Pac-12 Notes – Utah week

November 17th

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Arizona State’s loss to Oregon gives Pac-12 South title to Utah

From ESPN …  The Oregon Ducks made what might be quarterback Justin Herbert’s final game at Autzen Stadium more of a cliffhanger than they would’ve liked.

Herbert threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns and Oregon held off a late rally by Arizona State to win 31-29 and knock the Sun Devils out of contention for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.

Herbert has not said whether he will return for his final year of eligibility for the Ducks. He was asked after the game for his takeaway on how he played against the Sun Devils.

“Fortunately it doesn’t fall just on my shoulders. The defense played really well,” he said. “I know the feeling all too well of going against these guys every day and they played big-time football. Sometimes you have to rely on your defense and they did a great job.”

Dillon Mitchell, Herbert’s his favorite target this year, caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Sun Devils.

Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) headed to Eugene on a three-game winning streak and needing a win to stay alive in its division race. But Utah defeated Colorado 30-7 in Boulder earlier in the day, giving the No. 19 Utes six wins in conference play. The Sun Devils’ loss meant they could not catch Utah with just one game to go.

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Kelley rushes for 289 yards, leads UCLA past USC 34-27

USC falls to 5-6 with loss … with Notre Dame up next

Game Story from ESPN … Joshua Kelley has been watching the UCLA-USC rivalry since he was 8 years old. On Saturday, he cemented his legacy in the Crosstown Showdown’s history.

The junior running back rushed for 289 yards on 40 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead the Bruins to a 34-27 victory over the Trojans at the Rose Bowl.

It is the third-most rushing yards in a game in UCLA history and the most by a Bruins back against the Trojans. Gaston Green had the previous mark with 224 yards on 39 carries in 1986.

“It was crazy and finally I was out there and wanted to embrace every single moment of it,” said Kelley, who transferred from UC Davis. “It was a crazy experience. I sure enjoyed it and our team did too.”

Kelley’s 55-yard touchdown up the left sideline on an outside zone play with 10:39 remaining gave the Bruins a 28-27 lead. JJ Molson then added a pair of field goals to extend the margin for UCLA (3-8, 3-5 Pac-12).

Kelley was surprised by the number of carries he had but UCLA coach Chip Kelly did not mind giving his back a heavy workload.

“I wish he had carried it 100 (times) to be honest with you,” Kelly said.

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November 16th

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Report: Les Miles to sign agreement with Kansas 

From CBS Sports … Kansas is finalizing a deal with Les Miles to become the new coach of the Jayhawks. A source told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd that an agreement between the parties is in place but it’s “just a matter of working out the details.” A formal deal is imminent, another source confirmed. Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated first reported that Kansas and Miles were nearing a deal with an announcement potentially coming from the program this weekend.

Miles still has one child, Macy, in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, high school. The family is already planning its move to Lawrence, Kansas, a source told Dodd.

Miles, who turned 65 on Nov. 10, was 141-55 in 16 years as a college head coach at LSU and Oklahoma State. He led the Tigers to the 2007 national title and SEC titles in 2007 and 2011. He was let go by LSU after a 2-2 start in 2016 and just reached a buyout settlement agreement with LSU on Thursday, which opened the door for Miles to get back into the coaching ranks in 2019.

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Salt Lake City Tribune: “Buffs good enough to summon a strong effort”

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … The month of November historically has been unkind to Utah teams competing for South titles. And here comes Colorado, evoking memories of Utah’s first opportunity to advance to the Pac-12 championship game.

The Buffaloes staged a 17-14 upset at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2011, when USC was ineligible for postseason play and Utah could have taken the South’s berth. In more recent episodes, the Utes lost November home games to Arizona in 2014, UCLA in 2015 and Oregon in 2016, when they could have created a showdown with Colorado for the South title. That game became important only to the Buffaloes, whose 27-22 win completed a worst-to-first run.

Colorado has regressed. After a 5-0 start this season, the Buffs have lost five straight games and need one more win for bowl eligibility, amid reports of coach Mike MacIntyre’s shaky job status. They’re good enough to summon a strong effort Saturday, considering they beat Arizona State in October and feature quarterback Steven Montez and receiver Laviska Shenault. Similar tandems from ASU and Oregon have thrived against the Utes, who will stick with the hand-painted, wing-themed helmets they wore against the Ducks last weekend.

Shenault will challenge a Utah secondary that finally subdued Oregon’s Dillon Mitchell by having cornerback Jaylon Johnson shadow him, as opposed to staying on one side. That’s a potential strategy Saturday, while the Ute offense will face a Colorado defense that ranks in the middle of the Pac-12.

