LOS ANGELES - Game day is here, and the countdown to the first Pac-12 matchup is down to just a few hours away.
USC sports reporter Aaron Fischman shares his insight of the Trojans as they prepare to take on their newest Pac-12 South Division foe, the Utah Utes, Saturday in the Coliseum.
You can read my Q/A with the Neon Tommy here.
SALT LAKE CITY - The time has come. Players and coaches no longer need to avoid answering questions or pretend that their focus is on Montana State anymore. Next up for Utah is the USC Trojans. Welcome to the Pac-12.
Saturday's upcoming matchup between the Utes and Trojans will not only be the first ever Pac-12 Conference football game, but in all reality might as well be the season opener for both teams.
SALT LAKE CITY - It wasn't pretty, but style points don't add anything extra to the win-loss column in the standings.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham described the passing game as "abysmal", and noted that "we won't win a game in the Pac-12 if we play like this the rest of the way."
SALT LAKE CITY - Flashback to Sept. 2, 2006. Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado was the site for the season opener for for the Colorado Buffaloes and then first year coach Dan Hawkins. The opponent was the Montana State Bobcats, a FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA) team from the Big Sky Conference (which is the same conference that Weber State is in).
Is it possible that a team from the powerhouse Big 12 Conference (Colorado) could lose to a Division I-AA team? No. I mean let's be honest, with the recruits and BCS money backing the Buffaloes, there is no way that they could lose.
WEST JORDAN - West Jordan High basketball player Jordan Loveridge has committed to play for the Runnin' Utes. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound prospect was Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak's first in-state offer.
"He (Krystkowiak) made a good impression on me immediately," said Loveridge. "He's a real down-to-earth man, and I believe he'll get Utah back in the right direction real soon. He has a real high basketball IQ, and I just like everything about him."
Jordan likes the idea of helping to rebuild the Utes' once-storied basketball program.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has picked up an early recruiting commitment from Justin Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound cornerback from West Orange-Stark High School In Texas.
Thomas was the MVP of the Schuman National Underclassmen Combine, primarily comprised of players from the Greater Houston area, in February.
Thomas was rated by Rivals.com as the 29th best player in Texas.
Compiled by Dirk Facer
SALT LAKE CITY — Former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules at the Texas school, has enrolled at Utah and is practicing with the Utes. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior was arrested last year after being found in a car with marijuana in it near the Baylor campus.
SALT LAKE CITY - Utah linebacker Brian Blechen didn't want to talk about the bee flying in his mouth and stinging him in the throat, but he did anyway, reluctantly.
It was nice to see #4 back out on the field after his encounter with "The Bee." This was not the first encounter that Blechen has had with a bee; he has been stung in the eye before.
The best part of the interview was when my good friend and colleague Dirk Facer asked Blechen if he realized that Utah was the Beehive State. It was a funny exchange and "Beegate", or whatever people call it is now over.
SALT LAKE CITY - After months of anxiously waiting, football is back for the Utes as they had their first fall practice Thursday morning at the Ute Baseball Field.
The energy and excitement level surrounding this Utah team was apparent by the massive media crowd watching the from the sidelines - the largest gathering for a Utah practice, according to Utah's Sports Information Director Liz Abel.
But it wasn't just the media creating all the buzz - sophomore safety turned linebacker Brian Blechen had a bee fly into his mouth and string inside his throat. Ouch. Blechen was taken to receive medical treatment and missed the last 45 minutes of practice, but should be back on the field by Saturday.
SALT LAKE CITY — While twenty-nine days remain on the calendar until the University of Utah officially kicks the season off at home against Montana State, fall camp is right around the corner as players report Wednesday night for a team meeting and practice begins Thursday morning.
For Utah fans, excitement level has never been so high as the Utes prepare for their inaugural season in the Pac-12, playing for the first time as a member of one of the automatic qualifying conferences in the Bowl Championship Series.
Can Utah compete week in and week out with BCS teams? We will soon find out. But until then, here are three things that I will be looking for during fall camp:
LOS ANGELES -- Being the new kid on the block isn't easy. For a team that built quite the reputation as a BCS buster, Utah certainly has their work cut out for them. Not only are they playing in the inaugural season for the newly formed Pac-12, but they are also playing for the first time as a member of one of the automatic qualifying conferences in the Bowl Championship Series.
