OC: Everyone Wants Utah QB Cam Rising To Play, Why Is There So Much Confusion?
Oct 10, 2023, 4:19 PM | Updated: 4:36 pm
(Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY – Let’s get some things straight, for starters. Cam Rising wants to play.
Kyle Whittingham wants him to play. Andy Ludwig wants him to play.
Every Utah football player, team doctor, NIL donor, season ticket holder, hopeful fan, and casual observer wants Rising to play.
Even Dr. Neal ElAttrache wants him to play (if certain, very specific boxes are checked beforehand).
Cam will play again for Utah. Soon, I think.
But… when? What’s taking so long? Why the confusion? Why were we lied to?
Why Were Utah Fans Not In The Loop On Cam Rising’s Injury?
Let’s address the question people actually care about. Why were you not kept in the loop as a Utah fan? The short answer is, because that’s not part of the deal. Whittingham is a universally-respected, long-tenured football genius who loves classic rock, hates Utah fumbles, and is possessed of a committed belief to secrecy surrounding injuries (unless they are season-ending of course).
If you think that’s bad, you’ll just have to take it along with the overwhelming good.
— Sean O’Connell (@realOCsports) October 9, 2023
Against the background of that coaching quirk, an outsourced surgery, and a communication breakdown; things got ugly. Rising’s injury in the Rose Bowl was a lot worse than we initially thought. The public didn’t know until Rising himself revealed in a weekly radio interview with Bill Riley.
Because of the aforementioned Whittingham bugaboo, it’s still unclear whether the coaching staff had a clear understanding of how severe the injury was. Still, surgery went well, and somewhere along the way Whittingham was sold on the idea that Rising would be back early.
You were “lied to” about Rising’s potential availability because Whittingham and his staff believe, and have always believed, that Cam was a phone call away from being ready to play.
That’s the reason Utah did not attempt to bring in a transfer QB (don’t use Charlie Brewer’s situation against transfer QBs, it’s still a solid insurance policy in the modern era of college football).That’s the reason Rising has been given a share first-team reps at practice for several weeks. Under no circumstances would Coach Whitt use precious practice time on a player he did not believe would be available to help the team win.
He might make up some stories or fudge a weekly depth chart to trick Florida and Baylor into game planning wrong, but there is not a single coach in America who is giving snaps to someone they don’t think can play.
That’s the reason Coach Whitt has grown visibly frustrated at the fact the phone call to clear Rising hasn’t yet come in.
That’s the reason you as a fan have been told by Whittingham, Utah football insiders, and Rising himself on dozens of occasions that he just might be ready to play every week. There is no grand conspiracy to hide the truth from the fan base, media, or even opponents. Not for a full six weeks. Rising and the coaching staff have simply been wrong about the return timeline.
What IS Happening With Cam Rising, Utah Football?
Given the benefit of hindsight -and some new information courtesy of Dr. ElAttrache and Chris Kamrani of the Athletic that places a realistic return sometime in mid-November- being wrong by such a wide margin has brought out the tinfoil hats. Frustration turns to outrage and outrage turns to irrational witch-hunting that has gone so far as to accuse Rising of pretending he would be available for the sake of NIL money.
That is NOT what is happening here.
Even if it was, it’s unfair of fans to pretend that they wouldn’t worry about protecting their own paychecks and perhaps go to great lengths to keep the money coming in. The argument really falls apart when you ask the coaches to participate in the ruse and hurt the team.
Whittingham has expressed his respect and admiration for Cam Rising many times, but there just isn’t a world in which he sets the whole team up for failure to protect a payday for Rising.
The downside is too serious. The upside too singular for that to be a real possibility.
If this staff could do it all over again, they would probably have sought a transfer QB as insurance.
— Sean O’Connell (@realOCsports) October 9, 2023
Maybe a conversation with ElAttrache himself to give a better picture of what he would sign off on and what he wouldn’t.
Maybe that leads to a decision to keep Brandon Rose out of full contact drills in fall camp.
Rising might have changed the way he talked about his own recovery.
Perhaps we in the media could have asked better questions dating back to the beginning of this mess and helped shape a more realistic narrative.
None of that can be helped now. The Utes find themselves at a crossroads created by the unsuccessful collaboration of a bunch of people who are really good at their individual jobs. It’s the cruelest of ironic metaphors really, world-class coach, elite QB, all-everything surgeon, exemplary medical staff, but not on the same page as a team.
Football is life. Life is football.
Teamwork matters more than talent.
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