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TribUte newsletter: Aaron Lowe’s death brought us back to this place. I can’t believe it.

Aaron Lowe’s death has conjured up memories of Ty Jordan, who died on Christmas night

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hundreds packed the University of Utah's Student Union southwest lawn to remember and honor the life of student-athlete Aaron Lowe during a candlelight vigil, Sept. 29, 2021.

The TribUte is a weekly newsletter covering Utah athletics. Subscribe here.

I can’t believe we’re back here.

I can’t believe we’re back in this position of mourning, of grieving a University of Utah football player. I can’t believe we’re mourning, grieving this particular Utes football player, which has conjured up the emotions and the scars of the last Utes football player we all mourned.

Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan played for West Mesquite High School together, so they knew the same people, had the same teachers, the same school counselors, the same coaches, the same mentors. Many of the phone calls, emails and text messages that had to be made to those people nine months ago in the wake of Jordan’s death had to be made again this week.

The same people, being asked to speak on the death of a college student, being asked to answer the same questions nine months after unfathomable sorrow.

I can’t believe we’re back here.

Only a few of those same people were up for answering those same questions this week. The majority of those same people did not and, well, can you blame them? This isn’t merely grief, but rather grief compounded for families, for friends, for teammates, for coaches both current and past.

Grief is not a strong enough word to explain what Lowe’s mother, Donna Lowe-Stern, is going through right now, but she picked up the phone on Tuesday afternoon. She spoke glowingly of her son, glowingly of Jordan, glowingly of the University of Utah, glowingly of Kyle Whittingham.

Lowe-Stern didn’t shed a tear in nearly 10 minutes on the phone. There may not have been any more tears to shed in those moments. Unfortunately, there surely will be more. Lowe-Stern shared her plans to return to Texas with her son this week. She said a wake is planned for Oct. 9, a funeral for Oct. 10. The funeral will come almost nine months to the day Jordan was buried.

I can’t believe we’re back here.

Submit your questions

Do you have a question for Utes beat reporter Josh Newman? Send it to him via a tweet, direct message him on Twitter, email him at jnewman@sltrib.com, or leave it in the comments section at the end of this article and he will answer them in his weekly mailbag.

What’s on my mind, Utah or otherwise

• The Pac-12 released its full men’s basketball schedule this week, which means Utah’s 30-game slate is complete. Here are a few quick thoughts:

  1. Nineteen regular-season games will air on Pac-12 Networks, which means 19 regular-season games will not be seen by 75% of the country. That’s an embarrassment.

  2. Utah is not on the road for Super Bowl Sunday, which is really all that matters.

  3. Not having to go to preseason Pac-12 favorite and Final Four contender UCLA this season is good.

  4. No home games from Feb. 6-24 is bad, but closing with three straight at the Huntsman Center from Feb. 24-March 5 is good. All three of those home games are on FOX Sports 1 or an ESPN network, which is also good.

  5. To me, getting the Oregon swing out of the way early is a plus. Utes are at Oregon State Dec. 30 and at Oregon Jan. 1.

• I have no idea what to expect out of Utah when it plays at USC on Oct. 9, and to be honest, I’m not sure it matters. It is worth a reminder that the Utes are 1-0 in the Pac-12, with everything still to play for.

• I wonder how the fanbase will judge this Utah team in light of Aaron Lowe’s death. Based on social media and a bunch of emails I’ve received, I get the feeling that even the most irrational parts of this fanbase are going to be willing to put the irrational stuff to the side. There’s really no other option in light of what’s happened.

Four-star Weber High School defensive lineman Aisea Moa has de-committed from Utah.

• Washington-Oregon State on Saturday evening in Corvallis is a huge game, just like we drew it up. The winner emerges as the biggest threat to No. 3 Oregon in the Pac-12 North. Utah going to Corvallis on Oct. 23 doesn’t look or feel the same as it did when the schedule first came out.

• The Arizona State-UCLA winner will be 2-0 and in early control of the South Division, just like we drew it up. Utah still has to play both teams at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Sun Devils on Oct. 16 and the Bruins on Oct. 30.

• Another noteworthy football item as Utah prepares for USC: The Utes exited the Washington State game with three safeties having been injured, including both starters, Vonte Davis and Brandon McKinney. That’ll be a thing if either, or even both of them are out for a period of time.

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