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Mike Sorensen: Whittingham won't use excuses

Just three games into the season and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has already made a big impression. Not because of the play of his team's, which has been respectable, if unspectacular.

Rather it was his reaction to his team's first loss in two years the other night in Texas. Many coaches would have railed against the officials for some questionable and horrible calls at key times of a tough overtime loss. Some U. fans were disappointed their coach didn't rant and rave and be more outspoken about the supposed inequities at the end of the game. But Whittingham hardly said a word, made no excuses and just looked to the future . . .

The game-ending apparent pick play against Ute cornerback Ryan Smith, may have just been an unfortunate collision and the Ute DB has admitted as much. However, that keep-the-clock-moving call after Brian Hernandez's catch in the final minute might have been the most blatant bad call I've ever seen. We've all seen that type of play a thousand times, where a receiver catches the ball and quickly steps out of bounds like Hernandez did. To keep the clock moving because of "forward progress" or whatever, was ridiculous . . .

The Utes also had reason to complain about the timekeeper, who seemed to let precious seconds tick off the clock after timeouts in the final couple of minutes when Utah had the ball. But Arizona had the same complaint two weeks earlier in a loss at Utah. Time-keepers just seem to get slow fingers at times, depending on the situation of the game . . .

Although Utah fans may not want to hear it, TCU's win might have been the best thing as far as the Mountain West Conference is concerned. A meager crowd of 25,000 showed up for TCU's first-ever MWC game and with the win at least the fans should be more inclined to come back and see the Frogs again. Can you imagine how interest might have dwindled if the Horned Frogs had lost their first-ever league game at home?

I still say Boise State, an up-and-coming school and athletic program with an enthusiastic fan base, would have been a better pick for the Mountain West Conference than TCU . . .

With every team in the MWC except New Mexico having at least one loss, the chances of the league making a splash in the BCS standings or even getting a ranked team anytime soon are slim. New Mexico is still unbeaten, but it may take the Lobos a long time to make the rankings even if they keep winning. And with consecutive road games at UTEP and TCU, that's a tough proposition . . .

As much as I like college football over pro football, here's a few reasons why I don't like it — Texas Tech 80, Sam Houston State 21 . . . North Carolina State 54, Eastern Kentucky 10 . . . Memphis 58, Chattanooga 14. More and more Division I-A teams are beating up on Division I-AA schools in meaningless games that serve no other purpose than to assure the bigger school of a win and make money for the smaller school . . .

Of course, don't tell that to UC Davis and Stanford. The Cardinal suffered what was the most embarrassing loss of the week, perhaps of the year, when it lost — at home — to UC Davis, 20-17 Saturday. Not only is UC Davis not a Division I-A program, it is in the third year of a four-year transition from Division II to I-AA . . .

Utah State has to be encouraged by the result of Saturday night's game between Nevada and UNLV. The Rebels, who are coming to Logan this week, lost to their cross-state rivals 22-14. It looks like it might be a tough year for former Ute assistant Mike Sanford, whose offenses looked so brilliant the past two years. Saturday night, his Rebels completed just 7 of 26 passes for 58 yards . . .

For those college fans who were bored last weekend with no college home games, get excited for this week. You've got Air Force at Utah Thursday night, TCU at BYU Saturday afternoon and UNLV at Utah State and Northern Arizona at Weber State Saturday night.

It's just too bad there isn't a way to plan out the schedules of the four in-state schools together in advance. If the Aggies and Wildcats had played at home Saturday with Utah and BYU not playing at all, they would have received a lot of media attention. This week they'll get lost in the shuffle, as usual.


E-mail: sor@desnews.com