Pac-12 Notes

January 1st

Oregon’s Chip Kelly: “I’ve got a game to play”

From ESPN … One of the first questions Oregon coach Chip Kelly was asked after arriving in Arizona for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl was about the possibility of coaching in the NFL.

The are-you-going-to-the-NFL questions haven’t let up in the five days since and only figure to pick up after seven coaches were fired Monday.

Deflection has been Kelly’s defense since the rumors started and it was no different after all those NFL openings cropped up.

“I’ve got a game to play,” Kelly said during the Fiesta Bowl’s media day on Monday. “We’re playing in the Fiesta Bowl. That’s the biggest thing in my life. If I allowed other things to get into my life, then they would be distractions, but there aren’t. Our focus 100 percent is on the Fiesta Bowl.”

Kelly has been an intriguing candidate for NFL teams for a few years.

The 49-year-old coach is known as an offensive innovator and his fast-paced, high-scoring offense has led to the most successful stretch in Oregon’s history.

The fifth-ranked Ducks have gone to four straight BCS bowl games, a run that includes a trip to the 2011 national championship game, Oregon’s first Rose Bowl win in 95 years last season and Thursday night’s Fiesta Bowl against No. 5 Kansas State at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The speculation over the past few years has been that Kelly has his eye on an NFL job and he even talked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year before saying he had unfinished business in Eugene.

The rumors began to pick up this season and followed him to the desert, where he’s been asked about the NFL every day he’s been here and has given a different version of the same answer every time.

“My heart is to win today and that’s it,” Kelly said. “I know everybody wants to hear a different answer. And I know that at times when I don’t give you guys the answer that you guys want, then I’m being evasive. I’m not being evasive.”

December 31st

USC becomes first preseason No. 1 to lose six games

After No. 10 USC dominated Colorado, 50-6, on October 20th, the Trojans were 6-1 and had their sights still set on a Rose Bowl bid, and, if things broke their way, a shot at the national championship.

Instead, the Trojans lost five of their last six games to become the first preseason No. 1 team to lose six games that season. With preseason Heisman trophy favorite Matt Barkley sidelined, backup quarterback Max Wittek struggled (14-of-37 for only 107 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions) in a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

From ESPN … Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 21-7 victory on Monday in front of a crowd of 47,922 at Sun Bowl Stadium. Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third made it 14-7, and he found Orwin Smith for a 17-yard touchdown pass in the fourth.

Barkley, the first three-time captain in team history, injured his right shoulder in a loss to UCLA and was not cleared to play. He clapped as the Trojans (7-6) took the field to face the Yellow Jackets.

Max Wittek tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Silas Redd in the second quarter, but also threw three interceptions. Redd also had 88 yards rushing on 17 carries. The Trojans struggled to contain Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack. The Yellow Jackets (7-7) rushed for 294 yards on 63 carries while stopping a seven-bowl losing streak.

David Sims had 99 yards on 17 carries, but he got plenty of help. Zach Laskey added 60 yards on six carries, Lee had 52 on 10 carries and Washington had 16 attempts for 46 yards for the No. 4 rushing team in the nation. Sims also caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Vad Lee in the first quarter.

Lee and Washington combined to go just 5-for-10 passing, but two completions went for TDs passes and two more covered 26 and 49 yards and keyed two of the team’s scoring drives.

High-powered USC finished with 10 first downs and eight punts as Georgia Tech shut down the Trojans’ big-play threats all afternoon.

Wittek had four passes deflected at the line. His second interception came in the Tech end zone with 6:22 to go and the last came inside the Tech 10-yard line in the game’s final minute.

Wide Receiver Robert Woods announces for NFL Draft

From ESPN … USC wide receiver Robert Woods announced Monday that he will declare for the NFL Draft.

“I feel like I accomplished a lot at USC and I’m very prepared to play at the next level,” Woods said in a Hyundai Sun Bowl postgame radio interview. “I would like to thank my coaches and teammates for everything they helped me with in my career at USC.”

Woods is the No. 41 overall player for the 2013 draft, ranked by ESPN’s Scouts Inc. He could be an option for the Houston Texans late in the first round, according to ESPN’s Todd McShay.

After a Pac-12 record 111 catches last season, Woods had surgery on his ankle and sat out spring drills and offseason workouts before the 2012 season. When the year began, it was clear that the top spot in the USC receiver corps belonged to Woods’ former high school teammate, Marqise Lee, who went on to be named the Biletnikoff Award winner. Woods still managed to catch 76 balls in 2012 to go along with 11 touchdowns.

Woods said after the Sun Bowl that his decline in targets this season did not play “much” of a role in his decision to forego his senior year. But he admitted it was considered.

“If the coaches wanted to keep me another year, they would’ve probably got me the ball,” he said.

December 30th

Texas rallies to upset No. 15 Oregon State

From the Corvallis Gazette-Times … The Alamo Bowl came down to defense.

The Oregon State football team played well on the defensive side over the first three quarters. Texas, meanwhile, started to perform at a high level in the second half. When the offense got on track for the Longhorns in the end, that’s proved to be the difference.

The No. 15-ranked Beavers left the Alamodome stunned. They were the best team on the field heading into the fourth quarter, but let the game slipped away before a crowd of 65,277.

Texas (9-4) scored on a 36-yard touchdown pass from David Ash to Marquise Goodwin with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left to take its first lead. OSU (9-4) had one more shot, but was swarmed under by the Longhorns’ pass rush. Quarterback Cody Vaz was sacked 10 times, 4.5 from defensive end Alex Okafor.

“It was a close game all the way to the end,” Vaz said. “That’s a game we let slip away. Texas was a really good team, but we let it slip out of our hands.” Vaz had a rough game besides the sacks. He threw two interceptions and fumbled once. Two of his turnovers came in the first quarter when his defense was playing well. Vaz threw a bad pick on a screen to Peter Jinkens. The defense and special teams bailed him out when Scott Crichton blocked a 46-yard field goal attempt.

Unga and Ryan Murphy combined on a 37-yard return to set up a 29-yard field goal by Trevor Romaine.

Vaz was then stripped of the ball when he dropped back to pass to give Texas possession on the OSU 30-yard line. That was his second turnover in two plays. The defense salvaged the situation when it forced a quick field goal.

Vaz settled down to guide the Beavers on a 12-play, 75-yard drive on the next possession. He made better decisions and found tight end Connor Hamlett as a key receiver. Running back Storm Woods got on track that drive with some strong runs. He finished it off with a 12-yard TD on a draw and put the Beavers up 10-3 after the first quarter.

OSU’s defense was so dominant in the first quarter that Texas gained a mere 23 yards and no first downs. “We made a lot of good plays,” coach Mike Riley said. “Defensively, I was proud of our team. There was a ton of good defense against a good team with a lot of good athletes.”

Texas had 123 total yards at halftime and 64 of them came on a double reverse that Goodwin ran in for a touchdown. OSU forced five punts and stopped the Longhorns on downs once. A Kevin Unga interception in the third quarter set up a touchdown. Defensive tackle Andrew Seumalo hit Ash and the ball fluttered to Unga. The Beavers then punched the ball into the end zone on a two-yard carry by Woods with 9 seconds left in the third quarter. The Beavers were up 27-17 and confident.

“I felt we played one half of football,” safety Ryan Murphy said. “Texas came out better than us in the second half. We had this game in the first half, but it’s on us players to keep ourselves focused in on to finish the task.”

Texas turned the tide when Ash was let loose on quarterback draws. He had trouble passing and Texas couldn’t run with the running backs.

OSU’s longtime weakness — a mobile quarterback – came up again. Ash kept plays alive with his feet and scored on an 11-yard run.

“It was busted plays here and there,” cornerback Jordan Poyer said “We felt confident in our game plan, especially early in the game. (Ash) was running draws and it caught us off guard. We hadn’t seen it on tape.”

The Longhorns had trouble stopping the run in the first half when they allowed 111 yards. They decided at halftime to blitz more to disrupt the running game. It worked and OSU was forced into passing downs and the Longhorns kept coming. Vaz had little to no time, even on quick, short passes. “In the second half we didn’t get back running the ball like we did in the fist half,” Riley said. “We took some bad plays on first down. I don’t think offensively we got things going. That allowed them too many chances.”

The defense saved the day all game, and just ran out of gas on the final Texas drive.

After stopping most of the big plays, Texas found one at the right time to win the game.

“We were probably on the field too much,” Riley said. “Offensively, we didn’t sustain enough. We didn’t get enough first downs.”

Arizona State has no trouble with Navy in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

From azcentral.com … This is not the mountaintop. But you can see it from here. And if the goal is to end the season on higher ground, this was enough to give Arizona State fans a case of altitude sickness.

The Sun Devils demolished Navy 62-28 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Saturday. They finished a transition season with eight victories and a three-game winning streak. They have all but secured a Top 25 preseason ranking entering the 2013 season, a year that could launch the football program to another level.

Maybe, just maybe, the sleeping giant is finally awake.

“Our guys came to play today and dominated,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said. “So I’m really proud of them.”

Bowl games are often won by the more interested team. That’s the best explanation for how ASU allowed 149 points in its previous three bowl games, all lopsided losses. The lack of discipline was never more evident than in its sloppy approach to postseason play.

That’s obviously changed. The performance against Navy will be the standard for all bowl appearances to come.

The game was dedicated to the memory of Marion Grice’s brother, who was killed in Houston over a pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Grice responded with a transcendent performance that will hopefully ease the pain of a senseless tragedy.

Grice is notoriously quiet. He says yes, no and not much else. Yet after winning the game’s Outstanding Offensive Player award, he was forced to speak to crowd at AT&T Park, a moment you had to feel to appreciate.

“He talked!” defenseman Davon Coleman said. “I didn’t know what his voice sounded like.”

The game was attended by Pat Tillman Sr., who presented Will Sutton with the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award. Given his feelings toward the military, many wondered if Tillman would be amenable to this kind of public appearance.

Even better, Tillman donned an ASU jacket given to him before the game, and his presence brought undeniable energy to the cause. For the father of arguably the greatest Sun Devil in history, the only thing better would’ve been a demolition of Army.

But this will work just fine.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Navy linebacker Brye French said. “Everything we tried, they just dominated us.”

When ASU had lost four consecutive games during the regular season, Graham became extremely agitated over claims that these were the Same Old Sun Devils, a program known to collapse in November. He proved his point.

This stout finish — a pasting of Washington State, followed by a fourth-quarter domination of Arizona to win the Territorial Cup, followed by a record-setting display against Navy — makes it clear we have entered a new era.

Now, Graham must find a way to push this program through the glass ceiling.