"It's exciting to have Utah come in. Utah has played so well. You look at what Coach (Kyle Whittingham) has done over the past five years and it has been incredible," USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin told KSL.
"Utah has built themselves into a national power over the last decade, and I see it as a great fit (in the Pac-12)," UCLA Head Coach Rick Neuheisel added.
For us who are sports crazies, and especially football crazies, the fact that the college football season is literally right around the corner is not only exciting, but needed.
There has been a real lack of anything interesting going on. I am a huge baseball fan and with the major league season winding up now with 60 games left, baseball is improving, but let's be honest, it is time for college football season.
One of the more interesting reads is "Phil Steele's College Football Preview" that comes out annually before the football season. If you haven't ever read it, give it a chance.
BRISTOL, Conn. — Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham will be featured on ESPN's "Car Wash" on Wed., July 27 as part of the Pac-12 Bicoastal Media Tour. The tour begins in Los Angeles on July 26 before moving to the East Coast for press events in Bristol, Conn., and New York City on July 27 and 28.
SALT LAKE CITY - Preseason accolades keep rolling in for the Utes, who are only 48 days away from kicking off the season against Montana State.
Selected as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, Utah's Jordan Wynn was named to the 2011 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award watch list.
Wynn, a starter since midway through his true freshman season, is 11-4, and the junior quarterback already ranks 10th all-time at Utah with 25 career touchdown passes.
SALT LAKE CITY - The Utes are just a little over 49 days away from kicking off the 2011 season at home against Montana State. It's never too soon to get excited, and already three University of Utah football players have been added to preseason national award watch lists.
Senior offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom was named to the preseason watch list for the 2011 Outland Trophy, which is presented to the top interior lineman in college football.
Bergstrom has started all 26 games at offensive tackle for the Utes over the past two seasons. The second-team all-Mountain West Conference selection led Utah on the line last year with 584 plays over the 10 games that were graded. He did not allow a single sack in the regular season.
"Coach McBride, Coach Meyer, Coach Whittingham, all of the other coaches and players that have been here, this is a tribute to them and all who have been a part of it." - Morgan Scalley, Utes Defensive Backs Coach and Recruiting Coordinator
The University of Utah has officially moved into a new era, watching the Mountain West Conference from the rear-view mirror and looking forward to the Pac-12 Conference. There was excitement and gratitude in Utes Defensive Backs coach Morgan Scalley's voice as he recognized, or at least tried to recognize all of the people that have taken part in building the University of Utah into what it is now - a major player.
SALT LAKE CITY — July 1, 2011. A day that will completely change the collegiate landscape in the state of Utah.
The time has come for both Utah and BYU to tip their hats to the Mountain West Conference, shake hands and say farewell as they embark on their own separate ways. BYU will move to football independence and the West Coast Conference in all other sports, while the University of Utah will become an official member of the Pac-12 Conference.
The void left behind by the Utes and Cougars will be rather large — 63 percent (189 out of 300) of the MWC regular season and conference tournament championships were won by the Utah schools.
SALT LAKE CITY — Plans have been finalized for the Utah Pac-12 day celebration scheduled for Friday, July 1 at noon on the south lawn of the state Capitol. The celebration and parking for the event will be free to the public. In addition, free shuttles will begin transporting fans from the campus to the Capitol starting at 10:30 a.m. The pickup and drop-off locations are the Heritage Center, the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot and the married student housing villages. Shuttles will pick up and drop off every 30 minutes until 1:30 p.m.
The ASUU will host a Student Tent Party on the south lawn, providing free ice cream sandwiches for early-arriving fans. The Utah cheerleaders, dance team and Swoop will move throughout the crowd and distribute temporary face tattoos while the Utah pep band plays a medley of school favorites.
The program will begin at noon and the speaking line-up (in order) is Utah Athletics Director Chris Hill, University of Utah Interim President Lorris Betz, ASUU Student Body President Neela Pack, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, Congressman Jim Matheson and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who will formally declare July 1, 2011 as Utah Pac-12 day. Other dignitaries seated on the stage will be Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, Senate President Michael Waddoups and House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart.
The Utah basketball team has added three walk-ons to the fall roster, and all of them are Utah natives. One of the complaints from fans during the Jim Boylen era up on the hill was that there wasn't any local talent on the team. The addition of Corbin Green (Olympus, Snow College), Blake Wilkinson (Viewmont) and Alexander Ricketts (Brighton) is a step in the right direction.
The complete press release is below.
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