What year is that guy? How college basketball eligibility works after the COVID-19 freebie season

Utah Utes mailbag: Does NIL change the job of an AD, basketball recruiting, scented candles, and more

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes guard David Jenkins Jr. (1) and Utah Utes guard Both Gach (2) as the Utah Utes host the Westminster Griffins, NCAA basketball in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

It is November, which means there is a lot going on in the world of college sports. More specifically, there is a lot going on at the University of Utah.

The football team is heading towards the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas. The basketball team is now up and moving under the direction of first-year head coach Craig Smith. Recruiting is coming into some focus in both sports. Let’s talk about it.

It’s time for a Utah Utes mailbag.

As always if you have a question for the Utah Utes mailbag, you can fire off a tweet to @Joshua_Newman, slide into my DMs, email me at jnewman@sltrib.com or even leave a comment at the bottom of this story.

Q:With NIL being implemented, should the job requirements change for an AD? How high of a priority should a school put on the ability for an AD to broker NIL deals?” -- @coreyc04

A: Athletic Directors, especially at the Power Five level, absolutely have to be adept at a few things, one of which is fundraising. If you can’t effectively fundraise, it is tough to be an effective Power Five AD.

In my mind, raising money and brokering NIL deals are on the same spectrum for an AD. They both require strong people skills and the ability to not only sell yourself, but your athletic department. I might be off on this, but I don’t think I am. Fundraising and finding NIL deals are essentially the same thing, except the money is being used differently.

No, the job requirements for an AD are not changing, but I think they are expanding with this brave, new NIL world we have all been wading into for the last five-plus months.

How high of a priority should brokering NIL deals be for an athletic director? It isn’t No. 1, but it should be pretty well up there. Brokering NIL deals will presumably help with recruiting, and better recruiting will presumably lead to more winning, and more winning will help athletic departments make more money and gain more exposure, not just for a given athletic department, but an entire institution.

NIL is the new wave in college athletics. Everyone in power inside athletic departments should have been on board and ready to go as soon as July 1 hit.

Q: “Are David Jenkins, Both Gach, and Marco Anthony all seniors, or do they have another year? Confused on who’s granted another year after COVID.” -- @StGeorgeUte

A: I’m a little surprised at how much I have gotten this type of question of late, but I understand why. The Utah basketball roster on the school’s athletics website is not listing the players’ class according to what their eligibility is.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic last winter, the NCAA froze the eligibility clock, essentially awarding all student-athletes an extra year of eligibility, which means last season was a freebie. No one lost any eligibility last season. To use football as an easy example, Utes cornerback Clark Phillips III was a true freshman last season, but remember, last season didn’t count towards eligibility, so this fall, Phillips III still has true freshman eligibility.

David Jenkins had redshirt junior eligibility last season at UNLV, so he is still a redshirt junior at Utah with two seasons left to play. Marco Anthony had redshirt junior eligibility at Utah State last season, so he is once again a redshirt junior this season for the Utes. Both Gach’s situation is a little convoluted because the NCAA has yet to rule on his eligibility, but if he is deemed eligible, he will have true junior eligibility, but just like he did last season at Minnesota.

All of that said, that doesn’t mean Jenkins and Anthony will opt to use all of their eligibility, but they both have two seasons at their disposal.

All you have to remember is, last season didn’t count eligibility-wise. All of these guys are exactly what they were last season.

Q: “Will Utah basketball ever land a recruit and make me happy again?” -- @roweboat77

A: I recognize the frustration this fan base has endured in terms of recruiting in the six months since Craig Smith walked through the door.

Zach Keller went to Wake Forest, Milos Uzan went to Oklahoma, and now Collin Chandler, a homegrown kid coming off a huge summer and potentially climbing his way to a McDonald’s All-American Game nod, opts to go to BYU. Brutal, no doubt.

