There's nobody on Utah's football roster than knows the ins and outs of the program better than Britain Covey. There's nobody on the roster than knows the ins and outs of college football better than Covey.
So as a captain and membership of the leadership council for the University of Utah, when Covey speaks, everyone listens.
Covey's latest message to the team isn't an easy one to deliver — and is causing a lot of strife throughout the nation. But as a leader, he feels as if it's his job to help the Utes out in every way possible — and for him, that's about
“I am an advocate for getting the vaccine. I’ve been able to talk to a lot of my (teammates). ... I think reasonable skepticism about something like that is totally normal," Covey said during Pac-12 Media Day. "We’ve had a lot of players that were skeptical about it. It’s been interesting to talk to them and help find the resources to help them feel more comfortable with it.”
For Covey, the vaccine isn't something he elected to do simply based on media perception. He's spent countless hours reviewing the studies so he could make the most informed decision regarding his health and those of others.
He also has family ties directly related to the creation and study of the vaccine, as his cousin — who currently attends Harvard — is part of a team researching the vaccine and its effects.
“She’s helped me a lot by sending me articles that give guys confidence,” he said. “With something like that, there’s going to be a lot of misinformation that goes around that can scare you. I don’t know everything, of course, but I always side with the majority of health officials. I think it’s important that our team gets it.”
But Covey isn't the only voice that matters in the locker room, and his might not even the most powerful. The only player who might get more respect than 'Father Time' is all-American linebacker Devin Lloyd, a three-year starter
When speaking during Pac-12 media day, Lloyd discussed the topic head-on when asked by members of the media. Rather than shying away from the controversial subject, the Utah captain voiced his thoughts and opinions in a very dignified way.
“It’s definitely important because you never know how things might pan out with more stricter areas like L.A., for example. They could say that only vaccinated guys can travel,” he said. “You don’t want to have to deal with how it was last season. If you’re vaccinated, then contact tracing can knock you out. Or if you do test positive, you have to be knocked out for 10-14 days. It’s not a deal you want to handle. It’s definitely important to emphasize that.”
New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has been a strong advocate for the vaccine since taking over his new role a few months ago. According to him, eight of the conference's 12 teams have already achieved more than 80% total vaccination — with six of them above the 90% threshold.
He also noted that nine of the 12 schools are requiring vaccinations.
But the biggest topic that has yet to be determined is what happens if a team cannot field a squad due to contact tracing or positive tests? The SEC, in order to push the vaccine along, said programs will forfeit — and potentially cause great harm for the CFP aspirations — if they cannot field teams.
Kliavkoff said the Pac-12 will make a decision on protocols and consequences sometime in mid-August.