Utah hires Dennis Erickson as co-offensive coordinator

By Chip Patterson | Staff Writer
Dennis Erickson returns to the Pac-12 after last serving as Arizona State's head coach from 2007-11. (US Presswire)

Longtime head coach Dennis Erickson is returning to college football, joining Kyle Whittingham's staff at Utah as co-offensive coordinator.

"I want to thank Kyle Whittingham and the University of Utah for the opportunity to get back into college football," Erickson said in a statement. "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."

Erickson interviewed with Utah last week and the school made the hire official Monday. He will share the offensive coordinator duties with former Utah quarterback Brian Johnson. Johnson, former all-confernece quarterback for the Utes, was promoted to offensive coordinator when Norm Chow left to become the head coach at Hawaii before the 2012 season.

The challenge for Erickson, 65, and Johnson, 26, will be to improve a Utes offense that finished 2012 as the 75th-best scoring offense -- as well as the 100th-best (or 24th-worst) passing offense. According to Whittingham, Erickson's knowledge of the spread offense is one of the many reasons the coaching staff is excited about the addition.

"Dennis Erickson brings a wealth of knowledge and coaching experience to our program," Whittingham said. "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."

If there are not plans for an all-access special on the Utah coaching staff, I hope they are in the works. Because, as Sports Illustrated's Holly Anderson pointed out Monday, the Erickson-Johnson tag team is the perfect premise for a sitcom.

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