UTAH UTES

Five Topics Of Conversation Surrounding Utah Football At Big 12 Media Days

Jul 8, 2024, 12:00 PM

Kyle Whittingham - Cam Rising - Utah Utes...

Head coach Kyle Whittingham (L) and quarterback Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes celebrate the team's 38-10 victory over the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Conference championship game at Allegiant Stadium on December 3, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Big 12 Media Days are just a day away from kicking off in Las Vegas, and naturally many of the conversations will surround Utah football and the three other former Pac-12 newcomers.

The Utes will likely drive much of the conversation on July 9 and 10 due to them recently being picked to win the Big 12 in the preseason media poll. It’s a topic that has drawn a lot of discussion, debate, and even some ire with the old guard (understandably so) that should drive a lot of the conversation during the two-day event.

While that may be the topic that dominates the media’s time in Las Vegas, the Utes have some other interesting topics of conversation that will likely come up as well.

Check out what we believe will be the top five topics discussed at Big 12 Media Days concerning Utah football in 2024.

Discussion Topic No. 1: Morgan Scalley’s Contract, Whitt’s Possible Retirement

This topic most likely won’t take up a lot of time for Utah football but will be the first that’s dived into.

For those that missed it, there was an official announcement last week that Morgan Scalley has been named Kyle Whittingham’s heir apparent for whenever he chooses to retire.

This wasn’t exactly Earth-shattering news for those who cover or follow Utah football closely, but it certainly sparks a lot of curiosity about the “who, what, when, where, and whys” of the timing.

 

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Some things we think we do know is that the issue was forced after USC fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch last season and went after Scalley hard to be his replacement.

It also has felt like current recruits may have had some questions about what the future of Utah football would look like if they chose to go there and what plans the Utes had for when and if Whittingham retires. Naturally, naming Scalley as “coach in waiting” gives some assurances that many of the things that are attractive about Utah to recruits will stay intact if Whitt retires during their time in the program.

We expect some questions out of the gate about the timeline on the decision and the reasoning behind it. We also won’t be surprised if someone doesn’t try to get Whittingham to put a timeline on when he might call it a career. (He won’t give a solid answer on that either way.)

Discussion Topic No. 2: Utah Football Voted No.1 In Big 12

This would have been the first topic if the news about Scalley hadn’t come out, but we are sure the majority of the discussions surrounding Utah will involve them being picked first in the Big 12 by the media.

On paper, Utah looks good. Really good, so it makes a lot of sense there would be confidence that this team could make a splash despite being in a new conference.

The interesting parts of this discussion topic likely won’t come from the Utes though. Whittingham and the Utes will keep tight lips on the topic and instead turn the focus on needing to put in the work to make it happen rather than simply expecting it to be so.

Look for the interesting comments to come from their conference mates- an interesting mix of teams that know Whittingham and Utah very well, and teams that are trying their best to learn as much as possible about them.

Discussion Topic No. 3: Team Health- Particularly Cam Rising & Brant Kuithe

Health was a huge issue for the Utes in 2023 with estimates of 38-40 players being affected by significant injuries. (If those estimates truly are accurate, Utah was roughly operating without the equivalent of their starting offensive and defensive units plus their second-string units…woof…)

All eyes were particularly focused on quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe through the whole ordeal with fans desperately waiting for their return till they pulled the plug on 2023 about the middle of October.

Despite all of that, Utah still finished with a winning record going against what turned out to be a very strong Pac-12. It was hard not to be impressed even with some rougher than usual performances.

Obviously, 2024 is a new year with new opportunities and there will be some curiosity from fans and media alike as to how Rising and Kuithe are feeling (they will both be at Big 12 Media Days) along with the overall health of the Utah football team.

Discussion Topic No. 4: The New Faces For Utah Football

There are a lot of familiar, returning faces for the Utes in 2024- it’s a large factor into why they were voted by media to finish first in the Big 12.

However, there will be some new faces in the mix as well, particularly in the secondary and wide receiver groups that will draw some interest and even questions heading into the season.

Those familiar with Utah football know that anytime there is NFL turnover on the defense it’s only a matter of “reloading”. That’s basically what the Utes are facing with their DBs in 2024 with cornerback Zemaiah Vaughn boasting the most overall playtime for the Utes.

The wide receivers are a bit of a different story. It’s not so much about “reloading” for Utah as it is trying to strengthen what has felt like a perpetual weakness for an overall solid team.

Look for some interesting, more niche “Jimmy and Joes” conversations surrounding guys like Georgia Tech transfer cornerback Kenan Johnson, or USC transfer wide receiver Dorian Singer along with some guys who have been in the program for a while like Smith Snowden, Tao Johnson, and Money Parks.

Discussion Topic No. 5: Utah’s Thoughts On The Big 12

The media will be hard put to get the Utes to elaborate a ton on being voted top dog preseason in the Big 12, but they should be able to get some initial thoughts on being a part of a new conference.

Which teams are the players most excited to face? Particularly of the teams they don’t have as much familiarity with? Venues they are chomping at the bit to play in? Peers they are looking forward to face off against?

 

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What conversations are you most excited about surrounding Utah in their first Big 12 Media Days appearance? Is there a conversation we didn’t think of that intrigues you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Five Topics Of Conversation Surrounding Utah Football At Big 12 Media Days