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Pac-12 Notes

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Pac-12 Notes

 

March 21st

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Half of the Pac-12 South coaching fraternity in the coaching “hot seat”

According to Coaches Hot Seat, three Pac-12 South coaches will enter the 2017 season on the “Hot Seat”.

Todd Graham at Arizona State is No. 3 on the list … Jim Mora of UCLA is at No. 5 … with Rich Rodriguez of Arizona at No. 15.

The rest of the Pac-12:

— No. 52 – Justin Wilcox – new head coach at Cal

— No. 54 – Gary Andersen – Oregon State

— No. 72 – Mike Leach – Washington State

— No. 80 – Willie Taggart – new head coach at Oregon

— No. 94 – Kyle Whittingham – Utah

— No. 105 – Mike MacIntyre – Colorado

— No. 107 – Clay Helton – USC

— No. 109 – Chris Petersen – Washington

— No. 110 – David Shaw – Stanford

MWC championship or bust for Colorado State in 2017

Compare … “I’ll go with 7 wins and a bowl game” by CU’s B.G. Brooks

From Matt Stephens at the Coloradoan … After a 15-year drought that’s since never seen the Rams finish better than third in the Mountain West and only two bowl victories in seven tries, the landscape is finally ripe for reaching the conference summit.

Mike Bobo enters his third season in Fort Collins with the most talent he’s ever had as a head coach. Fifteen starters return, including all-conference selections in receiver Michael Gallup (first team) and offensive tackle Jake Bennett (second team). Quarterback Nick Stevens was the most efficient in the country from Oct. 22, 2016, onward and there isn’t a better running-back tandem in the Mountain West than Dalyn Dawkins and Izzy Matthews.

Defensively, the Rams bring back nine starters and 67 percent of their tackling.

And that’s without even considering the talent signed in February, a bevy of which is expected to immediately contribute.

Then there’s the rest of the conference. Wyoming loses the Mountain West’s best running back, Brian Hill (1,860 yards, 22 TDs in 2016), who declared for the NFL draft, along with receiver Tanner Gentry (1,326 yards, 14 TDs) and tight end Jacob Hollister (515 yards, 7 TDs). Boise State is down running back Jeremy McNichols (1,709 yards, 23 TDs) and receiver Thomas Sperbeck (1,272 yards, 9 TDs). Safety Weston Steelhammer (80 tackles, 7 interceptions) can’t lay any more dirty hits at Air Force and Nate Romine and Jacobi Owens can no longer flawlessly execute the option. Plus, the three teams CSU will play from the West division — Nevada, San Jose State and Hawaii — shouldn’t be an issue.

Continue reading story here

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March 15th

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ESPN: The Biggest Weakness for each of the Top 25 teams 

From ESPN … Every team in Mark Schlabach’s 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25 is loaded with talent. But every team has its flaws. Here is the biggest weakness of every top-25 team.

The Pac-12 …

No. 3 USC … If there’s any concern about quarterback Sam Darnold moving forward, it lies in his protectors on the edge. Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler have both exhausted their eligibility, so the Trojans must replace both big tackles, who were instrumental in giving Darnold clean pockets last season. Chuma Edoga is a proven replacement here — he has started a couple games already — but that second tackle spot is a hole until USC firmly locks it down.

No. 7 Washington … The Huskies had one of the nation’s best secondaries in 2016, but both starting cornerbacks and all-conference safety Budda Baker are gone. While Taylor Rapp is a promising, young talent at safety, replacing Sidney Jones and Kevin King on the outside won’t be easy. Freshman Elijah Molden could have an opportunity to contribute immediately upon arrival in Seattle, and Washington hopes for its depth to emerge into frontline positions during spring ball.

No. 15 Stanford … Solomon Thomas’ departure dealt a major blow to the Cardinal’s defensive line, which now sees Harrison Phillips as the only truly experienced and productive returner. Stanford needs more from Dylan Jackson (just one tackle for loss in 2016) moving forward. Beyond that, at least two more names must emerge from a plethora of young players.

No 19. Colorado  The Buffs’ entire defense — from eight graduated starters to departed coordinator Jim Leavitt — faces a massive rebuilding effort. The entire starting line and all but one defensive back are gone, so this hole is particularly wide. Mike MacIntyre hopes junior college transfers can immediately plug holes in spring: Linemen Javier Edwards and Chris Mulumba are both on campus, as is defensive back Dante Wigley.

No. 21 Washington State … The Cougars desperately need a receiver to pick up the slack left behind by Gabe Marks and River Cracraft on the front end. Washington State’s struggles were already apparent late last season after Cracraft went down with a knee injury, as the passing game was severely hamstrung to close the season. Now Marks, who caught 89 passes last season, is also gone, and that leaves a real void. Tavares Martin Jr. is a candidate for more looks, as is tall target Isaiah Johnson-Mack.

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March 13th

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Colorado State moves Oregon State game … to open new stadium against a Pac-12 foe

From the Oregon State athletic department … Oregon State and Colorado State Athletics officials have agreed to move this season’s football game at Fort Collins to Sat., Aug. 26. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 23.

The move provides byes for both teams during the season. OSU will be off Sept. 23 between games four and five on the schedule. The Rams did not have a bye date in their schedule.

This will be the eighth time in Beaver football history that the team will play an August game and the earliest on record. The contest is also one of just five on the opening weekend of the season involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams. In addition, it will mark the official debut of Colorado State’s new on-campus stadium. CSU completes the two-game contract visiting Reser Stadium in 2020.

The current unofficial opening weekend of Aug. 26, also known as “zero week,” includes just five games. In addition to OSU at CSU, Hawai’i is at Massachusetts, South Florida plays at San Jose State, Portland State travels to BYU and Stanford plays Rice in Australia. The NCAA allows games played on the Saturday prior to Labor Day Weekend for teams playing at Hawai’i, as Colorado State does this season, or for a game played in foreign country.

Sports Illustrated Pac-12 Spring rankings

From Sports Illustrated … Remember just a couple seasons ago, when this was the conference of quarterbacks? Well, now it’s the conference of question marks, including several about the College Football Playoff. Every Pac-12 team enters 2017 spring practice with significant holes to fill and questions that need immediate answers, but the top of the conference (most notably, Washington and USC) has the talent to challenge for spots in the national semifinals.

Before spring practice kicks off—or at least before spring games kick off—let us help you prep for football on the West Coast.

1. Washington … 2. USC … 3. Stanford … 4. UCLA … 5. Washington State

6. Colorado … One of the feel-good stories of the 2016 season, Colorado loses a lot on defense (including coordinator Jim Leavitt, who left for Oregon) but has a capable QB in Steven Montez, who won’t have to share snaps anymore.

7. Utah … 8. Oregon State … 9. Oregon … 10. Arizona State … 11. Arizona … 12. California

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March 12th

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ESPN: The Biggest Strength for each of the Top 25 teams 

From ESPN … Every team in Mark Schlabach’s 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25 is loaded with talent. But on every team, there is always one unit, one group or one player that stands out above the rest. Here is the biggest strength of every top 25 team.

No. 3 USC … The Trojans might have the Pac-12’s best player in quarterback Sam Darnold, and he’ll make a push to be named the nation’s most outstanding talent with a continuation of late 2016. USC was not a flawless team last season, but Darnold’s instincts and raw ability in the pocket painted a fresh coat of shiny paint on the Trojan operation, and Clay Helton is resting easy with his guy back at the helm in 2017.

No. 7 Washington … The Huskies double-punched opponents with their tandem of Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman at running back last season, and that combo should continue delivering big runs in 2017. Gaskin, who was excellent through his freshman and sophomore seasons, should be stronger as an upperclassman, and Coleman is primed for a big senior year.

No. 15 Stanford … Excellent recruiting and development from defensive coordinator Lance Anderson and defensive backs coach Duane Akina has positioned the Cardinal’s secondary among the national elite. Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder give Stanford a pair of lockdown threats on the outside, and safety Justin Reid continues to develop into a rangy force.

No 19. Colorado  Phillip Lindsay should be in contention for the Pac-12 rushing title in 2017 after racking up 1,252 yards on 5.1 yards per carry this past season, so the Buffs’ offensive backfield is in solid shape. After the graduation of quarterback Sefo Liufau, the offense is likely to feature Lindsay and the ground game.

