One bathroom. And if you had to use it, and were in the middle of game-planning or a recruiting visit or not doing a dang thing, you had to walk down a flight of stairs.

To use the bathroom.

“We joke about it all the time,” Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said during the Rose Bowl media day. “Just how far we’ve come.”

There’s one more step to take now. One defining moment for a Utah program that has done just about everything since those meager years of not so long ago, when an outdated football facility wasn’t the only problem.

That potential of that last step spiked in the past 2 weeks, when 3 critical star players — QB Cameron Rising, TE Brant Kuithe, and WR Devaughn Vele — ignored the NFL and decided to return to Utah and take 1 more shot at the Playoff.

Because that’s the only thing left for a program that in such a short time has grown from unknown newbie in the Pac-12 to monster in waiting.

“Getting to the top is one thing, but staying on top is another,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

They lost another Rose Bowl earlier this month, another bowl game where Rising got hurt and the offense struggled and a memorable season ended flat. That’s what makes this offseason so critical.

Winning double-digit games (3 of the past 4 seasons) and going to back-to-back Rose Bowls isn’t enough anymore. Forcing themselves into national relevance isn’t moving the needle.

From the the 1st unbeaten season in the modern era, to navigating the move to Power 5 football, to becoming the best team in the Pac-12 since 2019, Utah has reached nearly every tangible goal.

Only the 5-game COVID season of 2020 prevented Utah from a potential run of 4 straight double-digit win seasons.

From 1 toilet on the floor of the football office to 1 mountain left to scale.

It wasn’t long ago that Utah coaches arrived in the state of Texas — the most fertile state for recruits — and were asked by high school coaches and players what conference they played in. Now those same Texas high school coaches are calling Utah coaches and pitching players.

It wasn’t long ago when Whittingham and Utah strung together another unbeaten season while still in the Mountain West Conference, and were told be careful what you ask for with big, bad Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Then beat the Tide silly.

It wasn’t long ago that Utah was told it was an afterthought in Pac-12 expansion. A filler with a strong television market in an advantageous time zone. They could never reach the level of USC and Oregon and Washington.

Now Utah is the anchor of a suddenly scrambling conference that will play 1 more season before its marquee properties (USC and UCLA) head to the Big Ten. What better way for Utah to send off the Los Angeles duo by winning its 3rd straight conference championship and earning a Playoff spot — before USC and UCLA have.

“This program is built for the long haul,” Rising said.

It’s built, everyone, for next season. There were just 7 seniors on the 2022 roster, a group that has been built through a combination of smart recruiting to fit a unique culture, and key transfer portal additions.

Whittingham remembers when they were told they’d never recruit at the level of the elite in the Pac-12. So they consistently landed classes in the top 30s and 40s while USC and Oregon were among the elite of the nation — then turned overlooked recruits into 5-star players.

Guys like Devin Lloyd and Zach Moss and Julian Blackmon and Star Lotulelei and Zane Beadles and so many others.

But here we are, after all of those recruiting classes in the 30s and 40s and some 50s — and Utah just landed its first top-20 class in program history. A history of producing NFL talent was a big recruiting draw, and NIL helped, too.

But nothing is a bigger draw than tangible wins and championships. Nothing says we’re headed for bigger and better quite like back-to-back Pac-12 titles.

That’s how 4-star offensive tackles Spencer Fano and Caleb Lomu choose Utah over Michigan. Or 4-star cornerback CJ Blocker chooses Utah over USC and Alabama.

Or how Levani Damuni of Stanford, the top linebacker in the transfer portal, signed with Utah.

“We have really good potential for next season and even a few seasons after that with the guys coming up and the guys in the building next year,” linebacker Lander Barton said.

Barton was the No. 1 recruit from the 2022 recruiting class, a top 100 player who chose Utah over Michigan and Texas — and was named Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year.

After all those seasons of developing all of those 2- and 3-star recruits into NFL players, the blue-chips are filtering into Salt Lake City.

The Playoff can’t be far behind.

“There’s just an unwavering belief here, and it begins with Coach Whitt,” Rising said. “In times of chaos, you fall back on your preparation and belief. Nothing can shake you.”

From 1 toilet on the floor of the football office to 1 mountain left to scale.