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Pac-12 Notes

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Pac-12 Notes

 

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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February 7th

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Pac-12 media rights discrepancies getting larger and larger 

Related: “Some ADs grumble about Pac-12 Networks’ payouts, distribution” … from the San Francisco Chronicle

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … It didn’t make major news in Pac-12 territory, and some fans might have missed it entirely. But late last week, crammed between National Signing Day and the Super Bowl, a certain conference in the southeastern quadrant released its financial information for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The SEC delivered a big number, folks … a whopper of a number, in fact:

$40 million distributed to each school.

Forty. Million. Per school …

… Which brings us to the comps …

Fiscal year 2015 school distributions (all figures confirmed):

SEC: $32.7 million
Big Ten: $32.4 million
Pac-12: $25.1 million

Fiscal year 2016 school distributions

SEC: $40 million (confirmed)
Big Ten: $35 million (approximate)
Pac-12: $27 million (approximate)

That looks bad … that is bad … but it’s about to get much worse for the Pac-12.

Remember: The Big Ten’s new Tier 1 deal begins in 2017-18, and it’s also a whopper, averaging $440 million per year.

Which brings us to …

Fiscal year 2017-18 school distributions …

Big Ten: $45 million (estimate)
SEC: $43 million (estimate)
Pac-12: $31 million (estimate)

… In other words, each Pac-12 school could be $12M – $15M behind its SEC/Big Ten peers every year for the next seven years.

THAT’S serious money — more than enough to create a competitive disadvantage. (The ACC and Big 12 will be in similar predicaments.)

Could anything have been done to limit that disparity?

Continue reading story here

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February 4th

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Colorado 9th in all-time Super Bowl player appearances

From CBS Sports … Super Bowl players can be found anywhere. How else to explain that Rutgers — yes, Rutgers — has the most players on Super Bowl LI rosters with five? That’s more than double any other Big Ten school and one ahead of Alabama (which has four on its main roster, five if you count the practice squad), LSU and Stanford.

The Scarlet Knights had four players in the Super Bowl two years ago when the New England Patriots last made the game. Rutgers does have a winning record in eight of the past 11 seasons, though it went 4-8 in 2016.

Miami remains No. 1 for all-time Super Bowl player appearances (118) during the 51-year history of the game. UCLA stayed third and moved within six appearances of cross-town rival USC, which is No. 2.

Michigan moved out of a tie with Penn State for sole possession of fourth place. Texas A&M joined the top 20 by jumping Arizona State and Michigan State.

… In the Super Bowl’s 51-year history: 64 percent of player appearances come from the Power Five conferences as they’re currently comprised, 16 percent come from the remaining Football Bowl Subdivision schools, and 20 percent come from lower-level colleges, such as those in the Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and junior college.

Rank College Appearances
1 Miami 118
2 USC 116
3 UCLA 110
4 Michigan 106
5 Penn State 104
6 Notre Dame 102
7 Tennessee 97
8 Nebraska 92
9 Colorado 91
10 Georgia 89

The rest of the Pac-12 … 

15. California – 78

16t. Stanford – 77

20t. Arizona State – 72

25t. Oregon – 63

31. Washington – 59

36. Arizona – 51

50t. Utah – 38

58t. Washington State – 30

63t. Colorado State – 28

76t. Oregon State – 26

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February 3rd

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ESPN – Re-ranking the 2014 recruiting Class … CU moves up considerably 

There has been a great deal of discussion this week about how CU did more with less this year, taking a series of poorly ranked Recruiting Classes, and turning them into the Pac-12 South champions.

The CU Recruiting Class of 2014 was ranked last in the Pac-12 by both Rivals and Scout … 64th in the nation by Rivals; 72nd by Scout.

ESPN has “re-ranked” the 2014 Class … On Wednesday, every media outlet that covers recruiting in college football, ESPN.com included, attempted to rank the incoming recruiting classes across the country. Much like preseason polls, there is a lot of guesswork and projecting involved, which means sometimes they can be accurate and other times they can be, well, not even close.

