The Utah Utes have completed a three-week period that sophomore receiver Britain Covey half-kiddingly described as “lockdown.” And now the football players will enter into the other aspect of their lives as college athletes.
You know, college.
The school's 2018-19 academic calendar starts with the fall semester Monday, giving the team a well-timed transition into the season that begins Aug. 30 vs. Weber State. The preseason camp phase ended Saturday and the Utes will launch into their weekly routine of late-afternoon practices.
They’ve had all day to think only of football since Aug. 1, with practices and meetings. Interviewed by Utah athletic director Mark Harlan on the AD’s inaugural podcast, Covey said, “When in your life are you able to say that playing a sport you love is your full-time job?”
Their job descriptions will change Monday, and coach Kyle Whittingham likes the timing. “What’s not ideal is when you play [a game] the week that school starts,” he said. “So if you can get a week of school in and get that disruption — not disruption, but change of mentality — in your schedule ironed out, that’s ideal.”
The calendar will be similar in 2019, with classes beginning Aug. 19 and the Utes scheduled to visit BYU the following week.
Whittingham, entering his 25th season in the program, has worked at Utah long enough to remember when the school used a quarter system, with school starting in late September. The switch to semesters came in 1998.
“That [calendar] was really unique, because that change came right in the middle of the season,” Whittingham said. “That was a big challenge.”
Five schools in the Pac-12 have the quarter system: UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington. The Huskies won't have started school when they come to Rice-Eccles Stadium on Sept. 15; the fall quarter begins Sept. 27, two days before Washington hosts BYU.
The Utes will open the season at home on a Thursday night for the 10th straight year. The team staged its final preseason scrimmage Saturday and Whittingham said he intends to publish a depth chart later this week.