Pac-12 Notes – September

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Pac-12 Notes

September 30th

Pac-12 up to six ranked teams

Just what the struggling Buffs needed to hear … half of the Pac-12 is ranked in the latest poll.

Oregon held onto its spot at No. 2 after struggling for a half against Washington State before prevailing, 51-26. Idle USC remained at No. 13, followed closely at No. 14 by Oregon State, 38-35 victors on the road against Arizona.

Stanford, which lost 17-14 to Washington on Thursday night, fell from 8th to 18th, while the Huskies joined the poll at No. 23.

The other Pac-12 team re-joining the polls after a week’s absence was UCLA. The Bruins’ 42-14 victory over Colorado was enough to put UCLA back in the poll, at No. 25.

Here is a link to the entire poll.

September 28th

Scott confirms discussions concerning 7th BCS bowl game

From ESPN … Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott confirmed Thursday night the conference is in preliminary talks with the Big 12 about creating a seventh bowl game that would match a representative from one of the two conferences against the best team from a group of five conferences, including the Big East.

Scott spoke at halftime of Washington’s game against No. 8 Stanford. He said the talks with the Big 12 are in the infant stages and started after all the conference commissioners met last week in Chicago.

“There is an ongoing concern some of the conferences have had about AQ, non-AQ, access and those types of issues, and in that conversation there was a consensus that we could all imagine a seventh bowl game so there is more access points going forward for all conferences than existed in the past,” Scott said. “In my view, given that there is so much positive about the new system going forward about having a playoff and neutral site championship game it would be a real shame if all that progress and all that success is clouded by continued discussions about access and have and have-nots. I hope with all the progress we’re making, I’m certainly in favor of creating more access points and making that conversation something of the past.”

A person with direct knowledge of the plan for the four-team playoff in 2014 told The Associated Press on Wednesday that either a Pac-12 or a Big 12 team likely will be the opponent for the top-rated champion from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conferences did not want to make the plan public.

The proposal has the Pac-12 sending either its champion or a replacement team to the game in years when the Rose Bowl hosts a national semifinal. In years the Rose Bowl is a traditional Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup, the Big 12 would send one of its top teams to the game.

The deal with the Big 12 and Pac-12 would be similar to the one the Orange Bowl is working on with the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference. That deal, which has not been completed, would match a team from either of those conferences or Notre Dame against the Atlantic Coast Conference champ or a another ACC team.

“There is discussion going on around the seventh bowl, the Big 12 and I have had about the possibility but we’ve also discussed other possibilities as well,” Scott said. “The reports I saw made it seem a little bit further along and a little more concrete than I would describe it as. It was a fresh conversation coming out of Chicago last week. I wouldn’t describe it as far along as I read but I’m happy to confirm that it is a conversation that it’s being had.”

The original playoff plan had the national semifinals rotating among six bowl sites, giving the new system two playoff games and four other high-revenue bowl games each season. The top four teams determined by a selection committee, regardless of conference affiliation, will play in the semifinals. The winners meet in a championship game about a week later.

The spots in those other four games would be for other highly ranked teams, but those slots have quickly started filling up as the major conferences began making deals.

The Rose Bowl, as has been tradition, will always match the Pac-12 and Big Ten when it does not host a semifinal. The new marquee bowl being created by the Big 12 and the SEC — site to be determined — will be also part of the system, so those two spots are filled. The Orange Bowl’s deals took two more spots out of play.

That led to concerns about limited access to the high-revenue games for the other five conferences.

The rebuilding Big East, which currently has automatic-qualifying status to the Bowl Championship Series, has been trying to gain a more secure spot in the new postseason system.

The person with direct knowledge of the plan said new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco spearheaded the push for the addition of a seventh game to be added to the system, and presented a plan for the highest-rated champion from the other five conferences to be assured a spot in the game.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson told the AP last week there was enough support for a seventh game among the commissioners to make it happen.

Allowing the Pac-12 and Big 12 to share the spot opposite the best of the rest in a bowl would give the game stability and likely increase the value of its television rights, as compared to having the opponent be left undetermined.

September 27th

A seventh bowl game to be added to the playoff mix?

From Stewart Mandel at Sports Illustrated … Remember the excitement back in June when BCS officials announced the initial details of college football’s new postseason model? Beginning in December 2014, the sport would stage its first four-team playoff. In so doing, it would replace the currently stretched-out and diluted BCS lineup with a leaner, merit-based six-game package played entirely on Dec. 31 and Jan 1.

“There will be three [games] each day, that’s how we envision it,” said BCS executive director Bill Hancock at the time, adding that the playoff selection committee’s rankings ” will be used to identify who will be filling the [four] games that are not hosting the semifinals. That’s the concept.”

If it seemed too good to be true — well, it was.

As more details have emerged over the past several months, we’ve begun to see that BCS 2.0 will more closely resemble the current BCS than its creators would have us believe. That’s especially true in light of the latest development, discussed by the commissioners last week in Chicago: It appears increasingly likely that a seventh bowl will be added to the semifinal rotation, and that bowl will host the highest-ranked team from among the Big East and current non-AQ conferences.

The expected six-game series was going to be split into two categories. The Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12), Champions Bowl (SEC vs. Big 12) and Orange Bowl (ACC) are so-called “contract bowls,” in which certain conferences have locked in guaranteed spots. The ACC finalized a deal last week to face the highest-ranked available team among the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. The other three bowls were going to remain open.

But concerns from the five conferences without a contracted bowl — the Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt — led to discussions last week about adding a seventh game to the mix.

“Both the five major conferences looking down and the five conferences looking up, we’re all concerned about access,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said while attending last weekend’s Kansas State-Oklahoma game. “This is something that is going to be around for a long time. We want to make sure we get it right.”

No disrespect to fans of Boise State, Louisville or Cincinnati, a few of the teams most likely to benefit from guaranteed access to BCS 2.0, but it sure seems like the commissioners are heading right back down the path that forced reform in the first place. In addition to the annual angst over determining the national champion (which only the naïve think will cease with a playoff), two of the biggest complaints about the current system have been the inclusion of undeserving teams like 2004 Pittsburgh (8-3) and 2010 Connecticut (8-4) and poor attendance at the bowls that got shoved to post-New Year’s weeknights.

So why are the suddenly benevolent power-conference commissioners OK with adding a game that may annually feature a low-ranked team (this season’s highest-ranked team from those five leagues is currently No. 19 Louisville) and would almost certainly have to be played either earlier (Dec. 29 or 30) or later (Jan. 2 or 3) than the others?

“For me, it’s not a big deal, because the focus going forward will be on the playoff,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. “It’s a distraction college football doesn’t need for people to focus on access. There are enough great bowl games to go around.”

By the time one or more Pac-12 teams makes the playoff and another goes to the Rose Bowl, we may be talking about a “BCS” game between 10-2 Nevada and 8-4 UCLA.

Have we not been down this road already?

“There’s a lot that’s improved from the old system,” said Scott, “so when it comes to this issue of access or extra contract bowls, I don’t see any reason not to go forward, because there’s so much new and positive about [the playoff]. I’d like to put to rest any of the traditional questions and concerns about access and AQ versus non-AQ.”

September 26th

A detailed breakdown of the Buffs’ final drive

You have to hand it to Brian J. Anderson of cougcenter.com. Mr. Anderson went through, in painstaking detail, the Buffs’ final drive of the game against Washington State. Using still photos, along with highlights of each play, Anderson walks us through how the Buffs were able to put together a 12-play, 70-yard drive to victory. It’s definitely worth your time (though I’m not sure many Cougar fans are going to want to read through it all … Play-by-play analysis of Colorado’s final touchdown drive against Washington State

Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne to retire

From ESPN … Tom Osborne, who put together one of the most successful coaching runs in college football history before serving in Congress and taking the reins as Nebraska athletic director five years ago, is retiring.

The 75-year-old Osborne announced his decision Wednesday at a news conference and said he will retire on Jan. 1, sticking around for several months as needed.

“At some point, whether you’re able to function or not, the perception that you’re getting old can get in the way,” Osborne said. “I don’t want to be one of those guys everybody is walking around wringing their hands about, what are they going to do with him. That happens sometimes.”

Osborne is most widely known for his coaching. Every one of his 25 teams won at least nine games, and three of his last four teams won national championships. He retired with a career record of 255-49-3 — an .836 winning percentage that ranked fifth all-time among Division I coaches — and 13 conference titles. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998, the year after he retired.

… While you cannot deny Osborne’s success on the field, I cannot bring myself to say that I respect the man. Not after what he did at the conclusion of the 1990 season. First, in Nebraska’s bowl game against Georgia Tech, the team was either not prepared or indifferent, in getting blasted 45-10. Then, after Colorado won its bowl game, a 10-9 victory over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, Osborne voted Colorado, the No. 1 team in the nation before the bowl games, 6th in the coaches’ poll. The Buffs then had to share the national champioship with Georgia Tech after the Yellow Jackets finished one point above Colorado. Had Osborne even gone so far as to list Colorado 4th in the final poll, there would be no asterik attached to CU’s national championship.

Yes, Osborne went on to win three national titles (one shared), and his string of nine win seasons (when teams played 11 game regular seasons) is impressive. Still, the fact that Osborne couldn’t live with the notion that a Colorado team would win the national championship before he did makes him marks him as forever petty in my book.

USC defensive back hospitalized

From the LA Times … USC defensive back Brian Baucham remains hospitalized because of an unspecified breathing issue that occurred after the fifth-year senior played in Saturday’s game against California, a person close to the situation said Monday.

Baucham, from Torrance, was in intensive care and on a ventilator Saturday and Sunday, but he was removed from the device Monday and his condition was improved, said the person, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Baucham, 22, played against Hawaii and Syracuse but not in the Trojans’ loss at Stanford on Sept. 15.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Baucham made three tackles in the Trojans’ 27-9 victory over Cal at the Coliseum. He was tended to on the sideline during the game and was reportedly taken to the hospital by ambulance.

A USC athletic department spokesman declined to comment about Baucham’s status.

September 25th

CSU Stadium decision coming next week

The controversial proposal to build a $246 on-campus stadium in Ft. Collins is set to reach a climax next week.

But a sports economist hired by opponents foresees doom and gloom if the University goes forward.

From the Coloradoan … A sports economist hired by opponents of Colorado State University’s proposal to build a new on-campus football stadium says financial and attendance projections provided by CSU’s stadium consultant are exaggerated and that the project’s direct benefits would exceed costs only under “highly unusual” circumstances.

“In other words, under the most pessimistic of conditions, the new stadium could lose as much as $218 million over 30 years,” concluded Joel Maxcy, a Temple University professor of sports and recreation management.

In most cases, he told a gathering of about 50 people during one of two presentations Monday, “the revenues generated by the stadium do not support its cost.” Maxcey was hired by the anti-stadium group Save Our Stadium, Hughes, to analyze projections made by consultants hired by Colorado State University.

CSU is considering whether to build a $246 million, privately financed 43,000-seat stadium in the middle of campus to replace the aging Hughes Stadium west of Fort Collins. Boosters say the stadium will help generate additional income and excitement for CSU through an improved football program.

CSU President Tony Frank and Maxcy discussed the report Monday morning. Frank said he’s expecting to announce a decision by early next week but still welcomes “any reasonable, objective analysis that tries to shed light on the best path forward as I finalize my decision.”

Maxcy said the consultants hired by CSU to help justify building the stadium were overly optimistic about game attendance, sales of luxury seats and even how much money would be provided by donors.

