CBS Sports ranks Kyle Whittingham as top Big 12 coach in 2024

Utes coach will be looking to make waves in the new conference this year
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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College football has undergone significant changes over the last decade, beyond just the transfer portal, conference realignment or the expansion of the College Football Playoff.

The sport itself feels transformed, and the annual coach rankings provide a clear example of this evolution. Historically, coaches rankings have focused on their job within a Power Five conferences, which has now become the Power Four due to recent realignment.

What has notably changed is the criteria for judging coaches. There are no strict guidelines for ranking, leading to varied interpretations. However CBS Sports found a way and based their rankings on what their coaching hot board would look like if they were athletic directors making hires, while others emphasize on-field accomplishments. The complexity arises in determining what aspects of coaching should be prioritized, given the numerous factors at play.

For instance, should a coach's ability to recruit and develop high school talent be valued more than their success in the transfer portal? Is it more crucial to have a coach known for making intelligent in-game decisions, or one who excels as a CEO, managing and delegating to assistants effectively?

Furthermore, a coach’s ability to unify the school around name, image, and likeness (NIL) efforts and recruiting is increasingly important. Additionally, the ability to retain players versus attracting transfers from other rosters adds another layer of complexity. This variety in perspective ensures that the rankings reflect a broad spectrum of priorities and considerations in the ever-evolving landscape of college football.

Utah's Kyle Whittingham was named the top coach in the Big 12 going into the 2024 football season. The third-longest tenured head coach has held his position for the past twenty seasons. He has also been a consistent part of the program since arriving in Salt Lake City 30 years ago. With all that said, he was ranked sixth overall by CBS Sports.

Here's what they had to say about Whittingham. "Utah was picked to win the Big 12 in the league's preseason media poll released Tuesday . That's an incredible sign of respect for Kyle Whittingham, who is entering Year 20 on the job and has the Utes operating as a perennial force in the sport. He'll be required to match wits with a new group of coaches in the Big 12 this season, but Whittingham's program is such a machine that it shouldn't be a problem."

Utah is considered the favorite to win the Big 12 in 2024. The Utes return eight starters on a defense that finished in the top 15 in total defense last season. It's hard not to see the program as having the ability to someday compete for a national title. They'll open the season at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Southern Utah on August 29.

Kenny Lee