November 30th

Report: Mike Leach to be hired at Washington State

Mike Leach has reached agreement to become the new football coach at Washington State.

Washington State athletic Director Bill Moos said Tuesday he wanted a guy who produces “”flashy offenses.” Leach is among the flashiest. Oregon’s Chip Kelly now has two guys — Leach and Rodriguez — who want to match the Ducks ludicrous speed approach.

Said Pac-12 defensive coordinators: “Drat.”

Leach’s contract is for five years and will make him the third-highest paid coach in the Pac-12, CBS Sports reported, citing an unnamed source. That means he will eclipse Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, who makes $2,250,000 annually.

Wulff was the Pac-12’s lowest paid coach at $600,000 … leaving Colorado’s Jon Embree, at $750,000 per year, as the lowest paid coach in the Pac-12 (and by a wide margin).

The hiring of Leach signals a big transformation in thinking in Pullman. And an expectations of big results.

According to ESPN’s Ted Miller, the job sets up well for Leach, too. He’s got two quarterbacks, junior Jeff Tuel and redshirt freshman Connor Halliday, who might be more talented as passers than any of the QBs who put up big numbers for Leach at Texas Tech. Leach also has an A-list receiver in Marquess Wilson. The Cougars lose their Nos. 2 and 3 receivers, but there are a handful of promising young receivers on the roster.

The offense Wulff ran wasn’t that different than what Leach does. The transition should be smooth.

The Buffs’ trip to Pullman next fall just got that much more difficult …

November 29th

Paul Wulff becomes fourth Pac-12 coach to lose his job

According to the Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review, Paul Wulff has been relieved of his duties as head football coach at Washington State. He was told in a meeting with Bill Moos this morning.

Moos and Wulff met this morning, the final discussion in talks that began Sunday evening concerning Wulff’s status as head coach at his alma mater, a position he’s held for four years.

During that time the Cougars posted a 9-40 record, including a 4-32 mark in Pac-12 Conference play. They were 4-8 this season.

“Paul and I met at length Sunday, and then spoke again this morning, after which I determined the best path for Cougar football moving forward is to have a change of leadership,” said Moos. “I appreciate all that Paul has done for Washington State football. He was hired with the objective of rebuilding this program and establishing a solid foundation. For that I thank him.”

Wulff had one year remaining on his contract and was guaranteed a year’s severance pay of $600,000 if he was let go before the end of the five years.

“We will begin the process of naming the next head coach immediately,” Moos said. “I will not be discussing details of the hiring process, only that I expect to name a successful candidate as soon as possible.”

Wulff joins Mike Stoops (Arizona), Dennis Erickson (Arizona State), and Rick Neuheisel (UCLA) amongst Pac-12 coaches who will not be returning in 2012.

Neuheisel calls out UCLA administration

What, you thought Rick Neuheisel would go quietly?

Neuheisel, who went 21-28 in four seasons with UCLA, likened his battle against cross-town rival to “taking a knife to a gun fight”.

“I think every program across the country has to make a determination as to what their expectation level is and then finance that expectation level, and in some places those numbers don’t jibe,” Neuheisel told ESPN.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said Monday that UCLA is “in a different league” financially for hiring its next coach. Neuheisel made $1.25 million a year and UCLA is expected to go beyond $3 million a year for Neuheisel’s successor.

Guerrero also said that upgrades to UCLA’s practice facility, where currently there is no 100-yard field, are in the works.

Said Neuheisel: “You want to make sure you are getting the same things that those teams where the expectation level lies are getting so that you can compete at that level.

“I would tell you that the needle needs to be moved for the next guy. He’s going to ask for some things that certainly (former Bruins coach) Karl Dorrell asked for and that I asked for, and certainly the next guy will need to get to where they want to go.”

Too bad no one informed Neuheisel four years ago about what he was getting into, taking on UCLA with big, bad USC across town. Too bad Neuheisel was uninformed about the status of his new station, when he agreed to become the head coach …

… at his alma mater.

November 28th

Rick Neuheisel out as head coach for UCLA

Rick Neuheisel will not return as UCLA football coach next season, but will coach in the Pac-12 title game, the school said Monday.

Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Johnson will take over as interim coach after Friday’s title game, while a national search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately, the school announced.

“I have a great deal of respect for Rick Neuheisel and the manner in which he has run this program,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a prepared statement.

“Decisions such as this one do not come without a great deal of heartache. However, it is apparent to me that a move was necessary at this time in order to give UCLA the best chance to enjoy the success that we all desire,” Guerrero said.

“Rick Neuheisel’s strong personal values, integrity and tenacity made this decision extremely difficult for Dan Guerrero and the University. We wish Rick the best in his future endeavors,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “UCLA’s athletic program has built a rich and proud legacy throughout the years, producing student-athletes who are winners on and off the field. While we insist on emphasizing academic performance by all students – including our student-athletes – we also have a strong commitment to ensuring our athletic programs are successful overall. I have complete confidence in Dan’s ability to recruit and hire a head coach who can revitalize UCLA’s football program, and have pledged my full support in this process.”

A lawyer to the end, Neuheisel, who was 21-28 in his four years at UCLA, made this closing argument: “I was told that we need to move the needle and if the needle moved that we would be fine and I’d get to continue along my five years of my five-year contract,” Neuheisel said. “We have won five conference games as opposed to three last year. We have won the right to represent the South in the conference championship. We’ve certainly had some unfortunate evenings where things haven’t gone our way, but I think the program is headed in the right direction.”

The only sorrow for many Colorado fans today will be that the Buffs did not play a role in the dismissal of Rick Neuheisel. Not only will the Buff Nation have to live with the fact that Neuheisel was 3-0 against his former team (with his Washington teams beating the Buffs in 1999 and 2000), but there is also this …

… barring a major upset in Eugene this weekend, Rick Neuheisel’s final victory as a collegiate head coach will have come against …

Colorado.

Dennis Erickson out at Arizona State

And another one’s gone ….

According to ESPN, Arizona State has fired coach Dennis Erickson after five mediocre years in the desert.

Athletic director Lisa Love made the announcement on Monday, saying the 64-year-old coach represented the university with dignity, even in tough times.

Erickson will be allowed to coach the Sun Devils in their bowl game, which will be determined on Sunday.

Arizona State became bowl-eligible for the first time in four years after starting 6-2, but lost its final four games to miss a shot at playing in Friday’s Pac-12 championship game.

The Sun Devils won 10 games in Erickson’s first season in 2007, but no more than six in each of the four years that followed. He was 31-30 at Arizona State.

November 21st

Rich Rodriguez to Arizona

Mike Stoops of Arizona was the first Pac-12 coach to get the pink slip, losing his job last month.

His job has now been filled.

Arizona has hired former West Virginia and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez as its next football coach, as athletic director Greg Byrne made the news official with a photo posted on Twitter.

Posted to Byrne’s Twitter page on Monday was an entry that read “And the new Arizona football coach and his family is…….”

The post included a link that, when clicked, led to a photo of Rodriguez with his family.

Byrne will officially introduce Rodriguez at a news conference Tuesday at the McKale Center, the school said. He replaces interim coach Tim Kish.

Rodriguez coached Michigan from 2008-2010 and West Virginia from 2001-2007. Rodriguez posted a 60-26 record at West Virginia, finishing first in the Big East four times.

Rodriguez was 15-22 at Michigan, including 6-18 in Big Ten play, before being dismissed.

During Rodriguez’ tenure, the school acknowledged that it was guilty of four NCAA violations. It was put on three years of probation, though Rodriguez and the school avoided major penalties in part because the NCAA agreed that the coach didn’t fail to promote an atmosphere and compliance in his program.

Rodriguez has been working as an analyst for CBS Sports this year, but had made it clear he wanted to get back into coaching as soon as possible.

Byrne fired Stoops on Oct. 10, two days after the Wildcats lost to Oregon State. The team was 1-5 at the time, with the only victory over FCS member Northern Arizona, and 10 straight losses to FBS schools.