Maxcy’s report:

• “New stadiums do in almost every circumstance generate more revenue than their predecessors. However, except for highly unusual circumstances, the direct costs will exceed the additional revenue.”

• “A primary benefit is that an upgraded football profile may warrant a bid from an elite level conference. However, there is no indication that this elite group is expanding, nor that CSU, even with a new stadium, is on the short list of potential invitees.”

• “Empirical economic research reveals that the boost in attendance from a new stadium is primarily a first-year phenomenon; the biggest attendance increase is routinely shown to be the initial year of operations and is known as the honeymoon effect.”

• “It is clearly observed that fluctuations in attendance at CSU are directly related to team quality. While it is possible that the new stadium could help recruiting and boost winning, thus attendance, that would be just one of the many factors involved in that equation.”

• “The Denver metro area is saturated with opportunities for corporate buyers of luxury seating at sporting events. A quick look at the current demand shows that CSU football does not sell out its current modest inventory of luxury seats.”

Still, it would be hard for CSU to back down – after calling Hughes Stadium a dump – to tell its coaches, players and fans that the old stadium is more than acceptable for future use.

We’ll see …

September 23rd

Oregon up to No. 2 in the polls

The Oregon Ducks, 49-0 victors over previously ranked Arizona, leaped over LSU into the No. 2 spot in the Associated Press poll this week.

Oregon is in position, by winning out, to play for the BCS national championship. The Ducks were already in position, realistically, as Alabama and LSU will play each other in the regular season, with Oregon likely to leap the loser of that game.

The rest of the Pac-12 …

- Stanford was idle (the Cardinal play Washington on Thursday night), but traded places with West Virginia, moving up one spot after the Mountaineers struggled with Maryland before winning, 31-21;

- USC, 27-9 victors over Cal, did not impress enough to move up from its spot at No. 13;

- Oregon State, previously just on the outside of the Top 25, made its 2012 poll debut at No. 18 after knocking off No. 19 UCLA, 27-20;

- Arizona and UCLA, losers to Oregon and Oregon State, respectively, fell out of the poll. UCLA fell to No. 27 overall, while Arizona fell to No. 31. Arizona State, with an impressive 37-7 victory over Utah, had eight votes in the new poll, good enough for 39th place overall.

ESPN’s Ted Miller on Colorado and Washington State

Colorado isn’t a complete disaster: When Colorado was losing 31-14 at Washington State early in the fourth quarter, it appeared everything was mostly going to script. In fact, it even felt like an uptick for the woeful Buffaloes, who had started 0-3 in the worst possible way. But something seemed to click, and instead of accepting defeat, the Buffs fought back. Their efforts were rewarded with a three-touchdown barrage that gave them a 35-34 win. The specter of a winless season is now gone. That is a worrisome demon to exorcise. And the young Buffs got to see that good things sometimes happen to teams that fight back. A win might not signal a massive transformation — the issues that led to the 0-3 start are still present — but it certainly will help coach Jon Embree get a good night of sleep.

Mike Leach won’t transform Washington State overnight: Of course, the home side of the field inside Martin Stadium isn’t feeling too keen. There was so much goodwill and optimism after the hiring of Leach that there was a feeling he would be able to take a respectable crew of returning players and quickly turn them into a bowl team. That might not be the case. Leach, like most new coaches taking over a program in the dumps, might need some time to implement his system and recruit his type of players. On the downside, the Cougars’ lack of poise and sloppiness — particularly in the fourth quarter — must trace back to some source deserving blame. It’s not unreasonable to posit that Leach and his players have not yet clicked. There was a yielding in this loss that isn’t easy to write off.

September 21st

Connor Halliday almost certain starter against Buffs

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review … There’s no reason to think Connor Halliday won’t start at quarterback on Saturday. The sophomore from Spokane took starter’s reps during the scout-team session as Jeff Tuel watched. What interests me now, then, is whether Tuel is healthy enough to back up Halliday if necessary, or if he’s still being held out as a precaution. We may never know, of course, but Tuel seemed to move and throw well enough this week in practice to believe he could play if needed. Hard to judge, though.

Since Washington State does not release injury reports, here are some guesses as to who may miss the Colorado game …

… There isn’t a whole lot else to report. from a personnel standpoint. (Senior offensive lineman) Dan Spitz was absent once again, was was the presumably injured (sophomore running back) Rickey Galvin. (Freshman defensive end) Destiny Vaeao is still working out on the side with a group of presumably injured players that includes (junior linebacker) Darren Markle and (sophomore wide receiver) Henry Eaddy.

Washington State takes on home-and-home with Wyoming

Perhaps buoyed by being a 20-point favorite over one 0-3 Front Range team, Washington State is ready to take on another 0-3 Front Range team.

Wyoming has a resume almost as bad as that of Colorado. The Cowboys have an 0-3 record, which includes a (respectable?) 37-17 loss to Texas, followed by home losses to Toledo (those damn Rockets!) and Cal Poly (a Big Sky Conference team … ).

So Washington State figured … why not add Wyoming to the schedule?

The two teams will play a home-and-home, with Wyoming heading off to Pullman in 2015, with the Cougars coming to Laramie in 2018.

 

September 20th

Lane Kiffin’s 29-second press conference

If nothing else, you have to give it to Jon Embree for not shirking the press. Embroiled in a season which might cost him his job, Embree took questions for over a half hour on Tuesday (the transcript of Embree’s press conference is reprinted, below).

USC, the preseason No. 1 team in the nation, lost to Stanford last weekend, dropping to No. 13 in the polls … It’s tough times in TroyLand.

So you can understand why head coach Lane Kiffin wasn’t much interested in talking with the press after practice on Wednesday … but 29 seconds?

Here is the press conference, in it’s entirety:

 

Now, USC did institute a policy whereby reporters were not to ask questions about injured players, but this spoiled brat act is not new to Kiffin. Earlier this season, he banned a reporter from practices for reporting on injured players, only to have the reporter reinstated after the “misunderstanding” was clarified.

Compare … Jon Embree Press Luncheon Quotes

General

“This coming week we are going to move [offensive coordinator] Eric Bieniemy down to the sidelines to help with some of the younger players and keep getting that side going.  You know what he brings, energy and passion.  [Assistant head coach] Rip Scherer will stay up, so he will help Eric with the play calling duties, as far as from the passing game and the different things that he sees.  We are going to stay the same with the quarterback rotation; right now it will still be Jordan [Webb] and Connor [Wood].  Both of those guys did some good things, some bad, but we will keep doing that, and then keep working Connor in as he continues to earn his reps and continues to improve.  That’s really it from a personnel standpoint.  We will keep Will Perciak outside at defensive end, he is really starting to grow there and being a factor for us.  It has allowed us to play the younger guys inside and get them more reps-[Josh] Tupou, [Justin] Solis, and [Tyler] Henington along with Nate [Bonsu].  So we feel good about the four-man rotation in there and with us facing an offense this week that is a spread and pass them around, not having a tight end attached, that will help Will and help us with him being on the edge.  As far as injuries, [Ray] Polk will not be back, he is still down unfortunately.  Greg Henderson, it looks like he will be able to go so that’s good.  Gus Handler, probably won’t make it, he will be there, but I don’t know if he will be able to play.  So we will continue to shuffle the offensive line, we will play around with those different combinations.  Some of the guys that got in there last week like Stephane Nembot did well, and we want to try and get him going some more.  Based on that, it might determine if it’s [Daniel] Munyer, or however we do it, as far as an offensive line standpoint.  Brad Cotner is out, he ruptured a capsule in his big toe, tough kid.  He did it early in the game and played a good portion of the game before he couldn’t do it anymore, so we have to calm that foot down.  He may be a four or five week guy, so we will see with him.  Doug Rippy won’t be going this week either.  Marques Mosley was nicked up, I think he is going to be able to go, he is a tough kid, great kid; obviously it’s important to him, so he will be ready to go.”

On Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy Coming Down To The Field

“With it being a young team and trying to help keep those guys going, get them going and energized.  Eric feels more comfortable down there, but as a play caller you can see everything from up above, so now that we have been together a year and Rip [Scherer] kind of knows how he thinks and I think.  Eric feels like he could help us more being down.”

On Rip Scherer Calling The Plays

“What he will be doing is telling Eric what is happening so that Eric can make the calls accordingly, same with if he sees something he will say, ‘E.B., run aggie out of this, they are playing three scene.’  So that will be kind of it, as opposed to him being next to Eric, writing him notes and doing it, he will be able to relay that information to him.”

On The Team’s Moral

“I will have met with the entire travel team by two o’clock today.  We started last night, went to about 11:15; 10 minute meetings with each player on the travel team, and then I will meet with the rest of the players Wednesday and Thursday.  Meeting with these guys, I talked to them about a couple of things; I wanted to let them know I believe in them, and especially as young players you cannot hear that enough.  I don’t want them to worry, I don’t want their confidence shaking, we took a punch and got knocked down, but we are going to get back up.  The other thing I talked to them about is that I have been in their situation, as a player and as a coach, and we can get out of it.  It’s one play at a time, its one game at a time, and then I wanted to know how they are feeling. There is a bunch of resolve in that locker room.  Those players are anxious; they are excited to get going back to work, to practice.  They realize they have worked and done a lot of work and they are not seeing the fruits of their labor right now, but they know that it is going to happen.  It has been as good for me to talk to them as it’s been for them to talk to me; it’s been a two-way street.  I just shared with them some ideas and kind of how we are going to get out of this/ I’m not going to share that, but it’s been a great response and I am excited to practice today; actually, I can’t wait to go.  At two o’clock will be my last meeting, as far as the travel squad, and then I will meet with all of the other players.  By Thursday at some point I will be done with my meetings.”

On His Experience With an Offensive Coordinator Down On The Field

“Kyle was down on the field, Shanahan, so I was there with him.  In Kansas City, there it was up.  When I was at UCLA, it was up and down.  I have been around both.  When you are upstairs for a coach it is a, this is my own personal feel, is that it’s better from the standpoint of; there is no noise, it’s just you, it’s like you are watching tape.  You can see everything you can make your calls and do what you need to do.  My first year at UCLA, as the passing game coordinator and doing stuff, it was such a difference of when I was up then when I was down as far as,  ‘Hey, do this, run this.’  You don’t have the emotion of the game, it’s like you are a surgeon, you are doing things that way.  As we all know with Eric, unfortunately I guess, the press boxes aren’t big enough for him, he is all over the place up there.  With him having some young backs, and with some of the youth on that side of the ball, he wants to be down there where he can look in their eyes and talk to them and get a feel for things.”

On Translating Practice To Games

“This group of players, they are pleasers.  That is one thing about this team, they are pleasers.  I think at times when you are that kind of person, you want to try and do it perfectly, you don’t want to make a mistake, you don’t want to do some stuff.  And when you do that, you make mistakes and things arise. Part of it is relaxing and understanding, you don’t play a perfect game and you still win, and understanding about focusing and getting in on the next play. That’s probably our number one issue when it goes bad. To me, a good player is when you make a mistake, you have a bad play, it doesn’t turn into two, three or four bad plays, and that’s what happened to us Saturday.  They had five one play drives, because they are thinking about the drive before when they gave up a play, instead of just focusing on the next play.  That happens at times when you are new at doing something, but we have got to learn to move on and focus on the next play, and that is one of the things we talked about.  We, meaning me and the players, have been doing individual meetings about ways to try and combat that.”

