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Pac-12 Notes

July 30th

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Early kickoffs affecting attendance? It’s not as if Pac-12 stadiums are filled now anyway

From the San Jose Mercury News … Momentum for a smattering of 9 a.m. kickoffs gained considerable steam last week when Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott acknowledged his interest in the early window.

The reaction among fans has been predictably mixed, but confusion and misconceptions abound.

As explained in the Hotline column from early June in which we proposed the 9 a.m. kickoffs:

… But what of the fans? How would they be impacted by 9 a.m. kickoffs?

Surely, tailgating would be affected, and many coming from distance would think twice before leaving home in the dead of night.

The response seen most often could be summed up in eight words:

It sucks for the fans. Nobody would go.

Well, I’ve got news for you: Nobody is going now.

OK, not nobody; that’s an overstatement. But rare is the Pac-12 stadium that doesn’t already have chunks of empty seats.

Estimated in-house crowd as percentage of capacity

Utah: 91 percent
Washington: 88.5 percent
Oregon: 88.4 percent
Washington State: 82.2 percent
Arizona State: 81 percent
Colorado: 76.7 percent
Oregon State: 73.1 percent
Arizona: 73 percent
Stanford: 67.5 percent
USC: 63.5 percent
Cal: 61.8 percent
UCLA: 50.5 percent

For those theorizing that 9 a.m. kickoffs would devastate attendance, well, it’s not like the stadiums are overflowing the rest of the day (and night).

Read full story here

… But … Washington State’s Mike Leach is not a fan 

From CougFan.com … When Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pac-12, revealed he’s had conversations about possible 9 a.m. Pacific starting times for a few conference football games on Fox and ESPN this season, there were more than a few objections on social media. Washington State’s Mike Leach took to Twitter on Saturday to share his thoughts on the notion. The Cougars’ head man clearly isn’t a fan, writing …

“Do ANY West Coast fans actually think that it is a good idea to have 9am games?”

… Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is for the idea, which would have a Ute home game start at 10 a.m. Mountain time.  Colorado coach Mel Tucker and UCLA coach Chip Kelly have talked about the possibility.  Stanford’s David Shaw, like Leach, is against the idea.

Continue reading story here

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July 29th

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Oregonian – “Nobody at Pac-12 headquarters knows anything about football”

From The Oregonian … The Pac-12 Conference football coaches were everywhere last Wednesday. Washington’s Chris Petersen was here, and so was Washington State’s Mike Leach, and UCLA’s Chip Kelly, too.

It was Pac-12 football media day.

… All 12 head coaches were here.

But you know what this media day needed?

One more head football coach.

It struck me as conference commissioner Larry Scott spoke, and as I observed the Pac-12′s executive team in action on Wednesday, that what the conference executive team lacks is anyone with a shred of football knowledge.

Scott is a Harvard-educated tennis player. Deputy commissioner Jamie Zaninovich is a basketball guy. General counsel Woodie Dixon worked for a time with the NFL’s Kansas City franchise, but his job there was to manage the contracts and salary cap.

Nobody at Pac-12 headquarters knows anything about football, and when you’re additionally hamstrung by financial challenges, that’s a killer. The absence of a credible football voice in the front office of the conference also underscores the issue of trust when you consider how little of it the rest of us have in conference leadership.

The Pac-12 needs to hire a 13th coach.

Continue reading story here

CSU quarterback Collin Hill ready for final attempt at a full season

From The Coloradoan … Collin Hill and his CSU football teammates have become intimately familiar with weights since they returned to campus in January.

Aside from those lifted in their much-discussed EDGE leadership and conditioning program, the Rams are carrying an unusually heavy load into this fall following a 3-9 season — the program’s worst since 2011.

Hill, 6-foot-5 and 214 pounds, said he’s prepared to put much of that weight on his broad shoulders and see how high he can lift the Rams this season.

It’s what he came to Colorado State University to do in 2016, when he graduated a semester early from high school in South Carolina to get a jump-start on his college football career.

Now, three years and two torn ACLs later, he’s ready to fill the role coach Mike Bobo had envisioned for him as the top recruit in the coach’s first full signing class at CSU.

Continue reading story here

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July 28th

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Pac-12 Networks announce details for fall, including deal with AppleTV

From the Pac-12 … Pac-12 Networks today announced its coverage plans for the 2019 football season at Pac-12 Football Media Day in Hollywood. In total, Pac-12 Networks will televise 35 live games this season, including 16 games over the first three weeks. In addition to the live game schedule, the Networks’ full slate of football programming returns, including “The Pregame,” “Inside Pac-12 Football” and “The Drive,”providing the most in-depth coverage of Pac-12 football in the country.

In addition to the live game slate, Pac-12 Networks will host extensive, multi-platform content during the 2019 football season under the new “Pac-12 on the Road” program umbrella. All year long, Pac-12 Networks will take the show on the road to each campus in the Pac-12, with coverage beginning mid-week and content appearing across all of the Networks’ digital and social channels every day, leading up to “The Pregame” and continued on-campus action on Saturdays of football season. Additional coverage will highlight student life on campus, featuring the people and traditions that give each Pac-12 university its unique personality and culture.

