Dennis Erickson, 65, joins Utah coaching staff

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SALT LAKE CITY — Dennis Erickson won two national titles at Miami, has been a head coach at three Pac-12 schools and also coached the Seahawks.

The 65-year-old is coming out of retirement to help transform Utah’s offense, joining 26-year-old Brian Johnson as co-offensive coordinator.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham made it clear during a Monday news conference Erickson would have final say as coordinator despite the “co” in front of his title.

He called Erickson a good fit, even though he will be yet another offensive mind in the mix.

“There’s mutual agreement we can continue in the direction we’re headed,” Whittingham said. “We’re not starting over. That’s what we didn’t want to do. We weren’t very good on offense last year, but I think we’re doing some good things and we need to build on that. I think he’s going to allow us to do that without having a wholesale systematic change. It’s an opportunity for all of us to learn from (him).”

The Utes were 105th in the nation last season in total offense, averaging 324.42 yards. They were 97th in passing offense and 91st in rushing offense and finished 5-7.

Erickson won national titles in 1989 and 1991 at Miami before going 31-33 as coach of the Seahawks from the 1995 through 1998 seasons.

At schools that are in the Pac-12, Erickson shared conference coach-of-the-year honors at Washington State in 1988 and won the award outright at Oregon State in 2000 and Arizona State in 2007. Erickson was fired in 2011 by Arizona State, where he had a 31-31 record in five seasons.

“Being around football players and coaches has been my life and that’s why I am coming out of retirement,” Erickson said in a statement.

Whittingham said he believes Erickson can help implement some aspects of the high-tempo offense so popular in the Pac-12.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’re going to go to the light-speed of which Oregon plays every snap, but we’re going to have the ability to change tempos,” Whittingham said. “That’s something we were thinking about prior to Coach Erickson coming on board.”

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