On Veterans vs. New Guys

“There is a guy (former CU head football coach Bill McCartney) in the room that reminded me of when I was a young player, how resilient you are when you are young.  I think that is why going through these meetings with these guys about their resolve, about their going to make it right, that it is going to turn.  It works both ways, sometimes you can mope, and then you have some guys that can just forget, and we need to get more guys that understand that.  Part of that is picking that guy up, part of it is ten guys coming up to him and saying, ‘Hey, don’t worry, we got you, lets get the next one,’ you cannot do it by yourself.  So it is a combination of things and it’s been a learning experience for them each game.  It’s been three very unique games to say the least, on how we’ve lost.  The one thing that has not changed about these guys is their resolve and their determination.”

On Outsiders Upset With Results

“I would call someone that was in the program and ask them, that is what I would do.  I understand why people are upset, that is fine.  It is what it is on that, but that doesn’t change what I have to do, it doesn’t change how I go about and prepare everyday, it doesn’t change how I interact with these kids and how they go and prepare.  I have been through it as a player and a coach, and everybody that has coached and played has at some point.  One of the things I talked about with the players is about struggle, we have all struggled to get to certain points in our lives and the ones that have been successful, in other words keep obtaining things, are people that don’t listen to crowd noise, are people that believe in themselves, are people that compete and fight.  There are people that told me I couldn’t play college football, so do I listen.  I’m sure there are people that have told you, you couldn’t do some things right, what did you do? Did you listen? My kids, all my players who have played for me, whether if they are in the NFL now, whether they are in business, they are fathers, whether they are on the team or if they are my kids, they are looking and I’m going make sure they see the right thing.”

On Bringing Bieniemy’s Enthusiasm To The Bench

“That is some of it, and two; it’s about having fun.  We get in the games and because the lights are on, they get so robotic and their passion and their fun and all of their hard work, that’s when you are supposed to have fun, and we are not doing that.  That is something we need to do, we need to have fun.  Part of fun is winning, but we were also winning in two of those games; 14-4 and 14-0, but yet it wasn’t that, ‘Let’s have fun.’  So that is something I will address and talk with the team, I have talked with them individually, but just some things that we are going to talk about, different ways and some different things to go about doing that, and we will see if it translates to Saturday.  That is where the frustration is with the players because you can ask any of them, they will tell you about how hard they have prepared and how hard they have worked doing the right things, and they are just not seeing the results, not yet, they will see the results.  That is where the frustration comes in with those kids, but at the same time, and we talked about this as a staff; they are going to continue to see us prepare, when they come by the office at 8:30, nine o’clock at night, the parking lot will be full because we will still be in there grinding.  I left last night around 11:30, and there were four or five coaches still there working. So they are going to see that, just because you hit a wall or a roadblock, doesn’t mean you stop preparing, it doesn’t mean you succumb to it.  You fight and you find a way to knock it down, and that’s what we will do.”

On The Quarterback Rotation on Saturday

“We will stay with the same rotation for Saturday; we will start with Jordan [Webb].  Jordan had some opportunities early; we missed one with a drop which would have helped us.  But I thought he did a good job of coming back, he forced that one and obviously that turned into six for the other team.  I thought he handled it well when he came out and was still supportive of his teammates.  Connor [Wood] came in and he did some good things too, he threw the ball around, had a couple of miscalls here and there but that is to be expected on your first time out there. You come out there and the scoreboard is not exactly lending itself to helping you, but I thought he did well and then he threw a ball late and that resulted in a bad play for us.  But other than that, I thought they both played well.  We are a team that needs to run the ball and we are trying to do some things. When you go down 28-0 like that, you have to get away from it.  And we are not a team, as you all know watching us; we can’t just drop back and throw it.  When the defense can come at you and drop exotic blitzes on you and do whatever because they are playing with ‘House Money,’ so to speak, and we are not equipped to play like that.  But I thought those guys handled it well, I thought they handled the situation and circumstances well.”

On Different Plans For This Week

“We are going to keep evolving, and pushing and doing some things.  Really right now, it is about playing better from the mistake and assignment standpoint.  So adding new schemes and wrinkles will just make it worse, so we will continue to streamline and to get it to where we can play fast and better from a mistake standpoint.”

On Starting Fresh With The Pac-12

“I haven’t said anything about it, but a lot of guys have said that in their meetings, they talked about it is a fresh season, it is a fresh opportunity.  That is good that it’s coming from them. Their genuinely upbeat about going out and practicing today and getting going. Four o’clock, we will be out there.”

On Washington State Coach Mike Leach

“The thing that helps you with what they do, it’s late in the game and his four minute offense is still throwing it.   It can give you a chance, they are playing well though and they are starting to click.  For the quarterbacks, he’s been going back and forth about the quarterbacks, but the receivers stepped up and are helping those guys, it will be a fun game.  Mike is a real good guy, he makes the Pac-12 coaches meetings real entertaining, very smart man.  I think people underestimate how smart he is, he has a great mind and a very good football mind. He will be a guy that when you go against him, you have to be assignment conscience because if not, he’ll find it and exploit it.”

On The Young Players Confidence

“Well their confidence has been good.  I will use Marques Mosley for an example, he hurt his knee early in the second quarter and then he continued to play, and then at halftime it stiffened up on him pretty good-he had an MCL, and he went back out there and he wasn’t supposed to be out there.  So I had to call a timeout to get him off the field. And he was crying, he was upset, because it’s important to him.  And there are a lot of guys like him, that it’s important.  I feel like we’ve done a very good job from a recruiting standpoint at finding guys that football is very important to them.  And you find out when you’re hurt how important it is to you, are you going to take a shot, or are you going to do whatever it is you have to do?  Marques is one of those guys that if he’s breathing, he’s playing.  Talked to him last night, he was one of those guys; we talk about the young kids, out of all the freshmen that play, there were 18 guys in that game that played and it was either their third game or five games or less that they have played at that position or played period.  I was thinking all 18 of them, they have all been in, and I don’t worry about those guys.  I really don’t because I know it’s important to them.  And it’s an impressive group, there is a lot of talent with those kids, and there is a lot of competitiveness and want to, and that has spread to some other guys.  We have really, as I’ve looked at it, in our two-deep, there is really eight to nine guys that play for us that are juniors or seniors.  To have that group, that young group with that kind of resolve, that kind of competitiveness, that kind of attitude, that helps you sleep at night.  You know when they get a little bit older, lookout.  What is it going to be like when Yuri Wright, Kenneth Crawley and Marques Mosley are juniors? It will be something.  Those guys have been great, I really don’t worry about those guys, I really don’t.  It’s more the older guys because this is the hand they’ve had for four years, five years.  It’s those guys that are my biggest concern.”

On If Penalties Became A Problem Because It Was A Road Game

“No, it was frustration.  I think we had three personal fouls, we had a couple offsides that might have been due to crowd noise, but we practice with that every day.  I am not going to call out names, but a couple of guys, it was literally their first play ever.  Now that doesn’t make it right.  The personal fouls were frustration fouls from kids being frustrated with the way the game was going.  Now if we have those continued issues next week, then yeah, but I felt good about how we have really been since about the fifth game last year on.  I feel like we’ve been very good.  We had the Utah issue, and they did it again the other day.  But what they do is they call out cadence and they try to get you to jump and they do stuff, and that’s what happened to us there.  But I feel like we’ve done well as far as minimizing those kinds of issues.  And same with turnovers, that was our first game where we really were out of ‘whack’ turning the ball over.  We had done a pretty decent job protecting it.”

On Bringing in Junior College Players Next Year

“There are a couple things about junior college players.  One, it is a little difficult getting them into our school; you know P.E. (physical education) is an issue.  And there was a guy that once told me that junior college players can disrupt your locker room.  That when you’re building a team, when guys grow together, when they go through experiences together, that is what helps mold your team.  When you bring a guy in from the outside that means you have to play him right away, and you got to be careful about doing that because that could disrupt the chemistry of your team.  And the guy that told me that is going to be speaking after this (former CU head football coach Bill McCartney), so maybe he can expand a little more.  I know he thought I never listened to him when he was talking to me all those years as a player and as a coach, but I listened.”

September 19th

Pac-12 Networks – Still no deal with DirecTV

An open letter from the Pac-12 to DirecTV customers …

Dear Pac-12 Fans,

It was another fantastic weekend of Pac-12 football, with three wins by top-25 Pac-12 teams on Pac-12 Networks.

Unfortunately, once again DirecTV customers didn’t get to see the games.

We have been hearing from tens of thousands of you about how frustrated you are missing these games. We share your disappointment.

Despite your thousands of emails, tweets, calls and posts, DirecTV is tuning out its loyal customers and still refusing to reach a fair agreement.

While we cannot explain it, so far DirecTV, which has always claimed to be the “sports leader,” is simply not interested in offering its customers the Pac-12 Networks. That means fans like you could lose a full season of conference matchups, including Cal at USC and Utah at Arizona State this Saturday.

We find DirecTV’s position baffling. First, the deal we’ve offered DirecTV is fundamentally similar to the deal that has already been accepted by DISH, four of the largest cable companies in the country and more than 40 others. How can a deal that works for all those companies be “unaffordable” for DirecTV, the largest satellite TV provider in the country and the company that built its brand offering every subscriber the “all the sports they crave”?

Second, DirecTV’s claim that the games on the Pac-12 Network are not of interest is absurd. In college football, every game is a big game – something we’d all expect the leader in sports to understand, particularly when it offers its customers Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network and many regional sports networks. While we admire our Rose Bowl brethren at the Big Ten, why shouldn’t Pac-12 fans and alums be insulted by DirecTV’s decision to trivialize the games that matter to them? Just like those Big Ten fans, we want to see every game our teams play.

Put simply, DirecTV is failing its customers and betraying its promise to be the sports leader. Based on the company’s position today, fans will miss out on 20 upcoming conference football games airing on the Pac-12 Networks, nearly half of the season’s remaining conference games, including some of the most compelling rivalries in the country. Fans will also miss out on the 20 hours of in-depth analysis, coaches’ shows and previews that air each week, as well as the 150 men’s basketball games, (nearly 70 percent of all Conference games) including eight tournament matchups, scheduled to air later this year.

We will continue to work day and night to achieve 100 percent distribution for all Pac-12 fans, and we appreciate all you’ve done to help with those efforts thus far. We hope you will continue making your voice heard, but with the distinct possibility that DirecTV fails to recognize the value of offering the Pac-12 Networks to its customers for the long haul you should also consider other providers in your area that offer the Pac-12 Networks. By standing up for your rights as a consumer, you can shape the behavior of the companies, like DirecTV, that are supposed to serve you.

Tell your provider to reach a fair agreement to carry Pac-12 Networks today or switch to one of the more than 40 cable and satellite distributors that does offer Pac-12 Networks in your area.

BYU/Air Force possible candidates to join Big East

Guess CSU is holding out for the Big 12 …

From ESPN … The Big East is divided over whether to pursue Air Force or BYU as its 14th football member, while another option the conference is considering is creating a 16-team football league by adding Army, Air Force and BYU, industry and league sources told ESPN.

On Thursday, recently hired Big East commissioner Mike Aresco reiterated in Tampa, Fla., that the conference will add a 14th football member, echoing comments that former commissioner John Marinatto made months ago that it would add another member from out West to get to 14 teams.

In 2015, Navy will become the Big East’s 13th football member.