No. 21 Washington State … The Cougars are in a similar situation here to Pac-12 counterpart USC: Although there are issues and departures to address across the roster, there is a strong unifying element returning at quarterback. Luke Falk will be a senior, and he’s exactly the leader Mike Leach wants to orchestrate his Air Raid system. Washington State also returns its top three running backs.

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March 9th

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Contract for Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott extended to 2022

From the Pac-12 … Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott will remain in his post through June 2022, the Conference announced today, extending his existing contract in recognition of the Conference’s achievements since his arrival in July of 2009 and vision for the future.

Gene D. Block, the Chancellor of UCLA and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pac-12 Conference, comprising the 12 university presidents and chancellors that govern the Conference, said, “During Larry’s tenure, the Conference has been transformed, not only by expansion, but by innovation and excellence in almost every aspect of our activities. We believe in his bold vision for the Pac-12, and have great confidence in Larry’s ability to help us write the next chapter of our Conference’s illustrious history.”

Scott’s contract extension, which was due to expire next year, continues his current roles of Commissioner and Executive Chairman of Pac-12 Enterprises until June 2022. In his seven plus years at the Pac-12, Scott oversaw a rebranding and expansion of the Conference with the addition of the University of Utah and the University of Colorado. Also during his tenure, the Conference added a football championship game, re-energized its basketball tournaments, established athletic and cultural exchange programs in China, enjoyed a resurgence of depth in football and basketball, and maintained its winning tradition as the “Conference of Champions” by leading the nation in NCAA championships every year.

Scott also delivered a landmark media rights agreement with ESPN and FOX and created Pac-12 Networks, the first-ever integrated media company owned by a collegiate conference. These developments provided much needed revenue while also dramatically increasing exposure for the conference’s athletic programs, and enabled the creation of innovative digital and mobile platforms for Pac-12 content.

At the same time, Scott and the CEO Group established a Student-Athlete Health Initiative with the 12 member universities to pursue important medical breakthroughs, and have played a leadership role toward reforming NCAA and other rules affecting student-athlete welfare.

“I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve as a Conference,” Scott said, “and I am deeply gratified by the expression of support and confidence that this extension represents. We have many challenges and opportunities ahead, and I look forward to working with our presidents, athletic directors, administrators, coaches, and student-athletes to move the Pac-12 Conference forward in the coming years.”

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March 7th

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ESPN: “D.J. Eliot leads Colorado’s massive defensive rebuilding effort

From ESPN … During the 2003 offseason, Texas State defensive backs coach D.J. Eliot hopped on Interstate 35 North. He plowed four hours through the heart of the Lone Star State, finishing in Dallas. That’s where he met current Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre, working then in the NFL as the Cowboys’ defensive backs coach.

Eliot and MacIntyre shared ideas about secondary play and their defensive philosophies, information which would come in handy during their career progressions over the next decade. When the meeting ended, both assistant coaches continued along different routes.

… Eliot believes that his fit within the Buffs’ football framework will be just as solid — even if he must withstand a mass talent exodus in his first year on the job. Colorado’s defense, which led the Pac-12 by giving up only 18.4 points per conference game last year, has lost eight starters.

The list of departures includes all of the team’s starting defensive linemen and starting cornerbacks (a collection of talent headlined by Josh Tupou and Chidobe Awuzie), all-conference safety Tedric Thompson, and pass-rush specialist Jimmie Gilbert, who was among the Pac-12 leaders in sacks and tackles for loss.

But amidst all that attrition, Eliot is quick to acknowledge the Buffs’ returning talent.

“We’ve still got a group of guys who are hungry and want to win,” he said. “They got a taste of it last year.”

Continue reading story here

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March 5th

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ESPN: Top Newcomers this spring for Top 25 teams 

From ESPN … Every team in Mark Schlabach’s 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25 is returning proven talent and key contributors. But whether or not they will live up to their early billing will depend largely on the newcomers who will emerge during spring practices to fill the places of departed starters.

Using those rankings, here is the top newcomer to watch — incoming recruit, redshirt freshman or transfer — for every top 25 team.

The Pac-12 …

No. 3 USC

The Trojans scored a massive recruiting victory when Marlon Tuipulotu, ESPN’s No. 8-ranked defensive tackle, switched his commitment from Washington. It’s good timing for USC, which must replace Stevie Tu’ikolovatu at that anchor position and needs to build depth along the line.

No. 7 Washington

Receiver Ty Jones is expected to be the Huskies’ only early spring enrollee, but he has a chance to become an immediate focal point of the offense because of his size. Washington has been looking to add a tall receiver or two to its arsenal, and Jones’ 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame should fit the bill as Jake Browning works to establish his 2017 collection of targets.

No. 15 Stanford

The Cardinal don’t have any early spring enrollees because their entire recruiting class must wait until summer before arriving on campus. But once fall camp hits, all eyes will be on offensive tackles Foster Sarell and Walker Little. Both will be easy to spot, as they each measure over 6-foot-6. They’re two of the top line prospects in the country, and should be able to contribute immediately to a Stanford position group undergoing a youth movement.

No. 19 Colorado

The Buffs must replace eight starters from a defense that led the Pac-12 in scoring defense during conference play. The list includes all three starting defensive linemen. A pair of big-bodied junior college transfers will be thrust into the spotlight here: 350-pound Javier Edwards and 280-pound Chris Mulumba will look to replace that departed talent.

No. 21 Washington State

The Cougars have quietly developed a solid offensive line, and they hope that trend continues this spring with the arrival of junior college tackle transfer Robert Valencia. The 6-foot-6, 290-pounder starred at the City College of San Francisco and looks polished enough to contribute in Pullman immediately.

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March 3rd

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New Oregon head coach Willie Taggart wants players to “learn to like each other”

From the Oregonian … From his time at Stanford, as an assistant, and Western Kentucky and South Florida as head coach, Willie Taggart says that rebuilding football programs typically comes down to fixing many of the same structural issues.

Boosting recruiting, for one. Reforming player discipline, too.

But upon Taggart’s hiring at Oregon, he found a problem he hadn’t anticipated: The need to coax Ducks players to spend more time in the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex’s luxurious, players-only lounge.

Its multiple big-screen televisions, video game consoles, rugs imported from Italy and foosball tables from Spain were apparently barely being used.

“It’s a really player-friendly building,” Taggart said in a phone interview Wednesday with The Oregonian/OregonLive. “You would think that a lot of these guys would be around here a lot more than what they have been.”

The sparse attendance, to Taggart, wasn’t reflective of players’ unhappiness with their amenities.

Instead, it came off as symptomatic of a 4-8 team where the issue was more team chemistry than talent. Despite all its player perks, UO’s high-tech football headquarters is still an office, and players often bolted as soon as their workday was done.

Continue reading story here

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March 2nd

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NFL Network analysis of Pac-12 draft hopefuls

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock is one of the Hotline’s favorite analysts. He’s a former player (Giants), evaluates prospects like a scout/GM, and superbly communicates his assessment.

Mayock held his annual pre-Combine teleconference Monday. I jumped on and jotted down his comments on the Pac-12 prospects that were mentioned over the course of the two-hour call.

CU prospects …

Colorado CB Ahkello Witherspoon:  “People are talking about him in the fourth round. He’s a good football player … I can get through four rounds of quality corners, and I’ve never been able to say that before.”

Colorado QB Sefo Liufau: “I love his competitiveness and his toughness. But I don’t think he’s a natural thrower. I’m not sure he’ll get drafted as a quarterback.”

Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie: “One of my favorite players. If he’s not going to start at the outside, he’s going to start at nickel and perhaps even free safety. I’ve got a second-round grade on him, and I think he’s physical, tough.”

Colorado FS Tedric Thompson: “He’s a ball-hawking free safety. Not as physical as I would like. At the present time, misses a lot of tackles, doesn’t get very involved in the run game, so he’s really a free safety only, which will limit where he can go.”

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March 1st

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College Football News – Three Pac-12 teams in the top ten nationally

From College Football News … Ranking the Pac-12 … CU No. 41

Pac-12 and CU 2017 opponents … Texas State – No. 126 … California – No. 69 … Oregon State – No. 68 … Arizona – No. 60 … Colorado State – No. 57 … Utah – No. 47 … Arizona State – No. 42 … Washington State – No. 34 … UCLA – No. 28 … Oregon – No. 12

Stanford – No. 9

When you go 10-3 and it’s a down year, you’re doing something right. Stanford was overrated to start last season – it was supposed to be a rebuilding campaign – and it showed after getting blown away by Washington and Washington State, starting out 4-3, and then fattening up over the second half of the season against a bad slate.