In 2014, ESPN ranked the Pac-12 recruiting classes like this: 1. USC (No. 14 overall); 2. Stanford (15); 3. Arizona State (21); 4. Arizona (23); 5. UCLA (26); 6. Oregon (27); 7. Washington (45); 8. Cal (46); 9. Washington State (61); 10. Utah (64); 11. Oregon State (67); 12. Colorado (71).

Enough time has passed to look back and see just how accurate those rankings were. There’s still time for things to change — a significant number of the players have two seasons of eligibility remaining — but here’s a look back at those classes and how they stack up now.

7. Colorado

WR Shay Fields, LB Rick Gamboa, DB Ahkello Witherspoon and WR Jay MacIntyre all were important contributors on this year’s Pac-12 South title team. If we check back in a couple of years, this class could end up ranked even higher. There’s already a strong case it should be higher now. Full class.

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February 2nd

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ESPN – Way Too Early (Post-Signing Day) Top 25 includes Colorado

From ESPN … The top three teams in first edition of the 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25 — No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 USC — remain in place for the second version, but Ohio State replaces Penn State for the fourth spot.

Oklahoma and LSU were among the teams moving up, and Wisconsin and Michigan were among the teams moving down. We also said goodbye to TCU, Florida and Pittsburgh for now and said hello to Colorado, Boise State and West Virginia.

From the Pac-12:

No. 3 – USC

No. 7 – Washington

No. 15 – Stanford

No. 19. Colorado

2016 record: 10-4, 8-1 Pac-12
First Way-Too-Early Ranking: NR
Returning starters: 9 offense, 3 defense, 2 special teams

Key losses: C Alex Kelley, QB Sefo Liufau, DE Jordan Carrell, NT Josh Tupou, LB Kenneth Olugbode, LB Jimmie Gilbert, CB Chidobe Awuzie, SS Tedric Thompson

Outlook: The Buffaloes built on the momentum from their breakthrough season to land the No. 27 class in the country. Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre, who has a new three-year extension through the 2021 season, is expecting nine starters back on offense, but he’ll have to replace Liufau, his star quarterback. Steven Montez went 2-1 as a starter when Liufau was hurt in 2016, and he’s another dual threat. The Buffaloes have a lot of work to do on defense, with only three starters expected back. Plus, defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt departed for Oregon. Kentucky’s D.J. Eliot was hired to replace him. The Buffaloes’ recruiting class includes highly regarded juco defensive linemen Shamar Hamilton and Javier Edwards, who might be asked to play right away.

For Colorado’s entire 2017 class, click here.

No. 21 – Washington State

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January 31st

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Former Alabama quarterback will not have to sit out four games at Arizona State

From CBS Sports … Arizona State will reap the benefits of landing transfer quarterback Blake Barnett right away.

Per his Twitter account, Barnett, who left Alabama last fall four games into the season, will be available Week 1 vs. New Mexico State for the Sun Devils. Barnett became eligible to play right away because of an appeal ruling from the NCAA.

Barnett reportedly considered transferring early during the 2016 season when it became clear Jalen Hurts would be the starting quarterback. Barnett then enrolled at Palomar College in California and announced he was transferring to Arizona State in December. Per an initial NCAA transfer loophole, he would have to sit the first four games of the 2017 season in order to satisfy a one calendar year rule.

Barnett started for the Tide in their opener against Southern California, but was eventually replaced full time by Hurts. He finished the season with 219 passing yards and a pair of touchdown passes. He will be reunited with former Alabama receivers coach Billy Napier, who is the Sun Devils’ new offensive coordinator.

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January 30th

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Stanford to open 2017 season with game against Rice (3-9 in 2016) in Australia

From CBS Sports … Stanford is set to become the second Pac-12 team to open its college football season in Australia, announcing official approval this week to move its opener against Rice from Houston, Texas to Sydney.