Kish, the team’s defensive coordinator, took over as interim coach and the team won two Pac-12 games, over UCLA and last Saturday 31-27 over rival Arizona State. The Wildcats conclude their season Saturday at home against Louisiana-Lafayette.

It’s almost certain that Rodriguez will become the sixth Pac-12 coach to earn over $2 million per year. Here is a breakdown of this year’s salaries (USC and Stanford are private universities. Lane Kiffin at USC is likely to be at the top of the list, while it is likely that Stanford is also paying out over $2 million per year to David Shaw):

Chip Kelly, Oregon, $2,800,000
Jeff Tedford, California, $2,300,000
Steve Sarkisian, Washington, $2,250,000
Kyle Whittingham, Utah, $1,700,000
Dennis Erickson, Arizona State, $1,503,000
Mike Stoops, Arizona, $1,465,000
Mike Riley, Oregon State, $1,313,471
Rick Neuheisel, UCLA, $1,285,000
Jon Embree, Colorado, $725,000
Paul Wulff, Washington State, $600,050

ESPN’s Ted Miller’s take on the hire:

First take: good hire.

Don’t be fooled by what happened at Michigan. That’s a mirage. So much didn’t fit there, and it’s never good when the vibe on both ends is negative practically from the start. Know that Rodriguez will be plenty motivated to fix his coaching legacy. Recall that he was once one of the nation’s hottest coaching prospects, one who was offered the Alabama job in 2006.

His no-huddle, spread-option attack also should work well at Arizona, though obviously it won’t be much of a novelty in the Pac-12, since his version approximates what Oregon runs.

The timing is also very good. It means he can meet the current players, set expectations, get the lay of the land and quickly start recruiting. Other programs that will be looking for new coaches — a couple likely in the Pac-12, too — will be behind.

It will be interesting to see the mix of Rodriguez’s staff. Will he mostly hire guys he’s worked with? Will he want at least a couple of assistants who know the West Coast? Will he retain anybody from the current staff?

Furthermore, will Rodriguez be able to hit any recruiting home runs? He’s playing catch-up, as all new coaches do, but he’s got more than two months until national signing day on Feb. 1. There’s no reason he can’t sway a couple of touted prospects.

Arizona’s portion of the Pac-12’s new $3 billion TV deal also should help finance a contract that is certain to pay Rodriguez more than $2 million annually, as well as lure top assistants away from other high-paying gigs.

November 17th

Blake Behrens feel good story, Part Two

There is another scholar-athlete amongst the Buffs worthy of note.

If you read the Arizona essay, “The Survivors – Part Two”, you may have noticed the story about senior offensive lineman Blake Behrens. As an All-Big 12 freshman team honoree in 2008, Behrens was an 11-game starter with a bright future. Instead, injuries took their toll, and Behrens did not play a single down in either 2010 or 2011 … until he was put in for the last extra point and the kneel down snap against Arizona last weekend.

While a feel good story in and of itself, there is more to the story. Behrens was not a part of the All-Academic Pac-12 team announced this week (see story, below), but had he been able to play, he probably would have been on the list.

Behrens is the first student-athlete at the University of Colorado to graduate with three majors. He was also the first football player to graduate from Leeds Business School with a double major in 3.5 years  (he was done with finance and accounting last May, and is finishing up with an economics degree).

And then there is Brian Lockridge …

… another senior who has suffered with injuries this season, but continues to shine off of the field.

Having trouble making a dent in the Colorado backfield this August, Lockridge volunteered to move to the defensive backfield. Lockridge played in four of the first five games as a defensive back before suffering an ankle injury against Washington State which has kept him off the field since.

A lack of playing time, though, has not kept Lockridge from being recognized for his off the field efforts. Earlier this fall, Lockridge was named to the first-team AFCA Good Works Team for his community service, and is the CU nominee for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes a player’s community service, classroom excellence, and character.

Between the two of them, Blake Behrens and Brian Lockridge have been on the field of play for all of two snaps in the second half of their final season as a Buff in uniform.

But they both continue to be excellent representatives of the CU football program.

November 16th

Pac-12 Announces All-Academic Team

Two Buffs were named to the Pac-12 All-Academic team, announced Thursday.