The passing game didn’t show up, the offense finished 103rd in the nation, and it took way too long for the machine to get revved up. But again, it was supposed to take a while to get back to a Pac-12 championship level. Even with Christian McCaffrey leaving early for the NFL, the Cardinal should be back there.

The quarterback fight will be interesting all offseason, but no matter how it all shakes out, seven starters will likely be back. The defense that allowed 17 points or fewer eight times loses Solomon Thomas at one end, but seven starters return. Throw in the small-but-loaded recruiting class full of future pro starters, and look out. Stanford is loaded.

Really, Why Are The Stanford Cardinal Ranked Here?

The depth is better, the position battles will be stronger, and the upside is there to take the Pac-12 title after taking a step back. It might take the entire offseason, but eventually, the starting 22 should be as good as any in the conference, and likely the country – even if it takes a little while to get there.

USC – No. 7

One quarterback change later, and USC became one of the best teams in college football again. Now it’ll start Sam Darnold from the opening drive – something many thought should’ve happened against Alabama last year – and once again, nothing less than a Pac-12 title will be okay.

The Trojans ripped off a nine-game winning streak after losing to Utah – with Darnold getting his feet wet as the starter – and now the expectations will be sky-high considering how much fun the offensive fireworks were and how impressive the team was in all the big games. USC cranked out 41 points or more seven times, with decent balance, plenty of flash, and lots and lots of Darnold.

Only six starters are back on offense, but one of them is that quarterback guy – No. 14 will make everyone around him better. Seven starters return to a defense loaded with depth, options, and speed.

Really, Why Are The USC Trojans Ranked Here?

A hot finish to one year doesn’t necessarily translate to a big following season, but in this case, the Rose Bowl might just be the launching pad to the resurgence of the juggernaut. Darnold will be the signature guy with all the hype, but there’s more to this team on both sides of the ball. It took a while, but the talent level and depth are back in place to be special again.

Washington – No. 5

Washington won the Pac-12 championship and got into the College Football Playoff. That’s all that matters. 

The loss to Alabama might have been ugly, and just about everyone thought USC was the best team in the Pac-12 at the end of the year – helped by the Trojans’ 26-13 win in Seattle – but who cares? Washington got just about everything it could’ve hoped for after hiring Chris Petersen, but best of all, this might only be the beginning.

The passing game was among the nation’s most efficient, and the defense allowed a mere 317 yards and 17.7 points per game, and it could all happen again.

Six starters are back on the terrific defense – and Petersen proved he could reload in a hurry when needed – while QB Jake Browning returns to lead an improving offense that welcomes back seven starters. But about that filling the holes thing …

Really, Why Are The Washington Huskies Ranked Here?

Don’t just go handing the Pac-12 title to USC just yet. Oregon and Stanford will be stronger in the North, and it won’t be so easy to fatten up on a slew of mediocre teams like the Huskies did last season, but the team really and truly could be even better this time around.

If the secondary is close to as strong as it was last year, and if Browning is Browning again, there could be a repeat trip to the post-season.

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February 28th

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NCAA looking into possible rule changes to speed up games

From CBS Sports … Inside the SEC office this winter in Birmingham, Alabama, three SEC employees are going through the mind-numbing task of retiming several college football games as if different playing rules applied.

How many plays might be lost and how much actual time could be saved if the game clock kept running after first downs? What if the clock started after incompletions on the ready-for-play signal? These questions are now getting asked as the average Football Bowl Subdivision game steadily grows longer, having reached three hours and 24 minutes in 2016 — up 12 minutes from 2010.

The work by SEC officiating coordinator Steve Shaw, director of video operations Cole Cunningham and video assistant Robert Milligan is not an inexact science. Through side-by-side cut-ups of video from coaches film and television broadcasts, they are analyzing different kinds of games — such as those with lots of incompletions and others without many passes — to come up with ballpark numbers on saved time.

“The offense right now completely controls the tempo of the game,” Shaw said. “But if you change the rules, you can change the behavior of a team. You may see ball-control teams that, on an incomplete pass, literally slow down and let that whole time run. You could have up-tempo teams speed up and be ready to snap because there’s more urgency with the clock moving. What would those rules mean as it looks today? I don’t think anybody has the answer to that.”

The SEC plans to provide its results for the Division I Football Competition Committee and NCAA Football Rules Committee meetings in late February and early March. The ACC did a similar study by examining eight games and found a “few minutes” would be saved with a running clock after first downs or if the clock started after incompletions, ACC officiating coordinator Dennis Hennigan said.

Continue reading story here

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ESPN: Weaknesses in the Pac-12 South

From ESPN … With spring practices starting up throughout the Pac-12, we’re taking a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses for the conference title race in 2017. Last week, we examined the biggest strengths of every Pac-12 team. Today, it’s time for the weaknesses

Colorado: Secondary. The Buffs return just one defensive back starter off the conference’s second-best pass defense from last season. But, not only does Colorado lose cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon, as well as safety Tedric Thompson, but also defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and cornerbacks coach Charles Clark (both went to Oregon). The lone returning starter — free safety Afolabi Laguda — will look for help from junior college transfer Dante Wigley and Isaiah Oliver, but this group certainly will be one that faces a bit of adversity with the number of new faces in 2017.

Continue reading story here

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Oregon working on a new policy to shield coaches’ disciplinary records from the public

Imagine if CU tried to do this

From ESPN … The University of Oregon is writing a new policy that could make coaches’ disciplinary records inaccessible to the public under Freedom of Information Act laws.

According to The Eugene Register Guard, the policy “explicitly says the personnel records of about 1,400 staff members, called ‘officers of administration,’ a classification that includes coaches, are to be treated like faculty personnel records and kept secret.”

Pending the approval of University of Oregon President Michael Schill, this policy would keep the public from knowing any kind of disciplinary action ever taken against a specific coach, no matter the public interest. Currently, the University doesn’t have to release these records, but an appeal can be put in to a judge to determine the public interest in these requests. If public interest is compelling enough, the University must produce the disciplinary records.

The Register Guard requested the records of former co-offensive coordinator David Reaves who was put on administrative leave (and later resigned) following a DUI. Those requests were denied under ORS 352.226, which applies to faculty records, not those of officers of administration (which Reaves was). The Register Guard could appeal this decision to a judge who could determine whether or not it’s within the public’s interest to have these records. However, the new policy wouldn’t allow for any kind of a review past the University’s decision to not disclose.

However, the policy could face some friction in going up against ORS 192, which requires that even Universities like Oregon, which are independent, would continue to adhere to the Oregon public records law.

Continue reading story here

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February 27th

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ESPN: “Colorado’s rise was impressive, but can the Buffaloes sustain their success?”

From ESPN … After Colorado’s first spring practice last week, coach Mike MacIntyre recalled a lesson from his time working under the legendary Bill Parcells as an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys: Building off a championship season is not as simple as picking up where you left off.

“You go back and start from the bottom again,” MacIntyre said, channeling Parcells. “What you hope is that your foundation is built higher, and now you can just keep moving forward.”

That will be the approach this spring and into the fall as the Buffaloes try to build off a 10-4 season in which they won the Pac-12 South and rose as high as No. 9 before finishing at No. 17 in the AP poll. MacIntyre was the recipient of eight national coach of the year honors, including one from ESPN, after Colorado won seven more conference games than it did the previous season in becoming the most-improved team in Pac-12 history.

Now comes a different challenge: sustaining a high level of success. In the Pac-12 South, that hasn’t been easy. In fact, winning the division has been something of a curse.

The three programs that won the division from 2012 through 2014 — UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona — went a combined 5-22 in Pac-12 play in 2016 and filled the bottom half of the South standings. That isn’t to say, of course, that Colorado’s division title means it will follow a similar course — only that its recent success doesn’t necessarily indicate that more is on the way.

Continue reading story here

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February 26th

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Arizona new athletic director from CMU

From the Arizona Republic … Former Central Michigan athletic director Dave Heeke has been named Arizona’s new vice president of athletics, pending Arizona Board of Regents approval, the school announced on Saturday.