Just like last year’s Cal-Hawaii game, this contest will be held one week earlier — Aug. 26 in the United States, Aug. 27 locally in Australia — to accommodate the impact international travel will have on both teams. It will be a big stage for the Cardinal, a team expected to challenge Washington and USC for the Pac-12 title after going 10-3 in 2016.

When Stanford returns, David Shaw and his staff turn their attention to USC. The impact of this trip on that pivotal Pac-12 contest is yet to be determined, but on Sept. 9 there’s going to be a lot of eyes on Los Angeles as the two conference powers collide and set the terms for the title race in each division.

Continue reading story here

NCAA recommends ending two-a-day practices; reducing tackling during practices

From CBS Sports … College football two-a-day practices appear to be ending. For safety reasons, the NCAA Sport Science Institute has recommended eliminating the popular two-a-day preseason practices and reducing contact at all practices, including limiting full contact to once a week during the season.

The recommendations, which are endorsed by 16 medical organizations and five football organizations, would put college football more in line with NFL rules adopted several years ago. NCAA members received the 17-page document last week at the NCAA Convention and now must decide whether to create legislation to fit the recommendations. If two-a-day practices end, the preseason could be extended by one week to accommodate the lost practice.

Continue reading story here

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January 29th

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Three-star prospect Trajon Cotton commits … to Oregon State

From Twitter … “I’m am officially COMMITTED to Oregon State University

Cotton is a three-star safety prospect from Inderkum high school in California. Cotton chose Oregon State over Colorado, Oregon, and Nebraska. Cotton also had offers from Washington State, Utah, Arizona State and California.

Arizona State fills offensive coordinator position with wide receivers coach from Alabama

From ESPN … Alabama receivers coach Billy Napier is headed to Arizona State to be the Sun Devils’ offensive coordinator, a source told ESPN.

The news was first reported by Fox Sports and USA Today Sports.

Napier, 37, becomes the third assistant coach to leave Alabama’s staff since the end of the 2016 season. Lane Kiffin left to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic, and Mario Cristobal left to become the co-offensive coordinator and run-game coordinator at Oregon.

Napier’s move effectively constitutes a Pac-12/SEC swap. He replaces Chip Lindsey at Arizona State after Lindsey left last week to be Auburn’s offensive coordinator.

This will be Napier’s second stint as an offensive coordinator. He was Clemson’s offensive coordinator — the youngest in school history — and quarterbacks coach from 2009-10, but he was fired by Dabo Swinney following the 2010 season.

Napier, a former Furman quarterback, served two stints at Alabama. He was an offensive analyst for the Tide in 2011. After spending a year at Colorado State as quarterbacks coach in 2012, he returned to Alabama to coach the receivers the past four years.

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January 27th

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New lawsuit against Baylor alleges 52 acts of rape by 31 Baylor football players

From the Dallas Morning News … A Baylor University graduate who says she was raped by football players in 2013 sued the university Friday. Her lawsuit includes an allegation that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape, including five gang rapes, between 2011 and 2014 — an estimate that far exceeds the number previously provided by school officials.

The woman, identified in the suit as Elizabeth Doe, reports being brutally gang raped by then-Baylor football players Tre’Von Armstead and Shamycheal Chatman after a party on April 18, 2013.

… John Clune, the Colorado attorney who represents the woman, released a statement Friday saying that his team appreciates what Baylor has done to try to fix the sexual assault problem on campus. But, he said, “this is one that needed to be filed.”

“As hard as the events at Baylor have been for people to hear, what went on there was much worse than has been reported,” he said.

Continue reading story here

 

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January 26th

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Jon Wilner’s 2017 All-conference projections

From the San Jose Mercury News … The purpose of this annual exercise (in semi-futility) is to give readers a sense for positions of strength and weakness in the coming season.

Not surprisingly, quarterback was the toughest to parse with four elite passers (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Jake Browning and Luke Falk).

My first- and second-team picks are below, after a lengthy QB selection process that included darts and a wall.

