April 30th

Utah State and San Jose State take a half step up

The Southwest Conference … The Big Eight … The Pac-10 …

The Western Athletic Conference?

The WAC has been around since 1962, and started with members including Arizona and Arizona State. Now, while enjoying its 50th year in existence, the WAC may be fading away.

Present members Utah State and San Jose State are set to bolt the WAC for the Mountain West Conference, starting in 2013. This leaves the Western Athletic Conference with only a handful of teams playing football. The remaining existing members which will carry through are Idaho, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, to be joined this fall by Texas State and the University of Texas – San Antonio (Denver, Seattle, and UT Arlington are also joining the WAC, but do not field football programs). Texas – San Antonio has already stated its intention to defect to Conference USA in 2013, while Louisiana Tech, for its part, may well do the same.

Farewell, Western Athletic Conference? We’ll see …

So where does this leave the Mountain West?

Come 2013, the league will be made up of the following: Air Force; Colorado State; Wyoming; New Mexico; UNLV; Nevada; Hawai’i (football only); Fresno State; Utah State; and San Jose State.

Not exactly a murderer’s row.

With the coming elmination of the “Automatic Qualifier” vs. “Non-Automatic Qualifier” restriction for entry into the new BCS playoffs (or whatever it is eventually called), the path to an undefeated season for Colorado State – and other MWC members – may be eased.

Which will, in fact, make it all the more difficult to get there.

Even with the discussed merger between the Mountain West and Conference USA, it will be difficult for any Mountain West team to put together a resume good enough to qualify for a national championship semi-final. Teams will have to put together a strong non-conference resume to garner any national respect.

Think Colorado State is thinking along those lines?

Think again.

Other than Colorado and a home-and-home seriese with Minnesota planned for 2015 & 2016, the Rams do not have a single BCS conference team on their schedule for the remainder of the decade. Colorado State has planned games against the likes of North Dakota State, Cal Poly, and UTEP … not exactly the same as Boise State taking on Georgia to bolster its resume. (The Rams do play both Utah State and San Jose State in 2012 in non-conference play – a taste of things to come).

So, for the foreseeable future, Colorado State has no plans to compete for a national championship, or even a national ranking.

Their biggest game of the season will continue to be their Super Bowl … the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

April 28th

Pac-12 has 28 players taken in 2012 NFL draft

Quick quiz: Which Pac-12 team had the most players taken in the 2012 NFL draft?

USC? Nope.

Oregon? Nah.

Stanford? Nyet.

Try the Cal Bears, who had six players drafted this spring, including two second-rounders, offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz and linebacker Mychael Kendricks. The 2012 draft actually netted a top 60 pick from Cal for the sixth straight year. Translation: Jeff Tedford can recruit and develop talent – he just can’t win the Pac-12.

Notes from around the Pac-12 … Oregon and Stanford each had four players drafted, with all four of the Cardinal players who were taken going off the board in the first two rounds (and the first 42 picks overall) … USC had three players taken in the draft, but so did bottom-feeder Arizona (including quarterback Nick Foles, the first Wildcat starting quarterback drafted since 1961) … Joining Colorado with two draft picks were Washington and Arizona State. With the Huskies and the Sun Devils, the news was about the players who were not drafted. For Washington, it was running back Chris Polk (injury-prone), while for Arizona State it was all about linebacker Vontaze Binfet (attitude) … Coming in with one draft pick each was Utah and Oregon State, while Washington State and UCLA were shut out of the 2012 draft. While it would be easy to mock the Rick Neuheisel-recruited Bruins, the bad news for the Buff Nation is that CU head coach Jon Embree’s son, wide receiver Taylor Embree, went undrafted.

Overall, the Pac-12 had a down year compared to the other Big Six Conferences. Not surprisingly, the SEC, winner of the last six BCS championships, led the way, with 42 picks. The Big Ten was not far behind, though, with 41. Coming in third was the ACC with 31, followed by the Pac-12. Trailing the Pac-12 was the Big 12, with 26, and the Big East, with only 12 draft picks.

Pac-12 free-agent signings of note …

Quarterback Tyler Hansen – Cincinnati Bengals

Running back Rodney Stewart – Cincinnati Bengals

Defensive lineman Conrad Obi – Arizona Cardinals

Others …

Former CU running back Darrell Scott – Dallas Cowboys

UCLA wide receiver Tyler Embree – San Diego Chargers

Infamous Oregon speedster Cliff Harris – Philadelphia Eagles

Washington running back Chris Polk – Philadelphia Eagles

Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict – Cincinnati Bengals

April 27th

More two-star collegiate recruits taken in the first round than five-star recruits

(Many thanks to Ron Ward over at BuffStampede.com for compiling these statistics)

Recruiting is still an art, not a science …

Common sense would suggest that the first round of the NFL draft would be heavily-laden with stars from BCS conference schools.

True enough – only three of the 32 players selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft came from outside of the power conferences (with two of those coming from Boise State, which is joining the Big East).

Common sense would also suggest that the first round of the NFL draft would be heavily-laden with former five-star high school recruits.

Not so much.

Only four of the 32 players selected were former five-star recruits. In fact, there were more former two-star recruits (five) taken, then there were former blue-chips.

The breakdown: Five-stars – 4; Four stars – 13; Three stars – 9; Two stars – 5; unrated – 1.

Granted, there are always far fewer five star players rated each season, and the percentage of former five-star prospects taken in the first round (3.67%) is significantly higher than those chosen from the pool of four-star prospects (1.19%) or three-stars (0.31%).

Still, it is worthy of note that the door to NFL riches is not closed on those players who are not considered “can’t miss” prospects out of high school.

Quite the contrary.

Other stats of note … Four Pac-12 players were chosen in the first round, two each from Stanford (which had expected as many as four first round draft picks) and two from USC … The vast majority of first round picks (25 of 32, or 78%) went to college 500 miles or less from where they went to high school … 19 of the 32 players chosen were underclassmen.

April 26th

Some progress made at BCS meetings

According to the Associated Press … Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and other college football officials Thursday agreed to eliminate eight-team and 16-team playoff proposals to determine the sport’s future national champions, but settled on very little else during weeklong meetings at a beachside resort here.