Whether Air Force, BYU or Army ultimately join the Big East could be determined by how much the Big East’s new media rights deal, expected to be completed in the coming months, brings the league. At least one Big East source remains confident.

“They’ll crawl back once the TV deal is done,” the source said.

On Sept. 1, the Big East began a 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN. If a deal isn’t reached before Nov. 1, the league will negotiate with other networks such as NBC/Comcast and Fox Sports.

The amount the Big East receives for its new media deal could be a huge factor in attracting BYU, Air Force or Army, sources said. Media estimates have projected the Big East’s deal annually will be worth between $60 million to $130 million. Those figures would translate to between $3 million to $6.5 million for each football-only member and $4 million to $8.7 million for each full member.

BYU, Air Force and Army are being sought as football-only members.

Media Access more and more limited in Pac-12

Washington State knows that Colorado senior safety Ray Polk will not be available for the game this Saturday. They also know that the Buffs will be without play-maker linebacker Doug Rippy, and will be playing their third choice at center.

Colorado, meanwhile, does not know whether injured Cougar quarterback will be available to play this weekend. Or whether any other player is injured or healthy.

Washington State head coach, like a growing number of Pac-12 head coaches, is refusing to talk about injuries. Even if the Pac-12 required Leach to disclose injuries, the Cougar head coach, who is also an attorney, would still balk. “I would still refuse,” said Leach when asked if he could comply with an edict from the conference to release injury information. “I would still be very elusive on it. It would also violate the HIPAA law which would be interesting to me if the Pac-10 (12) could get that law overturned. No, it’s nobody’s business and plus, obviously if some kid doesn’t want you to know, why should you? I still wouldn’t tell.”

Practices, including those at Colorado, are also now being closed to the media and public.

“I felt it was the best situation for us to prepare,” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.

Coaches often cite the Internet for their closures, but they also speak of a greater sense of togetherness with nobody on the field except team-related personnel.

“It’s a mentality,” said David Shaw, in his second year as coach at Stanford, where the policy was open in the early stages of coach Jim Harbaugh’s tenure five years ago, but is now closed. “It’s just us out on the field. I think that helps us during the course of the season.”

Taking the other side is Oregon State’s veteran coach, Mike Riley, whose policy is the most liberal in the Pac-12. Practices are not only open to reporters, but to the public.

“I like the idea of local people being able to come and spend the afternoon watching practice,” he wrote in an email. “I actually think it makes for a better environment for practice.”

Riley conceded some displeasure at a couple of instances in which, through social media, word of an injury reached a player’s parents before the staff could call them. But, he wrote, “All in all, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.”

Media access policies for football practice at Pac-12 schools:

Arizona: Closed during the season and for spring, except for the first 30 minutes.

Arizona State: Closed camp and in-season except for opening hour, open at Camp Tontozona (four days) and open in spring.

California: Closed during the season; selected practices in spring and fall camp open.

Colorado: Closed year-round except for 30-minute period starting practice.

Oregon: Closed year-round.

Oregon State: Open year-round.

Stanford: Closed in spring and fall, except for 20-minute opening (stretching) period. Selected spring workouts and a few fall-camp sessions are open.

UCLA: Open year-round; general policy is all injury updates come from coach Jim Mora, and if he doesn’t address it, media are asked not to report them.

USC: Open in season and spring, but new policy requires reporters not to write about injuries or strategy.

Utah: Closed year-round, except for 20-30 minute window at the end of practice.

Washington: Open practices in season Tuesday and Wednesday, closed other days; open during spring. New edict prohibits reporting of injuries or strategy, and coach Steve Sarkisian says no player or coach will address injuries.

Washington State: Closed practices in-season, but reporters watch practice on perimeter structures; open spring and two weeks of fall camp. Coach Mike Leach doesn’t discuss injuries.

Your thoughts? …

September 17th

Mike Leach on Colorado and his backup quarterback

Washington State head coach Mike Leach, trying to be diplomatic about Saturday’s game (from CougReport.com):

(On Colorado) “Fast group, talented, physical. They’ve got all these recruiting classes stacked up that everybody read about. Those are accurate. Tall guys, long arms, fast, physical and right now not playing together as well as they could. They’ve got a lot of young guys out there too. They’re out there playing with a bunch of young guys. With regard to our team I think we’re similar teams from the standpoint we don’t quite have a tent over our circus right now. They definitely have some resources. I do think they’re going to emerge and explode at some point because they are very talented. Right now they’re working to play together. I think you’ve got a bunch of strangers that haven’t been side by side and not everybody knows their role so they’re battling that a little bit.”

(More on team playing together) “Like I say, we’re explosive but we’re not consistent. We’re more consistent than we were several weeks ago. We’re explosive. I would apply that to defense too. Defense, we walk away from each game and there will be like seven plays, and if you eliminate seven plays you knock off half or two thirds of their offense. Well, which means that you’re doing pretty good other than seven plays. We have to have the ability to get those seven plays and I think offensively there’s a certain amount of that too, but it’s more subtle. On offense everybody remembers there was this big pass, this deep one. The seven on offense tend to be playing with good technique on certain snaps so we don’t get penalties or not even necessarily a third down deal but just something routine, OK, here’s this guy underneath, this is your second read, he’s right here, throw it to him. That type of thing. It does a couple things. It keeps the defense coming and going and having to account for the entire field, the other thing there’s just a consistency to it that keeps the sticks moving and that’s kind of what’s most debilitating. One of the things that I’ve been involved with in the past that I probably take as much pride in as anything is leading the nation in first downs.Well, right now we’re not doing that. You want to control something offensively, lead in first downs. It breaks down to a point, well that last game was a little like that. If you scored in short drives and big plays, you’re not going to give the points back. The opposing team would be happy to let you give the points back. We don’t have that consistency right now. We keep the ball, they don’t get it back and we move the sticks.”

(On backup quarterback Connor Halliday’s performance against UNLV) “I thought he played well. Way ahead of schedule for a guy who’s only played a handful of games because he doesn’t have many snaps under his belt, thought he played really well when you consider that. I think he’s talented. As far as explosive, going down field, really good at that. Just some things we could have done consistency wise to move the sticks, but I mean, he’s obviously going to pick it up, he’s obviously going to do a real good job with it, you know. Other people too. I did it for two years but in the media profession you’re trying to find quick, succinct answers so you can generate a theme around a specific item and all the rest, and football doesn’t really lend itself to that generally because the performance of the o-line relates to the performance of the quarterback relates to the performance of the receivers and so it goes. I think our o-line’s getting a little better which I think helped. Had a couple receivers make some big plays which I thought was good. I thought we shouldn’t have had any three and outs, which continues to be a problem. I thought that the whole consistency, we were really good at going down field but then there’s intermediate stuff and stuff underneath when downfield’s not perfect that we need to utilize and get into. And also as coaches get his focus and his attention directed there. We flew around good, a little out of control so some of the stuff we’re kind of a step too aggressive whether you over extend and you hold somebody or you get there a step late and you hold somebody or you have bad technique when you hit ‘em.”

Suspended Utah safety eligible for Arizona State game

From ESPN … Playmaking strong safety Brian Blechen is expected to be back in Utah’s starting lineup for Saturday’s Pac-12 opener at Arizona State after serving a three-game suspension for violating undisclosed team rules.

The 6-foot-2 junior is listed as the starter on the new depth chart and coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday he expects Blechen to play very well based on his effort the past month while working with the scout team.

Blechen had three interceptions and three forced fumbles last season, and blocked a field goal.

In his 2010 college debut, he intercepted a pass on the first play of overtime to set up Utah’s upset of Pittsburgh.

The Utes also expect running back John White back from an ankle injury and free safety Eric Rowe back from a strained hamstring.

September 16th

Pac-12 goes 6-3 in non-conference play

While Buff fans were lamenting being the only winless team in the Pac-12, the rest of the league had an interesting weekend.

Newly ranked teams Arizona and UCLA had little trouble holding serve late Saturday night, with the Wildcats dominating South Carolina State, 56-0, and the Bruins defeating winless Houston, 37-6.

Utah, which fell to Utah State last weekend, earned a measure of redemption in a 24-21 win over BYU. The Utes held a 24-7 lead over the Cougars heading into the fourth quarter, but BYU scored two touchdowns to pull within three points, and then missed not one, but two late field goal attempts which would have tied the game.

Two other routs were offset by two other Pac-12 losses. No. 4 Oregon routed Tennessee Tech, 63-14, while Washington had no problems with Portland State, 52-13. Meanwhile, Cal played well, but still fell to Ohio State in the Horseshoe, 35-28, while Arizona State had its chances against Missouri, but nonetheless absorbed a 24-20 defeat.

The Pac-12 game of the day, of course, was the upset of No. 2 USC by No. 21 Stanford, 21-14. In the conference season-opener (both teams still have Notre Dame to play in non-conference action), the Cardinal kept the potent Trojan offense in check. Heisman trophy candidate Matt Barkley and the USC offense, which had scored 38 or more points in 17 straight games, was held in check all evening.

So, the new poll …

Has Oregon moving up a spot, to No. 3, behind only Alabama and LSU from the SEC. Stanford joined the top ten, moving up 12 spots from No. 21 to No. 9. USC, for its part, dropped 11 spots to No. 13.

The two new entries into the top 25 from last week, UCLA and Arizona, also moved up. The Bruins went up three spots, to No. 19, while former No. 24 Arizona made a two spot jump to No. 22.

Oregon State, which has still only played one game this season (the Beavers game against Nicholls State has been re-scheduled for December 1st), is on the verge of the poll, receiving enough votes to be considered the No. 26 team. Utah, meanwhile, did have one vote, coming in at No. 42, just behind Fresno State, which, at No. 41, received two votes.

September 15th

Washington State holds off UNLV in final game before facing Colorado

Kool-Aid, to most members of the Buff Nation, is currently akin to drinking liquid Drano. Until or unless the Buffs start to show something positive on the field, no one wants to predict good things for the future.

Still, if Colorado somehow turns its season around in the heat of Fresno Saturday night, there might be a glimmer of hope when it comes to the trip to Pullman next weekend.

Washington State is now 2-1, but hasn’t looked like a world-beater in gettting there. The Cougars from Pullman were beaten up by the Cougars of Provo in the opener, 30-6. Last wekend, Washington State then was a drive away from losing to Eastern Washington in game two (yes, that one drive which the Buffs could not prevent against their Big Sky opponent).

On Friday night, Washington State won game two, but wasn’t pretty. The Cougars held off UNLV, 35-27, in a game in which the Cougars led 28-10 in the second quarter.

From ESPN … Connor Halliday continues to make quite an impact for Washington State. The backup QB threw four first-half touchdown passes for the Cougars during their 35-27 victory over UNLV on Friday. He has thrown 13 career TD passes for his first six games, which is four more than former NFL star Drew Bledsoe, who threw nine touchdowns in the first six games of his Cougars’ career.

“I’m where I need to be now and that’s all that matters,” Halliday said. “I feel like I made a decent case for myself. I haven’t been told anything (about if he’ll start again in the near future) by the coaching staff. We’ll see what (Washington State head) coach (Mike) Leach says when we come in and watch the game film.”

The 6-foot-4, 189-pound Halliday, starting in place of the injured Jeff Tuel, completed two touchdown passes to Marquess Wilson, one to Gabe Marks, and one to Isiah Myers in the first half. For the game, sophomore Halliday completed 26 of 45 pass attempts with two interceptions for 378 yards. It was his third career 300-yard performance and second career four-TD game.