Offense:

First team/second team

QB: USC’s Sam Darnold/Washington State’s Luke Falk
RB: Oregon’s Royce Freeman/USC’s Ronald Jones
RB: Oregon State’s Ryan Nall/Washington’s Myles Gaskin
WR: USC’s Deontay Burnett/Oregon’s Darren Carrington
WR: Colorado’s Shay Fields/Washington State’s Tavares Martin
WR: UCLA’s Darren Andrews/USC’s Steven Mitchell
TE: Stanford’s Dalton Schultz/USC’s Daniel Imatorbhebhe
OL: Washington’s Trey Adams/USC’s Toa Lobendahn
OL: Colorado’s Jeromy Irwin/Washington State’s Cody O’Connell
OL: Washington’s Coleman Shelton/USC’s Viane Talamaivao
OL: UCLA’s Scott Quessenberry/Stanford’s Nate Herbig
OL: Washington State’s Cole Madison/Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby

Defense: 

First team/second team

DL:  Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa/Washington’s Greg Gaines
DL: Washington’s Vita Vea/Stanford’s Harrison Phillips
DL: USC’s Kenny Bigelow/Arizona State’s JoJo Wicker
DL: Utah’s Lowell Lotulelei/USC’s Rasheem Green
LB: Washington’s Azeem Victor/UCLA’s Kenny Young
LB: USC’s Cameron Smith/Stanford’s Joey Alfieri
LB: Oregon’s Troy Dye/Arizona State’s Koron Crump
LB: Washington’s Keishawn Bierra/Washington State’s Peyton Pelleur
DB: USC’s Chris Hawkins/Oreogn State’s Xavier Crawford
DB: Stanford’s Quenton Meeks/UCLA’s Jaleel Wadood
DB: Utah’s Chase Hansen/Stanford’s Alijah Holder
DB: Stanford’s Justin Reid/Oregon’s Arrion Springs
DB: Colorado’s Afolabi Laguda/USC’s Iman Marshall

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Oregon facilities (no surprise) voted No. 1 in the nation

From 247 Sports … For the second consecutive season, the Ducks are No. 1 in our definitive facilities ranking. Thanks to Nike, Oregon is the nation’s leader in innovation and the Ducks’ $68 million, 145,000-square foot pad proves this as the Taj Mahal of football centers. Made almost entirely of glass and steel, what’s inside the futuristic Football Performance Center is jaw-dropping — state-of-the-art self-ventilating lockers, a multiplex-style meeting room that overlooks Autzen Stadium, a skybridge with a ‘Flying Ducks’ room remembering NFL draft picks — you name it, Oregon has it.

… Continue reading story (with pictures of facilities) here

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January 25th

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Jon Wilner “way too early” predictions for Pac-12 … CU to finish second in Pac-12 South

From the San Jose Mercury News … In this space one year ago, Washington was the pick to win the Pac-12 championship.

Now here we are again, peering nine months out, and I’m not prepared to make so bold a projection. Instead, I’ll take the Huskies to repeat.

… Yes, you could make a good case for USC based on the way the Trojans finished ’16 and what they have returning.

You could, if so inclined, make a reasonable case for Stanford to reclaim the title.

Same with Washington State, Colorado and Utah, I suppose.

But the Huskies have fewer questions, a stronger case and, in the Hotline’s estimation, a clear path back to the trophy presentation.

Predictions:

North … 1. Washington … 2. Stanford … 3. Washington State … 4. Oregon State … 5. Oregon … 6. California

South … 1. USC … 2. Colorado … 3. Utah … 4. UCLA … 5. Arizona … 6. Arizona State

2. Colorado: Look for the Buffs to be better on offense — Steven Montez has more arm talent than Sefo Liufau and plenty of options in the passing game — but take a significant step back on defense due to heavy attrition. There’s also the matter of playing with expectations, of catching everybody’s best shot, and that’s an entirely different existence.

CBS: “Is Oregon disintegrating before our eyes, or can Willie Taggart bring back Camelot?” 

From CBS Sports … Let’s not forget Oregon’s ultimate goal during these dark days.