After meetings Thursday, BCS spokesman Bill Hancock said the sport’s 11 FBS conference commissioners would take “two to seven” playoff proposals — each involving four teams — back to their respective university presidents, athletic directors and coaches to discuss for the next five to seven weeks.

BCS officials and conference commissioners are scheduled to meet in Chicago again in June.

“Having carefully reviewed calendars and schedules, we believe that either an eight-team or a 16-team playoff would diminish the regular season and harm the bowls,” the BCS said in a statement. “College football’s regular season is too important to diminish and we do not believe it’s in the best interest of student-athletes, fans, or alumni to harm the regular season.

“Accordingly, as we proceed to review our options for improving the postseason, we have taken off the table both an eight-team and 16-team playoff.”

Hancock said another proposal eliminated was the idea of having three semifinal games if the champions of the Big Ten or Pac-12 were among the four teams competing in the playoffs.

Under that proposal — which never seemed to carry much weight with many commissioners — the Big Ten and/or Pac-12 team would have played in the Rose Bowl — with four other teams competing in the national semifinals — and then two winning teams would have been selected to play in a championship game.

Another development was the agreement by FBS commissioners and other officials to eliminate the practice of designating conferences as “AQ” and “non-AQ” leagues.

Under current BCS rules, champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC automatically receive a spot in one of the five BCS bowl games — Fiesta, Orange, Rose, Sugar and the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. Champions of Conference USA and the Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Western Athletic conferences have to meet other criteria to qualify for a BCS bowl game.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott likes “Champions only” model

What four-team model will win out?

It’s either going to be the highest four ranked teams or conference champions only. If it’s the conference-only model, there obviously would have to be a way Notre Dame could qualify.

The most likely “champion-only” model would be with the three highest ranked conference champions qualifying and the fourth spot going to the next highest-ranked conference champion, the highest ranked non-champion or Notre Dame (or independents BYU, Navy and Army) — whichever team is ranked highest.

Some commissioners, including Larry Scott of the Pac-12, favor this model because it emphasizes the importance of winning a conference championship and pits conference champions against each other.

Some commissioners, including Mike Slive of the SEC, favor the top four ranked teams because in theory it advances the four best teams to the playoff. You could be one of the nation’s top four teams without winning your conference (see Alabama 2011).

A commissioner, whose league would benefit from the champion-only model, admitted having the top four teams simplifies things. He said how do you explain a four-team playoff between the nation’s Nos. 1-, 3-, 5- and 10-ranked teams (which is exactly what would have happened if this format was in place 2011 with No. 1 LSU (SEC), No. 3 Oklahoma State (Big 12), No. 5 Oregon (Pac-12) and No. 10 Wisconsin (Big Ten).

“I like the simplicity of 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3,” he said.

Still much to be discussed and debated … with no decision expected until June, and no implimentation until 2014 …

April 25th

Big Ten commissioner: “there’s going to be a change”

As the BCS conference commissioners continue to meet in Florida this week (see April 24th story, below), Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany commented Wednesday that the talks are continuing to make progress.

According to the AP … Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany says BCS officials are narrowing the field of possible changes to college football’s postseason and the Rose Bowl is not standing in the way of progress.

Among the options being discussed Wednesday is a four-team playoff that could be held separate from the bowls.

Delany says there is “pretty high expectation that there’s going to be change.”

He also says he wants the group to proceed with caution.

He says: “I just want to make sure that the changes that we make are evolutionary. That they support the regular season. That … from a Rose Bowl perspective, that they sustain that tradition.”

According to ESPN, there is a model which is gathering the most support …

The model: The leader in the clubhouse seems to be the same model proposed by in 2008: a four-team, plus-one system. The top four teams in the final BCS standings would play in two semifinals: No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3. The winners would play in a championship game a week or two later. What isn’t clear is whether the semifinals and championship game would be played at the site of existing BCS bowl games or other neutral sites.

For now, at least, there doesn’t seem to be much support for any playoff models that involve more than four teams. And simply adding a national championship game after the BCS bowl games are played — and picking the best two teams to play in it — doesn’t seem to have much traction, either.

“There’s a chance they could only tweak the current system and only deal with No. 1 vs. No. 2,” a source familiar with the discussions said. “But I think they’re too far out on a limb to turn back now. I don’t think that would be considered good enough.”

The sites: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany proposed playing the semifinals at the home stadiums of the higher-seeded teams, with the championship game being played at a neutral site. Big Ten fans have long complained about their schools having to play postseason games in warmer climates like Arizona, Louisiana and Florida, which might favor their opponents from the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC.

 “It would be fun getting one of those Southern schools up here in our weather in December,” Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said. “That would make it pretty interesting. I don’t know if that would fly, but I’d love to see that. We’ve been playing away from home all these years. You go to the Orange Bowl a lot of times — I can remember Nebraska, they’re going to the Fiesta Bowl one year and playing Arizona State, going down and playing Miami in the Orange Bowl, Florida in Florida. So the northern schools are always playing on the road in those games. So that would be a nice change, an interesting change. I don’t know if the Southern schools would be in favor of it.”

Michigan coach Brady Hoke, whose Wolverines defeated Virginia Tech 23-20 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans last season, said it’s only fair that some of the games are played in the Midwest.

“This isn’t golf,” Hoke said. “This is football. Football is played in all kinds of environments and climates.”

But a source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN.com that conference commissioners have all but ruled out playing the semifinal games at the higher-seeded teams’ home stadiums because some of the FBS teams’ stadiums aren’t big enough to accommodate larger crowds. An inadequate number of hotel rooms and lack of infrastructure in some college towns are also concerns.

“As romantic as it would be to have the semifinal games played on campus, and it would certainly fit into what college football is about, it’s just too much to overcome logistically,” the source said.

Commissioners of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivisions conferences are still considering a proposal that would use a selection committee to choose the teams for a potential four-team playoff, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and SEC commissioner Michael Slive said after BCS meetings on Wednesday.

Using a committee similar to the one used to select the 68-team field for the NCAA men’s basketball committee is just one of the proposals being discussed

The Rose Bowl Game: A person familiar with the BCS discussions described the Rose Bowl as the “elephant that’s always in the room.” The Rose Bowl wants to keep its traditional tie-ins with the Big Ten and Pac-12. Delany wants Big Ten teams to keep playing in Pasadena, Calif., and Scott wants the same tradition to continue for Pac-12 schools.