Senior defensive back Travis Sandersfeld, with a 3.38 in business-finance, was joined by junior defensive lineman Will Pericak, who has a 3.43 in business-finance.

Pericak has played in 35 games in his career, including all 11 this season, registering 51 tackles, 30 solo, with two for a loss.  He has seven quarterback pressures, three third down stops a fumble recovery and pass break-up.   He has graduated early and by the end of next year will have a master’s degree from CU, as well.

Sandersfeld has played in five games this season and 20 in his career.  He is fresh off returning from a broken leg and had the best game of his career on defense in CU’s win over Arizona last weekend, registering14 tackles, including three for a loss, one sack and an interception, making his first career start at safety.  This season he has 39 tackles, five for a loss with two sacks, three pass break-ups and that interception. 

A total of 25 players, including a kicker, punter, and special teams performer, were named to the first team. Leading the way, with five members was … Utah. Cal came in with four, and Oregon had three. Stanford, Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado each had two, while UCLA had one member. USC and Arizona State did not have any first team All-Academic players in 2011.

Colorado also had three second-team members of the All-Academic team: Sophomore Nate Bonsu, with a 3.47 in business-international affairs; senior defensive lineman Tony Poremba, with a 3.34 in economis; and red-shirt freshman defensive back Justin Gorman, who posted a 3.70 in business-finance.

Bonsu, a sophomore, is continuing to recover from a knee injury he suffered during winter conditioning last year and has seen the field more and more as the season has progressed, playing in six games with six tackles. He notched five tackles in just 17 plays at Arizona State a few weeks back.

Poremba, a senior, played in five games this season before suffering a season and what turned out to be career ending injury. He tallied three tackles and a half sack with one third down stop in those five games.

Gorman, a freshman, plays in the defensive backfield and extensively on special teams for the Buffaloes. He is the starting holder on the PAT and field goal teams and has returned kicks, returning four on the season for 97 yards. He made the move from quarterback his true freshman season to the defensive backfield this year.

The Buffs also had two members named honorable mention: senior offensive lineman David Clark and red-shirt freshman offensive lineman Daniel Munyer.

Clark, a senior, is closing out his career as a reserve offensive lineman. He recorded his first play on offense in his career in last week’s win over Arizona. He has played on special teams on the field goal and PAT teams.

Munyer, a freshman, started this season at center and has also played guard after returning from an ankle injury he suffered against Colorado State. He played the majority of the first three games of the season at center and is now on the depth chart at both center and guard on the offensive line.

Congratulations to all!

November 14th

Kevin Prince to start at quaterback against Colorado

Apparently, there is no quarterback controversy in Westwood.

UCLA junior quarterback Kevin Prince has 22 career starts; junior Richard Brehaut has 11. According the Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisal, it will be Prince who starts against Colorado. “There is no question about that,” Neuheisel said.

Prince has started the past three games as Brehaut has sat out with a broken leg. Brehaut’s status, however, has been upgraded from “questionable” to “probable”, giving rise to speculation that Brehaut may return to the starting lineup … especially after Prince’s poor performance last weekend in a 31-6 loss to Utah.

Prince had 163 yards rushing against California. He finished with 10 yards rushing against Utah. After completing 11 of 17 passes for 196 yards against Arizona State, he was 12 for 24 for 146 yards, with two passes intercepted, against Utah.

“As I have told Kevin, the barometer for quarterback play is polarizing,” Neuheisel said. “You either play great or you play terrible. There really is no middle ground.

“Because our job — I say ‘our’ because it’s mine as quarterback coach and his as quarterback — is to play winning football. When you don’t, you receive an ‘F.’ ”

The Utes were able to neutralize ability to run and when Prince was forced to pass, the Utes blitzed. “There were things that, unfortunately, were a regression,” Neuheisel said. “We can’t have those games.”

On the season, Prince has completed 63 of 117 passes, for 977 yards. He has four touchdown passes, with six interceptions. Brehaut, meanwhile, has completed 66 of 119 passes, going for 935 yards. Brehaut has six touchdowns and no interceptions. Prince, though, is the better runner of the two, going for 306 yards in the Bruins’ pistol offense, to 169 yards rushing for Brehaut.