That is, to recreate a football Camelot — an enchanted land at a rainy outpost in the Pacific Northwest that chased national championships with a pudgy, innovative coach with both a giant Chip on his shoulder and a shoe giant in his pocket.

The day of his home-run introductory press conference, Willie Taggart seemed to be the guy to bring back Chip Kelly’s Camelot. Now there are reasons to be skeptical if any of it will ever return.

Not just because of recent misconduct by both Taggart’s strength coach and co-offensive coordinator, but because of those lofty championship aspirations themselves. If nothing had happened off the field at Oregon in the last week, a return to glory still looks like a long shot.

Continue reading story here

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January 24th

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Cal hires former Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter as its new defensive coordinator

From the San Jose Mercury News … It’s official. Tosh Lupoi will not be returning to Cal.

New coach Justin Wilcox announced the hiring of Tim DeRuyter as the Bears’ defensive coordinator Monday. DeRuyter previously was the head coach at Fresno State, where he was fired last season after the Bulldogs started 1-7.

Lupoi, the former Cal assistant and player who is now at Alabama, and Washington co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake had been rumored as leading candidates to get the Cal job.

This means that both Cal coordinators have heading coaching experience. Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin was the coach at Eastern Washington before being lured away by Wilcox.

From Fox Sports … Former Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter is expected to become the new defensive coordinator at Cal, a source told FOX Sports Monday.

DeRuyter’s experience as a head coach should aid first-time head man Justin Wilcox, who was hired earlier this month after the dismissal of Sonny Dykes.

The 54-year-old California native had a big impact as a defensive coordinator for Texas A&M before his time at Fresno. Prior to DeRuyter’s arrival at Texas A&M in 2010, the Aggies defense ranked No. 105 nationally by allowing 33.5 points per game. After one season in DeRuyter’s aggressive and physical scheme, A&M allowed a dozen fewer points and gave up 62 fewer yards per contest. In addition, Aggie linebacker Von Miller blossomed under DeRuyter’s 3-4 scheme and won the 2010 Butkus Awards as the nation’s top linebacker before going on to NFL success.

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January 23rd

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Michigan to engage in spring practices … in Italy 

… Last year, Harbaugh took his team to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for a week of spring practice. The trip drew criticism from rival coaches and administrators, especially in the SEC. Last week, the NCAA passed a rule banning off-campus football practices during vacation periods outside of football season. The NCAA ban does not go into effect until this August

From GoBlue.com … The University of Michigan football program announced Monday (Jan. 23) a special educational and football experience for its student-athletes, with a week of learning and spring practice in Rome.

Michigan Football will travel to Rome, Italy, after finals toward the end of winter semester in April for an extraordinary life experience during the spring practice season. The players and staff will use three of the allotted 15 spring football practices in Rome, training at AS Roma, the professional Italian football (soccer) club in the city.

During the trip to Rome, the Wolverines will be immersed in the culture of Italy. The team will visit historic landmarks, spend time with youth at orphanages, and visit deployed U.S. military in the country amongst other team activities. The experience will culminate with a youth clinic, and the team will play a scrimmage that will be open to the Italian public.

Continue reading story here

 

Pac-12 NFL early entrees measured in quality, not quantity

From Jon Wilner from the San Jose Mercury News … The early entry list was published by the NFL on Friday and surprisingly had no surprises from the Pac-12.

What’s more, the total was low compared to recent years.

2014 early entries: 25
2015 early entries: 16
2016 early entries: 15

This year? Only 12 players declared and, crucially, there wasn’t a quarterback in the group. Washington State’s Luke Falk, the only candidate to declare, will be back.

But don’t think the NFL Draft declaration deadline came and went without exacting a toll on the conference. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Before we dig deeper, here’s the official early-entry list:

Budda Baker, S, Washington
Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
Chad Hansen, WR, Cal
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
Damien Mama, OL, USC
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Elijah Qualls, DL, Washington
John Ross, WR, Washington
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
Marcus Williams, S, Utah

That’s it: Only 12.

