This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After a cameo season at the helm of the Utah defense, coordinator John Pease has retired, and safeties coach Morgan Scalley will be his replacement.
It's a somewhat expected move for the Utes and 72-year-old Pease, who came out of his second retirement to coach the 2015 season. One of the faces of Utah's undefeated 2004 team as a player, Scalley has coached at Utah for 10 years, including eight years as safeties coach, and is a long-groomed successor with a solid grasp on coach Kyle Whittingham's vision for the defense.
Just ask the guy he's replacing.
"They're getting a really smart, really bright young guy," Pease said in an interview with The Tribune. "He doesn't need much. Football is a young man's game."
Scalley was considered as a replacement last offseason for departing coordinator Kalani Sitake Whittingham called him a "tempting option" last February but Pease ultimately was hired. In the year since, Scalley coached from the press box alongside Pease, while also handling special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator duties.
While Scalley acknowledged not being promoted last year initially injured his pride, he quickly warmed up to Pease.
"The things I learned from John are invaluable: How to handle a game plan," Scalley said. "I'm thankful every day I got to coach under Coach Pease and had that extra year of seasoning. I'm going to continue to lean on him a lot."
Scalley said he expects to continue coaching from the box "it takes a lot of emotion out of the game" with cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah and linebackers coach Justin Ena coaching from the ground.
While Pease's hire last February never seemed to be a viable long-term move, the former NFL assistant made a lot out of his short tenure. The No. 20 Utes were among the Pac-12's top three in several key categories, including scoring defense (22.3 ppg), total defense (366.8 ypg), rushing defense (108.6 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (117.2). The Utes also led the conference with 22 interceptions and was fourth with 37 sacks.
Pease, laying down the reins for the third time in his coaching career, said the demands of the job "wear on you," but he'll have plenty of material for a scrapbook in his retirement: He ranked beating Washington, 34-23, in his old stomping grounds at Husky Stadium as perhaps his favorite moment, and the Utes also got four turnovers in that game. Home wins against ASU and Michigan also stood out.
"It was fun beating [Jim] Harbaugh, with all the hype he gets," Pease said. "Our guys were as good or better than those guys. I really believe that. I see all these bowl games, and I wonder why we didn't have a bigger stage."
Pease deferred on the keys to his success, saying he inherited good players and his staff was "one of the best I've been around." He doesn't know who will replace him as defensive line coach, but he wouldn't mind seeing Whittingham hire Sione Pouha on as a full assistant.
"I can tell you, Sione is a wonderful teacher," Pease said. "The way the defensive line played was a great show for what he can do. He's super smart, and really good with character and ethics."
Scalley will continue coaching safeties as he has for eight seasons, but will abdicate his special teams and recruiting coordinator titles. Scalley hit a fitting walk-off before his promotion was announced: On Monday morning, five-star Snow College lineman Garett Bolles (who was recruited hard by Scalley) announced he was committing to Utah.
He knows that the coordinator job carries extra prestige: The three men to hold the job prior to Pease are now head coaches, including his boss.
"I've had a lot of mentors," he said. "I understand the responsibility on my shoulders."
Pease is the second departure from the Utah coaching staff. Wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield was not retained following the season.