BY Art Thiel 09:10PM 11/24/2020

Thiel: Huskies find a team, Utah, that can play

After Arizona State said it couldn’t muster 53 players, Utah was joined up with fellow free agent Washington for a little post-holiday get-together Saturday night at Husky Stadium.

WR Aaron Fuller let this pass get away during Washington’s 33-28 home loss to ninth-ranked Utah on Nov. 2, 2019. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Once the self-titled Conference of Champions, the Pac-12 has been reduced by the pandemic to a clearinghouse for the lost. Thursday afternoon, it put together two orphans, Washington and Utah, all dressed up for the holiday weekend with no place to go.

The Utes and Huskies abruptly will get together at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium to get some TV revenues from ESPN.

Washington Sunday learned its Apple Cup partner for a game Friday wasn’t happening when Washington State couldn’t field a team of 53 players because of the virus. Tuesday afternoon, Utah learned that its Saturday-then-Sunday game at Arizona State was scuttled for the same reason. The Sun Devils even had coach Herm Edwards testing positive for COVID-19 as proof.

So rather than scare up Four Seasons Total Landscaping University to play a nonconference game, the Pac-12 matched up the two conference members in hopes they will avoid infection long enough to play some ball in the dark and cold of an empty stadium by a big lake.

For the Huskies and Utes, it could be worse — ASU now will miss its third game in a row.

A Pac-12 statement on Tuesday evening read, “The scheduling of this game is consistent with the Conference’s commitment to provide opportunities for student-athletes through maximum scheduling flexibility while still prioritizing health and safety.” Translation:  Sufficient student assets in Seattle and Salt Lake City are available and momentarily healthy enough to book a revenue stream.

‘I’m just so excited for our students, coaches and staff to have a chance to compete again this weekend,” UW sthletics director Jen Cohen said in a statement. “Like we’ve said, they have worked so hard to get to this point and we want to provide opportunities for them to be on the field. We’ve had some great battles with Utah the last few years and I’m looking forward to welcoming them to Seattle this weekend.”

It came together quickly because the Utes, according to coach Kyle Whittingham, were putting in their game plan for the Sun Devils.

“All the focus right now is on ASU,” he told Salt Lake reporters Tuesday morning. “Until we’re told differently, that’s where we’ll put the majority of attention, because we’ve still got to pay attention to the other possibility.

“We hope to find out sooner rather than later. It would be ideal if we find out today. As the week moves on, it becomes a more of a difficult situation. But we have no control over that. So we’re just waiting for a definitive answer. Until that point, the main focal point is Arizona State.”

Now he gets 2-0 Washington on the road. After having their first two games declared nolo contendre because of their own virus problems, the Utes Saturday lost at home 33-17 to No. 20-ranked USC.

Utah is not nearly the same team that came to Husky Stadium on Nov. 2, 2019, 8-1 and ranked ninth in the nation. They scored 21 unanswered points to win 33-28 and went on to win the Pac-12 South title.

Since Washington owned series between the schools 12-1, the win was among the biggest in Whittingham’s then-15 years at the school.

“It’s up there for me,” he said. “I’d have to go back and look at them, but it’s up there. It’s very, very satisfying, especially under the circumstances.”

Utah has lost many of its top players, including QB Tyler Huntley and RB Zack Moss. A new quarterback, sophomore Cam Rising was 3-for-6 for 45 yards and had two turnovers before a shoulder injury ended his season in the first quarter. He was replaced by graduate-student South Carolina transfer Jake Bentley, who was 16 of 28 for 171 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Huskies are 2-0 after beating Oregon State 27-21, followed by an impressive 44-27  victory Saturday over  Arizona, both at home. Their season opener at Cal Nov. 7 was canceled when the Bears couldn’t muster 53 players either.  The Apple Cup was supposed to be in Pullman. After Utah, the Huskies’ next game is also at home, Dec. 5 against Stanford.

That means their only road game scheduled right now in this caricature of a season, which has seen eight Pac-12 games canceled in three weeks, is Dec. 12 at Oregon.

The Pac-12 is supposed to book a round of cross-division games Dec. 19 to accompany the conference championship game. But at this point, even getting to December looks like a formidable achievement against a virus that is having its way with the U.S.

 


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YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    The BYU coach (9-0, 14th FBS) was interviewed today and was very disappointed their negotiation with UW was ended. He did not explain what happened, but now we know.
    From a UW booster view point it is too bad the UW is not playing BYU, since they are ranked 14th therefore would be a much more meaningful win for UW.
    I watched the USC – Utah game and it’s a shame we are not playing USC – hopefully we will in the PAC-12 Championship – because USC is very “beatable”. Their QB is quite average and their last two wins have been comebacks in the last few minutes. They have not been impressive wins.

    • Guy K. Browne

      I might be wrong, but it was my understanding that if a conference team could be scheduled, it would have a mandatory priority over a non-conference game.
      Is this what you understand?

      • Alan Harrison

        Couldn’t have said it better. Thanks, Guy.

