SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It is getting closer and closer to when college football coaches would like to have their players report for workouts if they are indeed going to play a full season on schedule.
Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham was part of a Zoom conference call with the media on Tuesday, and he says he hopes it will only be a couple more weeks before players could starting working out in Utah’s training facilities.
“We don’t have any definitive answers, but there is some talk about June 1st introducing small groups back into the weight room,” Whittingham said. “We’ll see if that comes to fruition.”
Once the players are able to return, Whittingham feels he’d need at least a month and half to get his team in shape before the season could start.
“The sentiment is pretty much six weeks would be a minimum,” he said. “We think that is something we can live with. If we’re presented with less than that, then we’ve got to adjust accordingly. A typical lead in is eight weeks of training in the summer and four weeks of fall camp. You’ve got twelve weeks there, so if we can half of that, I think that would be great.”
But what about schools in cities that have been harder by the pandemic, like Washington, USC and UCLA? Would it be fair if they can’t start training as soon as schools like Utah and Colorado can? Whittingham doesn’t feel teams should be held back just because of where they are located.
“There are imbalances and inequities all across the board in the NCAA,” Whittingham said. “Facilities, recruiting basis, nothing is really equal when you really look at it. So I would hate to see athletes sitting around when they could be training and getting ready for the season, just because other places aren’t quite yet to that point.”
There has been talk of a 9, 10 or 11-game Pac-12 schedule with no non-conference games to keep travel to a minimum in 2020. Whittingham says he is open to a variety of possibilities.
“I think we’re still several weeks out from having any real concrete direction on what is going to happen and how things are going to be set up,” he said. “That is certainly one of the possibilities, but if it comes to playing a conference schedule, then we’re all in. If that’s what it takes to get the season in, then that’s what we’d go with.”
With so many players graduating, the Utes need as much time as possible in training camp to work in new players, in particular to determine who their starting quarterback is going to be.
“We’ve got a glimpse of the three quarterbacks that are battling for the job in Cam Rising, Jake Bentley and Drew Lisk,” Whittingham said. “Those guys are going to be the ones that are in the hunt. Come fall camp, whenever that transpires, we’ve got to get that narrowed down to two.
With seven Utah players getting selected in the NFL Draft last month and five more signing undrafted free agent deals with teams, Whittingham has already seen a boost in recruiting.
“That’s a big selling point to recruits,” he said. “Obviously, recruits coming out of high school want an education and they want to have a chance to play in the NFL. So, that’s something that we try to let them know that there is a great opportunity for that if they come to Utah.”