Heeke, who has held the AD job at CMU since January 2006, will replace Greg Byrne in Tucson, after Byrne left for Alabama.

“I am pleased and excited that Dave has accepted the position. I was impressed by his sustained level of accomplishment in promoting superior academic and athletic achievements by their student athletes and his ability to rally record levels of fundraising for facility improvements in all sports,” Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart said in a statement. “He has experience at the highest levels of competitive college sports and he is an acknowledged national leader among NCAA athletic directors. Dave is a perfect match for our Wildcat family.”

An East Lansing native, Heeke has been in discussions for other major-college AD jobs over the recent years but didn’t land any of them.

Heeke previously spent 18 years at Oregon, where he rose to become the senior associate athletics director/chief of staff.

Continue reading story here

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February 25th

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College Football News … Oregon – No. 12 (seriously??)

From College Football News … Ranking the Pac-12 … CU No. 41

CU 2017 opponents … Texas State – No. 126 … California – No. 69 … Oregon State – No. 68 … Arizona – No. 60 … Colorado State – No. 57 … Utah – No. 47 … Arizona State – No. 42 … Washington State – No. 34 … UCLA – No. 28

Oregon – No. 12

The offense worked. It really, really worked, finishing 15th in the nation averaging 492 yards per game.

The defense stunk. It really, really stunk, finishing as the third-worst in both yards and points allowed per game, giving up over 41 points and 518 yards an outing on the way to a shocking 4-8 season.

Just a few years removed from playing for the national title, head coach Mark Helfrich was launched, Willie Taggart was hired on, and now it looks like this could quickly get back to being the team that turned into a national powerhouse and one of the Pac-12’s biggest stars.

Eight starters are back on the devastating offense – helped by the return of RB Royce Freeman, and the emergence of QB Justin Herbert – and ten starters return to that miserable D. This isn’t going to be a devastating defense, but it’s not going to be any worse. There’s depth to go along with all the experience.

Really, Why Are The Oregon Ducks Ranked Here?

This will be the real Oregon team again. The Ducks couldn’t find the answer on defense last season in awful performance after awful performance, but Jim Leavitt is a whale of a defensive coach and should shine as the new coordinator. Meanwhile, co-offensive coordinators Marcus Arroyo and Mario Cristobal will keep the offense rolling. 2016 was an aberration, and now get ready for Oregon being Oregon again.

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February 24th

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Biggest spring questions for Top 25 teams (including Colorado)

From ESPN … Mark Schlabach’s 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25 has Alabama and Florida State in the top two spots, but each faces some big questions to answer this spring.

Using those rankings, here are other questions that need answers for each of our top 25 teams …

3. USC Trojans

What does Sam Darnold do for an encore? All eyes will be on the sophomore QB as he tries to build on a sensational debut season. The Trojans have a few notable gaps to fill — both offensive tackle spots and nose tackle being the most pressing — but they’re set up well headed into 2017.

7. Washington Huskies

Which playmakers will emerge on defense? Not only do the Huskies need to replace the team’s sack leader (Psalm Wooching) and the centerpiece of the defensive line up front (321-pound Elijah Qualls), but also three defensive back starters (Sidney Jones, Budda Baker and Kevin King)

15. Stanford Cardinal

Who’s going to play quarterback? Ryan Burns and K.J. Costello have been left to duke it out this spring with Keller Chryst on the sideline nursing a knee injury. Chryst unseated Burns midway through 2016, but can Burns gain back some ground in Chryst’s absence? Can Costello move up in the pecking order?

19. Colorado Buffaloes

What will the defense look like? Not only will the Buffaloes be breaking in a new defensive coordinator (D.J. Eliot replaces Jim Leavitt), but they’ll have to replace their entire defensive line, sack leader Jimmie Gilbert and three starters from the secondary. There’s a lot of work to be done.

21. Washington State Cougars

Who will Luke Falk throw to? Falk is back for his fifth season on campus, but he’ll move on without two key receivers: Gabe Marks and River Cracraft. Those two players played significant roles for the entirety of their careers, so it will interesting to see who develops into Falk’s go-to options.

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February 23rd

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Oregon coach Willie Taggert refuses to talk with reporter who broke hospitalization story

From The Daily Emerald … Oregon’s new football coach is still upset over a Jan. 16 news report about an early season workout that sent three of his players to the hospital. The report resulted in the suspension of strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay.

Head coach Willie Taggart, whom Oregon hired to replace Mark Helfrich in December, said he is no longer speaking to The Oregonian reporter who broke the story, claiming that the reporter’s characterization of the workouts as “grueling” and “akin to military basic training” were inaccurate, unfair and directly contradicted what Taggart told the reporter before the story was written.

Oregon’s new football coach is still upset over a Jan. 16 news report about an early season workout that sent three of his players to the hospital. The report resulted in the suspension of strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay.

Head coach Willie Taggart, whom Oregon hired to replace Mark Helfrich in December, said he is no longer speaking to The Oregonian reporter who broke the story, claiming that the reporter’s characterization of the workouts as “grueling” and “akin to military basic training” were inaccurate, unfair and directly contradicted what Taggart told the reporter before the story was written.

Continue reading story here

ESPN rates the best unit for each team in the Pac-12 South

From ESPN … With spring practices beginning across the Pac-12, we’re taking a look at some of the key players and position groups that could shape the division races in 2017. Thursday, we’ll examine the biggest strengths of each team in the North and South. Check back next week for a look at each team’s biggest weakness.

… Colorado: Receiver was a strength as the Buffaloes won the Pac-12 South last season, and every significant contributor returns. Shay Fields, Devin Ross, Bryce Bobo, Jay MacIntyre and running back Phillip Lindsay all had at least 30 catches in 2016 and make up a talented group for quarterback Steven Montez. What makes this group unique is how well balanced it is. There’s not really a clear No. 1 or No. 2; really, it varied from game to game. Ross was the only player last season to lead the team in receiving yards in back-to-back contests.

Continue reading story here

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February 22nd

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College Football News … Washington State (No. 34) and UCLA (No. 28) profiled

From College Football News … Ranking the Pac-12 … CU No. 41

CU 2017 opponents … Texas State – No. 126 … California – No. 69 … Oregon State – No. 68 … Arizona – No. 60 … Colorado State – No. 57 … Utah – No. 47 … Arizona State – No. 42

No. 34Washington State

It was a good year for Washington State in a bad year for the Pac-12 North. The Cougars overcame the 0-2 start to roll to eight straight wins, only to run into a brick wall against Colorado and Washington late in the regular season, and then couldn’t handle the controversy-induced Minnesota team in a bowl loss. There was only one win over a bowl team, but compared to Oregon, Cal and Oregon State in the North, Wazzu’s eight win campaign was more than fine.

The return of QB Luke Falk and OG Cody O’Connell for another year was a lifesaver for an offense that now gets back seven starters after finishing 18th in the nation in total yards. The defense that turned into a positive gets back nine starters for what could be the Pac-12’s most underappreciated group.

Really, Why Are The Washington State Cougars Ranked Here?

On experience and upside, this might be way too low a ranking, but the Cougars have to show they can start beating the better teams on a consistent basis under Leach. Can there be results for all of the fireworks? 2016 was the year to make noise in the North, but 2017 will be tougher – Oregon will be better, Stanford should be a lot stronger, and Washington won’t go away. Even so, the Cougars will be dangerous.

 

No. 28UCLA

The Bruins suffered a slew of key injuries, but that was only part of the problem in a disastrous 4-8 season. There was supposed to be a commitment to the ground game, and UCLA finished with the second-worst rushing attack in the nation. The defense was okay overall, but it couldn’t seem to come up with a meaningful third down stop. With six losses in the final seven games, now the pressure is on for Jim Mora Jr.

QB Josh Rosen is back, but can he stay healthy? He’ll need to for an offense that was one-dimensional last season, but now returns with a slew of veterans, getting back eight starters. The defense is the problem, losing seven starters.

Really, Why Are The UCLA Bruins Ranked Here?

The defense might be gutted, but plenty of good prospects are in place to prevent too much of a drop off. The running game at least has to show up and Rosen has to be the best quarterback in Los Angeles, which would probably make him the best quarterback in the Pac-12. Everyone will be talking about USC in the South, but UCLA could be just good enough to sneak up and surprise.