Bruce Snyder never fully capitalized on his team’s Rose Bowl appearance in 1997. Dennis Erickson regressed after posting 10 wins in his inaugural season. Rob Evans couldn’t parlay Ike Diogu into a new era of Sun Devils basketball; Herb Sendek has struggled to do the same without James Harden.

But there’s a different feeling about Graham, who has galvanized the Sun Devils family on all levels. The academic people are happy with him. The marketing people love him. So do the boosters. So do the players.

It won’t get any easier, but a window of opportunity has opened wide. Next season, ASU hosts Wisconsin, Southern California and Arizona. They have a showdown against Notre Dame in Graham’s home state of Texas.

For years, ASU has been an acronym for Arizona State Underachievers. Now, they can become the program we all hoped they’d be.

December 28th

Nevada head coach Chris Ault retires

From CBSSports.com … The Godfather of the Pistol Offense, Hall of Famer Chris Ault, is retiring as the head football coach at Nevada, a source told CBSSports.com Friday.

The 66-year-old coach steps down after 28 seasons as a head coach with a career record of 233-109-1 and has led the Pack to five consecutive winning seasons, including a 7-6 mark this year. Nevada lost four games by six points or fewer in 2012, including a 49-48 game against Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15.

In 2010, Nevada went 13-1 and finished No. 11 in the nation. That was his sixth season with at least 10 wins. Under Ault, the Pack had one losing season in conference play since 1982.

Even more impressive is the legacy Ault leaves behind in football. A former quarterback at Nevada in the mid-60s, Ault is best known as the creator of the unique Pistol offense that has spread all over college football in recent years and this fall has even made a huge impact in the NFL.

Despite the fact that more and more teams are utilizing the Pistol, opponents still have had fits trying to slow down the Nevada offense. In the past four seasons, the Pack has ranked in the top 10 national in total offense each year.

In addition, the current overtime format in college football was introduced by Ault via the Big Sky Conference in 1980 (although the original rule gave each team the ball at the 15-yard line instead of the 25-yard line.)

Many also credit Ault with devising the middle screen or “jailbreak screen” which he unveiled at Nevada back in 1981.

December 27th

Baylor mauls UCLA in Holiday Bowl

The Pac-12 and Big 12 will face off in three games this bowl season, including the bowl with the second-best match-up, pitting two top five teams in Oregon and Kansas State against one another in the Fiesta Bowl (the other is Oregon State against Texas in the Alamo Bowl).

So far, make it Big 12 1, Pac-12 0.

From ESPN … The Bears overwhelmed the Bruins 49-26 in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Thursday night as quarterback Nick Florence threw for two scores and ran for another. Glasco Martin ran for three touchdowns.

Florence completed 10 of 13 passes for 188 yards, giving him 4,309 for the season to break Griffin’s school record of 4,293 set in his Heisman Trophy-winning season of 2011.

“For me, I just wanted a chance to play. I just happened to follow a Heisman Trophy winner,” Florence said. “I’m not Robert. I’m not 6-3. I don’t run a 4.3. You saw that tonight. Man, if I could run a 4.3, it would be nice. So I just had to be me. I tried to manage this offense and play within myself. He’s a heck of player, he’s done a heck of a job for this program, put us on the map. I’m humbled and honored to hold that record. He deserves it. I never thought that would have happened this year. I just wanted to win games.”

Baylor (8-5) won its final four games and five of six.

“That was a question we asked all our players, ‘What was going to happen now that Robert’s gone?'” coach Art Briles said. “And our guys responded, fought together, believed in each other. They have always sustained and never lost focus.”

Lache Seastrunk (the former Oregon running back whose recruitment has the Ducks in trouble with the NCAA) rushed 16 times for 138 yards and one score for Baylor, which outgained UCLA 494-362. The Bears came in leading the nation in total offense with 578.8 yards per game.

Baylor’s defense came up big, too. The Bears sacked Brett Hundley six times, including two by Christ McAllister, and shut down UCLA’s career rushing leader Johnathan Franklin. Franklin, who averaged 130.8 yards this season, gained 12 yards on his first carry of the game but was a nonfactor after that, finishing with just 34 yards on 14 carries.

Overall, the Bruins gained only 33 yards on 28 carries. They came in having averaged 202.9 yards rushing.

“They played well up front,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “When we are at our best is when we can run the football. We couldn’t find any room to the football. They played physical.”

Hundley was 26-of-50 for 329 yards and three touchdowns to set UCLA’s season passing record with 3,740 yards. The old record was 3,470 by Cade McNown in 1998.

UCLA (9-5) lost its final three.

The Bruins were never in this one. Baylor raced to a 21-0 lead by early in the second quarter on Martin’s 4-yard run and Florence’s TD passes of 8 yards to Antwan Goodley and 55 yards to Tevin reese.

UCLA punted four times and lost the ball on downs before getting a break when Baylor’s Jordan Navjar fumbled after a reception when he was hit by Eric Kendricks, with Randal Goforth recovering at the Bears’ 21. Two plays later, Joseph Fauria caught a 22-yard pass from Hundley to pull the Bruins to 21-7.

Baylor quickly added two more touchdowns to put it out of reach at 35-7. Martin burst up the middle for his second touchdown of the game, a 26-yarder, and, after UCLA punted yet again, Seastrunk broke free for a 43-yard touchdown run with 1:58 left before halftime.

December 27th

Barkley ruled out for Sun Bowl

What was supposed to be a Heisman Trophy season for USC quarterback Matt Barkley has come to a quiet end in the west Texas desert.

From ESPN … USC quarterback Matt Barkley won’t play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl because of a shoulder injury, effectively ending his college career.

According to the Trojans’ Twitter account, coach Lane Kiffin said on Thursday that freshman Max Wittek will start against Georgia Tech in the New Year’s Eve bowl.

Kiffin had said Barkley, who has been nursing a strained right shoulder for more than a month, would be re-evaluated when the Trojans arrived in El Paso, Texas.

A senior and onetime Heisman Trophy contender, Barkley has been sidelined since suffering the injury Nov. 17 in USC’s loss to rival UCLA.

Wittek made his first career start in USC’s regular-season-ending loss to Notre Dame, completing 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

 

December 26th

Washington losing assistant coaches to San Jose State; Arkansas

And the coaching carousel continues …

From the Seattle Times … There are multiple reports today that wide receiver coach Jimmie Dougherty is leaving Washington to become the new offensive coordinator at San Jose State. The first to do so was FootballScoop.com.

That makes Dougherty the second UW assistant to leave since the season ended on Saturday — running back coach Joel Thomas  left for Arkansas.

Dougherty is getting a promotion in job as well as reuniting with new San Jose State coach Ron Caragher, for whom Dougherty was offensive coordinator at the University of San Diego before coming to Washington in 2009 as part of Steve Sarkisian’s initial staff at Washington.

December 24th

Multiple Pac-12 schools to be without players in their bowl games

UCLA … Safety Tevin McDonald will not play in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl after violating a team policy, Coach Jim Mora said.

McDonald did not travel with the team to San Diego on Friday. The junior tested positive for marijuana, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to comment. Under UCLA policy, a player is suspended for one game after testing positive for a third time. A fourth positive test can result in a player’s scholarship being revoked.

“We had to leave Tevin McDonald at home for a violation of team policy,” Mora said. “I can’t discuss it any further than that.”

McDonald is second on the team in tackles with 79. He has recovered two fumbles and intercepted one pass. He missed one practice last week to attend to “personal business,” Mora said.

USC … Quarterback Max Wittek remains on track to start against Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. USC coach Lane Kiffin continues to say that Matt Barkley will practice after the Trojans arrive in El Paso next week, but the NFL-bound senior will almost certainly refrain from playing and risking further injury to his right shoulder.

Barkley attended practice briefly but was gone by the conclusion of the workout. Meantime, Wittek prepares for his second start.

Arizona State … Running back Marion Grice has left the team to join his family for personal reasons, a school spokesman said. 3TV Sports in Phoenix reported Grice’s brother was shot and killed in Houston on Friday after two men demanded his recently bought Air Jordan shoes. At least one teammate also posted on Twitter that the victim was Grice’s brother. Many offered prayers to Grice and his family. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas has not yet released the victim’s name.

Grice, a junior, did not practice Saturday. He is one of ASU’s top performers. He is the team’s second-leading rusher (520 yards) and its second-leading receiver (39 catches, 406 yards). He leads the team with 17 touchdowns. ASU plays Navy in the Dec. 29 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.

Stanford … Defensive tackle Terrance Stephens already missed the final two games of the regular season — both wins over UCLA — with what has been described as a “personal matter”.  Now, he’ll miss the Cardinal’s first Rose Bowl appearance in over a decade.

The university announced in a release Friday that Stephens has been ruled ineligible for the bowl “due to a secondary violation of NCAA rules regarding his rental of off-campus housing.” No other details were provided.

Stephens had 10 tackles on the season with a pair of sacks and a forced fumble but was an anchor along Stanford’s defensive line and an important contributor to one of the best run defenses in the country.

Oregon unveils Fiesta Bowl uniforms

Here is a link to take a look at the uniforms Oregon will be wearing against Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the report, the feathers on the shoulder pads and the numbers will change color depending on the angle.

One more reason to tune into the second-best bowl game of the season, I guess …

 

December 23rd

Oregon hearing to be held to “provide a suitable message and precedent for the membership”

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens told UO donors in a letter on Thursday that the school and NCAA investigators “were able to agree on the substantive findings” about alleged recruiting violations by the football program.

That would indicate that the two parties had been able to successfully agree about which rules had been violated. In a summary disposition, the school then proposes penalties.

In many cases that will bring the matter to a conclusion.

In this case, the NCAA committee on infractions did not rubber stamp the summary disposition and instead will hold a hearing.

Michael Buckner, an attorney who specializes in NCAA enforcement issues, said the committee will sometimes do this so it “can provide a suitable message and precedent for the membership”.

Here is the letter that athletic director Rob Mullens sent out to boosters:

Dear Friends of Oregon,

Thank you for your continued support of the University of Oregon and the athletics program. I want to provide you an update on the NCAA inquiry to clarify recent media reports. As we have shared in previous communications, we have tremendous respect for the NCAA and member institutions’ role in monitoring intercollegiate athletics and, as such, committed our full cooperation with the NCAA enforcement staff during the process.

This matter was taken very seriously and handled accordingly. We have worked cooperatively with the NCAA enforcement staff to determine the facts related to the program and be held accountable in a fair way. The institution and the NCAA enforcement staff were able to agree on the substantive findings of the inquiry which resulted in the matter being presented for summary disposition. The agreed-upon findings and self-imposed penalties were submitted to the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which requested to discuss the matter in person.

We appreciate your patience in awaiting the details of the matter and as always, your loyal support of the University and the athletics program. It is important to note the review is ongoing until the NCAA Committee on Infractions issues its final report and the integrity of the process and our continued full cooperation with the NCAA prohibits us from publicly discussing the specifics of this matter.

