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This was a tough week for newspapers in the state of Utah with The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News announcing on Monday that they will cease printing daily at the end of the year, moving to a weekly print newspaper and daily websites.
The announcement struck me on a personal level, as I am a newspaper enthusiast.
As a wee lad growing up on suburban Long Island, I remember thumbing through the Newsday sports section, stopping along the way to pore over the agate page (Does anyone under the age of 35 know what agate is?). On weeknights, my father would grab a copy of the New York Post on his way home from work, and I would consume that, too.
My first “real job” out of college was as an agate clerk for the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey in the fall of 2004. I became a part-time staff writer there after one year, and a year after that, I became a full-time staffer at a salary figure I’m too embarrassed to even think about.
Seeing my byline is still exciting, getting up early to check out the newspaper when I know I smashed a story I have in it is still a thing I do. When I’m out of town for whatever reason, I like to grab the local newspaper and read over coffee. I may be 38-years old, but I’m an old soul.
When former Salt Lake Tribune Executive Editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce called me on the morning of Aug. 26, 2019 to offer me the University of Utah beat, it was genuinely among the great thrills of my career. The Tribune is, after all, a legacy paper and, to be frank, an institution.
All of that said, I adapted long ago to where this business was and is still going, away from print and more toward digital. That’s fine, I can love print and still be willing to admit that it is dying a slow death.
The Tribune, though, is not going anywhere. I don’t speak for my colleagues, but I will in this case when I say we care deeply about the journalism we’re putting out there every day, and I don’t expect that to change.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to dig up an old agate page, find a random Royals-Angels boxscore, and reminisce.
What’s on my mind, Utah or otherwise
• I think Nate Ritchie will start at one safety spot for Utah on Nov. 7. I think Clark Phillips III will start at one outside cornerback spot. Both of these are semi-educated guesses based mostly on Zoom interviews, because I haven’t seen one second of fall camp.
• Kyle Whittingham gains absolutely nothing by revealing his starting quarterback before the opener. He has kept things close to the vest, and I expect that to continue, potentially all the way to when the Utes go through warmups at Rice-Eccles Stadium. To paraphrase former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash, it is not the head coach’s job to help the opposing team prepare for a game.
• I’ve made a bit of a fuss about the Utah men’s basketball team playing in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic to start the season, and the fact that testing protocols have been somewhat vague. This, despite Sanford Health being in charge of the testing. Creighton, Utah’s first opponent at the event, took part in Big East media day Wednesday. I snuck in a question about the Crossover Classic testing protocols to Bluejays head coach Greg McDermott.
“I think they have protocols in place that are better than any that I’ve seen, so are we all going to agree on everything?” McDermott said. “Like every coach has a different opinion on what defense or offense is the best, I think doctors have varied opinions on how much testing and how long do you have to wait if somebody tests positive? Those are things that we’ll sort out, but I feel 100% comfortable, safe going into that environment given who’s running it.”
I don’t love “Those are things that we’ll sort out” with the Nov. 25 opener less than one month away, but nobody asked me for my opinion.
• The Wisconsin-Nebraska game getting cancelled is another example that absolutely nothing is certain right now. Wisconsin is a Power Five athletic department with daily-testing capabilities, yet its football team still fell victim to COVID-19. Yes, I do think the Pac-12 has done everything it can to test and do things safely, but so did Wisconsin.
• Both Utah basketball schedules are coming by the middle of next week at the latest, hell or high water. I’m not sure of anything these days, but I’m reasonably sure of that.
Q: Call your shot, it seems inevitable that Utah and BYU end up facing off in a bowl game, right? Who wins, what’s the venue, and who’s MVP? — @peterwatkins
A: This scenario is a total hypothetical, but I love this question nonetheless.
If these two forever rivals were to play in a bowl game, it would have to be at a neutral site. Let’s say, just for fun, Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Assuming both teams get their full regular seasons in, this would be BYU’s 11th game and Utah’s eighth.
We have some idea of what BYU is after six games, but we have no idea yet about Utah, which opens Nov. 7. With Utah being sight unseen, my first instinct is that Zach Wilson goes off on the Utes' unproven secondary, but after seven games, that Utah defense would presumably be settled in and up to task.
Knee-jerk reaction? Utah is a slight betting favorite, but it’s probably closer to an honest pick 'em. Who’s the MVP? The two training staffs, who would have taken care of their players well. Well enough to the point where we’re even planning for a bowl game.
Q: As a former New Jersey-ite (-ian?), how do you compare the government of Chris Christie to Gary Herbert? — @UnholiestJedi
A: It was a lot easier, for a lot of reasons, to make fun of Chris Christie. Yep, I’m going with that as the answer.
Q: From the limited action you have seen, do you think Devin Lloyd has the upside of being a Round 2-4 NFL Draft pick? — @Eric18Utah
A: I’ll defer to Ryan Roberts (@risendraft), scouting director for NFL Draft Bible, who was good enough to provide his take on Lloyd to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“I’m in on early Day 3 talk. He has a very projectable frame and plus-athletic traits to work with. He’s a little high cut, which can make changing direction and redirecting difficult for him and needs to continue to physically develop. The upside is definitely there.”
• I could give you my Halloween candy rankings, but that’s overdone. I’ll just get right down to brass tacks. Candy Corn is awful and belongs in the nearest trash can.
• There could be a nuclear holocaust unfolding in my living room, but if there is food in front of my 70-pound hound mix’s face, he isn’t doing anything for anyone. He is very cute and we love him, though, so I’ll let it go.
• Season 5 of “This Is Us” premiered Tuesday night on NBC. Nice job by the writers not ignoring what’s been going on in the country, but rather adding in COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter subplots to what was already appointment primetime television.
• I think what Justin Turner did Wednesday night after the Dodgers won the World Series, joining his teammates on the field after being placed in isolation following a positive COVID-19 test, was reckless, but I have a hard time mustering up the emotion to get angry about it.
• I miss the buzz of a newsroom on election night, especially in a year where the presidency is at stake. #IYKYK