“We were down by double digits three times and found our way back into it,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. “We came down to the last drive again and came up short. We are at 0-3, so obviously we are bitterly disappointed about that.”

The Rebels now have lost eight consecutive games dating back to the 2011 season. UNLV, which had lost all five previous games against Washington State by double digits – including a 59-7 rout in Pullman just last season, is one of the worst teams in Division 1-A (yes, yes, along with Colorado).

UNLV, which has won four games in the past two years combined, came into the game against Washington State with the 98th ranked passing offense, yet posted 351 passing yards against the Cougars.

The Rebels, ranked 109th in scoring offense in 2011, and 95th after two games this fall, scored 27 against Washington State … and could have had much more. In seven drives between the second and fourth quarters, UNLV penetrated the Washington State redzone five times, but came away with only one touchdown and two field goals.

While there is very much to be afraid of when it comes to the Washington State game next weekend – Can Colorado find a way to keep the Cougars from posting 400 yards passing tops the list – the Cougars do appear to be a team which can be scored upon.

Now, if the Buffs can only figure out how to score points …

 

September 14th

Pac-12 Notes worth Noting

- UCLA’s offense generated 646 yards of total offense against Rice, then followed that up with 653 yards against Nebraska. This weekend, UCLA faces 0-2 Houston, which ranks 115th in the nation in total defense.

- Utah will face BYU this weekend in the 93rd edition of the “Holy War”, which the Utes lead by a comfortable margin of 55-34-4. This will be the 69th consecutive year in which the teams have met, but they will not meet for the next two years, with Utah calling off the rivalry.

- Utah has won seven of the last ten meetings in the series, including a 54-10 blowout last fall in Provo. It was the largest margin of victory since 1983, when BYU was a national power.

- Colorado’s opponent for next weekend, Washington State, will be looking to get healthy Friday night against UNLV. The Running Rebels have lost seven consecutive games, dating back to last season, and lost to Northern Arizona from the Big Sky Conference last weekend. This will be the sixth meeting between Washington State and UNLV, with the Cougars winning all five previous contests by double digits.

- Stanford and USC will kickoff the Pac-12 conference season. Stanford has won four of the past five meetings, including three in a row. Stanford has never defeated USC four times in succession in the series.

- Arizona State and Missouri are tied in their series, 3-3. The Tigers, though, have moved to the SEC this season … and the Sun Devils are 0-5 all-time against the SEC (Colorado is 3-9-1 against the SEC all-time. If you add in the Buffs’ record against Missouri and Texas A&M, the mark stands at 40-53-4).

- Cal hasn’t played Ohio State since 1972, Archie Griffin’s freshman season with the Buckeyes.

- Dating back to last season, Arizona, has won four games in a row since falling, 48-29, to Colorado. The Wildcats, who hosts South Carolina State this weekend, haven’t won five games in a row since 1998. (The last time Colorado won five in a row? 2002).

- Arizona’s opponent this weekend, South Carolina State, is 0-9 all-time against the FBS, and has been out-scored 319-60.

- UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin leads the nation in rushing, at 215.5 yards per game, and in all-purpose yards, 249.5 yards per game. (Christian Powell leads the Buffs in both categories, with 75.0 yards per game rushing, and 84.0 yards per game in all-purpose yards). Overall, the Pac-12 has three rushers, including Ka’Deem Carey at Arizona and Kenjon Barner at Oregon, in the top 11 in rushing nationally.

- Combined, the Pac-12 is a +16 in turnover margin, best of any conference in the nation. Colorado, having committed two turnovers and collecting but one, is a -1 for the season.

- Stanford, ranked 21st in this week’s AP poll, is putting at risk its streak of 34 consecutive weeks in the poll (a school-record high). Stanford’s run is tied for 5th amongst active streaks. Oregon, at 47 straight weeks, has the third longest active streak (Colorado had 143 consecutive weeks between 1989 and 1997, ranked 8th on the all-time list).

- UCLA leads the nation in plays of 20 yards or longer, with 19. Colorado so far has three.

September 13th

Fresno State’s strong 2nd half defensive effort against Oregon – fact or fiction?

Fresno State fell behind Oregon 35-3 in the first half of their game last weekend. The Bulldogs then out-scored the Ducks 22-7 the rest of the way. After giving up over eight yards per play early, the Fresno State defense held the Oregon offense to less than four yards per play in the second half.

Was it a case of Oregon letting off the gas after building a huge early lead, or did the Fresno State defense get its act together, and figure out a way to shut down one of the nation’s most potent offenses?

Robert Kuwada of the Fresno Bee argues for the latter …

The Fresno State Bulldogs had a huge second half defensively Saturday in a loss at No. 4 Oregon, holding the high-powered Ducks to 149 yards of offense and seven points, and forcing three turnovers.

The backs who had sliced up the Bulldogs early started struggling to find even a crease to slide through, and there were a lot of good things going on within that defense.

In that first half, the Ducks racked up 383 yards of total offense and 35 points, averaging 8.1 yards per play. Kenjon Barner rushed for 132 yards on 17 plays and De’Anthony Thomas had 100 yards on just five. In the second half, though, Oregon averaged 3.9 yards per play. Barner rushed for 64 yards on 17 plays, while Thomas netted just 2 yards on two plays.

So, just maybe, the Bulldogs are onto something with that multiple and aggressive 3-4 installed by coach Tim DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth.

It’s only two games and six good quarters out of eight, three good halves out of four.

But here’s the biggest clue — Fresno State was in position to make plays all game against the best offense it will face this season and finished with 11 tackles for loss for minus-53 yards, which is the most any defense has had against the Ducks in three-plus years Chip Kelly has been the coach.

That might be hard to believe, considering some of the defenses that have lined up against Oregon the past three-plus seasons; Auburn, Ohio State, Louisiana State, USC. That, of course, only begs the question. Was it real?

Did the Ducks push as hard in the second half as they did in the first?

Here’s another one: How valid is the Bulldogs’ defensive improvement in that game?

We’ll make a guess that it was genuine, that the second half performance by the Fresno State defense against the Ducks was not an aberration or a fluke.

For one thing, it happens. Defensive coordinators make adjustments, players make adjustments.

Oregon, high-powered as it has been under Kelly, actually has played 27 halves of football where it did not gain 200 yards of total offense and not all of them were in the third and fourth quarters when they were starting with a huge halftime lead. Only six of them, in fact, so it’s not like the Ducks coach is always pulling the plug on that point-a-minute offense to keep scores down.

For another, five of those tackles for a loss by Fresno State came in the first half along with four other plays that went for 2 yards or fewer (not including incomplete passes). The Bulldogs had six of those tackles for a loss in the second half as well as seven plays in which they held the Ducks to 2 yards or fewer.

The Bulldogs just started making plays more consistently once they stopped running around Autzen Stadium like tourists, wide-eyed and in awe of what was in front of them.

They adjusted to the speed of the Ducks’ skill players, created some indecision in redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, didn’t make bad penalties to keep drives going, and they tackled.

One last thing — the six tackles for a loss in the second half are as many or more than 24 of Oregon’s past 42 opponents have recorded in an entire game, the fewest a big fat zero by Stanford in 2010.

Okay, but then there is this … Last season, in Oregon’s 45-2 mauling of Colorado in Boulder, the Ducks, in their final six drives of the second half, managed only 121 yards and three points.

Anyone buying the idea that the Buffs’ defense figured things out in that game, and made the right adjustments to keep Oregon out of the endzone …. ?

Me, neither.

September 12th

Washington to remain mum on injuries

From ESPN … Washington football players and coaches no longer will comment on injury-related news, coach Steve Sarkisian said Wednesday.

“We are not going to comment on injuries anymore,” Sarkisian said. “I’m not, no one in our organization is. It’s just a competitive disadvantage for us when other teams don’t, and we do, so that’s going to be the road we take.”

The Huskies are following a trend, joining Pac-12 schools like Oregon, USC, Stanford and Washington State that share similar policies.

Washington is not closing practices, but during sessions that are open, the media has been prohibited from publishing strategy and injury-related news viewed by reporters.

“As a condition of entry to UW football practices, all visitors and members of the media are henceforth prohibited from reporting on strategy or injury-related news observed during practices,” the school said in a statement Wednesday. “No players or coaches will have any comments on injuries and any such information.”

Pac-12 Networks / DISH Network details

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News

I’ll admit to being surprised the Pac12Nets reached a deal with DISH before landing DirecTV.

Carriage talks were inching along with DISH — that might be an overstatement, based on what I’ve heard from league sources — and progressing along with DirecTV.

Then, on Aug. 28 (a Tuesday, two days before the first kickoff), negotiations with DTV ground to a halt. Sources have used phrases like “went backwards” and “reached an impasse” to describe the situation.

At that point, the Pac-12 went back to DISH, dangling the opportunity to steal away DTV customers. DISH bought in, and here we are.

A few details on the deal …

* DISH is expected (i.e., no guarantees) to show all football games and the majority of men’s basketball games in HD.

* DISH is only showing Pac-12 National, but in cases of concurrent kickoff/tipoffs, it will provide an overflow channel.

After this weekend — the last big non-conference weekend — there will be only a few instances of the Pac12Nets showing more than one football game at the same time.

The issue will surface again in November during the football/basketball overlap.

* DISH will show the Pac-12 National feed on America’s Top-125 package and above within the league’s six-state footprint and on the Multi-Sport Pack for $9 month outside the footprint.

* The DISH development provides an option for Comcast and Cox customers outside the footprint whose local systems aren’t showing the National feed. (Remember: No National feed means no access to TV Everywhere).

In particular, I’m thinking of subscribers in Washington D.C./Northern Virginia and Chicago.

* The Pac12Nets now have distribution on four of the top-five video providers in the country: Comcast, DISH, Time Warner and Cox. The quartet reaches a combined 53 million homes (approx).

(That doesn’t mean the Pac12Nets are in 53 million homes — that it has 53 million subscribers. It means those providers reach that many.)

Oregon loses second long-time starter

From the Oregonian … Senior guard Carson York said Monday that he would undergo season-ending knee surgery on Tuesday to repair his right patella, injured during Saturday’s 42-25 win over Fresno State at Autzen Stadium. His announcement came about  15 hours after senior safety John Boyett that his season was also over, following knee surgery Wednesday.

The loss of both senior leaders, who have appeared in a combined 81 games and are the last remaining starters from the 2010 team that reached the BCS National Championship Game, is a big blow to the Ducks, who are chasing a fourth consecutive conference championship.

September 11th

Washington State quarterback may be out for Friday’s game

The Washington State Cougars have yet to click consistently on offense, and it would appear they might play their final non-conference game Friday at UNLV without starting quarterback Jeff Tuel.

Tuel, injured in Saturday’s win over Eastern Washington, watched Monday’s practice wearing a brace on his right knee. He seemed to walk with ease, but did not use his right leg at least part of the time when riding a stationary bike.

Connor Halliday ran the No. 1 offense. The redshirt sophomore from Spokane completed five of 11 passes for 76 yards and an interception – plus a 42-yard touchdown pass that was called back on a penalty – after Tuel was injured on the first play of the fourth quarter.

As a general policy, WSU coaches and players do not comment on injuries. Coach Mike Leach said a player who does not practice all week could play Friday “if we decide to.”

Quarterbacks were not made available to the media Monday, which is typically the only day Leach permits any player interviews except immediately after games. On Saturday, Tuel expressed “a tremendous amount” of confidence in Halliday.