Thank you.

Rob Mullens

Athletic Director

December 22nd

Boise State takes down Washington in preview of 2013 opener

From ESPN … The last two times Boise State played in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, there were other places the Broncos wanted to be. Not so on Saturday, when the smallest player on the team came up big in a 28-26 victory over Washington.

After two straight blowouts in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Broncos had to work hard for a win sealed by a 27-yard field goal by 5-foot-5 Michael Frisina with 1:16 left. It left them feeling good about a game and a season when, unlike the last two years, there was hardly any talk about Boise State being in a BCS game.

“The most satisfying thing about this season was each week you’d see us get just a little bit better,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “These guys, they don’t go through the motions. They have a chip on their shoulder.”

The win capped another strong year for the No. 20 Broncos (11-2), who had to overcome a 205-yard rushing game by Bishop Sankey against their normally stingy defense. Sankey also had 74 yards receiving, giving him 279 of Washington’s 447 yards from scrimmage.

But it was Frisina who came up with the biggest game of his career in his final game. He kicked three field goals, including the first game winner he could ever recall booting.

“It’s every kicker’s dream to win a big game with a field goal,” Frisina said. “For this one to come on the last game of my career, you couldn’t ask for anything more.’

Washington (7-6) had taken the lead for the first time on a 38-yard field goal by Travis Coons with 4:09 left when Boise State (No. 19 BCS, No. 20 AP) got a big kickoff return by freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes to the Washington 42. Joe Southwick guided the team to the 12 before Frisina hit the winning kick.

“I was just focused on what I had to do,” Frisina said. “I’m there as the insurance guy, I guess you’d say.”

Boise State sealed the win when Jeremy Ioane intercepted Keith Price’s pass as the Huskies neared midfield.

“To their credit they found a way to win the game in the end,” said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. “Our inability to finish is pretty blaring.”

Boise State looking for lucrative television deal from either Big East or Mountain West

From ESPN … Boise State is trying to get the Big East and Mountain West to allow the Broncos to retain their home television rights, to guarantee which conference the school ends up in, sources told ESPN.

Boise State is scheduled to leave the Mountain West and join the Big East on July 1, 2013. However, ESPN reported on Nov. 20 the Broncos had been in talks with the Mountain West and were reconsidering the move to the Big East.

On Friday, ESPN reported those talks heated up in recent days after the Big East’s seven Catholic basketball schools announced last week they were leaving the league.

Boise State is pitting the Big East against the Mountain West in what one industry source called “a game of chicken” to ensure the Broncos get the most lucrative deal they can.

Boise State has approached multiple networks to gauge how much the Broncos could get if they retained their home television rights as a member of the Big East or MWC.

Such an arrangement is unheard of for a conference member. There are no schools in any FBS conference that retains its home television rights. Still, one industry source believes either the Big East or Mountain West will make an exception for Boise State because they are so desperate to have the Broncos.

“I think at least one conference will allow Boise State to do its own television deal, maybe both of them, for home games,” the source said.

However, sources from the Big East and MWC strongly disagreed and said neither league would allow Boise State to keep its home television rights.

“It would devalue the worth of that conference,” an industry source said. “No other league members would allow that to happen.”

Sources said consultant Joel Lulla, who worked with Boise State in 2011 on its decision to join the Big East, was retained by Boise State again last month about its future conference plans when Rutgers announced it was leaving the Big East for the Big Ten.

Boise State has been trying to leverage the best deal out of both conferences, something industry sources said may backfire on the Broncos.

“Boise reminds me of the teenage recruit who is starting to believe he’s the biggest star in town,” a source said. “It might be a pretty big letdown when all is said and done. Actually the sentiment of ‘who do they think they are’ is starting to seep into conversations with folks across college football.

“Let’s remember this isn’t Alabama, or even Texas Tech, we’re talking about. This sorry episode is starting to make it seem like Boise is one of the power assets in college football. In reality their value is relative to the conference they belong to.”

Which conference will that be: the Big East or the Mountain West?

December 21st

Washington to face Boise State in back-to-back games

From ESPN … On Aug. 31, 2013, Washington will play a hugely important game.

After a lengthy and sometimes contentious bureaucratic process, it finally will open a renovated Husky Stadium, as one of the most spectacular settings in college football finally gets a stadium worthy of sitting on the banks of Lake Washington in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

It likely will own its first preseason ranking since 2002. And it will face Boise State, one of the nation’s top programs.

On Saturday, Washington will play a hugely important game. It will try to shake off the frustration of a horrible collapse in the Apple Cup against rival Washington State and end its season on the uptick in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.

And it will face Boise State, the nation’s 19th-ranked team.

Yes, Washington and Boise State are set to play back-to-back games connecting this season to the next. Yes, it’s strange.

But, no, Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian isn’t obsessing about it. The preparation for the Las Vegas Bowl is no different than any other game, no matter that it amounts to game one of a two-game series.

“We’ve got basically nine months to worry about the next game,” he said.

That said, Sarkisian acknowledges that there are certain to be plenty of moments he will file away — matchups, tendencies, formations, etc., — that he will grind over the next few months. Both teams, in fact, surely will.

“There’s going to be plenty of stuff we take from this game, good and bad, that we will be able to apply in the preparation for the second one,” Sarkisian said. “That goes without saying. It’s hard to prepare that way now for what is down the road but I do think, whether it’s during the game or looking at the film of returning personnel, we’ll be thinking of things we can take from the game.”

The reality is the Huskies are just glad to have a “next game on their schedule.” The stink of their last game has surely been hard to shake.

Washington arrived in Pullman riding a four-game winning streak. It seemed potentially on its way to its first postseason national ranking since 2001, which would have further boosted the perception of promise for 2013. Washington State, meanwhile, was in seeming disarray, coach Mike Leach’s first season turning from hopeful to massively disappointing. The Cougars were 2-9, had lost eight in a row and were coming off a 46-7 shellacking at Arizona State. Their best defensive player, outside linebacker Travis Long, wasn’t going to play.

While it was a sloppy game throughout, things seemed to mostly be going according to the Huskies’ plan. They led by 18 heading into the fourth quarter, and there was little to suggest the Cougs could overcome a 28-10 deficit. It seemed more likely they’d mail it in and hustle into the offseason.

Then things went completely haywire for the Huskies. In one of the worst fourth quarters a team has posted in Apple Cup history — a fumble, six penalties and a missed 35-yard field goal for the win — the Huskies allowed the Cougs to tie the game and force overtime.

Overtime? QB Keith Price’s first pass was intercepted.

Yeah, it was really, really bad. Sarkisian even laughs when a reporter awkwardly tries to accurately describe its badness without giving offense. Sark has no illusions about what happened in Pullman, but his message to his team is the big picture, which they still have significant control over.

“We told them one quarter of football wasn’t going to define our season,” Sarkisian said. “We’ve come a long way as a football team. We’ve matured greatly the second half of the season. I couldn’t have been more proud of what our defense was able to get accomplished. I’m really proud of some of our younger offensive players, as they matured as the season went on. But unfortunately we played a bad 15 minutes. We gave up an 18-point lead and we really didn’t execute in any of the three phases to win the game.”

Boise State offers an opportunity to make at least some of that bad taste go away. It would provide momentum heading into the offseason. And it would quiet some of the grumbling about Sarkisian, as some fans forget he inherited a team that went 0-12 in 2008.

So the the Las Vegas Bowl is a big, meaningful game. Not, of course, as meaningful as Aug. 31.

Further, Sarkisian points out that the second game won’t be a complete redo.

“I think one of the differences is I think Boise State is starting 13 seniors and we’re starting about three,” Sarkisian said. “A lot of new faces will be playing for them significantly next fall.”

New faces in a new stadium for a hugely important game.

December 20th

Big East looking west once again

Try and find a mention of Colorado State anywhere in the article …

From CBSSports.com … The Big East has “reached out” to both Fresno State and UNLV to join the league on the football side, CBSSports.com has learned. In addition, BYU and Big East commissioner Mike Aresco have at least had informal conversations.

UNLV and Fresno have “definitely” talked to Aresco, according to a source. However, the talks are being kept as secret as possible to keep from “offending people,” such as regents and boards of regents and trustees at those schools.

Aresco is aggressively trying to assemble a group of football-playing schools to keep under the Big East banner. The problem: Uncertainty on all fronts. The Big East doesn’t know how — or even if — it will proceed in football. The 10-team Mountain West hasn’t made a move to expand because of its uncertainty in its TV contract with CBS. The 10-year contract runs through the 2015 season, paying what is believed to be $8 million to $12 million per year. However, one source said conference schools are hoping to gain control of some second and third rights (or games).

Those rights could be owned by the schools (re: pay-per-view) or bundled by the conference to a rights-holder. Either way, the idea is to televise as many games as possible.

“The only reason the Mountain West hasn’t moved [is] because of the TV thing,” a source said. “The TV thing is really puzzling.”

There is no certainty on the membership clause that is included in all such contracts. Of the nine-team Mountain West that existed in 2005, only five of those schools would remain in the 10-team league for the 2013 season. BYU just completed its second year of independence after leaving the Mountain West. Current members San Diego State and Boise State are due to join the Big East on July 1.

“That’s the bone of contention, membership change,” the same source said.

That membership change is the heart of the issue moving forward. Below the five power conferences, there is uncertainty over which entity would be that No. 6 Conference with the upper hand in chasing the playoff bowl berth in most years. The highest-ranked champion among the Group of Five (Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) will get that berth each year beginning in 2014.

The Mountain West almost stayed out of the BCS because of access concerns. Two sources told CBSSports.com the MWC went up until the last minute before signing the current BCS four-year contract with ESPN. The TV package was vetted both with and without the MWC. There was no change in value. Mountain West presidents eventually decided to sign on. The current BCS deal began in 2010 and ends in 2013 before the playoff era begins.

Mountain West presidents met Dec. 10-11 without resolution on its next move. There is widespread speculation that Boise State, San Diego State and BYU could join the league. ESPN.com reported previously that all three schools had discussions with the Mountain West.

Ajersey.com reported this week that a “western group” of Big East football programs could include Houston, SMU, Boise State, San Diego State and either Air Force, BYU, Nevada, UNLV or Fresno State.

The Big East has 12 teams due to play football in 2013.

December 19th

Oregon’s attempt to obtain summary disposition fails – hearing coming this spring

From the Oregonian … Oregon has reached an impasse with the NCAA regarding the investigation of the Ducks’ football program’s relationship with Texas talent evaluator Willie Lyles. As aresult, the Ducks now expect to appear before the NCAA’s committee on infractions this spring.

The report indicates the Ducks now expect to appear before the NCAA’s committee on infractions this spring.

