Ute coach Kyle Whittingham predicts NCAA change 'just the tip of the iceberg'
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — When asked about the autonomy the NCAA is granting the Power 5 conferences and Notre Dame, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham predicts it’s “just the tip of the iceberg.” He anticipates change may happen very rapidly when it comes to doing more for student-athletes.
“I don’t have all the answers. I just know it’s going to be a different world here probably in three or four years,” said Whittingham, who referred to a “cost-of-attendance” proposal that would add a stipend to a scholarship for student-athletes.
Whittingham, though, acknowledged such questions were probably more suited for athletic directors or administrators.
As for the matter of whether or not Power 5 teams should just play one another, Whittingham said there were pros and cons for doing so.
“Right now I’m in the middle,” he replied. “There’s an argument both ways. How about that for a no-answer?”
Whittingham admits his coaching background in the Mountain West Conference has put him on the fence. He also pointed to games like Appalachian State’s improbable 34-32 win at Michigan in 2007.
If future schedules are all-inclusive to the Power 5, Whittingham said it’ll be more and more like the NFL — increased balance and parity.
When asked how Power 5 autonomy may affect teams like Utah State outside the circle in the future, Whittingham noted it's going to make it more difficult for them if things continue to evolve to create a bigger separation.
“Eventually, I don’t think you’re going to be able to see those type of teams compete just because of the finances and circumstances — not to take anything away from what they’re doing,” said Whittingham, who added that the Aggies have a heck of a team and complimented their coaches. “But it could be legislated to the point where they don’t have a chance. But we’ll see what happens.
SOLID START: It wasn’t exactly a “state of camp” address, but Whittingham did offer an overall review on how things are going after Friday’s practice at Ute Field.
“It’s been a good week,” he said. “The first five days have been very good.”
While addressing a variety of topics with reporters, Whittingham mentioned that the team has already been exposed to every facet of special teams and is on track with that.
The offense and defense are also progressing.
“We’ll start to see separation here in the more live work we are able to accumulate,” he said.
At quarterback, Whittingham made it clear that returning starter Travis Wilson is “still the guy.” He added that Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson is “still doing some good things.”
After that, Whittingham said that Conner Manning is the next quarterback in line — followed by Brandon Cox and Adam Schulz, who are battling it out. Whittingham noted that true freshman Donovan Isom has some nice tools but hasn’t got much of a look in practice because there’s not enough reps.
MOVING ON: Now that the Utes have completed the NCAA-mandated five-day “acclimatization” period, Whittingham noted that camp moves into a “double-day, single-day rotation.” Because consecutive “two-a-day” practices are not allowed, they’ll hold their first one on Saturday and then do so again Monday after taking Sunday off. The every other “double day” route will continue the following week (with Sunday off) but on a modified/shortened schedule as the Aug. 28 season opener against Idaho State approaches.
“Today was pretty spirited and the last two days, even though we didn’t tackle to the ground. Any time you at least have shoulder pads on it can get pretty physical,” Whittingham said. “So I would say that we’re right on pace and things will continue in the fashion they have the last few days.”
RUNNIN’ UTES: Earlier in the week, Whittingham described Utah’s offense as being like “fast-break basketball on turf.” The up-tempo scheme may be a sign of the times.
“It’s nonstop and each season it seems that more teams go to this,” Whittingham said. “So I think that’s the direction the game is headed and we’ve got to get used to it. That’s just how the game is and I don’t see that changing, at least for the short term.”
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said the wide receivers Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott aren’t going to get much live work in camp. However, he noted that the duo are doing a nice job in non-live drills. ... As expected, Whittingham noted that there’s a good chance that Wilson won’t get hit at all in fall camp. Thompson, however, may be a different story. Whittingham said his game is running the ball and moving around. So a decision may have to be made to get a live look at him in order to obtain a feel for his elusiveness and capabilities in that regard.
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