Delany’s proposal to have a third semifinal at the Rose Bowl — if a Big Ten or Pac-12 team was among the top four teams in the final BCS standings — didn’t get much thought from other FBS conference commissioners. If the Rose Bowl wants to keep a matchup between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, it might be left out of the rotation for hosting national semifinals games, if that’s where commissioners decide the semifinals are going to be played. The Rose Bowl would still be eligible to bid for hosting the national championship game, though.

“I know [the Rose Bowl] is very important for our commissioner,” Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez said. “I think it’s important to the other directors to keep that relationship. I heard Jim Delany say this the other day: ‘The Rose Bowl is probably one of the top 10 sports properties in the world.’ And we’ve had the long history and tradition with it, and I don’t think we want to lose that. Kids coming up now, they want to play in the national championship game, but kids in the Midwest still want to play in the Rose Bowl. It still takes my breath away. When you take that field and the sun’s setting over the San Gabriel Mountains and the field is so pretty — and I’ve coached and been a director in seven of them — and I get the same feeling every time I walk in there.”

April 24th

FBS Commissioners meet on playoff options

Commissioners of the 11 FBS conferences, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and other network TV and college football officials are meeting in Hollywood, Fla., this week to discuss the future of the BCS.

The source told ESPN that he believed the commissioners “are too far out on a limb to turn back now,” but said there were still many details yet to be finalized. A final decision on the BCS isn’t expected this week, but the commissioners and other officials are expected to begin hammering out many of the details of a four-team playoff.

“I don’t know how they could walk back at this point, but they might,” the source said. “I think because they’re dealing in a world of compromise, I think there’s a chance they could only tweak the current system and only deal with No. 1 versus No. 2. But I think they’re too far out on a limb to turn back now.”

The BCS hopes to emerge from these meetings in Florida with no more than two or three football postseason proposals to be brought to conference leaders soon, BCS executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN’s Joe Schad Tuesday.

“They know this game is in the fourth quarter,” Hancock said. “And it’s time to get it done.”

A proposal to play the semifinal games at the home stadiums of the higher-seeded teams is all but dead, according to the source. The semifinal games will either be hosted by the existing BCS bowl games or opened for bidding. The source said it seemed almost certain that the national championship game will be opened to bidding by the existing BCS bowl sites and other cities such as Atlanta, Dallas and Indianapolis.

The conference commissioners have reached a conclusion that some FBS schools’ stadiums aren’t large enough to host a national semifinal game and that many college towns don’t have enough hotel rooms to accommodate bigger crowds.

“What happens if TCU finishes No. 2 in the country and hosts a semifinal game?” the source said. “TCU finished No. 3 two years ago. Are they really hosting No. 3 Ohio State in a 45,000-seat stadium? Where are people going to stay if Oregon hosts a semifinal game? In Portland? As much as it would be great for the sport to see a game played in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuscaloosa, Ala., or Lincoln, Neb., some of the logistical issues are just too severe. I think that idea has come home to roost as far as these guys are concerned.”

 And the Rose Bowl?

According to Dennis Dodd of CBSSportsline.com

No one is saying it directly but there is significant doubt that the Rose wants to be a national semifinal in a four-team plus-one (top four teams in a bracketed playoff). That would cut into that tradition.

It’s a complicated relationship. There would be no BCS without the Rose Bowl and its two partners agreeing to join the BCS in 1998. Participating coaches, ADs and players have loved the Rose Bowl for the experience that Stoops enjoyed. But that experience has changed because of the BCS. Now the Rose’s segregated position apart from the rest of the BCS bowls keep it from what it could be — a full-fledged participant in a playoff. The feeling is that the Rose would accept keeping its rotation in hosting the championship game, but has reservations about hosting a semifinal that would keep it from being the end-all game it has become over parts of 11 decades.

Where it gets further complicated: The system needs the Rose and its 24 partners from the Pac-12 and Big Ten. They represent approximately one-fifth of the 120 schools in FBS. There can’t be a legitimate postseason without them.

“At some point you’re going to have to ask if the Rose Bowl is going to compete for the national championship?” said a source with interest in this week’s discussions.

The same source proposed that the Rose be able to keep its traditional Jan. 1 date and its traditional 5 p.m. ET starting time, but would basically be told it has to open its doors to a “quality game,” in a national playoff.

While the media has been told there will be a consensus when the new postseason is announced (possibly as early as late June) that doesn’t mean a “vote” inside the room couldn’t go against the Rose. Adding to the mystery: We know Delany’s protective stance. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has been strangely low-key on the matter.

Old guard vs. new guard? Scott changed the game in the Pac-12 by expanding, negotiating a new TV contract and adding a network. Having his champion open to other bowls may be a way of extending the Pac-12 brand.

In the current BCS structure, the Rose hosts the national championship game once very four years as well as its traditional game each year. That once-every-four years double-hosting has occurred only once for the Rose: Alabama beat Texas in the 2010 BCS title game six days after TCU beat Wisconsin in the traditional Rose.

If the Big Ten and/or Pac-12 champion play in the BCS title game, the Rose has been allowed in most years get replacements from the conferences. In 2011, TCU went to Pasadena because the bowl was contractually bound that season to take the highest-ranked non-automatic qualifier. Even then, only five times in the past 66 postseason games played in Rose Bowl Stadium (including BCS title games) had the matchup not been Pac-12 vs. Big Ten. Those five times have all occurred since the 2001 season.

We’ll find out soon if the Rose and its partners are getting fed up with that sort of “invasion” or more used to it.

In a four-team plus-one, the possibility exists of a playoff game in the Rose Bowl between Boise State and Boston College. That’s just an example, but one that would make some Rose loyalists choke on their Merlot. Don’t feel sorry for the Granddaddy just yet. Delany is in there fighting hard. Whether it came from him or not, the “four-team plus” contained in this memo earlier this month would have given the Rose even more preferential treatment. 

The four-team plus was largely panned to the point that even SEC commissioner Mike Slive said that the idea, “… is not one of my favorites.”

The Rose grew in stature because of its location (Southern California), TV (beaming images of Southern California in early January) and the wide appeal of those two conferences. It was the first bowl with two league tie-ins. Before the bowl boom, stars and legends were made in the floor of the Rose. It was almost a championship in itself.

