Kyle Whittingham has been the head football coach at the University of Utah since the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.
Before that, he was the Utes' defensive coordinator for 10 seasons, which came after one year as the defensive line coach. Whittingham began his coaching career as the defensive coordinator at Eastern Utah in 1987, then spent six years at Idaho State in various capacities before arriving in Salt Lake City in 1994.
One constant through all of those seasons is there was always a game to coach this time of year. There was always film to watch, always preparations to go through during a game week, always a Saturday afternoon or evening to look forward to. Also the occasional Thursday or Friday evening game, too.
The college football season began in earnest Saturday with 19 FBS games, including the ACC and the Big 12 in action. For the first time in his adult life, there is no football game for Whittingham to coach. No film to grind through, no start-of-game-week meetings to be had with his staff or his players. None of that is happening until the Pac-12 deems it safe to play. Even with rapid-response testing coming to Pac-12 athletic departments at the end of this month, a green light to play football is not expected until, at the earliest, around Thanksgiving.
So, what is a football lifer like Whittingham to do on Saturdays?
“Fortunately, there’s going to be some guys playing if they’re able to pull it off, so that I’m sure that will be a big part of what we as coaches do on Saturdays, is watching everyone else who is playing do their thing,” Whittingham told reporters on an Aug. 25 Zoom call, which marked his first comments after the Pac-12 postponed all sports Aug. 11. “Right now, as outlined by the NCAA, you have to have mandatory two days off for your players in this phase we’re about to go into. Coaches will have Saturdays and Sundays off, as will the players.”
Coaches and players may have been off over the weekend, but Whittingham still spent part of his Saturday in his office at the Eccles Football Center taking part in a coaches roundtable on ESPN’s College GameDay.
With Rece Davis anchoring the 7-minute segment, which also included Stanford’s David Shaw, Ohio State’s Ryan Day and Penn State’s James Franklin, a variety of topics were covered. The ongoing saga within the Big Ten was touched upon, as was how much time Day believes he would need to get his team ready to play a season. Shaw was asked about the incoming Pac-12 daily testing protocols, plus the fact that half the league, including all four California schools, are currently not allowed to practice.
To close the segment, Davis asked Whittingham what Saturday would be like for him.
“First of all, we get a chance to watch college football,” Whittingham said. “As head coaches, we’re very seldom able to sit down and watch games in their entirety, so it’s great in that respect and I’m pulling for everybody. I hope everyone is able to pull this off and get their seasons completed. I think that’s good for everyone if it happens, so just enjoying the football and like I said, rooting for everyone to stay healthy and keep playing.”
While the Big 12 and ACC began playing over the weekend, the SEC is scheduled to begin its 10-game conference-only slate Sept. 26.