According to Yahoo:

The sources said the committee ultimately did not accept Oregon’s presentment, disagreeing with “various aspects” of both the infractions the school believed occurred, and the sanctions the school deemed appropriate. That impasse has made a full-blown hearing necessary. Had Oregon’s request for summary disposition been successful, the school could have avoided a hearing in which individuals such as head football coach Chip Kelly could be made to appear and take questions.

The Ducks released the following statement this evening: “The review is ongoing until the NCAA Committee on Infractions issues its final report. The integrity of the process and our continued full cooperation with the NCAA prohibits us from publicly discussing the specifics of this matter.”Many programs use recruiting services to help save time by providing information on recruits out of a team’s region. Using such services is within NCAA guidelines. However, a review of the national recruiting package Lyles provided Oregon in 2011 consisted of names of players who had graduated from high school in 2010, thus making the package worthless. Included was a defensive lineman who had played for Auburn against Oregon in the BCS National Championship game.It is against NCAA rules for a university to pay a third party to influence a student-athlete to attend its school. In August 2011 Seastrunk, who redshirted in 2012, transferred to Baylor in order to be closer to home. But he also had been fifth on Oregon’s running back depth chart after not living up to expectations. In September 2011, Oregon announced that the NCAA had notified the school of its inquiry into possible violations involving Lyles.This spring it was clear the Ducks were pursuing summary dispostion – in effect, a plea bargain.In the most recent billings relased to the public, Bond, Schoeneck& King had billed Oregon $140,836.78 for work done through July 2012 as part of the school’s internal investigation into possible NCAA violations.
News on the investigation surfaced in February 2012 after the NCAA released its proposed findings of violations. It alleged that Oregon had broken rules in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. According to the released findings. 

  • UO improperly used three recruiting or scouting services, Elite Scouting Services, New Level Athletics and Complete Scouting Services between 2008-2010 by accepting oral reports on players when only written reports and videos are permitted. Also, CSS had not provide Oregon with the NCAA mandated minimum for the number of formal reports it must provide a school in a calendar year. 
  • In the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, Oregon used an impermissible athletic department employee to recruit. 
  • The athletic department failed to adequately monitor the football program’s use of recruiting or scouting services, and failed to adequately establish policies and procedures to monitor the football program’s use of recruiting or scouting services.

The documents released included seven violations but descriptions of four were completely redacted by the school, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or state law and Oregon Administrative Rules. Another was redacted partially.

David Shaw not going anywhere – signs extension with Stanford

From ESPN … Any speculation David Shaw could be the latest Stanford coach to jump to the NFL is over — at least for now.

Shaw agreed to a “long-term contract extension” Wednesday that will keep him with his alma mater beyond the two years left on his remaining deal. Terms of the contract, including the years, were not announced by the school.

New athletic director Bernard Muir said the “agreement provides added stability and reassurance that David will be at the helm to secure our football program’s long-term sustained success.”

“I feel blessed to work every day with an outstanding staff and coach the best group of young men in America,” Shaw said, “and I am excited to lead the Stanford football program for many years to come.”

Shaw has won back-to-back Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards since taking over for Jim Harbaugh, who left for the San Francisco 49ers after starting Stanford’s resurgence. The Cardinal finished 11-2 last season after a loss in the Fiesta Bowl and won the conference title this year for the first time since 1999.

No. 8 Stanford (11-2) will play in the Rose Bowl against Big Ten winner Wisconsin (8-5) on Jan. 1.

The Cardinal have won at least 11 games each of the past three years. The program had won 10 games only three times before (1992, 1940 and 1926).

Stanford also is the only school to be in the Top 10 of The Associated Press poll and U.S. News & World Report’s academic rankings the past three years, something Shaw and his coaches have used to separate themselves on the recruiting trail.

“David Shaw has led the football program to great success,” Stanford president John Hennessy said. “He embodies the goal we have for our scholar-athletes — success in the classroom and on the field. We are pleased that he will lead our football program for years to come.”

Shaw’s second season has perhaps been even more impressive than his first.

Shaw helped Stanford overcome the departure of No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck, seamlessly made a midseason quarterback change from Josh Nunes to redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan and overtook Oregon to win the league’s North Division crown. After beating UCLA 27-24 in the Pac-12 title game Nov. 30, Shaw has taken the Cardinal to a place Harbaugh and even the late Hall of Famer Bill Walsh never could: the Rose Bowl.

Shaw had been an assistant in the NFL for Philadelphia, Oakland and Baltimore before joining Harbaugh as an assistant at the University of San Diego. He joined Harbaugh at Stanford in 2007 and coached receivers and running backs while also serving as offensive coordinator for four years.

Oregon offensive lineman denied extra year of eligibility

From the Oregonian … Offensive lineman Kyle Long will play his final game for Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3, after being denied an appeal to the NCAA for another year of eligibility, two UO sources said Tuesday.

Long’s collegiate athletic career was delayed while he battled chemical dependency after originally enrolling at Florida State, leaving him with three seasons of competition in football rather than the typical four. He had hoped to be granted another year of eligibility under the NCAA’s medical hardship rules.

Long, the son and brother of NFL stars, played in 10 of 12 games this fall, his only year with the Ducks. He overcame an ankle injury that sidelined him for two early games, and solidified the offensive line in November by moving from tackle to make three starts at guard.

As April’s NFL draft approaches, Long will be considered a raw prospect — he’s in just his second season playing offensive line — with considerable potential, possibly worth a pick in the top three rounds, based on analysis from various websites.

With Long and right guard Ryan Clanton set to graduate, the Ducks will return three projected Fiesta Bowl starters on the offensive line — left tackle Tyler Johnstone, a redshirt freshman, and center Hroniss Grasu and right tackle Jake Fisher, both sophomores. Junior Mana Greig, whose knee injury precipitated Long’s move to guard, is a potential starter at guard in 2013, as is regular reserve Hamani Stevens.

December 18th

Utah State’s Gary Andersen leading candidate for Wisconsin vacancy

Remember when Gary Andersen wasn’t interested in leaving Logan, Utah?

At least not for Cal or CU …

From ESPN … Gary Andersen has been hired to become the new coach at Wisconsin, according to a published report.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday that two sources close to the Badgers program said Andersen was athletic director Barry Alvarez’s top choice to succeed Bret Bielema, who left to take the Arkansas job.

Sources told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy that Andersen interviewed at Wisconsin on Monday.

Alvarez certainly is familiar with Andersen. On Sept. 15, the Aggies nearly upset the Badgers, but lost 16-14 when kicker Josh Thompson missed a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds.

In four years at Utah State, Andersen is 27-24, including this season’s 11-2 mark. The Aggies nearly went unbeaten, losing only to Wisconsin and BYU, 6-3.

Andersen guided Utah State to its first bowl victory in 19 seasons on Saturday, a 41-15 triumph over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Prior to Utah State, Andersen was an assistant at Utah from 2004-08 (defensive coordinator from 2005-08), head coach at Southern Utah in 2003 and an assistant at Utah from 1997-2002.

Besides Andersen, others linked to the Wisconsin opening include Miami’s Al Golden, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, then-Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash and Jacksonville Jaguars assistant Mel Tucker.

Every Pac-12 team played one of the 50 toughest schedules in 2012

According to Phil Steele, Colorado played the 15th most difficult schedule amongst the 120 FBS teams last season … but that was only good enough for the fourth-toughest schedule in the Pac-12 conference.

From ESPN … Here’s how the Pac-12 stacked up (national rank to left):

5. California

6. Stanford

12. Arizona

15. Colorado

20. USC

22. Washington

25. Oregon State

26. Washington State

34. UCLA

40. Utah

48. Oregon

50 Arizona State
Here’s what Steele has to say about his SOS rankings:

What makes my Toughest Opponents Faced rankings far superior to the NCAA method is that mine takes into account 9 sets of power ratings, combines them and factors in every team’s schedule this year. I also take out the team’s own record from their opponents stats so the numbers only reflect only how their opponents did against other teams. For example, Notre Dame’s opponents are listed as 83-50 (62.4%), if you add Notre Dame’s record they would be 83-62 (57.2%). I did this for all the NCAA teams & found out which teams played the toughest schedules this year.

Of course, strength of schedule is difficult to measure, and it is one of the more contentious issues as the conference commissioners hash out how teams will be selected for the new four-team playoff starting in 2014.

December 17th

CSU athletic director spent over $100,000 of his own money to travel/promote Colorado State

So, what is Mike Bohn’s salary again? Just thinkin’ outside the box here …

From the Coloradoan … A year after Jack Graham took the reins of the CSU Athletic Department, he’s dramatically changed the way it does business, in part by reaching deeply into his own pockets.

Graham has spent more than $100,000 of his own money jetting around the country on private planes, wooing donors, hiring coaches and attending football games. University policy bars employees from being reimbursed for flying on private planes, so the wealthy former insurance executive has simply footed the bill.

His travel has drawn criticism from some Fort Collins residents who say the profligate spending suggests he’ll be a bad overseer of Colorado State University’s effort to build a $246 million privately funded football campus. Those critics, banded together under the name “Save Our Stadium, Hughes,” point out that Graham repeatedly failed to fill out university-required paperwork before he traveled.

University officials acknowledge Graham violated the rules by skipping the paperwork sometimes but chalked it up largely to the novelty of an AD who pays for his own travel. University officials say that of the $160,105 in travel expenses recorded by Graham since he arrived, less than 1 percent came from university funds. That fraction was properly accounted for, university records show.

The rest came from Graham himself or private donors who gave it specifically for the athletic director’s travel.

“This was new territory to figure out how routine charter travel paid by Graham personally fits into CSU’s rules, and in some cases, the administration of this process fell short,” CSU spokesman Mike Hooker said in a written statement. “It’s really up to Jack to determine what is appropriate to do with his own money in a given situation.”

Hooker said Graham’s travel already is paying dividends. In January, for instance, Graham spent more than $30,000 for a private jet and limo to attend the BCS championship and hobnob with donors.

“As part of that trip, Jack secured several large donations for the stadium feasibility study and transported Jim McElwain back to Fort Collins so that he could get to work immediately at CSU,” Hooker said.

The donations Graham collected on the BCS trip then helped pay for a $37,000 trip for Graham and other CSU employees to visit new stadiums in Minnesota and California.

In a statement, Graham said he’s been using private planes because it’s more efficient. He acknowledged that he hadn’t filled out all the paperwork properly but noted no public money was ever improperly spent.

“During my first year as director of athletics at Colorado State University, I have traveled extensively to conduct the business of our department, supporting our student-athletes in competition, attending meetings and cultivating relationships with potential donors,” Graham said. “Knowing that it would not be appropriate to use state funds to pay for this mode of travel, I fully intended to pay and have paid these transportation costs out of my own personal funds to help advance the cause of Colorado State athletics.”