Not anymore. The Rose gave up a bit of its tradition when it joined the BCS in 1998. It will have to give up more to be included as an equal partner in college football’s new postseason.

Get ready for that Boise State-Boston College matchup, or something like it, in Pasadena in the near future.

Meanwhile, ESPN bloggers disagree on the Rose Bowl’s future

The ESPN bloggers have taken sharply divergent views on how the Rose Bowl should figure into the national championship playoff picture.

Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller argues that the Rose Bowl should be a top priority in this week’s negotiations:

We know that one of the four options that will be discussed — as first reported by USA Today — is the “Four Teams Plus” plan. It would make the Rose Bowl an automatic part of a “playoff” that would determine the national champion. The four highest-ranked teams at the end of the regular season would meet in semifinals unless the Big Ten or Pac-12 champion, or both, were among the top four. Those leagues’ teams still would meet in the Rose, and the next highest-ranked team or teams would slide into the semis. The national championship finalists would be selected after those three games.

This plan has been widely ridiculed, and for good reason. It’s ridiculous. It continues to add subjectivity to the process instead of having more decided on the field of play. That’s what we are trying to get rid of.

As I’ve said before, it doesn’t seem that complicated to have a four-team playoff set, then let the Rose Bowl choose next, likely the best available teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

Why should the Rose Bowl get priority? Because it’s the Rose Bowl.

Should there be flexibility to the Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup? Perhaps. It’s already happened without great loss of life (though there has been a bit of wincing, particularly one year in Berkeley). It might be unavoidable. The game itself, however, is the most sacred relic.

The hope here is this won’t end up being only a Jim Delany and Larry Scott crusade. The Big Ten and Pac-12 commissioners obviously have the most at stake among all the pooh-bahs in Florida, but there’s no reason for SEC don Mike Slive et al to go all Sun Tzu on the Rose Bowl just to score an Art of War point.

Meanwhile, Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg argues that the priority for the Big Ten Conference should not be preserving the sanctity of the Rose Bowl, but rather trying to get more bowl/playoff games closer to home country:

If a four-team postseason plan is green-lighted, as many expect, Delany must ensure that it’s possible for at least some of the games to be played in or near the Big Ten footprint. Because the current system doesn’t serve the Big Ten or its fans.

There are myriad reasons for the Big Ten’s downturn during the BCS era, but the location of the most significant bowl games, including the national championship, undoubtedly hurts the league, which has played several virtual road contests.

Since the BCS launched in 1998, the Big Ten has dropped two games to LSU in New Orleans, including the national title game after the 2007 season. The Big Ten also is 0-4 against USC at the Rose Bowl. While there are exceptions, like Penn State’s Orange Bowl win against Florida State, Big Ten teams generally become roadkill in these matchups.

The Big Ten’s destination dilemma is inherent within the current bowl/BCS system. The big bowl games always have been played in the south and west, and because of the “double-hosting” model, the same holds true for the national championship games. Most Big Ten fans understand the reasons behind this, and have willingly hopped on airplanes every December and traveled far and wide to see their teams play. It’s this willingness that has made Big Ten teams so attractive to BCS bowl committees.

Yes, has to be,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith recently told ESPN.com. “If you go neutral sites, you’ve got to have one in the Midwest. You’ve just got to. If it’s campus sites, it’s hard to dictate that, because it depends on the rankings. If you go campus sites, you hope some Midwest team is up there and they get to host.”

Although Big Ten fans travel better than any in the country, the cost of making two long trips — for the semifinals and championship game — in a short span around the holidays will be too much for many to bear.

“If you think about it, just about every conference now has a [championship game], so you expect your fans to go to that,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who is attending the BCS meetings along with Delany, told ESPN.com. “Now you’re going to go to a bowl site, and if you’re in a championship game, that’s three games you want them to travel to. It would be nice if one of those games would be at a home site, or two of them.”

So, will there be a big announcement this week?

“Don’t expect much in the way of news,” Hancock said. “The next big step is for conferences to review the formats during their meetings in May and June.”

Until then, there are a lot of elusive agreements to be sought.

“Many, many details remain to be discussed,” Hancock said. “This will be another round of talking about the details. I think people don’t realize the intricacy of something like this.”

And that could be a problem. Even if everyone agrees that change is needed, there must be an agreement on what kind of change will occur.

“My fear,” one college insider said, “is that the fighting over the details leads to something nobody wants.”

April 23rd

Vote to Bring College GameDay to Boulder

What was it? The last time College GameDay was in Boulder? 1995? 1996?

Too long.

Okay, it’s a longshot, but CU fans can vote to bring College GameDay to Boulder … just go to this link and vote.

As of this writing, Colorado is 24th in the voting. Arkansas is 1st; Nebraska is 2nd. The highest total for a Pac-12 team is Washington State, in at 8th.

Vote early! Vote often! Bring CU alum Chris Fowler back to Boulder!!

“Renew Hughes” up against “Be Bold” in Ft. Collins

Envision anything like this happening in Lincoln? …

A final decision on a new footballl stadium in Ft. Collins for the Colorado State Rams will not be made until next month, both proponents and opponents are already in full battle mode.

According to the Coloradoan… One side is putting up yard signs all over town, urging CSU to “Renew Hughes.” Those supporting the other side were distributing T-shirts at Saturday’s annual Green and Gold Spring Game at Hughes, urging fans of Colorado State University’s football program to “Be Bold.”

Despite CSU President Tony Frank’s plea that the decision about whether to build an on-campus stadium not polarize the community, it clearly has.

Those opposed to the stadium, who generally have organized under the “Save Our Stadium” banner, argue that the existing 32,500-seat Hughes Stadium, built in 1968 just below Horsetooth Reservoir on the west side of Fort Collins, is a fully functional facility that has undergone more than $17 million in renovations during the past nine years. It has ample parking, causes minimal traffic congestion in the heart of the city on game days, rarely fills up and ismore than adequate, the SOS group claims, as the home of a CSU football team that has gone 3-9 the past three years and hasn’t had a winning season since 2003.

Opponents also have ex-pressed concern about spending money on athletics — Minnesota built a 50,000-seat stadium in 2009 similar to what supporters envision for CSU that cost about $300 million — while the university faces continued reductions in state support that has led to salary freezes for faculty and staff and increased tuition and fees for students.