 

Matt Lubick, son of former CSU head coach Sonny Lubick, joins fourth team in three months

From CBS Sports … College football coaches change jobs so frequently that the so-called “silly season” pretty much stretches year-round, though December through February is the unofficial peak.

Perhaps no coach has embodied the craziness of the season more than new Washington co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick. On Wednesday, Lubick was introduced as the newest addition to the Huskies’ coaching staff. It’s his fourth stop in the last three months.

“I am excited to add Matt to our coaching staff,” coach Chris Petersen said in a statement. “He has earned a national reputation as an innovative coaching mind and a successful recruiter. Equally as important, we believe he will be a terrific fit with our staff, players and the University of Washington.”

Lubick, the son of former Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick, comes to the Huskies program after a stint of just under two months at Baylor in which he served as co-offensive coordinator with Jeff Nixon.

Prior to being hired by new Baylor coach Matt Rhule, Lubick spent less than two weeks as Ole Miss’ wide receivers coach, a job he took after being the receivers coach and offensive coordinator at Oregon under now-fired coach Mark Helfrich.

Continue reading story here

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Pac-12 apparel contracts … next to cash in: UCLA: Oregon; Washington

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … Given Under Armour’s financial issues and the company’s long-term contracts with two Pac-12 schools, this seemed like the perfect time for a podcast with Matt Kish, who covers the sports footwear and apparel industry (i.e., Nike, adidas) for the Portland Business Journal.

Footwear/apparel is, after all, a critical space for Pac-12 athletic departments considering the ever-rising need for new revenue streams, the fixed nature of the conference’s TV packages (until 2024) and the growing revenue gap relative to the Big Ten and SEC.

… My conclusion, based on the chat with Kish:

Aside from the Bruins, whose $280 million deal kicks in this summer — it’s the largest in the history of college sports — the biggest winner in the Pac-12 over the next decade could very well be a certain school that prefers purple.

Washington and Oregon, according to Kish, are the only public schools in the conference that have expiring contracts in the near future. (As privates, USC and Stanford are not obligated to provide the details of their respective deals with Nike.)

Oregon’s agreement with Nike is up in 2018, and Phil Knight will certainly lock in long-term rights with his alma mater. In fact, it’s worth wondering whether Under Armour or adidas will even make serious bids to outfit the Ducks.

But the Huskies? They’re fair game, with a brand-name football program in a major metropolitan area.

And their Nike contract that expires in 2019. (After that, the next Pac-12 public school to hit the negotiating table is Colorado, in 2025.)

Continue reading story here

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February 21st

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USC preseason hype underway

From CBS Sports … Apologies in advance, but you’re going to hear “Is USC back?” somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 times over the next six months. This is only a partial exaggeration.

Sorry. Sorry everyone. I’m sorry. Just trying to tell you now so you can prepare for it.

It starts with USC’s checklist, which at least for the offseason, is complete. On Monday, Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold was named as the odds favorite to win the 2017 Heisman Trophy at 4/1, according to Bovada.lv.

… Nevertheless, Darnold’s preseason Heisman bump is the latest indication the Trojans are the national team du jour for 2017. This is, after all, a program that was mentioned (although not seriously) as a playoff contender with three losses.

For one, USC should be the beneficiary of a double-bowl bump in the preseason polls for: 1) beating Penn State in an “all-time” Rose Bowl to win nine straight games, and 2) having a great #brand, which, as we’ve seen for three years now, gets first selection on playoff inclusion.

… That leads to great expectations. Problem is, USC hasn’t handled those particularly well in recent years. The 2015 team was ranked in the top 10 in both major polls in the preseason — but fired coach Steve Sarkisian five games into the season for substance issues and finished 8-6. The 2012 group was a national title favorite that finished 7-6.

But you know what they say: different years, different teams and all that. USC has the tools for a special year, including talent across the board and a young-but-somehow-totally-veteran quarterback. It just has to perform.

Continue reading story here

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February 19th

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College Football News … Arizona State No. 42

From College Football News ..

Arizona State Sun Devils Biggest Issue

The kicking game starts over. Of course the defense has to be better after finishing dead last in the nation against the pass, and was the second-worst overall – that’s the biggest problem that’ll be the focus throughout spring ball. However, ASU has to replace a special pair of kickers, losing P Matt Haack, who averaged close to 44 yards per kick for a punting game that finished fifth in the nation. All PK Zane Gonzalez did was win the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s best kicker, nailing 23-of-25 field goal attempts.

Really, Why Are The Arizona State Sun Devils Ranked Here?

There has to be a turnaround under Graham – the program is overdue. After overachieving a bit in the first few years, ASU underachieved over the last two. This team is too experienced and has too many good weapons to continue being so mediocre. It might not be good enough to take the Pac-12 South, but it should be able to hold its own against USC, Colorado and UCLA – and beat Arizona.

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February 18th

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College Football News … CSU the No. 57 team in the nation; Utah in at No. 47

From the College Football News

Colorado State Rams Biggest Issue

Can the offensive line be as good? Okay, so losing Hunt and his 44-yard average is a problem, but the work this offseason will be done on the O line. It only allowed 13 sacks on the year and paved the way for over five yards per carry and 30 scores. Three starters are back, but the two best players are gone, losing Nick Callender at left tackle and Fred Zerblis at right guard. TE Nolan Peralta is gone, too, after serving as a good short-range receiver and a strong blocker.

Really, Why Are The Colorado State Rams Ranked Here?

It’s time. Colorado State has been lurking just underneath the elite of the Mountain West for the last few years, but it could and should be good enough to battle with Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force, and now, Wyoming for the title. It’s a dangerous team that will be a whole lot of fun offensively, but the defense will have to hold its own. Expect more out of these Rams.

Utah Utes Biggest Issue

The offensive line. The defensive front has concerns on the end, and the secondary has to replace just about everyone, but the O line has the most work to do. Garrett Bolles left early to become some NFL team’s starting left tackle, while Sam Tevi is gone on the other side. Pounding guard Isaac Asiata has to be replaced along with C Nick Nowakowski. Utah always comes up with excellent blockers, but good luck replacing these four.

Really, Why Are The Utah Utes Ranked Here?

Can the Ute offense keep on rumbling without Williams and all the bangers on the offensive front? Troy Williams is a good enough quarterback to help ease the pain, but it’s a rebuilding year for a Ute attack that wasn’t explosive enough. The secondary has to be better without the benefit of a pass rush as good as last year’s, and there are just enough key losses to hurt. But it’s Utah under Kyle Whittingham – it’ll be a factor in the Pac-12 South.

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February 17th

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Utah running back Joe Williams explains his early-season “retirement”

From USA Today … Joe Williams heard his father’s screams from the next room as his sister lay in death’s grip. But Williams felt paralyzed, strapped down to his bed by shock and emotions.

Nearly a decade later, through the start of a 2016 season in which he emerged as one of the most productive and puzzling running backs in college football, Williams was still having flashbacks – to helping 7-year-old Kylee when she fell out of bed earlier that night, to carrying her to the bathroom, to riding to the hospital where she was pronounced dead of an undiagnosed heart problem.

“That’s where the guilt comes in,” Williams told USA TODAY Sports recently. “Because maybe if I had got out of my bed and maybe I’d held her or she knew I was there, maybe she would’ve woken up. That was the biggest reason of why I blame myself.”

This is the story behind the story of Williams walking away from the University of Utah football team in September – a story he’s telling NFL teams as they prepare for April’s draft and trying to figure out whether Williams might walk out on them, too.

He rejoined the Utes less than a month after his so-called retirement, flashing the speed that intrigues scouts while running for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in their last seven games. A fresh tattoo reading “My Sister’s Keeper” on his left arm gave a clue to where his head had been.

Continue reading story here

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February 16th

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Arizona State shuffles coaching lineup – Todd Graham: “Probably the best group I’ve assembled”

From The Arizona Republic … Arizona State football filled two assistant coach openings Wednesday, adding Rob Sale as offensive line coach/run game coordinator and Michael Slater as defensive line coach.

Head coach Todd Graham also announced promotions of Rob Likens to co-offensive coordinator and John Simon to assistant head coach. Likens is the new wide receivers coach, and Simon coaches running backs.

