham said. “Not only offensively, with his expertise there, but for me personally as a head coach, to have a guy 10 steps down the hall as a resource is a wealth of knowledge. I don’t know if there’s any situation he hasn’t come across at least one time in his career. It’s been great for me, helping with decision-making on things I’m on the fence about, which way to go. I go down to his office and he always has some great advice.

“Offensively, the players have really embraced what he’s brought to the table. It’s not a wholesale change of our offensive scheme, we’ve just got some tweaks and modifications and up the tempo. It’s not like we’ve had to re-vamp everything, but he’s made us better offensively. Hopefully that translates onto the field tonight.”

The 66-year-old Erickson has spent 10 years as a head coach in the Pac-10/12 spanning three schools. He was named the conference’s top coach in 1988 at Washington State, in 2000 at Oregon State and in 2007 at Arizona State, so he brings a lot of knowledge about a conference Utah joined last season. It didn’t take long for Erickson to return.

“A tremendous resources for our entire staff,” Whittingham said. “It’s just been a very positive situation. He and Brian Johnson have coexisted very well in co-coordinator roles. Dennis is the lead guy, there’s no doubt about that. He has the final say on everything, but Brian is eager to learn under Dennis and continue his development as a coach.

“Anything that helps us win I’m all for. Anything that can help us win, within the rules, we’re going to do. Bringing him in was a no-brainer to me. When I learned I had the opportunity to bring him on staff, it was a no-brainer.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to