The debate hasn’t really changed in the 4½ months since Frank and Graham first spoke publicly about the possibility of building an on-campus stadium. There really is no middle ground to stand on or a compromise position that could bring the two sides closer together, organizers of both groups said Friday.

But the volume of the debate seems to be increasing, with more people joining in and taking sides every day. For the most part, the two groups even sit on opposite sides of the center aisle during the stadium advisory board’s meetings.

“Whatever decision’s made, there’s going to be a lot of angry people,” said Martin Carcasson, the director of CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation.

Each side has a website devoted to its cause, full of information to support its arguments. And each group is spreading its message in the manner that best fits its members, Milligan said during his report to the advisory committee, noting that there doesn’t seem to be a general consensus one way or the other at this point in the discussion.

Here is a link to http://soshughes.org/

Here is a link to BeBoldCSU.org



April 21st

Defense rules the day at CSU Spring game

Either the Colorado State defense is really, really good, or ….

From the Coloradoan … It was the No. 2 defensive unit, playing with the No. 1 offense on the Gold team, that came out on top today 10-3 at Hughes Stadium.

Junior cornerback Shaq Bell, playing with the No. 2 defense, scored the only touchdown of the day when he stepped in front of the intended receiver near the sideline, intercepted a pass by M.J. McPeek and raced 45 yards to the end zone. That score, with 4:37 remaining in the third quarter, gave the Gold team a 10-0 lead.

 The other two scores on a warm, sunny day before an estimated 7,000 fans, came on field goals by Jared Roberts. His 45-yarder for the Gold team with 5:24 remaining in the third quarter broke a scoreless tie, and his 41-yarder with 5:15 left in the fourth provided the only points of the day for the Green team.

Junior running back Chris Nwoke, who ran for 1,130 yards last season, gained 45 yards on 13 carries for the Gold team, and sophomore quarterback Garrett Grayson, the starter for the final three games last season, completed 10 of 22 passes for 112 yards but was sacked four times.

McPeek, a senior, was 12 of 22 for 121 yards for the Green team, including a 51-yard pass to converted cornerback Dominique Vinson with fewer than 30 seconds remaining. That put the ball at the 19-yard line, where McPeek had to intentionally spike the ball to stop the clock with 19 seconds left. Redshirt freshman linebacker Cory James then sacked McPeek for a 6-yard loss and, after another spike to stop the clock with two seconds remaining, the game fittingly ended when redshirt freshman defensive end Joe Kawulok was credited with a sack for a 5-yard loss before McPeek could get his pass off to junior receiver Bobby Borcky in the end zone.

So, the Colorado State defensive line, which averaged just over two sacks per game last season, has gotten really, really good, or …

The Colorado State offensive line, was 106th in sacks allowed last season, has not improved.

You be the judge …

April 20th

Pac 12/Big Ten inter-conference contract may have a “staggered start”

When is a contract to play a Pac-12 team not a contract to play a Pac-12 team?

When it would make for a difficult non-conference schedule.

In December, the Pac-12 and Big Ten agreed to a “collaboration”, in which the conferences would begin playing each other in non-conference games. Due to a number of previous contracts for non-conference games, the new partnership was not to start until 2017.

The Big Ten issued a statement Friday from commissioner Jim Delany, re-stating the agreement:

 “We have just concluded very high level presidential meetings, at which time both conferences reaffirmed plans to play an annual 12 inter-conference game football schedule beginning in 2017, subject to previously contracted non-conference games. It was also reaffirmed that the collaboration was critically important to implement across a wide area of athletic and academic endeavors. We have made significant progress across the board in other scheduling areas.”

So, we’re good to go, right?

Not quite.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alverez told ESPN that some Pac-12 schools are “dragging their feet” due to the league’s nine game conference schedule. With nine Pac-12 games to play each season (the Big Ten play only eight), each Pac-12 school only has three non-conference games to work with. Commit to the Big Ten contract, and ten games are spoken for. Some Pac-12 schools, like Colorado with CSU and USC and Stanford with Notre Dame, have still another annual commitment, leaving some Pac-12 schools with only one open date per season.

Still, despite Alverez’ comment that some Pac-12 schools were “dragging their feet”, the only school which has come out and said it doesn’t want to be part of the contract in 2017 is a Big Ten school, Ohio State.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told ESPN.com that the Buckeyes aren’t scheduled to begin the Pac-12 partnership in football until the 2018 season.  

The reason?

Ohio State already has nonconference games scheduled against Oklahoma (home) and North Carolina (road) in 2017.

“I’m not taking [a Pac-12 game],” Smith said. “We can’t start in ’17, so we will start in ’18.”

Awwwww ….

“It’s more an issue of when we start,” Smith said. “Is it ’17 or ’18, or is it ’17 with some schools phasing in ’18 and ’19. It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of will it be just like we felt it was going to be at the beginning. Everybody’s committed to making it happen.”

Just some are more committed than others ….



April 19th

Cal Rebuttal to Wall Street Journal article

In the interest of fairness …

After the Wall Street Journal article concerning Cal’s inability to raise money for its new stadium was posted, a Cal blogger took the article to task.

Here is the article. Here are some tidbits:

The article immediately starts off with a misrepresentation of the ESP plan:

But three years into the fund-raising effort, a projected $270 million from the sale of seats has failed to materialize. At the end of December, the school had collected only $31 million in the first three years of the sale. Now it has become clear that the university will have to borrow the vast majority of the money.

Two things are wrong with this. One, it makes it sound like Cal had expected to “collect” the $270M in ESP sales by now. That is simply wrong. The $270M is over the life of the ESP. So those numbers are completely out of context and paint a far worse picture than what is the reality. Secondly, it is not clear at all – not at all – that the University will have to borrow a majority, let alone a “vast” majority of the money to cover the project.

Even some ardent fans say they’re confused and concerned about how the renovation will be funded. “If you read what they say, they always say, if there’s a problem and things aren’t going to expectations, we’ll make adjustments,” said Hank Gehman, a longtime season-ticket holder and retired contractor. “I’m just wondering what those adjustments will be. Where will they get millions of dollars a year to cover the shortfall?”

What the reporter doesn’t tell you, is that this “ardent fan” is actually a NIMBY who has been opposed to the renovations. A simple Google search would have revealed multiple columns and opinion pieces by Mr. Gehman not only firmly against the University, but distorting the University’s positions. It’s shameful that the reporter didn’t give Sandy better opportunity to present our position. But it’s hard to fathom that she either didn’t do the research or have the critical judgement in her reporting to better qualify this “ardent fan.”