SOSH members say Graham’s willingness to ignore the rules every other university employee is supposed to follow suggests CSU is quickly adopting a policy where the ends justify the means. Stadium critics warn that CSU’s pursuit of a new facility is the first step down a “win-at-all-costs” road.

“I believe we are seeing the bending of the rules even before a new stadium is started,” said SOSH spokesman Bob Vangermeersch.

Another area of increased spending this year, one Graham said already has been worked into the budget, is midweek travel for coaches and players on private jets instead of commercial flights out of Denver International Airport.

Graham said these travel arrangements mean student-athletes miss less class time, allowing them to take care of academic responsibilities first.

When the men’s basketball team traveled to Seattle to play Washington, for example, the players had time to complete all of their Friday classes and have a shortened afternoon practice before making the short drive to the Loveland-Fort Collins Municipal Airport for a night flight.

This type of travel isn’t planned for every away game, Graham said, only the ones in which it’s most beneficial to student-athletes completing their classwork.

Graham’s supporters say he’s brought a much-needed dose of “think big” attitude to a department that for several years had languished as an also-ran. Graham also has hired new coaches and staff, and paid some more than their predecessors.

“I think we are on the brink of truly going places,” said CSU booster Tyler Shannon. “You are only as successful as the people around you, and Jack has done an amazing job of attracting successful front office members from the NFL, PAC12, Big10 to lead a little-known CSU athletic department to a successful future.”

Eight Pac-12 players consensus All-Americans

From ESPN … USC sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee, the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top receiver, is a unanimous All-American, marking the sixth consecutive season that the Pac-12 has produced a unanimous selection.

Lee, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, was USC’s 27th unanimous selection all-time. (In case you were wondering – and I know you were – Colorado has had six unanimous All-Americans in its history: running back Eric Bieniemy (1990); offensive lineman Joe Garten (1990); linebacker Alfred Williams (1990); center Jay Leeuwenburg (1991); running back Rashaan Salaam (1994); and tight end Daniel Graham (2001). Colorado has had 27 consensus All-Americans, the most recent coming in 2010 with offensive lineman Nate Solder).

Seven other Pac-12 football players were consensus selections, including Oregon senior running back Kenjon Barner, Arizona sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey, Stanford senior tight end Zach Ertz and junior offensive lineman David Yankey, Utah senior defensive lineman Star Lotulelei, Arizona State junior defensive lineman Will Sutton, and Oregon State defensive back Jordan Poyer. In addition, UCLA senior running back Johnathan Franklin was a Football Writers All-America selection.

To earn consensus honors, a player must be selected first team on at least two of the five All-America teams. The organizations used in the consensus chart are: The American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News, and Walter Camp Foundation.

December 15th

Stanford quarterback to transfer

From ESPN … Stanford football coach David Shaw has announced that junior quarterback Brett Nottingham plans to transfer.

Shaw said during practice Saturday that Nottingham would be leaving the eighth-ranked Cardinal (11-2), who won the Pac-12 title and will play Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Nottingham was a highly touted recruit who was the primary backup last season to Andrew Luck, this year’s No. 1 pick in the NFL draft who is now playing for the Indianapolis Colts. Nottingham was beaten out for the starting job during preseason practice by Josh Nunes.

In two games this season, Nottingham completed 5-of-8 passes for 22 yards. He played in six games during 2011 and completed 5 of 8 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. He was among the top quarterback prospects in the nation out of Monte Vista High School in nearby Danville.

FWIW … Nottingham did have an offer from Colorado as part of the Recruiting Class of 2010. Nottingham was considered to be the No. 4 overall quarterback prospect in the nation by Rivals. Nottingham also had an offer from Nevada, the home of the pistol offense …

Arizona scores two touchdowns in final 48 seconds to pull off stunner

From ESPN … Overcoming a slow start and three big turnovers, Arizona (8-5) recovered an onside kick in the last minute, setting up quarterback Matt Scott’s 2-yard toss to Tyler Slavin with 19 seconds left for the winning score.

“It’s not easy to come back from that situation,” Scott said. “You’re not necessarily going to think the most positive thing at the time, but we went out there and took care of business. It was just a big drive. I still can’t believe it.”

Arizona trailed 21-0 in the first quarter and was down 45-28 entering the final period. Scott threw for 382 yards and marched his team back into the game despite those two earlier interceptions.

“I mean, it’s improbable,” first-year Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.

“Certainly, I’ve had some games come down to that end,” he said. “But to have everything, the defense making the stop, to the field goal, Matt leading the quick drive down there, getting the onside kick … and then Matt leading down again. It just doesn’t happen very often.”

The nation’s rushing leader, Ka’Deem Carey, gained 172 yards for the Wildcats but fell short of becoming only the 16th running back in NCAA history to reach 2,000 yards in a season.

Arizona receiver Austin Hill caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. The teams combined for 1,237 total yards.

Cody Fajardo threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the Wolf Pack (7-6). He had 256 yards passing and 140 yards rushing and controlled most of the game, completing 22-of-32 throws.

Stephon Jefferson, the nation’s second-leading rusher, ran for 180 yards for Nevada and also seemed unstoppable as the Wolf Pack took a big lead and held on to it for most of the game.

But after forcing Nevada to kick a field goal with 1:48 left that made it 48-35, Scott drove the Wildcats down 75 yards in about a minute. Arizona then recovered an onside kick and Scott marched his team into the end zone after three plays and 51 yards.

“They scored 14 points in less than two minutes,” Nevada linebacker Albert Rosette said. “I’m still in shock right now.”

Nevada coach Chris Ault said the team pass defense just didn’t make a play when it was needed.

“Well, it’s a sick feeling,” he said. “Congratulations to Arizona. They held in there and did it, but it’s a sick feeling.”

Ault said a late injury to Fajardo also hurt Nevada’s running game in the last six or so minutes of the game.

“He ran it one time, just tucking it up in there,” Ault said. “But we could not run our read game at that particular time.”

Rodriguez, who took a year off from coaching after a disappointing stint at Michigan, is now 3-5 in bowl game appearances. He called his New Mexico Bowl win among his best career wins as a coach.

“It’s the latest and the greatest so far,” Rodriguez said.

December 14th

Arizona first of eight Pac-12 teams to play in a bowl

From ESPN … Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Nevada vs. Arizona, Saturday, Dec. 15 (ESPN, 11 a.m. MT)

Why to watch: The first bowl game of the postseason might be a high-scoring shootout between two very explosive offenses and two very porous defenses.

Who to watch: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey led Football Bowl Subdivision players in rushing with 146.4 yards per game; Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson was No. 2 with 141.9 yards per game. They combined to run for 3,460 yards with 42 touchdowns this season.

Motivating factor for Nevada: The Wolf Pack dropped four of their final five games and would like to head into the offseason with two victories over Pac-12 foes. (They beat California 31-24 in their Sept. 1 opener.)

Motivating factor for Arizona: The Wildcats can win eight games in coach Rich Rodriguez’s first season and don’t want to head into the offseason with a two-game losing streak after blowing a big fourth-quarter lead in a 41-34 loss to rival Arizona State on Nov. 23.

Pick: Arizona 55, Nevada 41

ESPN Pac-12 bloggers’ picks …

Kevin Gemmell: I’m guessing our season-record tie isn’t going to be broken on this one. I think Nevada can be potent — but they also haven’t seen the quality competition week in and week out that Arizona has. The Wildcats are a better team than their 7-5 record indicates. The Wolf Pack won’t be able to keep up with Ka’Deem Carey, Matt Scott and the rest of the Arizona offense. This one might produce some points, but I’ll take Arizona in a shootout. Arizona 41, Nevada 31.

Ted Miller: I suspect the time off will have benefited Arizona QB Matt Scott, who was beaten up over the final few games of the season. Nevada is 111th in the nation in rushing defense, yielding 213.17 yards per game. That’s not a good thing when you’re facing the nation’s leading rusher in Ka’Deem Carey. Arizona 44, Nevada 24.

Mike Riley says “no thanks” to Wisconsin

From CBSSports.com … Mike Riley heard from Wisconsin via phone regarding the Badgers’ head coach opening, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.

Riley was flattered by the interest, according to the source, but he won’t be the Badgers’ coach. Per OSU’s athletic communications department, Riley says he “has not interviewed, isn’t scheduled to interview and has no interest in Wisconsin.” On Thursday night, CBS Sports reported Riley was “set to interview” with Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is believed to be looking for established head coaches with clean NCAA records, a mold that Riley fits.

Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is a candidate. Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads garnered interest early in the process but nothing materialized.

Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel first reported that Miami coach Al Golden emerged as a serious Wisconsin candidate but bowed out of the race on Thursday.

December 13th

Oregon State head coach Mike Riley to interview for Wisconsin head coach opening

From CBSSports.com … After Miami’s Al Golden declined Wisconsin’s offer, a new name has emerged in the Badgers’ search: Oregon State’s Mike Riley.

The long-time Beavers coach is set to interview with Wisconsin this week, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is also a candidate. Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads garnered interest early in the process but nothing materialized.

Riley, 59, is coming off a 9-3 finish and an Alamo Bowl Berth in 2012. He’s 73-52 since taking over the Oregon State job for the second time in 2003. The former Pac-12 (then Pac-10) coach of the year also coached OSU to a 8-14 record from 1997-98, with a three-year stint as the San Diego Chargers’ coach in between.

Based on his Oregon State bio, Riley entered the season under contract until 2019, and his contract rolls one year for every time the Beavers play in a bowl game. That contract pays him a reported $1.5 million per year.

Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel first reported Golden emerged as a serious Wisconsin candidate but bowed out of the race Thursday.

Wisconsin is replacing Bret Bielema, who took the Arkansas job last week. Athletics director Barry Alvarez is coaching the Badgers through the Rose Bowl.

… but the Oregonian says no … sources close to the Beavers program say the report is false. Riley was unavailable for comment, but athletic director Bob De Carolis told The Oregonian Thursday night that he had heard nothing about Riley interviewing for the position.

Riley, 59, is the all-time winningest coach in Oregon State football history, with 81 wins. In 12 years at Oregon State he has compiled an 81-66 record. He led the Beavers to their best turnaround in school history this season, going from 3-9 in 2011 to 9-3 in 2012. Riley is under contract until 2019, and his contract rolls over one year each time Oregon State goes to the postseason. Riley has said multiple times that he hopes to retire in Corvallis and that he wants Oregon State to be his last job.

Washington State clears itself in internal investigation

From ESPN … has completed its internal investigation into abuse allegations by former wide receiver Marques Wilson, and athletic director Bill Moos concluded that no such abuses occurred.

