Red All Over: Kyle Whittingham is not kidding when he says the transfer portal has created ‘a different world’

Football players are coming and going, even in the middle of spring practice.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes running back Armand Shyne (6) celebrates after scoring a touchdown late in the 4th quarter, tying the score at 27-27, in football action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Utah Utes, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saturday, November 24, 2018. Shyne is reportedly is transferring for his senior season.

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Even before addressing Utah running back Armand Shyne’s absence from spring football practice this week, coach Kyle Whittingham said the NCAA’s transfer portal has created “a different world.”

That’s true. The NCAA is easing the movement of athletes, no longer allowing schools to block them from transferring to certain programs, and the result is almost a college version of free agency. It is reaching the point where coaches probably should be judged by the players they’re acquiring, not just by the ones they’re losing.

With the apparent departures of Shyne and offensive tackle Mo Unutoa this week, Utah has had about a half-dozen players in the portal since the Holiday Bowl in late December. The Utes also have several incoming transfers on the spring roster, including linebacker Manny Bowen (Penn State), quarterback Cameron Rising (Texas), defensive back Nephi Sewell (Nevada) and linebacker Christian Folau (BYU).

The Utes have plenty of candidates for Shyne’s vacancy, backing up Zack Moss. Devonta’e Henry-Cole is among the possibilities in a young, talented group.

Ute basketball player Brandon Morley, from Bingham High School and Salt Lake Community College, is among 275 athletes on a transfer list that will keep growing, watchstadium.com reported. Morley contributed to the Utes’ win over UCLA in the regular-season finale and averaged 2.4 points in 16 games. Coach Larry Krystkowiak and his staff are in the market for potential transfers, needing some outside shooting.

After all of the effort that went into landing a No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, the Utes ran into the league’s hottest team in Las Vegas. Oregon advanced with a 66-54 quarterfinal win, on the way to the tournament title. It was a disappointing finish for guards Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke. As I wrote in last week’s newsletter, watching them have rewarding senior years was enjoyable, and they deserved a better ending.

So the Utes are regrouping for 2019-20, while the school hosts the NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena and the Pac-12 Gymnastics Championship at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

Utah has a rich history with the tournament. Tribune columnist Gordon Monson relived the famous 1979 Final Four.

Other voices

Pac-12 expert Jon Wilner examined how the conference’s athletic directors are gaining influence. (MERC)

John Canzano had some thoughts about the news conference that preceded the Pac-12 championship game. (ORE)

Brandon Judd of the Deseret News checked in with former Ute guard JoJo Zamora, in town with New Mexico State. (DNEWS).

Around campus

• Utah’s baseball team will play a three-game series at Stanford, starting Friday. The Utes opened Pac-12 play last week with a 21-10 win at Arizona, but then lost 8-0 and 18-7 to the Wildcats. Third baseman Rykker Tom leads the Utes (7-9) with a .375 batting average.

• Utah’s softball team will play a three-game series at Arizona State. The Utes took two of three games from California at home last weekend, losing in extra innings. Sophomore outfielder Julian Noskin is hitting .393 for the Utes (13-14).

• Utah’s lacrosse team (4-6) has the week off after losing three games on the road last week, including an overtime contest at Fairfield.