Stay tuned … the Bruins might bring in Brehaut if Prince is ineffective early against Colorado.

November 14th

Peeking ahead – Buffs’ 2012 schedule … and beyond

Did ‘ya notice?

Last weekend was a satisfying one for the Buff Nation, but it was forgettable weekend for the Buffs’ 2012 non-conference opponents.

While the third opponent has yet to be named (though the Daily Camera has reported that it will be a 1-AA team), the other two 2012 foes had a tough go of it last Saturday.

After a 3-1 start, the Colorado State Rams have lost five games in a row, including an 18-15 setback to San Diego State last Saturday. In all but guaranteeing a third straight losing season (the Rams take on TCU in Dallas this weekend), CSU lost its starting quarterback Pete Thomas, forcing the Rams to tear the red-shirt off of true freshman Garrett Grayson. A third consecutive 3-9 season is not out of the question, which may very well bring an end to the Steve Fairchild era in Ft. Collins.

Also having issues is Fresno State’s long-time head coach, Pat Hill. The Bulldogs lost last weekend to perennial doormat New Mexico State, 48-45, to fall to 3-7 on the 2011 season. Fresno State, like Colorado, has a 13-game schedule, so the seventh loss eliminated the Bulldogs from bowl contention. Coming off of back-to-back 8-5 seasons, a losing campaign is not what “The Valley” was looking for this fall. Fresno State wins this fall have come over 1-AA North Dakota, hapless Idaho, and hard luck Utah State.

In fact, the last victory for Fresno State was on October 1st, against Utah State. The last victory for Colorado State came the weekend before against … you guessed it … Utah State (recall that it was the Aggies who were only a perfect onside kick away from upsetting defending national champion Auburn in week one).

Odds are, unless the Buffs change their minds about who their third non-conference opponent will be, the likelihood is that the Buffs will open the 2012 season against a 1-AA team and two teams which also posted losing records in 2011.

A far cry from this season, when the Buffs scheduled two teams coming off of ten win seasons … and both on the road.

Future Pac-12 opponents

Okay, now I get it.

When the Pac-12 schedule for 2011 was first announced, it was certainly a shock that the Buffs did not receive five home games (with the league knowing that the Buffs already had two road game commitments, leavfing CU seven road games plus a neutral site game in 2011). It was another shock that the league didn’t schedule California as one of the Buffs’ Pac-12 North opponents, knowing that the two teams were already on each other’s calendars.

Then it got maddening. Colorado not only had to open up its new “rivalry” against Utah on the road, but while the Buffs were scheduled to play the league’s two top ten teams, Stanford and Oregon, the league somehow arranged for Utah, the other new member of the conference to miss both the Cardinal and the Ducks.

Conspiracy alert!

With a nine game conference schedule and 11 conference opponents, I understood that each season, the Buffs would play five games against South division opponents, and then four of the six Pac-12 North teams on a rotating basis.

My first understanding as to how the schedule would work had the Buffs playing each North team on an eight year cycle, with three road games, three home games, and two byes. For example, the Buffs would play Washington in a schedule something along the following schedule:  @UW, home, @UW, bye, home, @UW, home, bye, and say, Oregon State along this type of schedule: bye; @OSU, home, @OSU, bye, home, @OSU, home.

That was incorrect, I was told. Instead, the schedule would be home-and-home groupings, with pairs traded out every two seasons. For example, Colorado “missed” Oregon State and Cal this season, and would again in 2012. For the next two seasons (2013-14), Colorado would pick up the Beavers and Bears, and drop the Cardinal and Huskies. In the final two seasons of the six-season rotation (2015-16), the Buffs would pick up Stanford and Washington once again, and drop Oregon and Wahington State.

Made sense.

But also wrong.

The above scenarios, while they make sense, do not take into account the Pac-12’s deal with Cal and Stanford to be allowed to play both USC and UCLA every season. This skews everyone else’s schedule. Now, everyone in the Pac-12 South not from Southern California will play the Washington and Oregon schools six out of every eight seasons, with the Buffs rotating through Cal and Stanford every eight seasons.