In a statement released Wednesday — along with the full report (PDF) in a memo to school president Elson Floyd — Moos said he believes the program is heading in the right direction.

“Once I received the findings from members of my staff, I found that the program is moving in the desired direction, that it is on-par with, or exceeds, other BCS-level programs in terms of expectations and commitment,” Moos said. “Transition in coaching changes is rarely smooth, however, after reviewing the comments from the players that were interviewed, I am encouraged the program is moving in a positive direction.”

Last month, Wilson “resigned” from the team after alleging physical, verbal and emotional abuse by new coach Mike Leach and members of his staff. Wilson complained that coaches would “belittle, intimidate and humiliate us.” He did not provide details.

Moos revealed in his memo that he received a text message from Wilson after the UCLA game “where he recanted the allegations of abuse made in a letter written by he and a relative and sent to the media earlier that evening.”

Wilson’s text to Moos was included in emails released by the school Wednesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from a number of media organizations including the AP.

“Mr. Moos this is marquess … With that letter I wasn’t trying to accuse the coaches of hitting players or anything. I was just trying to put it in different terms and now everything is getting misinterpreted and I didn’t mean it like that at all … I simply was trying to get my story across and get my name cleared instead of having it say I’m suspended for breaking team violations … That could mean like I did drugs or something … I was never trying to harm the university or the program with it.”

Leach denied there was any abuse.

The Pac-12 Conference is also conducting its own investigation. That investigation has not been completed. Wilson was not mentioned by name in the WSU report.

Moos and his staff interviewed 12 players and all said they have had “a positive experience.”

“Another central theme is that the head coach is firm, fair and most of all, consistent,” the report said. “If the team or any player(s) are not meeting the expectations put in place, there are consequences that range from extended study halls to additional conditioning sessions. The approach used in these situations are designed to strengthen mental toughness and to bond the team. …

“From this review, I believe that the football student-athletes respect the head coach and his staff and feel they will move the program to a greater level of respect and competitiveness. Throughout this review, there was no report or detection of abuse or inappropriate behavior.”

The report notes that Moos discontinued one specific conditioning drill in midseason.

“Isolated concerns were raised regarding some conditioning drills in the sand box early in the 2012 season which led to my asking staff to formally observe these activities,” Moos said in the memo. “In the first half of the season, water was used on occasion to harden the sand in the box and at times players were sprayed. This practice was discontinued upon my directive around mid-season as I felt it was not necessary to produce the desired results.”

December 12th

Big Five conferences to earn an average of $91 million per year from Playoff contracts

Two notions which came to mind upon reading the story below. First, we know better now how the new coaching staff and facilities can be (at least partially) paid for.

Second, going forward, there is going to be no excuse – ever – for losing to Colorado State.

From ESPN … The financial gap between college football’s haves and have-nots is about to grow even larger.

During the 12-year contract for college football’s new playoff format, the nation’s five power conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC) will earn an average of nearly $75 million more per year than the smaller leagues known as the “group of five.”

From 2014 to 2025, the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC will earn an average of at least $91 million annually, sources told ESPN Tuesday. By comparison, the average for the group of five — Big East, Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA and Sun Belt — during that 12-year period will be about $17.25 million annually.

The BCS recently signed a 12-year contract with ESPN. The deal averages $470 million annually, sources said. Of that amount, about $125 million is expected to go toward expenses, including an academic reward component, game participation, team expenses, allotment to Football Championship Subdivision conferences and other items.

It leaves an average of $345 million annually, which the commissioners have decided to split in two ways: 75 percent ($258.75 million) divided equally among the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC, and the remaining 25 percent ($86.25 million) divided among the Big East, MWC, MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt.

That alone gives the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC an average of $51.75 million annually. The SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten also each will receive an additional $40 million annually for their contract bowl deals with ESPN: Allstate Sugar (SEC, Big 12) and Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio (Pac-12, Big 12).

The ACC also will earn at least an additional $27.5 million annually for its ESPN contract bowl deal with the Orange. The ACC’s opponent will be either Notre Dame or a team from the SEC and Big Ten. If the SEC or Big Ten places a team in the Orange Bowl, that league would earn another $27.5 million, increasing the SEC or Big Ten’s playoff revenue share to $118 million.

Notre Dame’s exact compensation for playing in the Orange Bowl during the ESPN deal is not known, but sources told ESPN it would be “substantially less” than the $27.5 million payout to an ACC, SEC or Big Ten team.

In the new playoff format, Notre Dame is expected to receive an average of about $4 million during the 12-year contract, sources said. If the Irish play in the national semifinals or one of the six major bowls, Notre Dame would receive a great deal more than the $4 million.

Only three of those six major, or host, bowls that will hold the semifinals have been determined: Rose, Sugar and Orange. The other three are expected to be Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A, sources told ESPN.

The SEC, at least in 2014, will be rewarded financially for its past on-field success, having won six consecutive BCS titles. Sources said the SEC should receive more playoff revenue in 2014 than any other league.

In the current BCS system, the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC and Big East each received an automatic BCS bowl berth, earning each league $23.6 million. If a league received a second BCS bowl berth, it earned an additional $6.2 million.

So while the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC will increase from $23.6 million to an average of $91 million during the 12-year period, the Big East will see a decline in revenues in the new format. That’s because automatic-qualifying designations will end in 2014. The Presidential Oversight Committee and the commissioners determined the Big East was no longer a power conference because of the number of teams that have left the league.

So the Big East will be included in the “group of five.” Those conferences must determine how to distribute their $86.25 million amongst themselves.

In the past, those leagues, formally known as the non-automatic qualifying conferences, gave each league the same base amount and then rewarded the conferences based on their cumulative BCS ranking as a conference. Exactly how that will be done in the new system is still being negotiated among the conferences, sources said.

Although the Big East’s average annual revenue from the new playoff will be reduced by about $5 million annually, the remaining smaller conferences — C-USA, Sun Belt, MWC and MAC — will see an increase of at least five times what they received in the BCS system.

Also included in the new $470 million of annual revenue is $37.5 million for schools that meet the NCAA’s minimum academic requirement, or Academic Progress Rate scores. Each conference will receive $300,000 per school to be distributed to each league member that meets the NCAA’s minimum APR.

Nebraska president Harvey Perlman said last month in Denver that only the schools in each league that meet the APR requirements will receive that money.

Using Perlman’s example, the Big Ten (with 14 members) will have $4.2 million to distribute to its member schools that meet the APR numbers. If all 14 meet the APR standard, they each would receive $300,000 each. However, if only 12 of 14 met the standard, those dozen schools would receive $350,000 and the two schools that didn’t meet the standard would not receive any of the academic money.

All of the financial figures are annual average projections, based on gross value, and could fluctuate each year depending on the annual revenue.

December 11th

Colorado leads Pac-12 … in declining attendance

From ESPN … Here’s how the Pac-12 schools shaped up, followed by the average attendance and the percentage movement from 2011.

  1. USC, 87,945, +18%
  2. UCLA, 68,481, +21%
  3. Washington, 58,617,-6%
  4. Oregon, 57,490 -3%
  5. Arizona State, 56,835, -4%
  6. California, 55,876, +48% (off-campus in 2011)
  7. Arizona, 47,931, -2%
  8. Colorado, 45,373, -10%
  9. Utah, 45,347, (minor increase)
  10. Oregon State, 43,424, +2%
  11. Stanford, 43,343, -13%
  12. Washington State, 30,252, +5%

Oregon State suspends three “indefinitely”

Oregon St. head coach Mike Riley said after practice today that the 3 Beaver football players involved in a brawl early Saturday morning at the Impulse Bar and Grill in Corvallis have been suspended “indefinitely”.

The three players, Rudolf Fifita, 26, a senior defensive end from Euless, Tesas, Mana Rosa, 21, a junior defensive tackle from Haiku, Hawaii, and Dyllon Kalana Mafi, 20, from Oakland, California, were all arrested and booked into local jails on felony charges of third degree assault and disorderly conduct, and. Mafi also was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol and “misrepresenting age by a minor,” for using someone else’s ID to buy alcohol at the Impulse.

All three players were arraigned Tuesday afternoon, and released, after spending the weekend in jail. Charges were reduced from 3rd degree felony assault to 4th degree assault, a misdemeanor, and the next court date was set for Jan. 10. Mafi is also [still] charged with using a fake id to obtain entry and alcohol. The players did not enter pleas today.

Additional information released today included an affidavit filed in connection with the charges that identified the other parties. The affidavit states that the players got into an argument with Cody Goller and Cory Hull. The dispute escalated, and the three players allegedly struck the two men with their fists in the bar’s restroom. In the report, Officer Michael Withington noted that both victims had visible facial injuries.

Riley was out of town on a recruiting trip over the weekend, and said he had not had a chance to talk to the three players involved. He said the suspensions had a good chance of being for a “long time”, but Riley is still gathering information on the matter.

December 10th

Three Oregon State players arrested for assault

From the Oregonian … Senior defensive end Rudolph Fifita, junior defensive tackle Mana Rosa and junior linebacker Dyllon Mafi were all arrested early Saturday.

Fifita, 26, was arrested on accusations of third-degree assault and second degree disorderly conduct. He is being held in Linn County Jail on $157,500 bail. Rosa, 21, was arrested on accusations of third-degree assault and second degree disorderly conduct. He is being held in Benton County Jail on $157,500 bail. Mafi, 20, was arrested on accusations of third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and misrepresentation of age by a minor. He is also being held in Benton County on $161,000 bail.

Lt. Cord Wood of the Corvallis Police Department told The Oregonian that the incident took place at approximately 2:20 a.m. According to the police report, Fifita and Victim 1 (Wood declined to name the victim) got into a verbal argument outside the restroom at Impulse Bar and Grill that resulted in Fifita punching Victim 1 in the face. After that, “Mr. Mafi and Mr. Rosa got involved.” A friend of Victim 1 then came to Victim 1’s defense, and “tried to shield his friend, and he also wound up getting punched in the head and upper shoulders.”

Wood said Fifita, Rosa and Mafi “fled and were located near the bar, where they were arrested” by Officer Mike Withington, who was off duty Saturday afternoon and not available for comment.

If all three players remain in custody through the weekend they will be arraigned Monday at 1:20 p.m. Wood said Benton County Jail is small, which why players are being held in separate places.

Fifita, from Euless, Texas, has been a regular in the OSU rotation, recording 25 tackles this season, 5.5 of them for loss. Rosa, from Haiku, Hawaii, has played in all 12 games, recording four tackles. Mafi, from Oakland, has played in two games and recorded three tackles.

Oregon State coach Mike Riley is out of town recruiting and not available for comment.

December 7th

Oregon’s Chip Kelly “prettiest girl in school” for NFL

From NFL.com … NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi broke down the expected coaching changes in Philadelphia and San Diego on “NFL GameDay Morning.” One name was at the top of both lists: Chip Kelly.