“The kid can be as good as he wants to be,” Tuel said.

In his only college start, Halliday passed for 289 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions despite suffering a lacerated liver in the second quarter of loss last November to Utah.

UNLV is 0-2, coming off a 17-14 loss to Northern Arizona of the Big Sky Conference.

September 10th

CU/Washington State gametime set

The Buffs game at Washington State on Sept. 22 will kickoff at 2:00 p.m. (MT). The game will be shown on FX.

Former CU commit Jordan Wynn retires after latest shoulder injury

From ESPN … Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn has decided to end his football career after yet another shoulder injury — and possibly a fourth operation.

Coach Kyle Whittingham made the announcement Monday after he talked to Wynn and Wynn talked to his father.

Whittingham says Wynn decided it was “time to move on” and that he “fought the good fight” after coming back previously from a pair of season-ending shoulder injuries. Whittingham said further medical tests need to be done but that it’s likely Wynn will need surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder.

Whittingham says senior Jon Hays and freshman Travis Wilson will battle it out this week for the right to start Saturday’s game against No. 25 Brigham Young.

Buff fans will recal that Jordan Wynn initially committed to Colorado as a part of the recruiting Class of 2009. Wynn committed to Colorado in October, 2008, but then switched his commitment to Utah a month later.

Oregon loses starting safety

From ESPN … Oregon free safety John Boyett will have surgery on both knees and miss the rest of the season, he told the Napa Valley Register on Sunday.

Boyett returned to his hometown of Napa, Calif., on Sunday and will have surgery to repair partial tears of both patellar tendons Wednesday in Los Angeles, the newspaper reported.

Boyett did not say how the injuries happened, but he said he’d been in pain for a year.

“I’ve had a lingering injury that I played through all last year,” Boyett told reporters in Napa. “The hope was, through different treatments and certain types of rehab during this past offseason, they would heal up and I’d be ready to go for my senior year. But unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned. I’ve been dealing with a tremendous amount of pain for a long time.”

Boyett, a member of ESPN.com’s preseason All-Pac-12 team, intercepted a pass in Oregon’s season opener against Arkansas State but did not dress Saturday against Fresno State.

Last season, Boyett was Oregon’s leading tackler with 108, including 3½ for a loss and a sack. He also had an interception, seven pass defenses and two blocked kicks.

Wisconsin fires offensive line coach after two games

From ESPN … The Wisconsin Badgers have ousted offensive line coach Mike Markuson after two games.

Badgers coach Bret Bielema confirmed the move Monday, according to The Associated Press. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal had reported late Sunday that Markuson was out.

Bielema insisted it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to the Badgers’ disappointing start to the season, saying that he and Markuson have had several conversations about the direction the team was heading. Markuson will be replaced by Bart Miller, a graduate assistant who serves as the Badgers’ offensive quality control coordinator.

Markuson’s dismissal comes after then-No. 13 Wisconsin recorded just 35 rushing yards in Saturday’s 10-7 loss at Oregon State. The Badgers were among four teams to drop out of the AP’s Top 25 poll Sunday.

The Badgers, who finished 11th nationally in rushing offense in 2011 and set offensive records the past two seasons, are 103rd nationally in rushing after two games. They have allowed four sacks and nearly were shut out at Oregon State.

Markuson, a veteran line coach who spent the past 14 seasons with Southeastern Conference teams, was one of six assistant coaches to join Bielema’s staff for 2012. He replaced longtime Wisconsin line coach Bob Bostad.

September 9th

Pac-12 up to five ranked teams in Top 25

While Rome … er, Boulder … burned, the rest of the Pac-12 had a good week. Washington, as expected, was no match for LSU, and Utah was upset by Utah State. Otherwise, the Pac-12 not only held serve, but in several cases posted significant victories.

USC and Oregon did not blow out Syracuse and Fresno State, respectively, winning 42-29 and 42-25, to retain their No. 2 and No. 4 spots in the AP poll. Stanford, which took care of business against Duke, 50-13, moved up four spots, to No. 21.

Joining the poll were two more Pac-12 teams. New No. 22 UCLA was a 36-30 victor over No. 16 Nebraska (which dropped out of the poll, giving CU fans some solace this weekend). New No. 24 Arizona, which four games ago was limping off of Folsom Field after a 48-29 loss to Colorado, joined the poll after mauling former No. 18 Oklahoma State, 59-38.

Also creeping neared a national ranking were No. 29 Oregon State, which posted the upset of the day, taking down No. 13 Wisconsin, 10-7, and No. 38 Arizona State, a 45-14 winner over Illinois.

Having five teams ranked in the same week is a first for the second-year league. Only the SEC, with six, has more teams ranked this week.

September 8th

Dish Network reaches agreement with Pac-12

The Pac-12 Networks have finally made a deal with a satellite provider.

And the winner is … Dish Network!

Here is the email I receieved this morning:

Dear Valued DISH Customer,

DISH is pleased to announce we have entered a multi-year agreement to carry Pac-12 Network on the DISH lineup.  We know you value your Pac-12 games, and we’re happy you can enjoy these games on channel 413!  Pac-12 Network is available on Channel 413 in America’s Top 120+ packages and above, where regionally available, and in the Multi-Sport Pack nationally.

All customers can enjoy Pac-12 Network for a limited time in Free Preview.  Just tune to channel 413 and enjoy! This makes DISH the only satellite provider to carry the sports programming.  Currently our competitors DIRECTV, FiOS and U-Verse have decided not to carry the programming.  Thank you for your patience as we worked to reach an agreement.

Sincerely, DISH

Obviously, as an existing Dish customer, this is verrrry good news!

Here is the Pac-12 press release:

Plenty of high-fives around here with the news that Pac-12 Networks will be available nationally via DISH Network. Our agreement with DISH ensures Pac-12 fans across the country – no matter where they live – have an option for watching their favorite schools and teams. The signal launches in time for Saturday’s six-game football feast.

We asked for your help carrying our negotiations with DISH across the goal line – you responded, and DISH listened. Now Pac-12 Networks is available through more than 40 television providers, including four of the top five largest distributors in the United States. We couldn’t have done this without you. High-five headed your way too.

There’s plenty of work still to do of course. But there’s a celebratory air here at HQ. At Pac-12 Digital, our idea of a good time is a screen full of social media. Here are tweets from you all regarding this news; we’ve already anticipated several frequently asked questions and will be on the lookout for more.

Ten Hours at Folsom …

Time-lapse photography used to show Folsom Field being prepared for the CU home opener:

September 7th

Big 12 television deal not as lucrative as the Pac-12 deal

From ESPN … The Big 12 Conference announced Friday it has reached an agreement on a 13-year media rights deal with ABC/ESPN and Fox. The deal is worth $2.6 billion, an average of $200 million per year and worth $20 million per school, industry sources told ESPN.

The package will run through the 2024-25 school year. ABC/ESPN and Fox will share the league’s football inventory, while ABC/ESPN will be the exclusive provider for Big 12 men’s basketball.

ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz declined comment. “The stability of the Big 12 Conference is cemented,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We are positioned with one of the best media rights arrangements in collegiate sports, providing the conference and its members unprecedented revenue growth, and sports programming over two networks.”

The deal includes a “grant of rights” agreement, meaning if a Big 12 school leaves for another league in the next 13 years, that school’s media rights, including revenue, would remain with the Big 12 and not its new conference.

The grant of rights is huge for the Big 12′s stability. Just last year, it appeared the league would implode by losing Texas and Oklahoma to the Pac-12. However, both schools stayed. The Big 12 did lose Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC but replaced them this season with West Virginia and TCU.

The Big 12′s $20 million per school average is slightly behind the Pac-12′s $21 million per school media rights deal and on par with the Big Ten’s per school average. The Big 12′s deal also will rank ahead of the SEC’s and ACC’s per school averages — at least for now. The SEC is expected to have a more lucrative deal in the coming months.

The new deal means the Big 12 and Pac-12 are the only conferences with telecast agreements with two over-the-air national networks in ABC and Fox.

The Big 12 joins the Big Ten and Pac-12 as the only conferences with grant of rights media deals.

Notes … First, the agreement is not as lucrative as the Pac-12 deal, and that is before the revenue from Pac-12 Networks are considered. Recall that Texas has its own network, and isn’t likely to want to share much of its content – and revenue – with other teams in the league. Meanwhile, as soon as the Pac-12 Networks get their act together, the Pac-12 conference teams will be bringing in an additional $5 – $10 million per school. The SEC contract will almost certainly surpass what the deal made by the Pac-12 … but Pac-12 fans have every reason to be pleased with how well their teams are doing compared to their national counterparts.

Second, please take note of the “grant of rights” part of the agreement, meaning if a Big 12 school leaves for another league in the next 13 years, that school’s media rights, including revenue, would remain with the Big 12 and not its new conference. That will certainly act as a serious deterrent from schools like Texas or Oklahoma bolting for a “Pac-16″.

Which is just fine with me …

September 6th

Dish Network now in the lead for the Pac-12 Networks?

Posted on the Pac-12 Network site:

Dear DISH Customers,

We have heard from many of you and wanted to provide you with an update. We have been making progress towards an agreement with DISH…

But we are not there yet.

While our conversations have been productive, suddenly DISH seems hesitant about just how much fans really want the Pac-12 Networks. With millions of you throughout the country, especially those of you out West, we know you are excited about watching your favorite Pac-12 teams. Unless we get a deal done soon, you will miss another weekend of football and will be in jeopardy of missing out on the full season.

But you can make the difference. And the time is now!

Contact DISH today – let them hear your voice, even if you have already told them you want Pac-12 Networks.

  • Call them at 1-888-926-5457
  • Send them an email
  • Make sure they hear loud and clear that you want the Pac-12 Networks. With your help, we hope to be on the DISH dial very soon.

Thank you for your support.

So, those of you with Dish Network … get to work!!

Oregon implementing random drug testing

From ESPN … The University of Oregon is implementing random drug testing of all its athletes, after a media report earlier this year that estimated from 40 to 60 percent of the football team smoked marijuana.

Oregon’s previous drug policy allowed for testing when there was reasonable suspicion. A recent decision by the general counsel gives temporary permission for random testing effective this month. The policy still faces a public hearing in early October.

ESPN The Magazine’s April report was based on interviews with 19 current or former Oregon players and officials, and it accompanied a larger piece that looked at marijuana use among college football players nationwide.

In July, Oregon’s athletic department proposed the changes to strengthen its drug policy. Under it, student-athletes will be subject to random tests year-round, even in the summer. A number system will identify athletes for testing.

The random tests have not begun, according to university officials.

Oregon has not changed its penalties for positive tests.

For illicit drugs, athletes receive counseling and education after a first positive test. A second results in a “behavior modification contract” between the student and the coach. Athletes are ineligible for half of a season following a third failed test, and will be dismissed from the team and lose their scholarship for the fourth.

For performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, athletes face suspension after the first positive test and dismissal after the second.

September 5th

USC not likely to face significant penalties from current NCAA investigation

From the LATimes … The NCAA is investigating allegations that two former USC athletes, running back Joe McKnight and basketball player Davon Jefferson, received cash and other improper benefits while competing for the Trojans.

“Any time the NCAA receives credible, new information regarding potential major violations we will look into the issue,” NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said Tuesday. “USC has been working cooperatively with us regarding the matter.”

