SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the media on Tuesday for the first time since the Pac-12 Conference postponed the fall football season.
Whittingham says he understands the Pac-12’s decision, but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking.
“Agree, disagree, that’s not really applicable,” Whittingham said. “Disappointed? Absolutely. We’ve got to follow the recommendations of the medical team. They’ve been at this for months, literally. But it is interesting that the NFL is playing, three of the top Power-5 Conferences, and a bunch of high schools. But then there are some that aren’t. It is unique, and I don’t have all the answers for that.”
The Utes players are all back on campus, still practicing 20 hours a week, trying to stay motivated to play games, whenever that may be.
“It’s tough news to give to the team,” Whittingham said. “They were all disappointed. They want to play, obviously. They’re football players and they want to play football. But it’s beyond our control, and there is nothing we can do about it.”
As for playing in the spring, Whittingham says if it does happen, it will have to be an abbreviated season.
“I think it’s doable,” he said. “Right now, it’s probably 50-50 at best that we can pull something like that off in my opinion. The one thing I would say is eight would have to be the absolute maximum number of games in spring in order to not impact a fall season. I think more like five, six or seven is probably a better number.”
Whittingham can see a spring season starting at the end of January or beginning of February.
“That would put you towards the end of March,” he said. “Then, maybe have a [Pac-12] championship game between the North and the South. I know there are some discussions about maybe bowls jumping on board. But again, that’s all just in the infancy stages. A lot of ground needs to be covered before we get to that.”
So far, no players have asked to transfer to other schools that are playing football in the fall. Whittingham said he is glad the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility, even if players play in the spring.
“I think that was a great decision by the NCAA to allow that,” he said. “I know there was not much appetite from the players to play in the spring if it was going to be an abbreviated season and it was going to count against their eligibility.”