“He’s the prettiest girl in the school,” Lombardi said Sunday. “Everyone is going after Chip Kelly because of what he brings uniquely offensively.”

NFL teams with a vacancy are expected to make a heavy push for the University of Oregon coach. Many believe this is the year Kelly will jump to the NFL.

If the Eagles fire Andy Reid and can’t get Kelly, Lombardi said Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski could be a sleeper selection in Philadelphia.

“It’ll be an offensive coach,” Lombardi said.

December 6th

Sonny Dykes: Cal the job “I was interested in from Day One”

From ESPN … At the urging of athletic director Sandy Barbour, Sonny Dykes pulled out a white California cap from underneath the podium and popped it on his head to accent his blue-and-gold tie and dark suit, drawing cheers from department staff who filled the Memorial Stadium room.

On his first day as Cal’s coach, Dykes definitely looked the part. The Golden Bears just hope he can garner the same reaction on game days.

Cal formally introduced Dykes as its football coach Thursday, replacing the fired Jeff Tedford after three years at Louisiana Tech. Dykes takes over a proud program with a refurbished stadium and training facilities, but also one that has failed to make a bowl in two of the past three seasons and has the lowest graduation rate (48 percent) in the Pac-12 Conference.

“We will turn it around,” Dykes said. “It’s going to be a long, arduous process. How many years is it going to take? I don’t know. Is it going to be next year? I don’t know. What’s the future hold? I can’t answer that question. But I do know that’s what’s going to drive us every day. Every single day we get in our car and come to work, our goal is going to be to get to the Rose Bowl.”

The decision to hire Dykes was easily the biggest one Barbour has made in her eight-year tenure.

Barbour said she interviewed between six and 12 candidates. She said the school and Dykes have agreed to a “term sheet,” but she will not release the contract details until it’s officially signed by all parties, which Barbour expects to happen in the coming days.

Dykes also had been vetted by a search committee, and vice chancellor John Wilton said Dykes was the school’s “first choice.” Barbour and Wilton met with Dykes in New York on Monday in the final stage of the interview process.

“When he walked out of the room I said to myself, ‘I think that’s the guy,’ ” Barbour said.

More than anything, Barbour and the search committee cited Dykes’ discipline and offensive ingenuity — which has sorely lacked in Berkeley in recent seasons.

The 43-year-old Dykes had a 22-15 record with the Bulldogs, improving their victory total each year. The Bulldogs averaged 35.9 points and 452.5 yards per game in his tenure.

He takes over a Cal team that went 3-9 this past season and went 34-37 in Tedford’s final 5½ years, leading to his dismissal. Dykes inherits a roster that has some talent, most notably heralded quarterback recruit Zach Kline, who did not play as a freshman but is in line to win the starting job next season.

The new coach also will benefit from a facilities upgrade that Tedford helped engineer. Cal opened its remodeled $321 million stadium this past season that is adjacent to a $150 million on-campus High Performance Center.

“There were a lot of good jobs that were open this year,” said Dykes, adding that he interviewed for a “couple” others but declined to name specific vacancies. “This was the one I was interested in from day one.”

Pac-12 has six named to first team Walter Camp All-American team

The Pac-12 was well-represented on the Walter Camp Foundation’s 2012 All-America team, released Thursday.

USC sophomore receiver Marqise Lee, Stanford senior tight end Zach Ertz and a pair of running backs, Oregon senior Kenjon Barner and Arizona sophomore Ka’Deem Carey, were named to the first-team offense.

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer, both seniors, earned spots on the first-team defense.

The conference got two players on the second teams, one on each side of the ball: UCLA senior running back Johnathan Franklin and Arizona State junior defensive tackle Will Sutton.

For the complete Walter Camp list, click here.

December 5th

Cal to hire Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes

From the San Jose Mercury News… Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes, whose team led the nation in scoring this season, is being widely reported as Cal’s new football coach.

FootballScoop.com was the first to report the news Wednesday. Sources said Louisiana Tech held a players meeting on Wednesday evening.

According to a source, Cal players had not met Wednesday, though Cal defensive back Avery Sebastian tweeted: “Sonny dykes ok let’s ride.” Dykes, 43, operates a wide-open passing attack that produced 51.5 points per game and was second nationally with 577.9 total yards.

The Bulldogs were 9-3 this season, but they were left out of a bowl game after briefly stalling after an offer from the Independence Bowl.

Dykes has a three-year record of 22-15 at the Ruston, La., school. He was earning $760,000 per year with Louisiana Tech, barely one-third of what Cal paid Jeff Tedford, who was fired on Nov. 20 after 11 seasons.

Dykes is the son of longtime Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes. His resume includes a stint as offensive coordinator at Pac-12 rival Arizona.

Jon Wilner’s take on the hire

If the reports are accurate, the hire would conclude a search for Jeff Tedford’s replacement that took just over two weeks.

Quickie thoughts:

* This is the make or break hire for athletic director Sandy Barbour, obviously — the biggest hire of her career by an order of magnitude.

* Dykes preaches the spread passing game and masterminded LaTech’s scoreboard busting offense this season.

That will surely please Cal fans who have been frustrated with the erratic attack of the mid/late Tedford years.

(It will please touted freshman quarterback Zach Kline, too.)

Dykes’ style might also sell tickets  – and as well all know, Cal has a lot of high-priced tickets available … and $321 million in debt to service.

* Very curious about Dykes’ plans for his defensive coordinator. LaTech didn’t play a lick of D this season.

* Why did Barbour conclude that Dykes was a better fit for Cal than San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre?

At the press conference to announce Tedford’s dismissal, Barbour was asked to name the qualities she wanted in the next coach.

She said she wanted a builder and she said she wanted someone with a strong academic commitment (understandable given the atrocious Graduation Success rate under Tedford).

MacIntyre has a stronger academic component to his resume (Vanderbilt, GaTech, Duke, SJSU’s soaring APR), and he  just beat Dykes head to head with a program not as far along in development as LaTech’s.

SJSU went from 1-12 to 10-2 in three seasons under MacIntyre.

Dykes took over a program that didn’t need nearly as much building: LaTech won eight games two years before he took over.

* The biggest question of all: How much money does Cal have available for assistant coaches?

If the Bears want to become an elite program again, the salary pool cannot remain as is — nor can it increase incrementally. There must be a significant jump.

(Washington’s assistant coaches earned a combined $2.3 million in 2011, according to USA Today, and we know that figure went up in ’12 with the addition of Justin Wilcox, Tosh Lupoi, etc.

(Cal’s staff made $1.6 in ’11 — in a more expensive place to live.)

This is a big, big, BIG moment for Cal football and Cal athletics in general.

Oregon and Stanford are rolling, Washington is throwing money at its football program like there’s no next hour, Oregon State will be formidable as long as Mike Riley’s there — and those are just the obstacles in the North.

The new facilities did not solve Cal’s resource problem. They simply allowed the Bears to pull even with their peers in that facet of the -so-called arms race.

If the school (and its deep-pocketed constituents) don’t level the field when it comes to staff salaries, the Bears won’t pull even with the Ducks, Cardinal and Huskies.

Forget about Dykes’ contract. That’s basically immaterial at this point.

What’s available for his staff?

Mike MacIntyre no longer in the running for the head coaching job at Cal

From the San Jose Mercury News … San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre is no longer a candidate for the Cal vacancy, according to a source.

MacIntyre interviewed with the Bears late last week.

“It was mutual” the source said of Cal and MacIntyre parting ways.

Cal is reportedly pursuing Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes (and perhaps others) to replace Jeff Tedford, who was dismissed Nov. 20th.

MacIntyre is preparing SJSU for its first bowl appearance in six years. The Spartans will face Bowling Green in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27th.

December 4th

Other schools finding new head coaches

The coaching merry-go-round hit warp speed on Tuesday. A recap of what we know right now about head coaching vacancies …

Arkansas – Out: John L. Smith … In: Brett Bielema, Wisconsin head coach

Auburn – Out: Gene Chizik … In: Gus Malzahn; Arkansas State head coach

Wisconsin – Out: Brett Bielema … In: __________________

California – Out: Jeff Tedford … In: Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech head coach

Tennessee – Out: Derek Dooley … In: ___________________

Colorado – Out: Jon Embree … In: _____________________

Purdue – Out: Danny Hope … In: Darrell Hazell; Kent State head coach

North Carolina State – Out: Tom O’Brien … In: Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois head coach

Kentucky – Out: Joker Phillips … In: Mark Stoops

South Florida – Out: Skip Holtz … In: __________________

Boston College – Out: Frank Spaziani … In: Steve Addazio, Temple head coach

Others …

Temple – Out: Steve Addazio … In: ___________________

Kent State – Out: Darrell Hazell … In: _________________

Northern Illinois – Out: Dave Doeren … In: Rod Carey, UNI assistant coach

Louisiana Tech – Out: Sonny Dykes … In: __________________

Arkansas State – Out: Gus Malzahn … In: ___________________

Idaho – Out: Robb Akey … In: Paul Petrino

Southern Mississippi – Out: Ellis Johnson … In: ________________

UTEP – Out: Mike Price … In: ____________________

Western Michigan – Out: Bill Cubit … In: _________________

Florida International – Out: Mario Cristobal … In: __________________

——-

December 3rd

No Heisman finalist for Pac-12

Only three players have been invited to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York for the presentation of the 2012 Heisman trophy – and none are from the Pac-12.

The Heisman this year will be won by quarterback Collin Klein of Kansas State, quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, or Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

The Pac-12 was thought to have the preseason favorite for the trophy, USC quarteback Matt Barkley, but the Trojans stumbled to a 7-5 record. Other Pac-12 hopefuls included Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin and Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey.

The Heisman trophy will be presented Saturday night.

Don’t forget about Cal

While the Buff Nation is abuzz about a potential new coach, it must be remembered that Pac-12 rival Cal is also looking for a new head coach … and had a week’s head start.

And the Bears might have a favorite …

From the Oakland Tribune … Louisiana Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde told The Associated Press on Sunday that he was waiting to hear if his football coach, Sonny Dykes, would be hired by Cal.

Cal was said to be interviewing Kent State coach Darrell Hazell, but Dykes is believed to be the leading candidate to replace Jeff Tedford, fired Nov. 20 after 11 seasons. Van De Velde told the AP that Dykes had interviewed for the Cal job.

After Louisiana Tech was left out of the bowl picture, former NBA star Karl Malone — a Louisiana Tech alum — sounded as if he might help Dykes pack his bags.

Louisiana Tech turned down an invitation to the Independence Bowl, Malone blasted the school and seemed to take a shot at the Bulldogs’ coach.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to hire a person doing it for university, and not somebody doing it for a bigger and better job in their mind?” he wrote on Twitter.

