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Utah Utes football: Media tour just beginning for Ute coach

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 2:06 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2011 file photo, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of NCAA college football divisions during a news conference in San Francisco.  (Paul Sakuma, Associated Press) FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2011 file photo, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announces the splitting of NCAA college football divisions during a news conference in San Francisco. (Paul Sakuma, Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES — It's one down, two to go for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and his inaugural Pac-12 media days. Before boarding a charter flight to the East Coast and visits to New York City and ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., Whittingham answered a bevy of questions at Tuesday's gathering at the Fox Studios.

"Media day is media day. It's basically the same structure," he said. "Going coast-to-coast, that will certainly be a departure from what I'm used to. But it's good. It's all good."

Whittingham and offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom were the final speakers at the group session podium as the Los Angeles segment of media days came to a close.

Following opening remarks about the big challenges ahead and how excited the Utes are about the opportunity to play in the Pac-12, Whittingham fielded questions on a variety of topics. He noted that recruiting has gone well and that the roster is solid in preparation for facing BCS opponents week-in and week-out.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham talks to reporters, as one of his three stops this week, at the Pac-12 media day. (Associated Press) Utah coach Kyle Whittingham talks to reporters, as one of his three stops this week, at the Pac-12 media day. (Associated Press)

Whittingham expects the Utes to be competitive right away and mentioned that winning the South Division was one of his team's goals. Bringing in Norm Chow and installing a different offense were among the other topics he addressed. So, too, was not facing Oregon and Stanford this season.

Bergstrom was asked about Utah joining the Pac-12 and the senior responded that it was kind of a payoff for working hard.

TIGHTER ACCESS: Utah's first season in the Pac-12 will be accompanied by less media access — during camp and the regular season.

"Every year we've changed the policy a little bit and in many ways it's gotten tighter in terms of the time," explained Liz Abel, Utah's sports information director.

She said it's been an ongoing process — in terms of media and who can watch practice — since Urban Meyer's arrival in 2003.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham talks at the Pac-12 media day, one of three media functions he'll attend this week.    (Reed Saxon, Associated Press) Utah coach Kyle Whittingham talks at the Pac-12 media day, one of three media functions he'll attend this week. (Reed Saxon, Associated Press)

Unlike past seasons where the media was allowed to attend all camp sessions in their entirety, they'll now be limited to watching just the final 30 minutes.

"This is a natural progression," Abel said while noting it isn't a Pac-12 thing. "... It is tightening up."

Media availability during the season will also be tightened. It'll likely be restricted to a Monday press conference and the final 30 minutes of practices on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Abel said the changes come after surveying policies at other programs across the country.

"This is certainly very easily in line with other schools," noted Abel, who added that it is still a more open policy than many other programs.

NEW ERA: Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott addressed the media and welcomed Utah and Colorado to the conference. He credited the newcomers — who moved from the Mountain West and Big 12, respectively — for playing a pivotal role in the league's new 12-year, $2.7 billion media rights deal with ESPN and Fox.

"This is a new era for the conference as we embrace the future, and the addition of Colorado and Utah very much helped us secure a landmark media agreement that's going to provide for unprecedented exposure nationally for the conference," Scott said. "So this wonderful story of this academic and athletic excellence is going to be better told and more broadly told than it's been before. And importantly, this media contract will provide a greatly enhanced revenue stream at a very challenging time for our universities.

"Our goal is that all of our athletic departments are going to be able to operate on a going-forward basis and be self-sustaining, and not have to depend or draw upon the vital resources by the university for further needs. And this media contract has very much put us on the path of our schools being able to do so," he added.

EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said that quarterback Jordan Wynn, who is coming back from shoulder surgery, will be treated carefully early in camp. Players report Aug. 3 and begin practice the next day ... Seventeen of Utah's 21 incoming recruits are already enrolled in classes. Linebacker Tevita Bloomfield, defensive back Keith McGill, offensive lineman Benji Kemoeatu and offensive lineman Po'u Paleleli are still working on enrollment ... The Utes will open camp Aug. 4 with "tri-starters" at running back. Freshman Harvey Langi, junior college transfer John White IV and rugby star Thretton Palamo will compete for the top spot ... Wide receiver Reggie Dunn and cornerback Ryan Lacy were both timed at 4.32 in the 40 this summer.

email: dirk@desnews.com

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