Fun times in Berkeley …

April 18th

Cal stadium renovation a cautionary tale

For those in the Buff Nation – myself included – who are impatient for news about renovations of CU facilities, there is this from the Wall Street Journal concerning the renovation of Memorial Stadium at Cal:

Until now, the years-old effort to renovate the school’s football stadium, which sits on an earthquake fault line, never raised many alarms. Although its $321 million price tag would make it one of the most expensive renovations in college sports history, the university said the project would be funded privately, largely through long-term seat sales and naming rights.

But three years into the fund-raising effort, a projected $270 million from the sale of seats has failed to materialize. At the end of December, the school had collected only $31 million in the first three years of the sale. Now it has become clear that the university will have to borrow the vast majority of the money.

In recent interviews, university officials acknowledge that if revenue projections fall short and won’t cover the bond payments, the shortfall “would have to come from campus.”

The idea that money for the football stadium could come from campus funds, which include student fees, is an admission likely to stir outrage at a school that’s already facing possible double-digit tuition increases. “It is disconcerting that the university may be gambling with student fees and other academic funds to cover a massive financial commitment for a football stadium,” said Cal computer-science professor Brian Barsky.

The total bonded debt for the project, including the training center, will be $447 million. That’s apparently an unprecedented amount of borrowing for a college-sports project, far above the $220 million that Minnesota borrowed to build a new stadium in 2009, the $200 million that Washington has borrowed for its stadium renovation and the $148 million that Michigan took out to add luxury seats that opened in 2010.

Cal officials acknowledge that making debt payments without help from outside the athletic department will likely require success on the field. Last year, the football team went 7-6. In January, an assistant coach defected to Washington and three prized recruits changed their minds. “We recognize fully that football success is a key driver in our financial success,” Barbour said.

Even some ardent fans say they’re confused and concerned about how the renovation will be funded. “If you read what they say, they always say, if there’s a problem and things aren’t going to expectations, we’ll make adjustments,” said Hank Gehman, a longtime season-ticket holder and retired contractor. “I’m just wondering what those adjustments will be. Where will they get millions of dollars a year to cover the shortfall?”

University officials say they had no choice other than to launch a major renovation. Long known to stand above a geological fault, the stadium was declared unsafe in a seismic review, said Barbour, who added that about 70% of the project’s construction cost comes from safety upgrades.

Perhaps CU’s approach – as painful as it has been for the faithful – will prove the correct approach in the long term …

April 13th

Quarterback issues for many Pac-12 teams

Misery loves company?

The question of the starting quarterback for the CU Buffs was put on hold before spring practices even began. As soon as Nick Hirschman hurt his ankle, and was declared out for the spring, head coach Jon Embree declared that Hirschman, along with incoming freshman Shane Dillon (and later, transfer Jordan Webb) would all be given a shot at the starting job come August.

Apparently, that scenario holds true for several other Pac-12 teams as well.

At Oregon … the battle to replace Darron Thomas will come down to sophomore Byron Bennett and red-shirt freshman Marcus Mariota. Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, who has closed practices to the public, hasn’t announced a winner, and hasn’t ruled out using both quarterbacks. “It’s a guideline, not a rule,” Kelly told the Salem Statesman-Journal about his policy about not using two quarterbacks. “I’ve just never been anywhere where we’ve had two guys that are equal, so that two of them deserve it. Somebody has emerged that has become that guy.”

At UCLA … the headline in the LA Timesreads, “UCLA quarterback competition has no clear favorite“. Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut, Brett Hundley and Jerry Neuheisel (yes, Neuheisel!) continue to split snaps somewhat evenly with the first team. Prince and Brehaut, who each started games last season, and the highly touted redshirt freshman Hundley would seem to be the favorites for the starting position. For now, each of the quarterbacks is adjusting to the change in offense and overall attitude under Mora.

“It’s a lot different, but with how things have gone in the past, something needed to change, so why not change everything?” Brehaut asked. “Why not change how we do every single thing, from off the field to the locker room to here? It’s a good different. I like it. Guys are starting to really accept it and believe it and that’s what it’s going to take.”

At Stanford… the race is on to replace likely No. 1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck. Redshirt sophomore Brett Nottingham, last year’s No. 2 man, is competing with redshirt junior Josh Nunes and redshirt freshmen Kevin Hogan and Evan Crower for the job. All four will play in the Cardinal Spring game on Saturday.

At Arizona State … According to Athlon … It’s a wide-open battle in Tempe to replace Brock Osweiler this spring. Bercovici is competing with redshirt freshman Michael Eubank and sophomore Taylor Kelly for the starting job. Eubank is a physically impressive quarterback, checking in at 6-foot-5 and 242 pounds. Kelly has the most experience of the three quarterbacks, throwing for 31 yards on four attempts last year. Bercovici completed two passes for 15 yards last season and did not tally a rushing attempt. It’s a tossup who coach Todd Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell will pick as the No. 1 quarterback, but most believe it will come down to Bercovici or Eubank. No matter who starts under center, Arizona State will have a hard time equaling Osweiler’s production from last year.

April 12th

CU athletic director Mike Bohn looking to increase season ticket sales

Colorado was one of only four schools in the Pac-12 to see an increase in attendance in 2011. The Buffs, despite a 3-10 record, were buoyed by the school’s initial season in the Pac-12. Colorado’s average attendance was 50,355, up from 46,864 in 2010.

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn set out last spring to raise the season ticket list above 25,000. It seemed ambitious at the time, being over 6,000 more season tickets more than had been sold in 2010. The athletic department succeeded, though, signing up 25, 172, the highest total since 2003.

And Bohn wants that number to go even higher.

“Renewals are robust at this time and the deadline (Friday) is sneaking up,” Bohn told the Camera. “We’ll continue to follow up with those we haven’t heard from, and we anticipate continued momentum.”

In an effort to help sustain that momentum, Bohn said the department decided to lower the cost of tickets per game in four of the five seating areas in the stadium bowl with the lowest priced seats in 2011 remaining the same price this season.