Van De Velde later said Louisiana Tech had not turned down the Independence Bowl but merely asked for more time while waiting for other potential options.

Ohio will play Louisiana-Monroe in the Dec. 28 game at Shreveport, La.

Dykes, 43, whose team was 9-3 and led the nation in scoring this season, said in a statement he didn’t anticipate the Bulldogs being shut out of a bowl but offered no comment on his status with Cal.

Neither Dykes’ wife nor his father responded to phone messages left Sunday by this newspaper.

Hazell, 48, who guided the Golden Flashes to their first winning season in 11 years, was the latest name to surface in the Bears’ search. ESPN reported that Hazell was scheduled to interview Sunday.

Kent State is 11-2 and ranked in the AP Top 25 the past three weeks for the first time since 1973.

December  2nd

Bowl selections set

It’s been five years since Colorado qualified to play in a bowl game, with Buff fans sitting around after the final games waiting to find out what bowl game (the Independence) CU would be playing in. It seems so long ago … sigh.

But time marches on. The BCS national championship game is not a surprise, with Notre Dame squaring off against Alabama.

After that … chaos.

No. 16 Northern Illinois, without its head coach (Dave Doeren, who was introduced as the new head coach at North Carolina State today) will play No. 13 Florida State in the Orange Bowl. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreet: “You’re going to leave Oklahoma out (of BCS game) for Northern Illinois? Are you kidding me?! It’s an absolute joke.”

Another not-so-great team, No. 22 Louisville, the champion of the Big East, will play No. 4 Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

One known game before Sunday night was the Rose Bowl, pitting Pac-12 champion and 8th-ranked Stanford against Big Ten champion – and unranked – Wisconsin.

A second Pac-12 school, Oregon, will be heading to Tempe to face Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. The No. 5 Ducks will take on the No. 7 Wildcats, one of the top non-title games on the bowl slate … as none of the other BCS bowls feature two top ten teams.

Other bowl games involving Pac-12 schools …

New Mexico Bowl (December 15th, Albuquerque) … Nevada (7-5)  v. Arizona (7-5)

Las Vegas Bowl (December 22nd, Las Vegas) … No. 20 Boise State (10-2) v. Washington (7-5)

Holiday Bowl (December 27th, San Diego) … Baylor (7-5) v. No. 17 UCLA (9-4)

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (December 29th, San Francisco) … Navy (7-4) v. Arizona State (7-5)

Alamo Bowl (December 29th, San Antonio) … Texas (8-4) v. No. 15 Oregon State (9-3)

Sun Bowl (December 31st, El Paso) … Georgia Tech (6-7) v. USC (7-5)

So, that leaves the Pac-12 with three games against the Big 12, two against the Mountain West Conference, with one each against the Big Ten, the ACC, and independent Navy.

Fresno State, the Buffs’ third opponent in 2013 (after CSU and Central Arkansas from the FCS), will be playing SMU in the Hawai’i Bowl on Christmas Eve. The Bulldogs finished their regular season 9-3, while the Mustangs, lately of Conference USA, finished their regular season with a 6-6 record.

Cal interviewing Kent State head coach

Colorado will not be in the running for one successful Mid-American Conference coach, as Dave Doeren, head coach at Northern Illinois, has been hired by North Carolina State.

Cal, however – the only other Pac-12 school hunting for a new head coach – may turn to the MAC for its future head coach.

It is being reported that Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell will be meeting with Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour today (Sunday).

There are also published reports that Cal is interested in Louisiana Tech’s head coach, Sonny Dykes.

So stay tuned …

December 1st

Central Arkansas knocked out of FCS playoffs

Four of the Buffs’ 2013 opponents are now done with their seasons.

Colorado State (4-8), Cal (3-9) and Utah (5-7) have concluded their 2012 campaigns. The other eight FBS opponents for next season – Fresno State in non-conference play (9-3, co-champions of the Mountain West Conference), and the other seven Pac-12 opponents – all have bowl games for which they can still prepare.

The 12th opponent next fall is Central Arkansas from the Southland Conference. The Bears finished the regular season with a 9-2 record, tied for the conference title (at 6-1) with Sam Houston State. The only regular season losses for Central Arkansas were to Mississippi from the SEC (49-27) and to Stephen F. Austin (42-37), with both games on the road.

Central Arkansas drew Georgia Southern in the second round of the FCS playoffs (both teams drew first round byes), with the Georgia Southern Eagles prevailing, 24-16.

Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?

Lache Seastrunk rushed for 178 yards, including diving in to complete a 76-yard touchdown run after cramping up, and Florence passed for 296 yards to lead Baylor past No. 24 Oklahoma State 41-34.

Oklahoma State had cut Baylor’s lead to 34-27 when Seastrunk broke free up the middle on a play that looked similar to his 80-yard touchdown that sealed an upset win over Kansas State on Nov. 17.

Seastrunk raced past three Cowboys defenders before he began to pull up about 25 yards short of the end zone. After stumbling just past the goal line, Seastrunk remained on the ground for a couple of minutes before limping off the field.

Bears coach Art Briles said Seastrunk experienced leg cramps on his last carry of the game.

“We’ve been harping on him about finishing,” Florence said. “For someone to cramp and pull up like that, that’s inspiring. He’s an outstanding player.”

… Does Seastrunk’s name sound familiar?

It should.

Seastrunk is the back who was brought to Oregon as the No. 1 running back in the Recruiting Class of 2010.

The NCAA is investigating services provided to Oregon by so-called street agent Willie Lyles of Complete Scouting Services in Houston. At issue is whether Lyles helped steer Seastrunk to the Ducks.

The possibility of recruiting violations first surfaced in February, 2011, when Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com reported that Oregon had paid $28,000 to two recruiting services, which are commonly used and typically provide biographical information and video about high school and junior college players.

The amount the school paid to Lyles raised eyebrows, given his apparent mentoring relationship with Seastrunk. Oregon issued a $25,000 check to Lyles’ agency in March 2010, shortly after Seastrunk signed a letter of intent to play for the Ducks.

It would be an NCAA violation if Oregon paid Lyles to use his influence to steer a recruit to Oregon.

The final results from the investigation, including penalties for Oregon … remain pending.

 

12 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes – December”

  1. Stuart,

    I love, love your website and content. But please, please, please, stop with your infatuation with CSU. We all know they are our Little Brother and don’t consider them a ‘real rival’ because, right or not, most of us feel above/better than them. That said, the more CSU is brought up and discussed (especially by someone with a bigger audience like yourself), the more they are in our conversations, actually become bigger ‘rivals’, and, heaven for bid, more relevant! Your story about the MWC and Big East would have been just fine without any mention of the Lambs. Thank you, I feel better now. Keep up the great work (but without mentioning the Lambs except for the 2 times a year CU plays them)…

    1. Thanks, Mike, for the kind words … as well as the admonition.

      I don’t like “little brother” anymore than any other Buff fan, but as long as we are stuck with them on the schedule (at least until the end of the decade), news about the Rams will be news for Buff fans – be it their roster, conference alignment, schedule, or facilities improvements.

      It’s the same for other non-conference opponents. This past year, I kept an eye on Sacramento State, but will ignore them in favor of Central Arkansas this year. Once the Rammies are off the schedule, I will take great pleasure in ignoring them.

      1. Hey Stuart,

        I still don’t let cars with CSU stickers or license plates get in front of me on I-25, so maybe I’m the one with the problem and took it out on you… Sorry. Keep up the great work and write about whatever you feel is relevant – I always enjoy it. Once Coach Mac gets things going, Tad keeps things going, and CSU’s stadium falls flat on its face, I think my little ‘issue’ will take care of itself. GO BUFFS!

  2. Stuart, on the unanimous All-Americans, I think you may have ommited Barry Helton during his sophomore or junior seasons or perhaps both. (?) I know for sure he was consensus those years.

    1. Helton was a consensus All-American in both 1985 and 1986 (the first for CU since running back Cullen Bryant in 1972), but he was not a unanimous All-American.

      1. Seeing the mention of Barry Helton made me think of the Buffs v. Oklahoma State game in the ’85 season. If memory serves correctly Oklahoma State’s defense that season was led by Leslie O’Neal? Anyway….

        At some point in the game (I cannot remember when) the Buffs had to punt from deep in our own end (at what used to be the open end of Folsom so “right to left” from our vantage point in the student section). The ball was snapped very high. Helton leaped as high as he could and managed to get a fingertip or two on the ball – not enough to grab it but enough to keep it from sailing into the end zone.

        On Folsom’s then-artificial turf the ball took a fairly true hop and he was able to grab it. He stood still for just a moment as a couple of OK State guys closed on him. He then faked to his right (he was right-footed) and then started moving to his left. While still moving – and using his left foot – he boomed a punt down field that – including the roll – went at least 50-55 yards.

        Incredible play. We all cheered our lungs out for him.

        1. Good memory, Adam,
          You are right on the date and the game.
          The 1985 CU/Oklahoma State game has been posted as the CU Archive Game of the Week. Thanks for the memory!

  3. I cannot wait until the CBS/ESPN/SEC scandal is uncovered. Do these people think we are stupid? The SEC has won six BCS titles in a row because of the alliance with their television producers. Now they are demanding a larger share of the revenue generated by the playoff system. The whole thing is rigged. Larry Scott might have won independence from a deal that would have given them a share of the PAC 12’s media rights but in the end all it did was guarantee that the PAC 12 will not share the loot with the cheater SEC schools. This is not sour grapes, it is a fact. The murder of Bama’s number one booster who was involved in a recruiting scandal in 06 and the joke of Auburn’s, Cam Newton’s pay for play, are just two of hundreds of examples. The NCAA can be bought off just as easily as the bowl officials and refs. What a joke!

  4. Holtz, Dooley, Stoops???? and probably a couple more sonny boys being fired on that list I don’t recognize
    Saban, of course, is the exception to the rule, but this family thing hardly ever works out otherwise

  5. Hawkins at UC Davis
    how hard was that to predict??
    I hope for his sake he finds a real good offensive coordinator….and that Drew’s eligibility is up

  6. A computer cant watch a game because if it could there would be no doubt Oregon would be far and away number one. I have watched 4 of the Duck games and after each subsequent game I am still slack jawed at that offense. When they amassed 730 yards against USC (who was ranked No. 1 at the beginning of the year) they proved they don’t even need a defense to win.
    Too bad Alabama received their smack down in a relatively mild manner…cause now that their D has been proven not to be airtight they would be just another on of the Duck’s dizzy and humiliated victims in an NC game.

  7. Eric Crouch used to do a sports analysis here on a local station (it was disgusting!!!) For all of you watching the game, use your mute button, I know I will. GO BUFFS!!

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