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Thinking back on his first-ever visit to the NFL draft last week, Kyle Whittingham had only one complaint.
It was about Garett Bolles: "He probably should have gone a little higher."
But for the Utah football coach, everything else about the weekend was hunky-dory. He flew to Philadelphia with offensive line coach Jim Harding (who also had an excellent weekend), sat in the green room with Bolles until he was picked by the Denver Broncos at No. 20 overall, then flew back home in time to make the Utah Jazz's Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers.
By the end of the weekend, Utah had seen a school-record eight prospects taken in the NFL draft, including four offensive linemen. Whittingham said it didn't surpass his expectations but it was on the "high end" of what he was hoping for.
"You never know exactly what to expect, and I've been fooled before by the draft," Whittingham said. "It really speaks to the level of commitment of our players: the hard work they put in, the development that takes place. This particular group of guys worked extremely hard."
As for the green room experience, Whittingham said "everything was first class." While he had hopes that Bolles might go earlier, he was glad to see John Elway snatch him up, and rested easy knowing that he'll join fellow former Ute Devontae Booker.
"I think he's in a good situation," he said, "and I think he'll flourish in the Denver organization."
Pac-12 meetings this week
The athletic directors and head coaches of the Pac-12 are meeting this week in Phoenix to discuss all manner of items. This is annually when the league's power brokers talk about bowl affiliations, TV deals and other business of the conference.
In a Monday conference call, Whittingham said he was particularly interested in several NCAA rule changes, particularly an early signing period which will allow high school seniors to sign letters of intent in December (the current early enrollment period for junior college players and early graduating seniors).
The rule change was approved by the Division I council last month, and will also prompt early official visits from high school juniors between April and June all of which Whittingham views as positive developments.
"It gives us a chance to get some more clarity on the situation when there's an early signing period," he said. "It will eliminate some of the 'decommit-recommit' in the game," he said.
Whittingham also views early junior visits as helping some prospects who have less means and less time to travel to schools; spreading out official visits earlier could give them a wider array of selection.
Home-and-home with Wyoming set
Utah football's nonconference schedule is getting a brush of regional flavor starting in 2020.
The Utes have agreed to a series with Wyoming, one of their former conference rivals. The series will be stretched out across five years, with games in 2020 and 2025.
The Utes will travel to War Memorial Stadium in Laramie in the first game, scheduled for Sept. 19, 2020. The Cowboys will return in 2025 to play at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Sept. 6.
Utah and Wyoming have met 83 times on the gridiron, with Utah accounting for a 51-31-1 series lead.
In a media roundtable last month, athletic director Chris Hill said he would be open to scheduling more home-and-home football games with Group of Five teams. But Utah's future nonconference schedule still lacks Power 5 punch: In the next nine years, Utah's only scheduled Power 5 opponent is Baylor (2023 and 2024).
One rule change that will have coaches checking their calendars: The Division I council voting to end two-a-days officially means that camp starts earlier. That means that Pac-12 media day when coaches and players meet with media and film ads, interviews and promotional material will have to be rescheduled, Whittingham said.
"Right now the media days are scheduled when everybody is going to open camp," he said. "That's going to be debated, I'm sure."