You can thank a Pac 12 football program for the world having one less practicing lawyer.

Sharrief Shah walked away from a successful career as an attorney to coach defensive backs at the University of Utah. Shah was a star safety for the Utes back in the early 90's, and not only did Shah earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees, he picked up a Juris Doctorate in 2001.

He was able to parlay that impressive educational resume into a career as a commercial litigator and trial attorney ever since, but his first love has always been pigskin.

"I've always wanted to be here," Shah explained to the Deseret News of teaching football to kids. "It just felt like since I put my family through so much going to law school, I better at least maximize the value of this law degree."

After picking up some financial worth from that legal experience, he finally gave into peer pressure.

"Everybody said you should have been doing this a long time ago. Everybody said that," Shah told the Deseret News.

In between studying law, he did spend the past 12 years as a radio sideline reporter for Utah football games, even giving locker room pep talks to Utes players going all the way back to the Urban Meyer and Ron McBride coaching days in Salt Lake.

Yet it took an assist from the big guy upstairs and his loving family to finally push Shah to switch careers.

"It's an opportunity that I probably should have maximized a long time ago. I realized that God's time was the best time and this time was now."

Shah spoke to his family, collecting opinions from wife Jennifer and his father before praying and finally deciding to accept coach Kyle Whittingham's job offer to be part of Utah's coaching staff for the 2012 season.

Despite a much smaller paycheck, Shah says he has "No regrets whatsoever."

The newest defensive backs coach in the Pac-12 tells Dirk Facer of the Deseret News that coaching football tops legal work.

"It's a different level of excitement and adrenaline. That's what I can say, honestly. I certainly couldn't yell at the judge and I couldn't get after the jury on a bad verdict," Shah said with a laugh. "But if one of my kids misses a deep ball I can tear (into him) and it makes me happy sometimes. Maybe not for him, but it makes me happy. But it's done with so much love that these guys respond. These boys respond. It's been such a competitive and good spring."

Likewise, the work hours can be long in court or on the football field, but the rewards seem more real in sports.

"Football is so much more gratifying because you can see some of the fruit of your labor," Shah explained to the Deseret News when comparing his work has a trial lawyer to coaching.

"Sometimes you can prepare for months and years on a case and you get a bad outcome and you feel so deflated. There's no level of gratification. There's nothing, just a hole, and you just move to the next case," Shah said. "... So I suppose when you juxtapose them like that, I'm a lot happier on the football field."

In the long run, we'll have to see how much success Shah finds on the football field, Utah finished 8-5 during its first season in the Pac-12, beating Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

-- Follow Ben Maller on Twitter @BenMaller.

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