Seats in tier levels one and two dropped from $67 per game in 2011 to $60 this season. Seats in tier level three dropped from $45 per game to $42 and seats in tier level four dropped from $33 per game in 2011 to $32 this year.

While the cost per game has dropped this year, the overall cost of season tickets is rising because there is a full slate of home games.

CU had only five true home games in 2011 because of a scheduling quirk caused by its move to the Pac-12 Conference. The Buffs will play six games in Folsom Field this fall, including five Pac-12 games. The annual meeting with Colorado State in Denver is also part of the season-ticket package as usual, meaning fans are paying for seven games this year instead of six last year.

“We recognize the terrific momentum we have and the reception to our pricing strategies from last season and we wanted to do all we could to ensure that we maintain that high intensity of support from our season ticket holders,” Bohn said. “We are hoping to exceed the season-ticket number from last season this season and we didn’t want price to be a significant barrier in fans purchasing season tickets.”

April 8th

Pac-12 Commissioner talks playoffs

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is making the rounds in the conference, and is talking playoffs with the players.

According to Sports Illustrated … Scott met with recent Stanford players Andrew Luck, Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro on Thursday to get their feedback on various proposals currently being discussed to overhaul college football’s postseason. Last week Scott met with current USC players Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, T.J. McDonald and Devon Kennard, and he will do the same with a group of Utah players prior to their April 21 spring game.

“It’s interesting for us to be able to give our opinion as student-athletes, or former student-athletes,” said Luck. “We talked about how bowl games affect everything from our classes to finals, how much it takes our family to travel, the plusses and merits in our mind. And also what we thought of a playoff.”

Scott on Thursday downplayed the significance of the so-called “Rose Bowl Plan’s” inclusion in the document.

“I wouldn’t read into any one model on a piece of paper yet,” Scott said from Stanford’s campus. “The way to look at that is as a variant on a playoff within a bowl system. If you’re going to have a playoff within the bowl system there are multiple ways to do it, and that would be one way.”

Scott has previously stated his personal preference for an NFL-style model where higher-seeded teams host semifinal games on their home campuses.

While the players expressed a range of opinions, the “common thread” was their desire for some form of playoff. “If you’re a competitor, you want a chance to play for it on the field, versus being voted for. That was made loud and clear,” said Scott.

They commissioners will reconvene for the annual BCS meetings April 24-26 in Hollywood, Fla., where athletic directors, bowl and television executives will be in attendance for the first time since this latest round of discussions began. Ultimately, each conference’s presidents hold the final say, which means annual league meetings in late May and early June will be particularly noteworthy this year. BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock has said a model will likely be chosen this summer, in advance of television negotiations this fall.

The player feedback “impacts my thinking a lot,” said Scott. “As a former student- athlete myself, I think it should be in the front of our minds for what we want to do.

“We’re going through various deliberations, it’s not an entity that votes. Ultimately each conference has to agree on a model. It’s a bit of a laborious process, but I think it’s a bit healthy. No one will ever be able to accuse of not having thought about it enough.”

April 7th

Bad news confirmed for USC tailback

USC sophomore tailback Tre Madden, injured in practice Thursday (see April 6th story, below), had the worst confirmed on Friday.

From Kevin Gemmell and Erik McKinney of ESPN.com … Linebacker-turned-running back Tre Madden isn’t that load-bearing player. But he certainly was expected to take some of the pressure off of Curtis McNeal. On Friday, it was confirmed that Madden will miss the entire 2012 season with a torn ligament in his left knee — a non-contact injury that occurred when he planted off his left leg.

Writes Erik McKinney of WeAreSC.com: Through only a handful of practices after making the transition from outside linebacker, Madden had impressed with his combination of balance and forward lean and looked like he would make a case to become the big back the Trojans could rely on this season. With Madden out of the lineup, the Trojans are again down to three scholarship tailbacks, as redshirt senior Curtis McNeal will be relied on heavily to carry the load this year.

Madden, a 6-0, 220-pound sophomore from Aliso Vieja, Calif., was the talk of USC’s spring ball for both his versatility to make the position change and his athleticism. As a true freshman, he appeared in all 12 games last season at linebacker and special teams, notching 15 tackles and one for a loss. He started one game at Colorado and had a career high three tackles against Washington.

This kind of scenario was always the elephant in the room for the Trojans — whether they could last an entire season without having to dip too far into the depth chart. Madden’s injury leaves the Trojans right back where they were before spring in terms of running backs. Only now, they are also down a linebacker.

April 6th

USC loses tailback to knee injury

One issue which will occupy fans of the Pac-12 over the next few seasons:  Will the NCAA-imposed scholarship sanctions (15 per year for three years; roster reduced from 85 to 70) will have any major repercussions on the field.

After all, when your 2nd- and 3rd-string players are all 4- and 5-star performers, is there really any significant dropoff?

Not really, unless the Trojans suffer injuries in key positions.

On Thursday, according to an LA Times report, sophomore tailback Tre Madden, who has impressed in his switch from linebacker, fell to the ground without being hit late in the workout. He was assisted off the field because of an apparent left knee injury and was taken to the locker room after practice.

Asked if he was concerned that Madden might have suffered a severe injury, a somber Kiffin said, “There’s that concern any time with knees, where guys can’t really walk afterward. We’ll find out.”

The 6-foot, 226-pound Madden has provided the Trojans with much-needed depth and a big-back presence. He also gives USC another dimension because he is capable of running and passing from the wildcat formation.

Returning starter Curtis McNeal is enjoying a solid spring and D.J. Morgan also has performed well. But redshirt freshman Javorious Allen remains sidelined because of a hamstring strain, so the Trojans could go into Saturday’s scrimmage with only two sound tailbacks.

Utah suspends starting defensive back

According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune … Utah coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the situation with defensive back Reggie Topps following Tuesday’s practice, saying the senior has been indefinitely suspended from the team for a violation of team rules.

Topps remains on the team roster, although he can’t participate in any official team activities including meetings, practices and weight lifting sessions. Topps played in every game last year and finished with 33 tackles, 16 of which were solo.

“You never want to lose a good player but we expect our guys to handle themselves a certain way and we have to do what is best for the entire football team,” Whittingham said.

Whittingham left open the possibility that Topps could return to the team. “We’ll have to see how he handles himself,” he said.

