Dec 8, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham was hired as the school's football coach to replace Urban Meyer.

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Whittingham rejected an offer from rival BYU to take the Utes' job. He was to be introduced at a news conference Wednesday, Utah sports information director Liz Abel said.

Whittingham will replace Meyer as Utah's coach following the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl. Meyer was introduced Tuesday as the new coach at Florida.

Whittingham was to have led the Utes' Tuesday practice, but didn't attend to consider the offers from the two schools.

BYU still needs to replace Gary Crowton, who resigned last week after the Cougars' third straight losing season. Whittingham, a Provo native, was strongly considered for the Cougars' job because he is a BYU graduate, former player and graduate assistant.

He also fit one important requirement for BYU as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns the school. But Whittingham also has developed strong ties to Utah in 10 years as an assistant with the Utes.

Utah safety Morgan Scalley and a group of players met with Whittingham on Sunday night to talk to him about taking over for Meyer, who kept Whittingham on his staff when he was hired from Bowling Green two years ago.

Whittingham will have to start building his own staff immediately. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford was hired Monday to coach UNLV, and both he and Meyer could take any number of assistant coaches with them, leaving the Utah coaching staff in limbo as the Utes prepare to play in the Fiesta Bowl against Pittsburgh.

A message left with BYU on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

The committee responsible for hiring the next BYU coach was in New York for former Cougars coach LaVell Edwards' induction into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night.

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