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Utah Football Players ‘Almost Exclusively’ Taking Online Classes This Fall

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks the sidelines after a Utah score as Utah and UCLA play a college football game in Salt Lake City at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Football program will have more free time this fall than they have ever had due to the cancellation of the Pac-12 football season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campus Outbreaks

Earlier today, the University of Alabama reported that 566 students had contracted COVID-19 since the campus reopened on August 19. It was not the first campus to have a virus outbreak, either. Earlier this month, North Carolina University shut down its campus after a large outbreak occurred. Last week the school announced that since February of this year there have been 838 confirmed cases on campus and last week 31.3 percent of tests returned positive results.

Kyle Whittingham told members of the media via a Zoom conference call on Tuesday, August 25, that the plan is to work out and practice from Monday through Friday moving forward.

Test Count & Online Classes

For that to happen, the players and coaches must stay healthy. If an outbreak occurs on campus, the football team is in jeopardy of shutting things down, again.

Hence why coach admitted that the players will “almost exclusively” be taking online courses this fall.

However, when asked if the number of tests per week would increase Whittingham noted that he believes the number of tests per week would stay the same. One test per week for every player and coach is the plan moving forward for Utah football.

Aspirations For Spring

Much uncertainty still remains surrounding the future of Pac-12 football. The goal is that an abbreviated season will take place in the spring of 2021.

“I think it is doable. Is it likely? I think right now it is 50/50 at best. It would have to be an abbreviated season so it does not impact the 2021 fall season,” Whittingham said.

Fall Pro Day?

To further help motivate the playing group, the Utah Athletic department is considering holding their annual Pro Day for all departing seniors and juniors that hope to further their footballing careers in the National Football League this fall. Generally, Pro Day’s across the country are held in the Spring a few months prior to the upcoming NFL Draft.

However, if a spring season were to occur, navigating a Pro Day in the midst of a season is a headache in which the Athletic Departement is still pondering.

For now, Whittingham, his staff and the playing group can look forward to watching their fellow college football teams compete on Saturday’s and enjoy the professional game on Sunday’s as they eerily await the Pac-12’s future 2021 plans.

Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.

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