Translation? Here is the printout

What it means … Colorado will play Oregon every year for the first six seasons of the schedule, not missing the Ducks until 2017-18. Those will also be the two seasons in which the Buffs will finally miss Oregon and Stanford at the same time (yes, Utah gets to miss the two top ten teams in 2011-12, while the Buffs must wait until 2017-18 to miss them, when … who knows how good the Cardinal and Ducks will be in seven years?).

… Next season, nothing changes on the schedule except for the venues, with the 2011 schedule reversed (with the exception of not having to play Cal again);

… In 2013-14, the Buffs will pick up Cal and Oregon State as conference opponents, while dropping Washington and Stanford (those could be break out years for CU!); 

… In 2015-16, the Buffs will pick up the Huskies and Cardinal again, and drop Washington State and Cal;  and

… In 2017-18, the Buffs resume play against Washington State and Cal, finally missing Stanford and Oregon.

Clear as mud?

Just win, Buffs – and the schedule will take care of itself.

November 7th

Pac-12 Enterprises takes control of third-tier rights and media

Here is the start of the Pac-12’s media release today:

“With unprecedented collaboration, the Pac-12 has reached an agreement with Learfield Sports and IMG College to aggregate andcontrol specific school rights, including all local audio-visual and website rights, and key sponsorship categories, putting the Conference in position to create an integrated multi-media marketing platform and the first-ever collegiate website portal.”

Want more? …

“IMG College and Learfield Sports are long-standing and important partners of our schools and being able to work together with a shared vision for the future will elevate the value and long term strength of the Pac-12 Conference,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. ‘It’s a win-win for everyone involved.’

“As part of the agreement, IMG College and Learfield Sports retain all local, national and satellite radio rights, publishing, hospitality, in-stadium, arena and other sponsorship assets dictated by each member institution. Learfield Sports manages Colorado, Oregon State and Stanford. IMG College partners with six Pac-12 schools, including Arizona, Arizona State,California, Oregon, UCLA and Washington State. In addition, IMG College represents Washington in certain sponsorship sales areas. The Conference had already secured these specific rights from USC, Utah and Washington.

” ‘We’ve been privileged to work with seven outstanding member institutions in the Pac-12 for a number of years and enjoy excellent relationships with each,’ said Ben Sutton, President of IMG College. ‘These fine universities are an extraordinarily important part of the national platform we are building at IMG College, and we look forward to working together with Larry Scott and the athletic directors on those campuses to build an even stronger national brand and profile for the Pac-12.’

” ‘We’re excited to collaborate with the conference on this creative initiative. This is an important step for us and the conference as we work to create substantial value for the schools and our partnerships. Larry’s leadership on this effort was critical and facilitated the highest value outcome for the conference and its members,’ said Learfield’s President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Brown. “This marks a significant cooperative effort by all parties involved.’ ”

Got it?

That’s okay, neither did I.

Let’s turn to an article in the Sports Business Journal for assistance …

The Pac-12 Enterprises deal, which will require the conference to pay IMG College and Learfield roughly $15 million a year for the rights, clears the way for the launch of the Pac-12 TV channel next year, while also putting the conference in control of vital distribution categories, including wireless and multiplatform video distributor.

The new arrangement positions the conference to put all TV, digital and sponsorship rights owned by the conference under the Pac-12 Enterprises banner, making it the first league to control and bundle all of those rights.

There seems to be two key components to the deal.

First, that IMG College and Learfield have relinquished (or will relinquish, as current contracts expire), all of their third-tier rights. Not a big deal? Try – it’s never been done before. Conference control of third-tier rights (the games which will not be picked up by ESPN or Fox, under the new agreement, or about 33 football games per season) was the main stumbling block preventing Texas from becoming a member of the Pac-12 in the conference realignment talks of 2010 or this past summer. Third-tier rights represent big money for schools like Texas and USC, who would have many networks seeking to show every game with the Longhorns or Trojans, but would not generate as much money for lesser games (e.g., 2-7 Arizona at 1-9 Colorado). With the Pac-12 controlling all of the rights, and the members of the conference all agreeing to share the revenue equally, the deal to pay IMG College and Learfield for their rights is a significant move.