April 5th

BCS looking at playoff options

In a memo obtained by USA Today, BCS officials are concentrating on four playoff options, including an optionwhich preserves the Pac-12/Big Ten rivalry in the Rose Bowl.

The plans range from a long-discussed “plus one” format — after the bowls play out, selecting two teams to meet for the national championship — to a heretofore undisclosed four-team playoff proposal that could expand the semifinals to preserve a Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup in the Rose Bowl.

In the latter plan, the four highest-ranked teams at the end of the regular season would meet in semifinals unless the Big Ten or Pac-12 champ, or both, were among the top four. Those leagues’ teams still would meet in the Rose, and the next highest-ranked team or teams would slide into the semis. The national championship finalists would be selected after those three games.

Yes, you read that correctly … college football could have “semi-finals” which actually involve three games …

Let that sink in a minute, while we look at the options.

The most radical departure proposed in the memo is a four-team playoff, with semifinals and a championship game, according to the report. The memo does not use the word “playoff” to describe the proposal, instead calling it a “four-team event.”

A wide range of options for a playoff are presented in the memo, including:

• Playing all three games at bowls;
• Playing the semifinal games at bowls and selecting a bowl game site for the title game;
• Playing all three games at neutral sites and not branding the games as bowls;
• Playing semifinal games at campus sites and selecting a bowl game site for the title game.

The remaining proposals outlined in the memo obtained by USA Today include the “plus-one” formula that would select two teams after the bowl games for a championship game, and a slightly revamped BCS system that would change or eliminate the automatic qualifying status for conferences, except for contracts between conferences and bowl games.

Furthermore, according to the memo, if a plus-one or playoff system were put in place, the BCS would consider having a committee select matchups for as many as 16 bowl games, “with the aim of providing the most evenly matched and attractive games that make geographic sense for the participants.”

April 4th

Arizona State unveils new design for home stadium

Pac-12 teams continue to spend money on facility improvements …

Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director Steve Patterson and ASU head football coach Todd Graham announced the early stages of a renovation project set to revitalize Sun Devil Stadium over the next couple of years. 

Patterson and Graham met with media, fans and staff on Wednesday to share some of the basics of the revitalized stadium in addition to some of the initial renderings of the updated and upgraded stadium.

The renderings are not finalized, but the tentative plan would create a shade canopy over the stadium that will allow the passage of natural light and the passage of air into the stadium while also allowing the Sun Devils to play day games earlier in the year to accommodate Pac-12 Network obligations. 

The addition of the shade canopy, in addition to other alterations, will decrease seating to an area between 55,000 and 65,000 seats (current capacity: 71,706).   As such, larger seats will be provided with more leg room and the potential of more seats with a seat back. 

The cost of the stadium has not been determined.  There are also two different options available for the build: one that would allow the team and fans to stay in Sun Devil Stadium during construction or another that would move ASU out of the stadium for a season or two that would allow time to complete the project faster.   The stadium can be built in up to five stages, but a timetable has not been establish as yet.

Pac-12 teams have spent over a billion dollars in the last 10 years in building or renovating football stadiums. “We’ve got to invest to keep us competitive,” Patterson said. “We’re still in the process of figuring out details and should have our plan by the middle of this year, then we can come up with a (construction) timeline.”

Meanwhile, back in Boulder, Colorado is still trying to work out the details on getting donors to pony up for new facilites, which have been designed for the area just northeast of Folsom Field. An announcement – reportedly – will be coming in May.

April 2nd

Colorado’s schedule considered middle of the road

Phil Steele has put together a list of  the most difficult schedules in college football for 2012, at least according to last season’s records.

Colorado, for a change, is not atop the list, coming in at No. 62 out of 120.

Of course, just judging a schedule by last season’s records is not the best judge of how tough a team’s opposition will be (e.g., Oregon plays Arkansas State, which was 10-3 last season. The Ducks also play USC, which was 10-2. Figure the Oregon coaches and players look at those games equally?).

Still, it’s interesting to see how the Buffs’ schedule compares to the rest of the league. A breakdown:

Arizona – No. 11 (including a date with Oklahoma State, plus Oregon and Stanford from the Pac-12 North)

Washington – No. 16 (including a non-conference game against LSU)

Cal – No. 31 (the Bears follow the Buffs in taking on Ohio State in Columbus)

UCLA – No. 51 (the Bruins get Nebraska in the Rose Bowl in September)

And, in case you are wondering …

CSU – No. 74 (Northern Colorado, San Jose State and Utah State, plus 2-10 UNLV and 1-11 New Mexico).

Hang in there, the 2012 season is only five months away!!

USC – No. 54 (Syracuse on the road, plus the annual game against Notre Dame)

Washington State – No. 59 (BYU the toughest non-conference game; miss USC)

Colorado – No. 62 (CSU was 3-9 last season, Sacramento State a mediocre 1-AA team)

Oregon – No. 67 (home game in October against Washington the only game to worry the Ducks until November)

Arizona State – No. 73 (non-conference games against Missouri and Illinois; avoid Washington and Stanford)

Stanford – No. 96 (Notre Dame, okay. But San Jose State and Duke?)

Utah – No. 113 (Utes never leave the state in non-conference play – BYU, Utah State, home against Northern Colorado)


April 1st

Oregon to keep Arkansas State guessing

Oregon loses a significant number of stars from last year’s Pac-12 champions. LaMichael James is gone. Ditto for Darron Thomas, David Paulson, Lavasier Tuinei, Mark Asper, Josh Kaddu and many others.

But the nation, and the Ducks’ opponents, will have to wait until August to know who will trot out onto the field in those florescent yellow and green uniforms. Not only are spring practices being closed for the first time, but no depth charts are going to be released.

“Everything is wide open,” Kelly told the Oregonian. “Doesn’t matter what position you play on our team. It’s always been that way since Day One … Our program is founded on competition.”
No starters will be named until the week prior to the Sept. 1 season opener against Arkansas State, so there is ample time to leave a favorable impression. But stragglers — in this case, early-enrolling freshmen such as defensive lineman Arik Armstead, tight end Evan Baylis and quarterback Jake Rodrigues — must keep pace.
“They start school (Monday) and we start practice on Tuesday,” Kelly said. “Our philosophy is we always teach to our fastest learners, so they got to catch up. That’s part of what we do. … But they’re going to be thrown right in the mix on the first day, and that’s the way we’ve always done it here with all those guys.”

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