        • 1coolguy

          I know this goes against the popular narrative, but this WaPo article lays it our quite clearly:
          “Children are much more likely to die of homicides (there were 1,865 in 2016, according to government data), drowning (995) or even fires and burns (340)”
          At the time is this September article, approximately 100 aged 18 and under had died.
          Let them play and get over this covid=death BS.

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/covid-children-deaths/2020/09/25/9df39bf4-fdad-11ea-8d05-9beaaa91c71f_story.html

          • Alan Harrison

            That’s dumb as heck and I can’t let it pass as some sort of “truth.” No one is out to get you. Thanks for a September article. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the rates NOW are worse than they’ve ever been. And (I can’t believe I have to write this) this isn’t about the kids (it’s never about the kids), it’s about their parents, contacts, friends, neighbors, etc. Covid does, in fact, equal death to over a quarter million people in the US alone…so far. We are currently experiencing a death rate of one World Trade Center every three days.Your attitude is dangerous and selfish. “Let the kids play” is ridiculous. “Make the kids play” is at work here. And even if it were “Let,” you wouldn’t “let” your kid play in the middle of a freeway just because he wants to, would you? Have a good, separated, small, non-Covid Thanksgiving.

          • 1coolguy

            IF, and probably not, you had read the WaPo article, there were 200,000 deaths when it was written. There are approx 250k now, an increase of 25%. So let’s update the “100” or so to “125” or so.
            Do you understand ALL players are tested repeatedly during the week? And that those who test positive are isolated? So it appears the only downside is if one of those who test positive is foolishly in contact with others, thus your ire should be toward that player, especially if he is foolish enough to be around those who are ACTAULLY dying, those over 65.
            So, let the healthy players play and for the rest of us, please apply some LOGIC and REALITY to this pandemic.

          • Bruce McDermott

            According to the CDC, as of 11/21 over 40,000 deaths from Covid have occurred among those under 65 in the US. Moreover, Covid is not a binary disease–the issue is not as simple as dying or returning to baseline health. There is a third option–not dying but struggling indefinitely with compromised health. That said, I think actual stats with players should guide policy. If teams can stay healthy with a very low positivity rate, that rate does not rise, and there are effective protocols for quarantine for the few positive players, let ’em play.

          • art thiel

            Coolguy only sees dead people.

            You’re right that schools are going to great lengths to protect players, and they are safer within their programs that within the general population. The infection rate remains low.

            But if you were a liability lawyer who works for a university, you would advise that even one death from a contagious disease known to all parties would generate litigation that would be crippling.

          • 1coolguy

            Please refer to Table 1 in the following CDC site. I am presuming you approve of CDC stats.
            https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm#AgeAndSex

          • Guy K. Browne

            Negative tests are a potential red herring. A player might be incubating the virus without testing positive. Testing is only one tool in the toolbox to limit the spread of a virus.

            “Dr. Peter Phillips, a clinical professor of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia.

            “A negative test doesn’t mean that we’re not incubating (COVID-19)… It does not provide the answer that people would like it to give you.””

            For their sake, I hope that the NCAA has a giant rabbits foot and that they are collectively rubbing the fur clean off the bone. The money that is being gained by playing games will burn like a California exploding-tree wildfire if players parents start lining up lawyers for lawsuits.

          • art thiel

            Well said.

          • Husky73

            Keep punching, 1cool. Pretty soon you’ll believe that 232 is more than 306, that Colorado has a border wall and that wind mills cause cancer. But, I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

          • art thiel

            +1

          • 1coolguy
          • art thiel

            Here, coolguy, this is from the damn Mayo Clinic. Stop peddling the ignorant narrative. It’s not all about death counts. Listen to someone other than Fox;

            https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-long-term-effects/art-20490351

          • 1coolguy

            Geez Art, you really have your shorts in a knot – Now I’m sure you will have a fine MSNBC or CNN based comment to make.
            Always a “pleasure” to chat with Blue Seattle, Sawant land, hehe
            BTW, we don’t get Fox here…..

          • Hockeypuck

            You know, I really getting sick of your shit.

      • art thiel

        Yes, conference orphans first.

        The season is going to have so many games unplayed that the season has little meaning. Yes, a dress rehearsal.

    • art thiel

      The BYU coach wasn’t well informed. UW cast a net among availables, not knowing whether ASU wouldn’t be able to play Utah. Through no fault of its own, BYU has played a weak schedule needed a Power 5 game for poll legitimacy.

      • 1coolguy

        Utah isn’t ranked, BYU is 14th – unless UW is required to play a PAC-12 team, it appears they made a mistake.

  • Charlie W

    Loved FSTL University. Coach Giuliani, I hear.

    • Guy K. Browne

      Rudy… the sequel.

      • Gina Harden

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      • art thiel

        I should have thought of that. Well done.

  • Howie Seago

    “… a clearinghouse for the lost….. two orphans, Washington and Utah, all dressed up for the holiday weekend with no place to go.”
    Excellente.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, Howie.

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  • Husky73

    Did you say Utes?