Utes hire Dennis Erickson as O-boss

Reports at Utah have been circulating for weeks that head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted to bring in some help for the offensive side of the ball.

Those reports were made official when the Utes announced that Dennis Erickson had been hired as co-offensive coordinator Monday morning. He will officially start Feb. 19.

Erickson, 65, who won national championships in 1989 and 1991 at Miami, has coached at three Pac-12 schools -- Washington State, Oregon State and most recently Arizona State.

In total, he's been head coach at six universities, and is the only coach to have won Pac-10 or Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors with three different schools.

"Dennis Erickson brings a wealth of knowledge and coaching experience to our program," Whittingham said in a statement. "He has been labeled as one of the original architects of the spread and we are looking forward to the impact he will have on our offense. Coach Erickson also has recruiting connections across the country which should benefit us on that front as well."

It's unclear yet exactly what role he will share with existing offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. Johnson, 26, was promoted to offensive coordinator at age 24 and in his first year, Utah's injury-plagued offense was 11th in the Pac-12 in total offense and last in the conference in passing offense, averaging just 190.7 yards in the air per game. The Utes were eighth in the league in scoring offense, averaging 26.7 points per game.

As a college head coach, Erickson compiled a 179-96-1 record in 23 seasons. He also spent two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, where he went 9-23. He was at Arizona State from 2007-11 and the Sun Devils went 31-31 over that stretch.

"I want to thank Kyle Whittingham and the University of Utah for the opportunity to get back into college football," Erickson said. "Being around football players and coaches has been my life and that's why I'm coming out of retirement. I will do whatever I can to help the players and coaches at Utah be successful and I am excited to get back out on the football field."

In its second season in the Pac-12, Utah went 5-7 and 3-6 and failed to reach a bowl game for the first time in nine seasons.