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“Big Game” between Cal and Stanford expected to be postponed due to fires

… Note … Colorado is scheduled to conclude its regular season schedule with a game at Cal next Saturday, November 24th (5:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks) … 

From the San Jose Mercury News … Pac-12 officials told KTVU on Friday they expected the postponement of the 121st meeting of the Cal and Stanford football teams, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, due to poor air quality related to the Camp fire in Butte County. An formal announcement was expected later Friday. It is unknown when or if the game will be rescheduled.

The decision was in line with Bay Area colleges (including UC Berkeley) and many K-12 school districts, which canceled Friday classes, and the Central Coast and North Coast sections, which have postponed and moved high school playoff football games.

The omnipresent smoke caused Cal to cancel a men’s basketball game on the Berkeley campus Thursday night. At 11 a.m. Friday, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District rated the air in and around Berkeley “very unhealthy.” It is forecast to be “hazardous” Saturday.

Only one other Big Game has been postponed. The 1963 game was pushed back one week after the assassination of President Kennedy. That game was played Nov. 30 at Stanford. (NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle made the decision to play a full schedule on Sunday after the assassination and was widely criticized for his action.)

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November 15th 

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Cal’s men’s basketball game cancelled; “Big Game” against Stanford up in the air

From ESPN … California announced it has canceled Thursday’s men’s basketball game against Detroit Mercy because of unhealthy air quality in the region brought on by wildfires.

The Air Quality Index reading near Berkeley has reached as high as 248, a level at which “serious consideration should be given to rescheduling the activity or moving it indoors,” according to the NCAA.

“Prolonged exposure and heavy exertion” at that level, the NCAA says, “should be avoided.”

In a release announcing the cancellation, Cal said a significant amount of smoke infiltrated Haas Pavilion, where the Bears play.

There has been no firm decision regarding Saturday’s football game against Stanford in Berkeley.

“Cal is continuing to monitor air quality, including reviewing data provided by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and staying in regular communication with officials from Pac-12 and Stanford,” the school said.

An NCAA spokesman said the final decision on Saturday’s Cal-Stanford football game, known as “The Big Game,” will be made by the respective schools and the conference.

Utah still a favorite to win Pac-12 South in 2018 – and then make a run at 2019 as well

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … Watching highlights of Utah’s victory over Oregon, Ute offensive coordinator Troy Taylor marveled over seeing so many young players make big plays. Standing on the practice field this week, defensive line coach Gary Andersen spoke excitedly about having every member of his position group return next season.

The Utes have only nine senior starters, counting kicker Matt Gay and punter Mitch Wishnowsky. That number is somewhat misleading, considering the list includes high-impact players such as linebackers Chase Hansen and Cody Barton who will be missed in 2019. And it doesn’t count injured running back Zack Moss, who appears likely to enter the NFL draft as a junior.

In August, coach Kyle Whittingham said, “Even though the seniors are not high in number, their quality is outstanding.”

As the Utes visit Colorado this weekend with a shot to win their first Pac-12 South championship, it is worth studying whether this year is the program’s best opportunity to break through, or if 2019 offers an equally good chance. The short answer: Utah probably needs to capitalize now by beating the Buffaloes and having Oregon (or Arizona) beat Arizona State.


November 14th

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USC’s Clay Helton: “So know this: I’m not going anywhere” 

From ESPN … As speculation about his job security has intensified, USC coach Clay Helton said he feels confident that he has the support of the university and expects to remain at the school.

“I have a lot of support from [athletic director] Lynn Swann,” Helton said. “Lynn, every Monday, walks into my office and has given me nothing but, ‘Coach, we’re in this for the long haul. We’re going to get this done.’ That’s what I’ve felt from day one and what I felt after the Cal game also. I know, in my heart, I’m going to be here.”

USC blew a 14-0 halftime lead to Cal on Saturday to drop to 5-5 and out of contention in the Pac-12 South. The Trojans enter Saturday’s game at two-win UCLA one win shy of bowl eligibility. They will close the regular season the following week at home against their other biggest rival, No. 3 Notre Dame.

In a team meeting earlier this week, Helton said he told his players that he plans to be at USC for another 15 years. He said he felt the need to address his job security with the team because of how impactful chatter on social media can be with college-aged players.

“We’re in the second-largest media market in the world,” Helton said. “The beauty of social media is a lot of people get opinions, and those opinions on social media can affect kids, and they want to know where the coach’s mindset is, and they also want to know the stability of their coach.

“So know this: I’m not going anywhere. I want them to know my jaw is set and that I have the support of a great university and great people in this administration, and I’ve always felt that.”