The Times is reporting that Scott Schenter, a key figure in the ongoing corruption scandal at the Los Angeles County assessor’s office, said he gave cash and perks worth thousands of dollars to McKnight and Jefferson while they were still in school.

After The Times asked about the alleged payments, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said the school immediately informed the NCAA about the claims. After the report was published, Haden said the school would thoroughly investigate and “take any and all necessary actions.”

The NCAA has a four-year statute of limitations on rule violations. McKnight, now in the NFL with the New York Jets, played for USC from 2007 to 2009. Some of the alleged perks fall in that time period. Speaking generally, if it were found that violations occurred, a school could potentially be subject to penalties, Osburn said.

USC is on NCAA probation for violations related to former Trojans running back Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo. Penalties handed down in 2010 included a two-year bowl ban and the loss of scholarships.

If the NCAA were to find that violations occurred before the sanctions were handed down in June 2010, USC would not appear to be subject to “repeat violator” sanctions.

Illinois quaterback remains questionable for Arizona State game

From ESPN … Illinois junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase practiced Wednesday and is questionable for Saturday’s game against Arizona State due to an ankle injury, according to coach Tim Beckman.

Beckman said he would decide between Scheelhaase, sophomore Reilly O’Toole and junior Miles Osei as his team’s starter after Thursday’s practice.

“(Scheelhaase) practiced today, so we’ll see how he responds,” Beckman said on Wednesday. “He’s much better than he was yesterday.

“He said he felt pretty good. I think anytime you have an injury to the ankle it’s going to progress. It’s been progressing, and we’re going to have to make that decision on Thursday after practice.”

Scheelhaase left Saturday’s game against Western Michigan late in the third quarter with the ankle injury.

A three-year starter, Scheelhaase was 11 of 18 for 126 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the 24-7 win over Western Michigan. He also rushed for 21 yards and one touchdown.

Illinois defeated Arizona State 17-14 in Champaign, Ill., last season. Scheelhaase was 11 of 15 for 135 yards, a touchdown and an interception and rushed for a team-high 67 yards.

September 4th

No change at quarterback for Washington State

From ESPN … Quarterback Jeff Tuel is listed alone as the starter as Washington State prepares for its home opener against Eastern Washington on Saturday.

Last week, Tuel and sophomore Connor Halliday were both listed as possible starters on the depth chart.

Tuel completed 30 of 45 passes against BYU for 229 yards and was intercepted twice as Washington State failed to score a touchdown in a 30-6 loss last Thursday. Tuel also looked a bit slow in releasing the ball and didn’t scramble much when his receivers were covered.

Tuel seemed to have plenty of time to throw, but seemed hesitant to run. “I’ve made plays with my legs my whole career here,” Tuel said. “I need to continue to do that and give the defense problems with it.”

One place Tuel did shine was slipping away from defenders when it appeared he might be sacked. “He did get out of some stuff I didn’t think he’d get out of,” coach Mike Leach said.

Tuel said he intends to bring a little more fire to Saturday’s game. “I maybe tried to play it a little too cool and just be too relaxed,” Tuel said. “I need to let myself out more and let some of my passion for the game out, and do a better job leading and being vocal for my guys on the sideline.”

There has been criticism that the Cougars displayed poor body language when they got down early against BYU, hanging their heads and looking like some had given up.

Leach noticed it and wasn’t happy. “I won’t hesitate to send some guy to the locker room if he is sitting on the sideline pouting,” Leach said.

USC out as the No. 1 team in AP poll

Kinda makes you feel sorry for Syracuse, the Trojans’ next opponent …

From ESPN … Alabama is the new No. 1 in both The Associated Press and USA Today college football polls, moving past USC thanks to a resounding victory against Michigan.

The Crimson Tide swayed more than enough voters in both polls with a 41-14 win Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium to overtake the preseason No. 1 Trojans, who beat Hawaii 49-10. USC entered that game a 40-point favorite at home.

Alabama received 45 first-place votes in the AP poll, up 28 from last week, and 37 first-place votes in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

It marks the 47th time that Alabama has been No. 1 in the AP poll, the 16th under coach Nick Saban.

“I would agree with (voters),” USC coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday. “I didn’t watch any of the game because we can’t, but from what I heard, they played a really good Michigan team in a big matchup and played really well.”

This is the 86th time in the 76-year history of the AP poll that the top-ranked team won and dropped in the rankings. It’s happened at least once every year since 2007.

September 2nd

Pac-12 goes 8-3 … CU fans not the only ones less than pleased

Remember the Big Two and the Little Six?

There was a time in the old Big Eight when Nebraska and Oklahoma took terms representing the conference in the Orange Bowl, with the remaining six teams in the league vying for the position of third-best team of the Big Eight.

The new Pac-12, only one weekend into its second season, is looking more and more like the Big Two and the Little Ten.

True, the conference went 8-3 in the opening weekend (Oregon State’s game against Nicholls State was post-poned due to the effects of Hurricane Isaac on the Louisiana school), but Colorado fans are not alone in wondering whether their teams can stave off embarrassment when their school faces either the Trojans or the Ducks.

Other than Colorado, the two other teams to lose in their openers were Washington State and Cal. Both losses were historic.

Washington State … The Cougars of Washington State lost to the Cougars of BYU Thursday night, 30-6.

From the CougReport.com … As they have been in past seasons, the Cougars were weak in the way they responded during their loss to BYU. They wilted under the pressure of an early deficit, allowed BYU to turn that momentum into a big halftime lead and ultimately fell 30-6, a result that felt eerily similar to many throughout the past four seasons.

The offense struggled, with Jeff Tuel taking too long to deliver passes while also facing more pressure than the Cougars would prefer. The defense had its issues, surrendering 294 yards in the first half before settling down a bit after halftime and holding BYU to six points in the second half.

The bottom line is they’re not tough enough, head coach Mike Leach said. And the scoreboard isn’t going to change until WSU’s attitude does, though senior offensive lineman Wade Jacobson insisted after Thursday’s loss that the team’s losing past – they were 9-40 under former coach Paul Wulff – isn’t affecting their psyche.

“That’s over and done with,” Jacobson said. “That’s in the past. People can say what they want, but that doesn’t mean anything about us and who we are right now as a team.”

The loss also had Cougar fans scouring the record books … of Texas Tech. If you were surprised that Washington State failed to score a touchdown against Brigham Young on Thursday, you weren’t alone.

And you weren’t the first to feel that way, either. Just imagine how Texas Tech fans must have reacted in 2006, when their Mike Leach-led Red Raiders were held without a touchdown in a 12-3 loss to TCU in the third week of the season.

So upset with his team’s effort was Leach that he told reporters after the game:

“That was the sorriest offensive effort that I have ever seen,” said Leach, who questioned his players’ toughness while adding that he and his staff were out-coached. “Today I coached the worst offense in America, which makes me the worst offensive coach in America. There’s going to be some changes, because I’m not going to sit here and watch this stuff.”

Ouch.

CalThe Cal Bears christened their new stadium with a 31-24 loss to Nevada.

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Wolf Pack spoiled a sunny Saturday afternoon for a capacity crowd of 63,186 fans, posting a 31-24 victory — its first win in Berkeley since 1903.

Back on their home field for the first time in 21 months after a $321 million seismic retrofit and renovation, the Bears began the game without senior quarterback Zach Maynard, held out of the starting lineup for missing a study session in the summer.

The Wolf Pack took advantage by forging an early 14-0 lead, and Cal had to play catch-up all afternoon. The Bears got even when Maynard tossed a 6-yard game-tying touchdown pass to freshman Chris Harper with 7 minutes, 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t get over the hump.

Nevada won it when running back Stefphon Jefferson piled in from the 2-yard line with 36 seconds left, capping a 61-yard scoring drive.

“It’s great to be home,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said, “but you want to come out and play better and win the football game and we didn’t get that done.

“I’m sorry we didn’t play better and (we) let the fans down.”

Nevada’s only previous victory over Cal at Berkeley was a 6-2 win in 1903 — one month before the Wright brothers got off the ground. Cal leads the all-time series 22-3-1.

While the other eight teams who played emerged with victories, there are causes for concern in a few other locales …

Arizona… From the Arizona Register … After three hours and 47 minutes, 982 total yards of offense, 182 plays, four Arizona fumbles, three turnovers and a missed 25-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, Rich Rodriguez finally got the one thing he had been craving since becoming the University of Arizona coach last November:  A victory.

It wasn’t easy -boy, it wasn’t easy – but after beating the University of Toledo 24-17, in overtime, Rodriguez could exhale.

Rodriguez was well aware of the danger Toledo presented: In 2008, his first year as Michigan’s coach, the Wolverines lost to the Rockets, 13-10.

A repeat performance was averted thanks to Rodriguez’s spread option offense and the two players who will make it go this season: Quarterback Matt Scott and running back Ka’Deem Carey.

All the spread option did in its debut at Arizona Stadium was produce 624 total yards and 7.2 yards per play. The 624 yards were the second most in school history; Arizona had 691 yards against New Mexico in 1969.

Washington … From the Seattle Times … It started off like a rout.

It ended surprisingly tense.

Ultimately, the Washington Huskies survived, even if for the second straight year they left their fans with more heartburn than anticipated in the season opener.

This time, it was a 21-12 win over San Diego State in front of 53,742 at CenturyLink Field, a victory aided greatly by some curious calls by Aztecs coach Rocky Long, who eschewed kicking extra points or field goals all night.

Two failed two-point attempts and a failed fourth-down conversion late in the game when a field goal might have been the percentage play loomed large when the game ended.

Washington’s new-look defense often lived up to its billing as vastly improved, holding the Aztecs to only a trick-play touchdown through the first three quarters.

Indeed, UW quarterback Keith Price later said “the defense won the game for us.”

It had to because the offense didn’t get much done after a 14-point first quarter, allowing the Aztecs to creep back in it.

Stanford … From the San Jose Mercury News … The post-Andrew Luck era looked a lot like the pre-Andrew Luck era for Stanford in its 2012 season opener: close game, fearless opponent, inconsistent offense — and a touch of confusion.

“Everybody has to communicate and be on the same page,” Cardinal tailback Stepfan Taylor said Friday after a 20-17 victory over San Jose State. “If we communicated more, that would have helped us a lot more to adjust with what we saw out there.

“Offensive line, tight ends, running backs, receivers, quarterback … all (have to be) on the same page before a play starts. You don’t want two different people running different plays. Execute the game plan the coach has planned for us.”

That stinging critique from the soft-spoken senior sums up the No. 21 Cardinal’s ragged, sometimes listless performance.

After jumping to a 14-0 lead, Stanford was outplayed in the third quarter and needed a stout defensive effort in the fourth to avoid a major upset.

“We were close, but close will get you beat in a heartbeat,” said Taylor, who rushed for 116 yards. “Close to hitting a big run, close to getting a block, close to catching a ball. We know we can play better than that.”

Nobody expected the Cardinal to execute as efficiently as it did with Luck. But Friday’s narrow escape against a 251/2-point underdog — a team Stanford beat 57-3 last year — included breakdowns on all fronts.

The secondary was burned repeatedly by SJSU’s aerial attack. The pass rush was quiet for prolonged stretches. The play-calling was conservative. Third down was a struggle (2 of 13). Blown assignments and missed tackles were numerous.

Most glaring was the lack of precision and organization. At one point, confusion prompted Stanford to call a timeout after the offense trotted onto the field to start a possession.