The other significant aspect of the contract is the importance of the Pac-12 acquiring the digital and sponsorship rights in the highly coveted wireless and multiplatform video distributor categories. Examples of wireless companies are AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, while the MPVD category includes distributors such as Comcast, Time Warner, DirecTV, Google and Netflix. Greg Brown, Learfield’s CEO, called those categories among the most valuable a school has. “When you talk about putting all of those rights together, you’re talking about a very substantial category,” Brown said. “Putting them all under one umbrella makes a lot of sense.”

“We want to control the relationship with distributors at every level,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “This enables us to tie together conference and school sponsorship assets for a company interested in content. It also will help us prevent ambush and offer exclusivity to a partner.”

Scott envisions a Pac-12 Web network similar to the professional leagues, with a single conference portal providing a link to each of the school’s websites. The Web network will begin to take shape next year, but it will take years before all of the schools come on board. Each of them has contracts with technology platform partners such as CBSSports.com College Network and NeuLion that must expire first.

Bottom line: What does this mean for Colorado and the other members of the Pac-12?

Think of the Pac-12 Network revenue the way you are looking at the Colorado football program in general right now.

Sacrifices are being made at the beginning. There will be significant up-front costs, but the long-term rewards will make it all worthwhile.

That will almost certainly hold true for the Pac-12 Network. There will be significant up-front costs in establishing the Network, and it will take time for the Network to build a brand and find an audience. But the long-term prognostications are limitless. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has a vision, and by taking complete control over all aspects of distribution (with a few exceptions, like local coaches radio and television shows), and – most importantly – splitting the revenues equally, the Pac-12 Network will likely becoming the envy (and later, the model) for other league networks.

If only the Colorado football program could guarantee such a trade of up-front costs for long-term success …

November 6th

Missouri to the SEC

Almost two years after beginning the conference expansion talk with an ill-fated romance with the Big Ten, the Missouri Tigers have finally found their way out of the Big 12.

The SEC released a statement Sunday saying the conference’s presidents and chancellors acted unanimously, and Missouri will join the league effective July 1, 2012.

“The presidents and chancellors of the Southeastern Conference are pleased to welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC,” Florida and SEC board president Bernie Machen said in a statement. “The University of Missouri is a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions.”

The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri,” Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deaton said. “In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success. The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university.

“We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league.”

The addition of Missouri will increase SEC membership to 14 schools, including Texas A&M, which announced last month that it was also leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

November 3rd

USC down two safeties?

Drew McAllister is going to start Friday at free safety for USC, replacing – at least for the first half – T.J. McDonald, whos was suspended by the Pac-12 for a hit to the head against Stanford last weeekend.

That much we know for sure.

But the Trojans could be starting two new safeties against Colorado, as starting strong safety Jawanza Starling has missed both practices this week because of an unspecified injury. Senior Marshall Jones has been practicing in that spot and figures to get the start there if Starling isn’t ready to come Friday.

“Very easily that could be the case, with Jawanza having not practiced today and obviously the league deciding T.J can’t play,” Trojans coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN.

McAllister has started one previous game at USC, a September 2009 loss to Washington. Jones has started four, the final four of last season when Starling was hurt. Both have been second-stringers throughout spring practice and fall camp this season.

Boise State one step closer to the Big East

The sound you hear in the distance is the dancing in the streets in Ft. Collins …

According to ESPN, the Idaho State Board of Education has given Boise State its consent to join the Big East Conference.

The board voted 7-1 Thursday to give university president Bob Kustra authority to move Boise State out of the Mountain West Conference and into the Big East.

Kustra told trustees he has had ongoing discussions with Big East representatives, though the school has yet to receive a formal invitation to join the conference.

Kustra says being a Big East member means more revenue for athletics and puts the Broncos in a conference that automatically qualifies to send a team to the Bowl Championship Series — a feature lacking with membership in the MWC.