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$80 million expansion to Utah’s stadium to raise capacity to 51,000

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … When the University of Utah athletic department received initial approval Tuesday to expand and remodel Rice-Eccles Stadium, one number created the biggest news: 51,000.

Beyond the $80 million cost, approved by the university’s board of trustees with athletic revenue covering the bond debt apart from any state funding, the stadium capacity has been the subject of considerable fan interest for several years. That number was a critical component of Utah’s yearlong study, initiated by former athletic director Chris Hill and completed by his successor, Mark Harlan.

The athletic department’s timetable calls for construction to begin after the 2020 football season and be completed in August 2021. Weber State is scheduled to be the first visiting opponent.

In his presentation to the trustees, Harlan said his department’s arrival at 51,000 seats was “all data-driven” and added, “We have to continue our sellout streak.”

The Utes have sold out 56 consecutive football games with a capacity of about 46,000 — although, with standing room, the school announced 47,825 for Michigan’s visit in 2015. The project will feature premium seating in the south end zone, with terraces, loges and suites.

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November 12th 

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Mutual interest between Kansas and past Arizona State head coach Todd Graham

From CBS Sports … There is mutual interest between Kansas and former Arizona State coach Todd Graham in the open position with the Jayhawks, sources tell CBS Sports.

Graham, 53, was fired after the 2017 season, which ended a six-year stay with the Sun Devils. As an experienced head coach who has led multiple programs, he would fit what Kansas athletic director Jeff Long is looking for if he is focused on the rebuilding type for KU’s next coach.

Graham is 95-61 in 12 seasons as a head coach, winning 10 games inside of his first two seasons both with Tulsa and Arizona State.

It is not clear if Graham is the top candidate at Kansas. CBS Sports reported last week representatives of Kansas and Les Miles had spoken about the job.

Long is now eight days into a search that started Nov. 4 when David Beaty was fired with three games left in his fourth season. Beaty, 6-40 at KU, is finishing the year with the team.

Graham has won at least 10 games in five of his 12 seasons as a head coach, leading his teams to bowls in 10 of those seasons.

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Coaches hot seat: USC’s Clay Helton and CU’s Mike MacIntyre make the list … Clay Helton at No. 1; Mike MacIntyre at No. 5 …

From … As we move into the latter part of the college football season, some teams are angling to reach the playoffs and others are hoping to make bowl games. That, however, is only one half of the picture, as a handful of coaches on the other end of the stick are fighting for their jobs.

10) Clay Helton, USC

The lack of consistency at USC remains a real issue for the storied program, and Helton may pay the price if he doesn’t finish strong. The Trojans sit at an underwhelming 5-5, and it stands to reason that he pretty much has to beat UCLA to relieve some of the pressure building on him. Athletic director Lynn Swann didn’t hire him, and expectations remain high despite the loss of many key players. USC has already fired an offensive line coach, while Helton assumed playcalling duties. If the season ends ugly, Helton’s job could be in jeopardy.

9) Mike MacIntyre, Colorado

MacIntyre is two years removed from leading the Buffs to a Pac-12 South title, but his stock has fallen significantly since then to the point that there are rumblings about his future. Colorado sits at 5-5 overall but just 2-5 within the conference, and they’ve lost five in a row after a 5-0 start. They’ve been close, and injuries have hurt them, but after falling to 5-7 last year, MacIntyre couldn’t really afford another mediocre campaign. It looks like that’s what he’s going to get.

Pac-12 announces multi-year partnership deal with Nike

Press release from the Pac-12 … The Pac-12 Conference today announced a multi-year partnership with Nike to make the iconic apparel company the official athletic apparel partner and athletic footwear partner of the Conference and all Pac-12 championship events, including the Pac-12 Football Championship Game and both the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments.

“We are excited to partner with such an iconic sports brand as Nike,” said Ned Watkins, senior vice president, integrated sponsorships & sales for Pac-12 Networks. “With a season of conference championship events ahead we look forward to integrating Nike’s brand across the Pac-12.”

In addition, the multi-year agreement will also see Nike integrated into apparel and footwear across Pac-12 Networks programming with on-air talent and production staff outfitted in Nike gear, as well as on-site Pac-12 staff and volunteers for all Conference championship events. Other championship events hosted by the Pac-12 include those for men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, wrestling, women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, beach volleyball, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s track and field and men’s and women’s rowing.

Today’s announcement follows a series of recent additions and extensions of partnerships with the Pac-12, including with Audi, Dr Pepper and Jack in the Box as well as with leading telecommunications and technology companies Comcast and Cox Communications.