Sale comes to ASU from Louisiana-Monroe, where he also was offensive line coach. He was at Georgia in 2015 and also coached at McNeese State (2012-14) and Alabama (2007-11), where he was strength/conditioning assistant and offensive analyst.

Slater comes to ASU from Kansas, where he was defensive line coach in 2015. Likens also is new to ASU’s staff from Kansas. Slater coached at Rice from 2009-15.

ASU has five new assistants going into spring practice: Billy Napier (offensive coordinator), Phil Bennett (defensive coordinator), Likens, Sale and Slater. The tight ends job remains open. Returning assistants are Simon, Keith Patterson (linebackers), Shawn Slocum (special teams) and T.J. Rushing (defensive backs).

“It’s probably the best group I’ve assembled,” Graham said of his sixth ASU staff during a media day Wednesday.

Continue reading story here

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February 15th

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College Football News: Three Pac-12 teams between 60-70 nationally

From College Football News:

Texas StateNo. 126

California … No. 69

For all the fireworks and all the fun and the end of the Sonny Dykes era, Cal only came up with five wins thanks to a defense that wasn’t even close to stopping the run – finishing with the second-worst run D in the nation – while allowing close to 43 points per game. Now it’s up to Justin Wilcox to try fixing all of that.

After years of cranking up the offense, now Cal is going the other way, getting Wisconsin’s former defensive coordinator as the head coach, and hiring former Fresno State head man Tim DeRuyter as the DC. The offense isn’t getting ignored, bringing aboard former Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin as the offensive coordinator. At the very least, it’s a good-looking staff that should change things around.

Really, Why Are The California Golden Bears Ranked Here?

It’s going to be a different team. The offense is going to be a lot worse, the defense is going to be a lot better, and if it all works out in Wilcox’s first season, this should be a bowl team with one extra win – but it’s going to take a few upsets to get there. It’s going to be a process, but you probably won’t have Cal to push around anymore.

Oregon StateNo. 68

It’s not exactly a make-or-break season for Gary Andersen for his time at Oregon State, but after going 6-18 in the first two seasons, even with a two-win improvement last year, the wins have to start to come. It’s been an un-Andersen run with the defense not doing anything against the run, while the offense can’t seem to find any sort of positive consistency. However, by closing out 2016 with wins over Arizona and arch-rival Oregon by a combined score of 76-41, there’s at least something to build on this spring.

If the improvement is going to come, though, it’ll have to happen with an offense that’s losing three great offensive linemen, and a D without three of its best players in the back eight. On the plus side, almost all the key skill guys return, there’s decent depth in the backfield, and the D line should be solid. But …

Really, Why Are The Oregon State Beavers Ranked Here?

Again, it’s Year Three under Andersen, and the Beavers are supposed to be better, more efficient, and a whole lot stronger defensively at this point. The team showed promised over the last few games, but overall this is still going to come into the season ranked near the bottom of the Pac-12 pack, mainly because the rest of the league looks so strong.

ArizonaNo. 60

Arizona never, ever caught a health break last year. How can you tell? A Rich Rodriguez-led team finished 100th in the nation in scoring and only averaged 413 yards per game? The win over Arizona State might have made things better at the end, but it was an ugly run after a 2-1 start, even with a strong overtime loss performance against Washington. The injuries kicked in, and that was that. So if everyone can finally stay healthy, will that be the difference? Maybe.

The one big positive out of last year was the time logged in by a slew of young guys thrown to the wolves. Now the offense comes back with eight or nine returning starters depending on the alignment, while the defense that struggled so much – it is a RichRod team, after all – only gets back six starters.

Really, Why Are The Arizona Wildcats Ranked Here?

Again, it depends on the health of the team, along with the effectiveness of the offense. The Wildcats will run well, and they’ll have their explosive moments, but they’ll have to make up for the always-lousy defense that’ll have problems again in a higher-octane Pac-12. Nothing less than a bowl will be okay, but it’ll take something crazy to get back to the South-winning ways of a two years ago.

 

Proposed rule change may reduce the number of targeting penalties called

From CBS Sports … College football targeting penalties may become more lenient through a proposed rule change that could result in fewer player ejections.

As targeting ejections have doubled over three years, the NCAA Football Rules Committee is looking at changing the replay standards so a targeting ejection only occurs if the penalty is confirmed. Currently, if replay doesn’t have enough evidence to confirm targeting but can’t rule it’s not targeting, the call on the field stands and the player gets ejected.

NCAA associate director Ty Halpin, the liaison for the rules committee, said ejecting a player is “a pretty expensive deal” if targeting isn’t certain. Halpin said the “vast majority” of targeting flags thrown on the field should be confirmed, but there’s a fairness issue to consider for players.

“We still want to the official to throw the flag there,” Halpin said. “But if replay says there’s a little bit of contact on the shoulder and it’s more because the player adjusted and it wasn’t a dangerous attempt by the player delivering the contact, then maybe that player deserves to stay in the game. It’s a reasonable thing to go with.”

Continue reading story here

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February 14th

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Jon Wilner ranks Pac-12 quarterbacks for 2017

From the San Jose Mercury News … Time once again for the Hotline’s biannual rankings of the Pac-12’s Quarterback Comfort Quotient (QBCQ), which isn’t actually a quotient — I’m not dividing anything — but that title sure has a nice flow.

As in the past, the QBCQ rankings are based on a wholly subjective, case-by-case assessment of the combination of 1) proven ability of the projected starter and 2) the options available if said starter is injured or yanked for poor performance.

A strong case could be made that you’re better off with a B-level starter and C-level reserve than with an A-caliber starter rookie backups.

Last season was the best example of the need for a capable reserve(s) that we’ve seen in the conference in years. Only four teams weren’t forced to use the No. 2 (or No. 3) quarterback.

A summary of what’s below:

* Teams with returning starters: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah.

* Teams with returning starter and at least one backup with meaningful experience: Washington, Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona State.

* Teams without backups with meaningful experience: Washington State, Oregon, Cal, USC, UCLA, Colorado and Utah.

* Team in huge trouble at the position: Cal

… 9. Colorado
Comment: The Hotline is high on Steven Montez, who’s mobile, has a big arm and won Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors for his fabulous performance in Eugene. But considering that Montez has attempted just 131 passes (basically three full games) and that CU’s presumed No. 2 is a redshirt freshman, Sam Noyer, it’s difficult to justify a higher ranking for the Buffaloes. Every team above them has a returning starter, a proven backup, or both.

Continue reading story here

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February 13th

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Colorado may face as many as three senior transfer quarterbacks next fall

From College Football News … Not all quarterback transfers will step in and win conference titles right away – if at all – and some might not even start, or even play quarterback. But they’re some of the most important players this offseason and expected to be instant stars. They’re some of the top quarterbacks in new spots you need to pay attention to …

16. Cooper Bateman, Utah

Not all quarterback transfers will shine at one spot. The one-time star recruit for Alabama was seen as the Next QB Up over the last few years – or at least was deep in the mix – but that obviously didn’t happen. It’s not going to happen at Utah, either – Troy Williams is firmly entrenched as the Ute QB – so Bateman will almost certainly move to receiver and be an emergency option under center.

12. Damian Williams, Texas State

Nick Fitzgerald didn’t just take over the Mississippi State starting job when Dak Prescott was done, he was magnificent, too. Williams lost out, and now it’s on to try reviving a woeful Texas State attack that did next to nothing last season. The skills are there to blow up into a Sun Belt statistical superstar.

8. Blake Barnett, Arizona State

The former Alabama passer caught a break and became eligible right away after transferring over to ASU. With great size, a pro-level arm, and the right tools to be the exact fit to make the Todd Graham offense more vertical, Barnett could be what the team needs to battle in the Pac-12 South. However, he’ll be in a fight with Manny Wilkins for the job – and that’s a problem. Wilkins showed good promise at times last season, even though the Sun Devils went in the tank.

Continue reading story here

Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder diagnosed with throat cancer

From ESPN … Longtime Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has been diagnosed with throat cancer but is expected to be on the field for the start of the Wildcats’ spring practice next month.

Snyder announced the diagnosis in a lengthy statement Monday, saying that he has been receiving treatment for three weeks and that doctors have “projected a positive outcome.”