Nobody wants to hear this right now, but Craig Smith has a history of taking under-recruited guys and turning them into players. That’s a fact, and I’m not just talking about Neemias Queta.

Nobody wants to hear this either, and I’ll probably get into this more on Friday in the TribUte newsletter. This is going to take years, plural, to get this thing to where you want it to be. I have been consistent for months that I think this Utah team can be competitive immediately and win a bunch of games now, but if you want to be winning 20-plus, contend for the Pac-12, and not have to sweat on Selection Sunday? That is likely going to take some patience.

Never say that I am not the voice of reason around here.

Q: “What’s your favorite pasta dish and why is it linguini with clam sauce?” -- @mullet_ute

A: Linguini with clam sauce is a very adult order. I didn’t appreciate seafood until I was probably in my mid-20s, so I certainly never walked into an Italian joint and ordered linguini with clam sauce. I have no plans to start.

My favorite pasta dish is baked ziti. Simple, classic, forever a crowd-pleaser. I’m not that picky, and I would never ask this of a server, but if we could do the noodles al dente, that would be my preference.

Shoutout to Bamonte’s, a real old-school, red-sauce spot on Withers Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Q: “Would love to know the difference in attitude up on The Hill between a Larry Krystkowiak team and a Craig Smith team.” -- @utedaddy

A: Have we covered this at some point? We may have covered this at some point.

Anyway, I saw a grand total of three minutes of one Larry Krystkowiak practice before COVID struck, and I didn’t learn anything.

During this preseason, I saw bits and pieces of four or five Craig Smith practices, and the one thing that stands out is the intensity. They were getting after it, and they were doing so at a good pace.

Beyond that, there has been a lot of talk from Smith and his players about camaraderie and how everyone gets along. That could be a vanilla, nothing talking point, or that could be sincere. That has struck me as sincere, which is good. The players don’t have to love each other and hang out all the time, but I think that’s certainly an added benefit as you’re trying to build a team.

Q: “Should college basketball shift its season back a month to start in December? It’s never been a good fit in November.” -- @OuterDarknezz

A: I don’t know about November not being a good fit, but I do think starting it this early in November always feels clunky, like it’s being squeezed into the middle of college football, the NFL, and the start of the NBA.

For much of the 1990s, college basketball started right around Thanksgiving, so over that first week or so, you were getting the Maui Invitational, the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden, the old Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic in Springfield, Mass., and the like. We were getting big-time, high-profile games and events immediately.

From this past Tuesday when the season started through Thanksgiving, you’re going to get a lot of ugly ‘buy games’ and not enough big-time stuff, save for games like Villanova-UCLA and Texas-Gonzaga, both of which are this weekend.

I went off on a tangent here, but your point is valid. The sport is not a good fit where it is, an early November start and battling for relevance outside of the ardent fans and, frankly, the gamblers.

One more tangent while we’re here: The Preseason NIT semis at the Garden on Thanksgiving Eve used to be an early-season staple, but then the NCAA bought the event in 2005 and messed with the format. Eventually, it went from what was a true 16-team event with early rounds at campus sites and a fight to get to the Garden, to predetermining the four semifinalists without playing with a legitimate bracket.

I miss the Preseason NIT, as she once was.

Q: “I’ve been feeling cozy today because of the cool weather, and I’m a known scentsman. What are some of your favorite seasonal scents you are enjoying this fall?” -- @StaircaseWhitt

A: This is what you need to do. Pay attention.

You need to go to Anthropologie at City Creek. You need to find where the Boulangerie candles are. You need to grab an oatmeal cookie, a pumpkin souffle, and maybe a sweet vanilla cinnamon.

One in your bedroom, one on your coffee table, one in your guest bathroom, because putting a scented candle in your guest bathroom is a sure sign that you care what people think about you. No one, and I mean no one will judge you harshly if you have a candle in your guest bathroom.

Yankee Candles are for dorm rooms. Be better, be an adult, go to Anthropologie, grab some Boulangerie candles.