November 2nd

Big East to extend offers to six new schools

Nothing is official … yet.

According to ESPN, the Big East conference’s member presidents (what’s left of them), meeting in Philadelphia, voted unanimously Tuesday to extend invitations to football-only and all-sports members. Reports are that the invitations went out to Central Florida, SMU, and Houston for all sports, with Boise State, Air Force, and Navy joining just for football.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, however, declined to name the schools being targeted. He did say he expected the targeted schools to accept, but added that there are still details to work out with each institution.

“As we’ve learned over the last two months, don’t believe anything anybody tells you. Nothing’s done until it is over,” Marinatto said. “So I’m obviously being very cautious and that’s why I’m reluctant to say names of schools.” Marinatto did acknowledge the league intends to expand west.

The big issue remains whether Boise State will join the Big East for football (and likely join the Big West for other sports – you can’t make this stuff up!).  On Thursday, the Idaho State Board of Education will hold an “athletic conference discussion” concerning Boise State, The Idaho Statesman reported Tuesday. Boise State would require the board’s approval to change conferences.

Boise State is seeking confidence that it will be joining a conference that is very likely to maintain its automatic qualifying status for the Bowl Championship Series, sources told ESPN. The Broncos also would like a western partner in the expanded Big East — either Air Force, or if that’s impossible, perhaps BYU.

“We’re having discussions with Big East officials and continue to consider all of our options,” Boise State spokesman Frank Zang said.

A Mountain West source told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz that Air Force indicated to at least one conference president last week that it didn’t want to leave for the Big East. Another MWC source said the Falcons have been reluctant to depart. But two scenarios are keeping the options open for the Falcons — the promise of a $10 million payout from a possible television deal and if Navy decides to commit.

Meanwhile, a conference commissioner source said that there is serious panic within the MWC and C-USA about possibly losing key members of both leagues to the Big East. C-USA could survive losing Houston, SMU and UCF to the Big East since it would be down to nine schools. But if the MWC were to lose Boise State and Air Force, then it would be down to eight members in football (seven in all sports) and likely would pounce on the WAC’s Utah State and San Jose State to replace those two schools.

It just keeps getting easier and easier for Colorado State to rack up victories …

Big 12 – “We fully expect West Virginia to be there” (in the conference in 2012)

West Virginia to Big East – “We’re leaving for the Big 12. Have a nice life”.

Big East to West Virginia – “You signed an agreement that you can’t leave for 27 months. So there!”.

West Virginia to Big East – “Here’s a Summons. See you in Court – we’re leaving!”.

Big 12 to West Virginia – “Figure it out! We need ten teams in 2012!”.

On Monday, West Virginia sued the Big East in order to get out from underneath the 27-month requirement to leave (see story, below).

 As far as the Big 12 is concerned, West Virginia’s entrance into the Big 12 was contingent on the university being available next year.

“We needed a 10th member next season to fulfill our TV commitments,” interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said. “There’s an inventory that goes with a contract for TV, so we’ve got to be able to do that.”

(UPDATE: It appears that Neinas misspoke – On Wednesday, Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda released a statement saying the Mountaineers’ membership “is not contingent upon (them) joining the Conference for the 2012-13 season.” He did not elaborate.)

Neinas said Missouri is considered a Big 12 member until it withdraws and the league will accommodate 11 football teams if necessary.

“We can do it,” Neinas said. “We don’t have it on paper. But our computers will work out to provide a schedule that will accommodate 11 teams.”

West Virginia wouldn’t simply move into Missouri’s Big 12 football schedule if the Tigers leave.

Instead, “we’re going to have to redo the schedule for a variety of reasons,” Neinas said. “We’re going to have to do some adjusting.”

West Virginia president James Clements reiterated his commitment to getting started in a new conference.

“We were a very proud member of the Big East for a long time. And a good member,” Clements said. “But now it’s all about the Big 12. And we’re thrilled to be a member of the Big 12. It is a great conference. It’s strong. It’s stable. From an academic standpoint. From a leadership standpoint. We couldn’t feel better. The stuff with the Big East will work itself out.”

We’ll see …

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