November 10th

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Cal becomes bowl-eligible with first win over USC in 14 years

From ESPN … Patrick Laird took his fourth-and-1 carry deep into Southern California territory with less than two minutes left, and the roars from a hearty contingent of California fans echoed in a mostly silent Coliseum.

The Golden Bears are bowl-eligible and riding high after a landmark victory, while the Trojans have hit yet another low.

Chase Garbers threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, and Cal snapped its 14-game losing streak against USC with a 15-14 victory Saturday night.

Vic Wharton III made his first TD catch of the year as the Golden Bears (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit and secured bowl eligibility for just the second time in seven seasons with their first win at the Coliseum in 18 years.

“It means a lot, and I’m so happy for all of our guys,” said Laird, a fifth-year senior who has never played in a bowl. “The first goal of our team was to get six wins to make it to a bowl game. It means so much more to do it here, too.”

Two programs that appear to be moving in opposite directions kept going their separate ways while Cal beat USC (5-5, 4-4) for the first time since its famed 34-31, triple-overtime victory over the vaunted Trojans in Berkeley in 2003.

The Trojans hadn’t lost to the Bears at the Coliseum since 2000, coach Paul Hackett’s final season at USC before Pete Carroll took over.

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10 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes – Utah”

  1. Yo Stuart,
    I want to send my heartfelt thanks to Les Miles for giving hope to Colorado football fans for a couple days. After another lost season, it was exciting to be excited about something having to do with football again.

    Alas, twas not to be however. Instead, the best coach available is going to a basketball school. And the University of Colorado will continue to be mired in the mediocrity of being neither a football school or a basketball school.

    And, as Mickey Mac has preached for six years, we should be happy, excited, and satisfied that we might win six games.

    I’ll pass, thanks. I hope for the players that they make a bowl game this year. But I won’t be spending any more of my time and money supporting the football program with MacIntyre as the head coach.

    Thanks go out to Rick George for building a beautiful facility… But remember that the fans don’t get to enjoy those facilities.

    We base our support on wins and losses. I don’t care at all about the fancy locker rooms and video games for the players unless it helps build a winning team.

    It hasn’t. But CU doesn’t seem to care. Why then oh why should I?


  2. Les miles just agreed to terms on his remaining buy out. We may have a new coach Sunday…… I think I might still prefer Leavitt but having a mational champ coach has a nice ring to it.

    1. LSU, former coach Les Miles agree to $1.5M buyout settlement
      Associated Press
      POSTED: 11/15/2018 03:36:42 PM MST

      BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU and Les Miles have completed a $1.5 million lump-sum settlement that relieves the university of paying its former coach an additional $5 million through 2023.

      Vice chancellor and director of athletics Joe Alleva says the agreement allows both parties to “move on.”

      Miles was fired four games into the 2016 season, but was due a buyout of around $12.9 million at the time.

      LSU was able to pay Miles’ buyout in installments over about eight years, but the settlement saves LSU money in the long term while removing any disincentives for Miles to pursue another college coaching job immediately.

      If the buyout had remained in place, Miles would have had to count his salary from a new college head coaching job against what LSU owed him.

      Alleva says negotiations with Miles and his representatives were “very positive” and achieved a “mutually agreed upon goal” for all parties.

  3. The Utes predicted to win the south next year too? Kick their arses Saturday.

    So there.

    Considering there will be a coaching change, wouldn’t it be great if an “almost CU Coach’ changed his mind again and decided to coach the Mighty Buffs.

    Meaning Gary Kubiak? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    I like that alot.


    1. Kubiak and Leavitt before Miles. Miles definitely wants to coach again…now…as he just gave up a big chunk of his buyout at LSU. Kansas can have him. and no doubt he will bring that program up some. Buffs need a much younger guy WHO IS CURRENT WITH OFFENSE…..

    1. Chirality, I don’t know about that. He maybe a pretty good coach and from what I’ve heard particularly with the Defense. Living here in Tucson though he of course was very unpopular. A lot of what I have read about him is about a lack of character and loyalty.

      Right after ASU beat the heck out of USC a few years ago and USC fired Lane Kiffin in the parking lot when they arrived back in LA someone wrote a great parody about Graham. The article was hilarious as it had him sucking up to USC for the job etc. He left Pitt in the lurch when he came to ASU and from what I’ve read he has done that at other times. There are coaches that have served with him in the past on various staffs over the years that detest the guy.

      Let’m go to KU and hopefully CU can get a guy that wants to take over a program that is on the precipice of being a consistent top 25 program that will compete every year in the PAC 12.

      1. Fair point. I don’t know a lot about him but he seemed to do a solid job at ASU, so I’ll take your word on this one.

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