… Of the 12 early-entry departures, 10 are ranked among NFLDraftScout.com’s top-60 prospects for the upcoming draft (all but Hansen and Mama).

Last year, the conference had six players from its entire pool — not just early-entry candidates — selected in the first 60 picks.

Continue reading story here

 

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January 22nd

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First Look: Texas State Bobcats (CU home opener – Sept. 9th) – 2-10 record in 2016

From College Football News … 2017 Pre-Spring ranking – No. 126: Texas State Bobcats

Texas State Bobcats Pre-spring Status

It was a disastrous first season under Everett Withers, but it was supposed to be a transitional season in several ways. By the end of the year, this might have been the worst team in college football – the three-overtime opening weekend win over Ohio was a total aberration – but again, this wasn’t a shocker. Considering the Bobcats were blown out in their nine of their ten losses by 20 points or more, there’s still a long way to go. Fortunately, there’s more experience for Withers to work with this time around.

Texas State Bobcats Biggest Issue

The line play has to be far, far better. Can the running game that finished 18th in the nation two years ago and way dead last in college last year find a ground attack? The O line returns four starters, but it didn’t do much of anything to grind things out while allowing 44 sacks. On the other side, the defense was abysmal at getting into the backfield, coming up with just nine sacks. There’s experience, but now everyone on the lines have to be better at playing college football.

Texas State Bobcats Biggest Positive

There’s a decent group of backs to try getting that ground attack going behind the veteran line, and all the top receivers are back. QB Tyler Jones might be gone, but Mississippi State transfer Damian Williams should be an upgrade. The top backup options are done, with Eddie Printz, Tanner Hodges and Connor White all bolting for different things, but if Williams can establish himself right away as the dual-threat playmaker he was expected to grow into as a Bulldog, all of a sudden, this O could work.

Really, Why Are The Texas State Bobcats Ranked Here?

There are still way, way too many question marks on both sides of the ball. There might be veterans across the board, but the team was so bad and so ineffective by the end of 2016 – including a 50-10 loss to a New Mexico State team ranked lower in these prespring rankings – that it’s asking a lot for a massive Year Two turnaround.

Oregon co-offensive coordinator to be fired after DUI arrest

From the Oregonian … Five days after his hiring was officially announced by the Oregon Ducks, co-offensive coordinator David Reaves is in the process of being fired after his arrest early Sunday on charges of DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangerment.

“Reaves has been placed on administrative leave and the process to terminate his employment with cause has commenced,” UO athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “The University has high standards for the conduct of employees and is addressing this matter with the utmost of seriousness.”

The 38-year-old Reaves, who also was set to coach tight ends for the Ducks and carried the title of passing game coordinator under new coach Willie Taggart, was stopped at 2:12 a.m. Sunday with a passenger in downtown Eugene after “multiple traffic violations,” according to Eugene police. The responding officer suspected Reaves was impaired and after an investigation Reaves was charged and booked at Lane County jail at 5:18 a.m.

Reaves left after posting bail at 9:52 a.m., according to jail records. He must appear Jan. 25 in Eugene Municipal Court.

No UO recruits or current student-athletes were in the car with Reaves at the time of his arrest, UO senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens said.

Reaves, who was on a two-year contract worth $300,000 annually, was to share offensive coordinator duties with offensive line coach Mario Cristobal. A former three-year starting quarterback at Appalachian State, Reaves had previously worked at stops such as South Carolina, Tennessee, New Mexico and the IMG Academy before joining Taggart at South Florida in 2013.

Continue reading story here

 

ESPN Top 25 returning Pac-12 players includes two Buffs

From ESPN … We gave you the top 25 players of the season in the Pac-12 about a month ago, but today we take a look forward and rank the top 25 players who will return next season.

13. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado: Lindsay’s 1,579 yards from scrimmage ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in 2016 and his return is a big reason why the Buffaloes should be improved offensively next year.