“I have been diagnosed with throat cancer and have been receiving outpatient treatment at the KU Medical Center for about three weeks and am getting along very well,” Snyder said in his statement. “The doctors and staffs at both KU Med and M.D. Anderson [in Houston] have been great; working so very well together to finalize the overall treatment plan which is being conducted in Kansas City. Both ‘teams’ have projected a positive outcome and have worked out a schedule that allows me to be in Kansas City for my regular treatments and still be back in the office on a regular basis through the first week of March.”

Snyder, 77, said his son Sean, the Wildcats’ associate head coach/special teams coordinator, and the rest of the coaching staff will continue in “carrying out their responsibilities keeping us on track” when he is away from the team.

Continue reading story here

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February 11th

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First-ever in-season NCAA bracket has three Pac-12 teams

From ESPN … The NCAA tournament selection committee annually convenes in February at NCAA headquarters at Indianapolis, where it orients new members to its voting procedures and software and works through an early version of the bracket. The 2016-17 season marks the first time it has published any portion of those bracket results before Selection Sunday.

Beyond generating discussion, the reveal was intended as a glimpse into the committee’s current thinking and is not a projection of eventual seeds but rather treated as though Saturday was Selection Sunday, committee vice chairman Bruce Rasmussen said this week.

The NCAA on Saturday revealed its first-ever in-season look at its top 16 teams for the NCAA tournament. The seedings (and the brackets) are subject to change ahead of Selection Sunday, which will reveal the official bracket on March 12.
East South
1. Villanova (1) 1. Baylor (3)
2. Louisville (7) 2. N. Carolina (5)
3. Kentucky (12) 3. Florida (11)
4. UCLA (15) 4. Butler (13)
Midwest West
1. Kansas (2) 1. Gonzaga (4)
2. Florida St (6) 2. Oregon (8)
3. Arizona (9) 3. Virginia (10)
4. Duke (16) 4. W. Virginia (14)

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February 10th

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Pac-12 hires … Cal’s Justin Wilcox grades out better than Oregon’s Willie Taggart

From Sports Illustrated … They’re nearly seven months away from their first games, but the track records of the new head coaches hired this off-season offer some insight into which ones are poised for success and which ones could leave their programs searching for a new coach again in a few seasons. The right hire, of course, can change everything; just look at what Dabo Swinney has done for Clemson or what Chris Petersen is doing at Washington for some recent examples. Ultimately time will tell whether any of the 21 head coaches brought in this off-season can be a program-defining hire. But based on what we know now, here’s who passed the test. By Lindsay Schnell.

Cal: Justin Wilcox. Grade: B-plus

Wilcox is young, energetic and will connect with recruits. He’s considered one of the best defensive coaches—don’t focus on what happened at USC; think instead about Wisconsin, Boise State and Washington. And he made a terrific hire in plucking Beau Baldwin from Eastern Washington to run Cal’s offense. The roster is not built for what he wants to run (or for playing defense in general), but Wilcox has a clear plan of attack despite being hired so late in the process.

Oregon: Willie Taggart. Grade: B-minus

He reportedly wasn’t Oregon’s first, second or third choice, but Taggart’s enthusiasm has been a hit in Eugene. The unofficial third Harbaugh brother has been well-received on the recruiting trail, despite two major PR headaches in Taggart’s first couple weeks: First, three players were hospitalized following off-season workouts, and then co-offensive coordinator David Reaves was arrested and charged with drunk driving. Taggart rebounded by signing the country’s 17th-best class and second-best in the Pac-12.

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Kansas State head coach Bill Synder hospitalized 

Perhaps Jim Leavitt will leave Oregon without ever coaching a game

From the Wichita Eagle … Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder has received treatments at a Kansas City hospital for an undisclosed health issue, two sources with knowledge of the situation told The Eagle.

The severity of the health issue is unknown, but he has responded well to treatment thus far and hopes to coach the Wildcats during spring practices, according to one of the sources.

Snyder, 77, just completed his 25th season with the Wildcats, the ninth season of his second tenure as K-State’s coach. It is not known when Snyder made the visits, but they have been since the end of the season, according to the sources.

K-State athletic director John Currie did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Tim Fitzgerald of GoPowercat.com reported Friday that Snyder recently “has been receiving treatment at a Kansas City medical facility for a serious, but very treatable health issue that GPC is choosing to not identify at this time.”

Continue reading story here

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Oregon receivers coach leaves (after two months) for UCLA

From the Oregonian … Oregon receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty is leaving for the same position at UCLA less than two months after his hiring in Eugene.

In a news release, UCLA coach Jim Mora said that Dougherty’s previous working relationship with two new Bruins staffers “will undoubtedly bring cohesion to our team.”

Meanwhile, at Oregon, there is more turnover.

Dougherty is the second assistant on coach Willie Taggart’s staff to leave within the past week, following co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach David Reaves, who resigned Friday. Reaves was arrested Jan. 22 for multiple traffic violations, including a charge of DUII, and UO was in the process of firing Reaves before his resignation. Dougherty was a passenger in the car with Reaves at the time of the traffic stop; he was never charged with a crime, and UO subsequently did not respond to questions whether it had disciplined Dougherty.

Reaves will be arraigned Monday in Eugene Municipal Court.

Fox Sports first reported Dougherty’s departure Wednesday morning, noting he will also hold the title of passing game coordinator at UCLA.

Dougherty’s departure comes seven weeks after his two-year contract at UO, worth $275,000 annually, was made official, and one week after Oregon signed 24 players in a 2017 recruiting class that included four wide receivers.

Continue reading story here

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February 8th

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ESPN – Washington and Colorado have the two easiest non-conference schedules in the Power-Five

Related … USC has the fifth most difficult non-conference schedule in 2017 … from ESPN

From ESPN … Identifying which teams have the cushiest nonconference schedule so far in advance of the season is a tricky task. Some schools are simply more aggressive when it comes to going out and playing a challenging nonconference schedule. And in other cases, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a school trying to tread water in its own conference to go out and load up its nonconference schedule. Also, games are often scheduled several years in advance and fortunes can change quickly for programs.

… Here’s what we came up with. All rankings referenced are from Mark Schlabach’s Way-Too-Early Top 25.

1. Washington

Sept. 1: at Rutgers
Sept. 9: Montana
Sept. 16: Fresno State

For the second straight year, it looks like Washington won’t have to break much of a sweat in the nonconference part of its slate. The Huskies faced Rutgers at home a year ago to open the season (a 48-13 win) and will make a return trip to open the 2017 season. The Scarlet Knights won just two games last season and lost their last nine games.

From there, Washington tackles FCS foe Montana and a Fresno State team that went 1-11 in 2016. Sounds a lot like another cushy 3-0 start for the Huskies, who made the College Football Playoff last season despite playing one of the weakest nonconference schedules in the country.

To be fair, these schedules were finalized before Chris Petersen got the job, and Washington has BYU and Michigan on future schedules.

2. Colorado

Sept. 1: vs. Colorado State (in Denver)
Sept. 9: Texas State
Sept. 16: Northern Colorado

The Buffs made the cut this time a year ago as having one of the 10 toughest nonconference schedules. A year later, they check in with the second-easiest nonconference schedule, mostly because they replace a road game against Michigan with a home game against Northern Colorado. That’s not a bad swap for the defending Pac-12 South division champs.

Colorado opens the season against in-state rival Colorado State in Denver, which hasn’t been an easy game the last couple of years. But it’s always nice when you don’t have to leave the state to play a nonconference game, and none of the opponents is a Power 5 school.

Continue reading story here (no other Pac-12 teams in the top ten) …

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USC suspends kicker indefinitely

From ESPN … USC has suspended redshirt junior kicker Matt Boermeester amid an investigation of a “code of conduct issue.”

The University of Southern California provided a news release that said, “While this student code of conduct issue is being investigated, the student will not be representing the university as a member of its athletic team.”

Boermeester kicked the 46-yard field goal that gave the Trojans a 52-49 win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl last month.

In his first season as the starting kicker, Boermeester made 18 of 25 field goal attempts and 53 of 54 extra points during USC’s 2016 campaign.

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30 Responses to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. ep

    I almost clicked the “read more” button for the CSU article
    arrrgghhhh

  2. Victor King

    ESPN: “D.J. Eliot leads Colorado’s massive defensive rebuilding effort“

    I am not convinced it is a “massive defensive rebuilding effort”

    Buffs

    Free Mac2
    Free RG

  3. From the land of cherry picked quotes: “Whatever happens is for my coaches to determine,” he said. “I just try to come out here and work every day. I need to show that I’m working hard every rep and when the ball comes to you, catch it — or you might not see it again for a while.”