Quarterback Josh Nunes wasn’t dazzling — he was outplayed by SJSU’s David Fales — but the first-time starter threw a well-placed touchdown pass to receiver Drew Terrell and didn’t commit any turnovers. He was hardly Stanford’s biggest problem.

“There are going to be some bumps and bruises,” coach David Shaw said. “In four or five games, we should be the team we need to be.”

That could very well be the case, except it doesn’t solve a more pressing concern: Top-ranked USC arrives in two weeks, the nation’s best aerial attack in tow.

Opening lines for Week Two …

Here are the other listed spreads involving Pac-12 teams next week (some weren’t out yet as I posted this):

— Utah is a 4.5-point favorite at Utah State;

— USC is a 24-point favorite against Syracuse (a game played in East Rutherford, N.J.)

— Wisconsin is an 11-point favorite at Oregon State;

— Oregon is a 30-point favorite over visiting Fresno State;

— Nebraska is a 4.5-point favorite at UCLA;

— Stanford is a 14-point favorite over visiting Duke;

— Oklahoma State is a 13.5-point favorite at Arizona;

— and Arizona State is a six-point favorite against Illinois.

No line yet on Colorado v. Sacramento State …

35 Responses to “Pac-12 Notes – September”

  1. Doug

    I think Stuart should start posting analysis like the guy for Wash St. did. That was one sweet write up with video and photo details. I am sure you have time, right Stuart? Fun to read Cougar fan comments at the bottom too.

    • Stuart

      I checked with Lee, and she indicated that even if I was independantly wealthy, this much devotion to my Buffs would still not be allowed.
      Sorry. Though if anyone wants to be my sponsor, I could try to convince her …

  2. the stadium issue at csu is interesting in two ways. one, it seems like a huge risk unless csu already has most of the cost ($254M stadium, $51 for related construction) in the form of donations. the projected revenue estimates seem high.
    two, if csu goes ahead with the project it will put HUGE pressure on cu to move forward with its project. if csu can raise that magnitude of dollars, why can’t cu?

  3. Chuck

    I think Nick Sherry, the UNLV QB, was a verbal commit when Hawkins was in his last season. Then when Embree and crew arrived CU dropped their offer to Sherry, and he went to UNLV.

    I bring this up because Sherry threw for 351 yards against Washington State. It will be interesting to see how CU compares this week passing against WSU.

    I wondered at the time why Embree did not like Sherry.

    • jw blue

      mystified as well
      The Sac St guy looked pretty darn good. Carr? Excellent. The WSU 2nd stringer looked mighty talented too. These performance QBs seem to be everywhere except on our team.
      why is that?

  4. jw blue

    The WSU second string QB looked exceptionally sharp against UNLV. Maybe Leach has a few deficiencies when it comes to picking the best QB too. Please please please can we have a repeat performance by a second string QB with CU today against Fresno?

  5. Geeker

    I was happy to find Pac-12 games when I was going through my Hopper’s Game Finder app this past Saturday, and I actually got to see some games I didn’t think I’d get to watch. It wasn’t until I went into work Monday morning that I found out that Dish is the one that sealed the deal with Pac-12. Pleasantly surprised I am!

  6. jw blue

    I usually stay away from politics but this hits home. I call DirectTV and I get a guy in Mexico who doesn’t know what the PAC 12 is. He thinks it is part of the NFL.
    I call Dish and I get a woman in the Dominican Republic with an equal amount of ignorance. At least the Dominican woman transferred me to an American. The Mexican wasn’t about to let me go anywhere I could lodge a complaint because I’m sure he thought it would reflect on his job performance.
    Not getting the PAC 12 is bad enough. when you are also faced with inefficient job outsourcing at the same time it boils my blood. Vote for the candidate you think will minimize job outsourcing.
    I know, I know
    Ron Paul doesn’t have a chance

  7. Andy

    Also, on the UNC roster joining Seth Lobato is RB Quintin Hildreth

  8. Andy

    Hi all, just as an off the top of my head thought…latest post says Mike Leach’s offense has not been held without a touchdown since 2006…maybe I’m just forgetful, but I’m pretty sure that 06 performance was a CU victory over Texas Tech to the tune of…30-6

  9. Michael

    Stuart -

    Any news on Directv or Dish getting the Pac-12? Hearing nothing on this end (Denver) other than Wilner’s “quiet confidence” a deal will get done before the season starts.

    BTW, took the family to the unveiling of the new scoreboards . . . . and I was VERY impressed! They look AWESOME and the sound is better, too. Gonna look sweet on national TV if we can ever see the games on the Pac-12 network.

    • Stuart

      Michael,
      Wilner seems to have the best information, and all he has come up with so far is that it will likely be Direct TV instead of Dish Network, and that a deal should be done before the start of the season.

      The Networks launch on Wednesday … but we’re still on the outside looking in.

  10. Stuart, i’m a little dense when it comes to the pac12net pieces done by Wilner. so, denver is in tier 1: does that mean we get the regional pac12net(mountain) or the national? and, does that mean in order to receive both our region and the national that we need to buy a sports tier? any clarification is much appreciated.

    • Stuart

      Neil,
      I’m very dense when it comes to the Pac-12 Networks – and out of the loop it seems on coverage.
      As I understand it, if you are in Denver, you will have both the national network and the mountain network.
      If you want more (e.g., every Washington State game), you would have to buy a sports tier.
      If anyone has a better idea of how it will work, please feel free to post a reply …

  11. Michael

    Spent 40 minutes on the phone today w/DirecTV trying to get an answer re: Pac-12 Networks. Crickets……… They coudln’t give me any specifics and kept trying to seel me the ESPN Gameplan. Not a good sign. After 16 years I may be dropping them.

  12. Rob Thompson

    Why the hell does the PAC 12 torture everybody with their 9 game conference schedule? It’s stupid and needs to be washed out. The rest of the country does not need to convert to a nine game conference schedule, the PAC 12 needs to follow the rest of the country. Win a national championship more than once a decade and then maybe you can lead by example. All of this so everybody can be on TV in LA!

    • a/k/a

      If the PAC-12 were to revert to 4x non-con, all that would mean is more room for mischief.

      Limit the cupcakes to three – … for everyone, and that includes Alabama/LSU.
      ______________

      GO BUFFS!!

  13. Swannanao Buff

    I’ve been waiting to see what options the PAC12 Network will give me in my area (western NC). So far – none. While I see the wisdom in giving cable and satelite providers monopolies on access while they are negotiating, I’m not sure some of the smaller, regional cable companies can see the fiscal wisdom in adding the network. Contracts with Directtv and Dish would be nice, but I don’t think the PAC12 network would actually receive more income per service provider, or national exposure, than it would receive by providing an internet subscription service for individuals, especially those who currently have no available service providers. I would willingly pay a reasonable fee for internet access to games, even on a delayed basis. However, it appears that for many parts of the country outside of the west, we’ll have the same access to PAC12 football and basketball that we’ve had in the past – an occasional ESPN, Fox or network televised game. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take in additional dollars from those fans willing to pay while the PAC12 work on developing a truly national system? The individual access could be phase out as providers become available.

    I tried to find a means of contacting the PAC12 network with my comments, but the website does not have that option (at least I couldn’t find it).

    Thanks

  14. jw blue

    This decision leaving the MWC out in the cold makes me sick.
    Wasn’t Utah a member of the MWC when they humiliated Alabama in a bowl game?
    not to mention Boise beating Oklahoma
    Appalachian State beating Michigan
    amateur sports my dyinazz
    this nothing other than money and pigs

  15. BuffLady

    I know this is off topic but I want to congratulate the members of the track and field team who qualified for the Olympics. Go to London and come home a GOLDen Buffalo!!!

  16. Stuart, about the playoffs.i believe that polls/selection committees/computer algorithms are inherently subjective, thus something like a ‘conference champion plus one with a wildcard team’ seems like a better format and is the least subjective of any other alternative. i thought that was the big/pac12 position, but apparently it was just posturing.do you agree?

    it has been written that mike slive was the dominant ram and he was able to get essentially what he wanted at the expense of delaney & scott. do you have any view, inside information, etc., regarding the politics and manuevering around the playoff outcome – at least as we know it so far.

    thanks, N

  17. VK

    recruiting to colorado you have to travel? So it is expensive? Ok

    Why are the huskers costs so low? strange. Do they even have airplanes in Knebraska? Perhaps Bo is a budget manager.

  18. Michael

    Stuart, I like you, am a satellite guy. Been w/Directv for 15 years and am hoping they work this deal out. I’d hate to have to dump them but I will if they dont get with the Pac-12 program. BTW, the CUBuffs.com homepage has a link that can be used to pressure the satellite companies to carry the Pac-12 Network.

  19. Abs22CU

    Hearing rumors that P Rich may be available this season. Anyone else have any confirmation of this?

  20. Eric

    Awesome reporting! I’m a big fan of the PAC expanding beyond 12 in the coming years, but unless Hawaii can bring up they’re status as a university (which the new chancellor alluded to) I do not think they would be the right school to look at.. I think that addition would dilut the conference as a whole.. Thoughts?

  21. Stuart,
    with regard to mwc ath dept income: i assume unlv derives most of its gross revenue from hoops, like louisville and other basketball factories. (i should just check the doe website.)

    and, what do you hear about the csu stadium? it would be embarrasing if csu could build a $250M stadium and cu couldn’t raise a similar amount for its project.

    thanks, nel

  22. Gary

    who was the unrated player that was drafted in the 1st round?

    • Stuart

      Gary,

      Brandon Weeden, the Oklahoma State quarterback drafted by Cleveland, was a second-round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 2002. He does not show up as a rated football prospect in the Rivals database from that year.

  23. Michael

    Wow, lesson learned! If the Cal plan and experience is indicative of the hurdles that come with such a major facilities renovation, I’m content to let CU delay our announcement until September. Especially if the delay means that all our financial ducks are in a row. Don’t want to repeat the Cal experience.

  24. jah

    (4/3) RE: Utah – No. 113 (Utes never leave the state in non-conference play – BYU, Utah State, home against Northenr Colorado)

    Wow, and yet we’ll only hear how great Coach Wittingham is from Ute fans, Pac coach of the year great.

  25. AZBuff

    I can’t say that I can get all lathered up over the fact that JE and staff have closed spring practices. While it might be a nice way to spend a mild Colorado March or April afternoon, I don’t feel that it is going to hurt the support or interest in the Buffs that much. I defer to the coaches on this decision, for they want to win as much if not more than many of us (jobs, jobs, jobs). Do what is right and good for the team and have it pay off this fall in wins, and no one will probably remember that they couldn’t go out and watch some guys run wind sprints in April.

  26. Chuck

    As a fan who wants to see great games, I am completely in favor of a play-off system that involves only conference champions. Then it doesn’t matter if you play 8 or 9 conference games, and teams can play tough non-conference games because if you are a conference champion you can schedule and go 0-3 against LSU, Michigan and Florida State and still get in to the play-offs. No more Sacramento States or Eastern Washingtons for CU, and maybe teams in the SEC will play some difficult road games in other parts of the country.

  27. jw blue

    must be real tough decisions for USC when all those guys are 4 and 5 star recruits
    ……and because of that
    this 75 player limit isn’t going to make a bit of difference in the results on the field

  28. jw blue

    I was so glad to see Griffin win last year
    I am so tired of watching anyone from USC, Alabama etc win when they have nothing but 4 and 5 star recruits for teammates making the road so much easier for them.

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