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When the Pac-12 released its 2020 football schedule last Thursday, a few things jumped out regarding Utah.
The Utes open at Cal, which some project as a preseason top-25 team. They host USC on a Friday night (again), play UCLA at the Rose Bowl on a Thursday night and close with road games at Arizona State and Colorado.
It wasn’t until the second or third time going through the schedule that something struck me as odd.
Why are Utah and USC playing each other on short rest for a second consecutive season?
You’ve got two of the Pac-12’s marquee programs, one of which is the league’s biggest brand, the other having played in consecutive Pac-12 championship games. Both figure to challenge again for the Pac-12 South, so why have them play on Sept. 26, then turn around and play each other Oct. 2 on short rest?
Wouldn’t the Pac-12 rather have these two play each other on full rest, which would in theory produce a better game? I like this game as a standalone on a Friday night. I also like these two playing each other early in the season to get things rolling for a league that can use all the positive publicity it can get, but doing this on short rest felt shortsighted a year ago, and it feels shortsighted now.
Last season, with both teams playing on a short week, USC beat Utah, 30-23, in Los Angeles. It was the Utes’ only Pac-12 loss as it ripped off eight straight wins to claim the South for the second straight season.
For what it’s worth, Utah will play at UCLA on Oct. 29, a Thursday. Both teams will be coming off open weeks.
A postmortem on Larry Krystkowiak’s reprimand by the Pac-12
To be clear at the outset, the technical foul on Matt Van Komen with 1:23 to play at Arizona State on Saturday night was, at best, questionable.
The 7-foot-4 freshman dunked, and hung on the rim, but that was to allow a defender underneath him to clear out. Hanging on the rim in that case is allowed.
In a game that was long decided, that technical foul was unnecessary, and the fact Krystkowiak lost his mind, got two quick technical fouls of his own and was ejected was warranted.
Krystkowiak’s mistake, and he acknowledged as much on Tuesday, was hammering the officiating postgame, which he did very calmly. You can’t do that publicly, but Krystkowiak wasn’t wrong in what he said.
Ultimately, nothing to see here. A reprimand by the league is essentially a public warning. No fine, no suspension, everybody can move along and that’s good because Utah has much bigger things to worry about than this right now.
Other hoops thoughts right now
• Washington freshman star Isaiah Stewart has made better frontcourts than what Utah has seem pedestrian this season, most recently Oregon. Stewart had 25 points and 19 rebounds against the Ducks, so let’s see what Utah has Thursday night for the projected top-20 pick.
• Alfonso Plummer is getting a longer look lately off Krystkowiak’s bench, which makes sense because Utah needs some offense. Plummer can fill it up in a hurry when he gets going. The JUCO All-American had nine points in a season-high 20 minutes at Arizona State.
• Not to beat a dead horse, but Utah needs Both Gach to get it cranked back up here before this losing skid has this season at the point of no return.
Other things on my mind, Utah sports or otherwise
• Washington State comes to the Huntsman Center on Saturday. Kyle Smith felt like a smart hire, and that hasn’t changed. Wazzu is one of, if not the toughest jobs in the Pac-12, but Smith has the Cougars at 12-7 and 3-3 in the Pac-12. This is the same guy who won the CBI at Columbia, and won at least 20 games in all three of his seasons at San Francisco.
• After noting my love for Tucson in this space last week, I am happy to report another successful trip there was had last week. I lived my very best off-day life on Friday between games at Arizona and Arizona State.
• The drive from Tucson to Phoenix was a little eerie. Really not much to see on I-10 except some cacti. At one point, I felt like I was going to come across Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in the RV.
• Utah hoops commit Caleb Lohner and Wasatch Academy are 22-1 and ranked No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps. Lohner, a 6-foot-9 forward, leads Wasatch in scoring at 15.4 points per game to go along with 5.9 rebounds per game. The Tigers’ lone loss is to perennial national contender Oak Hill Academy (Va.).
• Staying with recruits, looking forward to checking out Ian Martinez next weekend in California during the USC-UCLA trip. His JSerra Catholic team will play Chicago public-school power Whitney Young at the Nike Extravaganza in Santa Ana next Friday. Spearheaded by Lohner and Martinez, Utah’s 2020 recruiting class is currently ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 and 18th nationally, per 247sports.
• I am writing this from bed because I have the flu. My recommendation is to try your hardest not to contract the flu, because it’s not fun.
• Dirk Facer of the Deseret News profiles Utah freshman point guard Rylan Jones.
• Is Isaiah Stewart the best UW freshman ever? Sports Illustrated discusses.
• The legend of Oregon star senior Payton Pritchard, as told by Oregonian columnist John Canzano
• The NFL released the official list of early entrants for the NFL Draft earlier this week. No surprise, but Jaylon Johnson and Javelin Guidry are on it, making their exits from Utah official.