    Now, a Tight End didn’t say that. Kabion Ento did. But, I wonder if that has any bearing on the use, or lack thereof, of the TE’s in more of the passing game.

    I wonder…

    Go Buffs.

    • VK

      Nah, having a play for the tight ends would add 1 more play to that 5 play playbook. Too many options for the playcaller OC to choose from.

      Migraine city

      Buffs

      Free Mac2
      Free RG

  4. Viktor King

    Wow 3 teams from the Pac in the top ten. [Actually 4 teams in the top 12)

    Now Oregon. Flashy…..but # 12??……….Hmmmmmm

    …Hoke was/is a joke….You may not like it but Leavitt will have an immediate impact on those 7 four stars signed in 2016.
    {Last 4 years on defense. 12 four stars and 24 three stars….not that stars matter.)
    Last year without Leavitt the Buffs never see the top 10 let alone the top 20

    Buffs use to be there until:
    The December implosion heard round just about everywhere”

    Implosion defined by:

    “White-Washed” by Washington
    “Obliterated” by Oklahoma State
    Leavitt Leaving
    Clarke Caving in
    Tumpkin Tumbling
    Mac2 Missing

    “…….Whoomp there it is……..”

    Buffs

    Notes: Buffs are much better than wherever the hell they are ranked.
    “Players make plays….Players win Games”
    …………Biggest “poop don’t stick on me” statement ever…..Teflon Staff.

    Note 2: This Year no Oregon…No Stanford…But Washington and USC……….both at home. Revenge kick their “condomeezedogeeeepoop” arses outta here.

    Note 3: Prediction……….7 and 5…could be 8 and 4…maybe 9 and 3….maybe 6 and 6………Go big coaching staff

    Free Mac2
    Free RG

    • Viktor King

      Those Oregon recruiting numbers are for 2013 to 2016
      The 2017 defense recruits are:

      6 3stars
      5 4stars

      so over the last 5 years defensive recruits
      30 3stars
      17 4stars

      Course stars don’t matter now do they, it is if you can coach em up.

      Hmmmmm

      Brady Hoke was incompetent as a HC and incompetent as a DC at this level.

      Middle note: When hoke-a-joke was HC at Michigan, his recruiting classes where top 5 or so…………..and how did that turn out. Can’t get past poor coaching.

      Leavitt is not. Oregon may be pretty dang good this year. Kinda glad the Buffs don’t play them.

      Buffs.

      Note: Not a Duck fan. In fact the arrogance of those duck fans in Colorado that show up here when the Ducks are in town (BB or FB) rivals the krappy kornholer fans with their kornkob gear that wander in when “lil red” shows up here. Like seem em both lose.

      Note 2: Next year (2018) the Mighty Buffs head to stinkn linkn. Okay then.

      Free Mac2
      Free RG

  5. Andrew in Boston

    Anyone else read the comment section of the Daily Emerald column about Oregon’s coach refusing to talk to his hometown beat reporter? They were, mostly, psychotic and poorly written. Combined with Oregon trying to shield it’s coaching staff from FOIA laws…it’s getting easy to dislike the U of Oregon.

    • ep

      Trying to hide stuff….What is Oregon thinking? that they are going to continue with shenanigans and hiring loose cannon coaches?
      And ESPN saying USC is going to be weak at the tackles. Anyone at that postion any other position on the team any less than a 4 star recruit?

  6. Ben

    Oregon #12… ha! They’re closer to the bottom of the PAC 12 right now than they are to the top. They’ll be lucky to make a bowl game. “Get ready for Oregon to be Oregon again”… I think CFN may have forgotten that the ducks were a doormat for 100 years…

  7. VK

    Wow lucky the Mighty Buffs don’t have to play the highly ranked Ducks. Must be because of Leavitts defense.

    So USC and Washington with be ranked in the top 11 then.

    All 3 non cons will be ranked lower than the Buffs

    In the Pac the Mighty Buffs will play

    Washington , Ucla, USC and WSU ranked ahead of them
    Washington and USC at home. UCLA and WSU on the road

    Utah, ASU, OSU, Arizona and California ranked below them.
    California and Arizona at home. ASU, OSU and Utah on the road.

    Wow.

    Saturday September 3 (4th game in a row without leaving the state) the Huskies roll into town. Sets the tone big time. Must win? No! But dang nab it the Buffs gotta have it for all the reasons you know about.

    Buffs.

    FREE MAC2
    FREE RG

  8. ep

    Is CFN trolling? or did the writer get a nice big brown wrapped package of Nike 100 dollar bills he found behind a bush?

  9. ep

    2 Alabama QBs transferring. One of the effects of Saban hogging as many high star recruits as he can is that even if they are not starting they wont be playing for other schools either.
    Looks like that is unraveling a little. Hope it comes completely undone. I think a lot of these kids dont understand you dont have to attend USC, Ohio St or alabama to make a name for themselves in the NFL draft. The odds in my mind have to be better attending a school where the chances of getting on the field are much greater.

  10. VK

    Snyder is one of my favorite coaches. Build something out of nothing anyway he could.

    Prayers

  11. cricky

    I think the media discrepancy will, in the long run, turn in the P12’s favor. At some point the networks (ESPN, Fox, etc.) will be cut out and games will be streamed directly to consumers. At that point the conferences that are making the big bucks now will wonder why ESPN is taking half of their proceeds for doing nothing.

    Of course, in the long run we’re all dead…

  12. VK

    Ranking.

    So let me get this right.
    The Mighty Buffs are ranked #19 in a Pre-season Poll (the way to early after signing day one——)But who cares. In the top 20 in a preseason poll.

    WOW, The pressure is on. Stuart don’t like it, but the pressure is on the O not the D. Hopefully the CO-OC’s can really do what the new Bronco coach says. “I want coordinators that can design a scheme and run plays that fit the players we have, not just run their scheme.”

    Well there ya go.

    Buffs Up

    • Stuart

      Well, there ya go.
      So, let me get this straight … Being placed in the top 25 in a preseason poll … is a bad thing.

      The 67th consecutive comment either complaining about the 2016 offense or predicting gloom and doom for the 2017 offense.
      Anything else to offer, or will I just have to plan on deleting all of your posts between now and September?

      • 96 Buff

        I vote for deleting all posts….

      • VK

        Well okay then. Never said it was a bad thing, you did.

        Didn’t complain about the 16 offense, just wrote what I and others (don’t forget about them eh?)

        Didn’t predict doom and gloom for the 17 O, but did offer some opinions that you may not agree with.
        But we will see.

  13. Rob Thompson

    Trajon Cotton is no world beater.

  14. ep

    Baylor….to quote VK…WOW. I am not a religious person even though my grand mother and mother brought me up with a heavy focus on the bible. In my long life out of all the people I have known who wear their religion on their sleeve I feel that I could count on one hand the few I felt sure did their level best to follow the teachings of Christ. Lotta hijackers out there. My apologies to the victims of these disgusting crimes when I say this but Baylor has been bad for the game of football all around and embarrasses me as a fan.
    The situation there, if is as bad as it sounds, is the best excuse I have heard for the NCAA to hand out their “death penalty”

    • WarBuff

      Baylor needs to be taught a lesson. The death penalty would be a start, but arrogant AND stupid Texans are slow…….it may not be enough.

  15. ep

    reflections on the Oregon article:

    What could have been if Bohn could had seen through “bright smiles” to Peterson.

    Lane Kiffin’s bro-in-law? That should have been a red flag right there.

    Matt Rhule turned down OR for Baylor with full knowledge of the off field issues there? Now there has to be a hard core Baptist.

    Why cant we bring Helfrich back as a co-OC? I dont care if MM keeps Lindgren at full salary to carry a clipboard and fire up the video machine

  16. Victor King

    Wow. Perhaps the now suspended Buff
    DB coach is a good fitter up there as well.

  17. ep

    hit the big time and throw it away…..yeeehaaaw
    psssst…Ducks? make Lindgren one of those big bucks offers…please?

  18. J Dubbs

    Time for sweet Willie Taggart to get ahold of his staff. Soon he may have coordinators hitting players…

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