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Something like this happened in Pac-12 basketball in January 2013, when USC fired its coach the day after the Trojans beat Utah by 17 points in Salt Lake City. Washington State dismissed its baseball coach this week, not long after the Cougars beat Utah 8-4 at Smith’s Ballpark.
The move immediately affects the Utes in this sense: They need WSU to lose one of three home games vs. Arizona this week, enabling them to stay above last place in the 11-team conference. WSU is 3-23-1 in Pac-12 play; Utah finished 6-24, after taking two of three games in a series with the Cougars.
The Utes, 14-33 overall, will conclude their season with three games vs. UC Davis at 6 p.m Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Smith's Ballpark.
Ute coach Bill Kinneberg has posted his worst conference record since going 4-26 in 2014. Boosted by his 18-11 record in the Pac-12 championship season of 2016, Kinneberg is 47-72 in conference games the past four seasons. Former WSU coach Marty Lees went 32-83-2 in four years.
Utah’s 2018-19 school year of athletic competition is down to this week’s baseball series, plus golfer Kyler Dunkle playing in the NCAA Championships and seven women’s track and and field athletes competing this weekend in the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, with hopes of advancing from Sacramento, Calif. I’ll detail those athletes later in the newsletter.
In any case, the Thursday publication schedule of Red All Over makes it easy to keep track of the time remaining until the Aug, 29 opening of Utah’s football season — on a Thursday night at BYU. We’re at 14 weeks, having moved inside the 100-day mark. This week, I examined how Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig’s contract compares to those of other assistant coaches in the Pac-12 (TRIB). And a sampling of football fans talked about Utah’s fee increases for season tickets and their views of the nonconference schedule that athletic director Mark Harlan intends to upgrade (TRIB), with openings in 2025 and beyond.
The Pac-12 made some announcements this week, after meetings with the presidents and chancellors of the schools. The element that I viewed as most affecting Utah involved nonconference scheduling requirements for men’s basketball (TRIB). Tribune columnist Gordon Monson seized upon a lack of increase in revenue distributed to the schools (TRIB).
John Canzano of The Oregonian questions why Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott should be receiving a pay raise (ORE).
Brad Rock of the Deseret News captures the favorable national views of the Ute football team in 2019 (DNEWS).
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News thoroughly details how the Pac-12 arrived at its basketball scheduling requirements (MERC).
• Utah will open the 2019-20 men’s basketball schedule Nov. 5 at Nevada, according to Jon Rothstein’s report. We knew the Utes’ schedule would include a return game vs. the Wolf Pack, who visited the Huntsman Center last December. Nov. 5 is a Tuesday, the opening date nationwide.
Utah has published the 2019-20 roster of 18 players, adding two walk-on athletes from the state. Each is a 6-foot-6 guard. Elias Ballstaedt is a freshman from Wasatch High School and Ben Bittner is a sophomore from Copper Hills. Matt Van Komen of Pleasant Grove is officially listed at 7-4, 220 pounds, making him the tallest player in school history. Van Komen was 7-3 when he committed to Utah last summer.
The roster includes junior forward Donnie Tillman, who will work out for the Jazz on Friday. The deadline for Tillman to withdraw from the draft and rejoin the Utes is next Wednesday.
• Dunkle is guaranteed to be playing Sunday, when the 54-hole cut is made in the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. That could make him the last Ute athlete to compete in 2018-19, although seven women’s track and field athletes will be hoping to extend their seasons into June, when the nationals are staged at Austin, Texas.
• Sarah Feeny, seeded No. 4 in the 1,500 meters and No. 8 in the 5,000, is by far Utah’s best hope of advancing, with 12 berths available in each event. She’s the school record-holder in each event. The other Utes competing in Sacramento include freshman Skyler Blair in the 400 hurdles, redshirt freshman Cara Woolnough in the 1,500, junior Sarah Newton and freshman Brooke Manson in the 800, junior Poppy Tank in the 10,000 and sophomore Bella Williams in the 5,000.
• Ute senior Dan Little made a very good showing in the NCAA Men’s Singles Championships this week at Orlando, Fla.
Little became the first Ute player in 22 years to reach the second round of the individual tournament , via a 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 win over Mazen Osama of Alabama. Little then lost a competitive match to No. 5-seeded Paul Jubb of South Carolina, who won 6-4, 7-6. Named the ITA Mountain Region Player of the Year, Little is credited with one of the best careers in Ute tennis history. He helped the Utes received a bid to the NCAA team competition after a season highlighted by a victory over No. 12 Stanford.