SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham heard the same day everybody that the move to the Big 12 Conference was coming. But while Whittingham likes the stability and financial security the new conference brings, he really isn’t thinking about it yet.
“We’re all about the Pac-12 this year, this season and that’s it.” Whittingham said. “We’re excited we have a landing place in the future, but we’re all focused on this season with this schedule, namely the Florida Gators. We’ve got 17 more practices and 23 days, so we need every bit of that.”
Whittingham told his team that the Big 12 has nothing to do with this season, that the team should be focused solely on what lies ahead over the next four months.
“This year, we’re focused on the Pac-12 and Pac-12 play,” said linebacker Lander Barton. “We’ll worry about that next year.”
“I won’t be here for that,” said senior defensive back Miles Battle. “Everybody is just focused on the Pac-12 right now. That’s in the future. We’ve still got 12 games and more before that even happens.
Even though all the conference movement, which includes Utah, Arizona State, Arizona and Colorado to Big 12, with Oregon and Washington headed to the Big Ten, is the talk of the nation, it will not detract from the Utes present goals.
“It will not be a distraction,” Whittingham said. “It’s something that his a positive in the big picture obviously. But again, all of our attention is on what is going on right now.”
Down in Provo, BYU is about to begin its first season in the Big 12, and the Cougars are excited they’re going to be in the same conference once again as their rivals.
“I’m really excited,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “I think the conference has gotten a lot stronger, and I’m excited they’re going to be on our schedule consistently. So, I’m looking forward to it. I think with those schools that are going to join, it will be a lot of fun.”
But Sitake’s attention is on the current Big 12 schedule, not next year’s.
“I’ve got players on this team that won’t play against those guys in the new conference. We’re focused on the schedule that we have right now, but also excited about the schedule we have next year.”