20. Shay Fields, WR, Colorado: Fields’ 883 receiving yards last season are the most among returning receivers in the conference.

ESPN Top 25, by school … Washington: 8; USC: 4; Washington State: 3; Colorado: 2; UCLA: 2; Oregon: 2; Utah: 2; Arizona State: 1; Stanford: 1; Oregon State: 0; Cal: 0; Arizona: 0.

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January 21st 

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Arizona State loses offensive coordinator to Auburn

From azcentral.com … Chip Lindsey is leaving Arizona State after one season as offensive coordinator for the same position at Auburn.

Lindsey came to ASU from Southern Mississippi to replace Mike Norvell when he became head coach at Memphis. In 2013, Lindsey was offensive analyst at Auburn when the Tigers reached the final BCS national title game.

He made $650,000 at ASU for 2016 and might be receiving a significant increase from Auburn after at first turning down the offer.

Lindsey was instrumental in recruiting quarterback Blake Barnett, a transfer from Alabama who already is signed and enrolled at ASU.

Lindsey’s departure is another in a series of staff changes under coach Todd Graham in the past two years.

… Other departures since the end of the 2016 season are Jay Norvell (now Nevada head coach), Chris Thomsen (to TCU) and DelVaughn Alexander (to Notre Dame).

 

From ESPN … The Auburn Tigers have hired Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, head coach Gus Malzahn said Saturday.

Lindsey, who spent last season in the same job at Arizona State, replaces Rhett Lashlee, who left to become UConn’s offensive coordinator.

“I have the utmost confidence in his ability to lead our offense and his strength in developing quarterbacks makes him the perfect fit,” Malzahn said in a statement. “Chip is a man of integrity and character who will fit well within our staff. He has great knowledge and enthusiasm for the game and is a rising star in this profession.”

Auburn ranked 112th nationally in passing offense last season, averaging 169.5 yards per game. Former Baylor starter Jarrett Stidham will compete with returning starter Sean White at quarterback during the spring.

Arizona State averaged 33.3 points and 390.8 yards per game last season.

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January 20th

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NCAA votes to give student athletes another 21 days away from athletics each year

From CUBuffs.com … University of Colorado students who play sports will soon see changes to their schedule, giving them, in most cases, at least an additional 21 days away from athletics so they can study, pursue an internship, or get additional rest and recovery.

The changes result from a vote taken today at the annual NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tenn., by a group of fellow student representatives and administrators of the Autonomy Five conferences.  The purpose of these reforms is to enhance the student experience so these individuals can spend more time engaging in non-athletic activities on campus.

“We are here to help students be successful in college and in life,” the five commissioners said in a statement. “In three years, we have taken many steps to further improve the experience of some 36,500 students in our five conferences. These students are great representatives of our schools and our goal is to help them earn their degree while playing the sport they love and, in many instances, graduate debt free thanks to the scholarships we provide.”

The changes, known as “Flex 21” will give these students, in most cases, at least an additional 21 days in which they are free from required athletic activities during the academic year. Flex 21 days are in addition to current rules related to time off.

Recognizing that every sport has different needs, the proposal includes flexibility so coaches, students and athletic directors can develop an appropriate student-athlete time management plan that best suits each sport.  The changes are the result of in-person meetings and survey feedback from students, head coaches, faculty and athletics administrators.

Statement from Commissioner Scott:

On behalf of the Pac-12, our 7,000 student-athletes, coaches and administrators, I am very pleased with today’s actions to improve the experience of our student-athletes. This issue of time balance has been a big focus for us as we have worked with our campus leadership, including administrators, faculty, and coaches, in order to successfully reform the rules governing college athletics. College represents a period of major personal growth and opportunity for our students and as athletic administrators, it is incumbent on us that they have the necessary time and the flexibility to take full advantage of everything our universities have to offer.

… Continue reading story here …

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19 Responses to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. 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.

  2. VK

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

    Prayers

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. Rob Thompson

    Trajon Cotton is no world beater.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Victor King

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

  9. ep

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

  10. J Dubbs

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

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