Also announced today, the Pac-12 Now app will be available to Pac-12 Networks subscribers on Apple TV beginning this football season. The Pac-12 Now app’s appearance on Apple TV is an exciting step forward in making Pac-12 Networks visible and accessible to subscribers on one of Apple’s most popular platforms. The Pac-12 Now app, Pac-12 Networks’ TV Everywhere service, will also continue to be available to subscribers via Android and iOS.

Continue reading story here

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July 27th

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Andy Staples: Pac-12 for Breakfast makes sense – “It’s a fair trade”

From The Athletic …When I heard Larry Scott and the Pac-12 braintrust had a new idea to make the league’s football product a little more relevant, I prepared to get snarky. I haven’t been particularly complimentary of the Pac-12’s leadership over the past few years.

Ticking off the nation’s largest satellite provider so much that it probably will never carry your network seemed like a poor long-term strategy. Choosing not to cover the first early football signing period at all on the conference channel seemed like a gross misunderstanding of football’s place as the chief revenue provider for all those Olympic sports that win national titles. Allowing an associate commissioner to dictate an officiating outcome during a game was a breach of the coaches’, players’ and consumers’ trust. The lack of agitation for an expanded College Football Playoff seems like a willingness to accept the league being left out out of the playoff in most years. Trying to sell a piece of a conference that is effectively owned by 10 public universities and two private universities across six states to venture capitalists for a Band-Aid of a cash infusion seems fraught with all sorts of regulatory peril (but still might happen at some point).

This newest idea? At first blush, it sounds nuts. Starting games at 9 a.m. local time on the west coast? Will the concession stands have to stock eggs Benedict? (You can make your own west coast/avocado toast joke here if you’d like, but I’m avoiding the low-hanging — or toast-spreading — fruit today because I like this idea.)

But think about it a little more, and it makes sense. Breakfast At The Rose Bowl or Omelettes At Autzen might help deliver the Pac-12 what its leaders and coaches desire. For years, the people in the league have told us that an East Coast Bias has hampered the Pac-12’s ability to make the Playoff and compete for Heisman trophies. Some of the league’s best games take place when most of the east coast is asleep. Many of the others take place when most of the country is otherwise engaged watching the best ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC games. So the executives at the Pac-12 and Fox had an idea. Why not try to goose the ratings of Fox’s new pregame show and own the noon eastern/9 a.m. Pacific window by placing some of the Pac-12’s best games there?

Continue reading story here

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July 26th

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Jon Wilner on Larry Scott: “far more aligned with reality”

Compare … “Another Pac-12 Media Day shows that Larry Scott just doesn’t get it” … from the Seattle Post-Intelligentcer

From the San Jose Mercury News … Scott’s state-of-the-conference addresses at football media day often begins with a glowing review and hint of defiance, which combined to suggest a different reality on 3rd Street than the one experienced by fans, media and even campus officials.

That wasn’t the case Wednesday in Hollywood.

Scott began by acknowledging the presence of the conference’s athletic directors, who attended the event for the first time in recent memory.

… Then Scott provided a reality check on the football product:

“There’s no question that the past couple of seasons have fallen short of the historical standards for the Pac-12 and where our programs aspire to be.

“We have to acknowledge many of the criticisms that the conference has received, and I can tell you that collectively we’ve taken a hard look at everything about how we’re operating when it comes to football.”

Scott was candid and humble, pragmatic and gracious. Only after a thorough assessment of football, which included several items of news, did Scott mention the success of Pac-12 Olympic sports.

The Hotline cannot help but wonder if Scott’s approach symbolizes a larger shift change in mindset in the conference office …

Continue reading story here

Stanford coach David Shaw on playoff expansion: “It’s going to happen”

From NBC Sports … It goes without saying that a big topic at Pac-12 Media Day on Wednesday is centered where the league isn’t as opposed to where it is. Namely, that would be the College Football Playoff, which the conference has missed out on two seasons in a row and three of the five years the format has been in existence.

While expansion is an evergreen topic when it comes to the postseason format, it’s a particularly pointed question out West given the Pac-12’s struggles to make the cut in recent years. Though leaders from the university president-level on down have been fairly measured when it comes to discussing doubling the number of teams making the Playoff, Stanford coach David Shaw was rather pointed in remarking that a move to eight teams is something set in concrete even if the details still need to be worked out.

“There is no way we stay at four teams. From the day it was announced, I said that’s awesome, that’s good and that’s what we need… until we get to eight,” said Shaw. “Every single year there’s one, two and sometimes three teams that raise their hand and have a legitimate case to go to the Playoff. The only way to truly get it right is to have eight teams at the end of the year battling for that national championship.

“All I’m saying is that I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s going to happen. If we can go from 64 to 65 to 68 (in the NCAA basketball tournament), we can go from four to eight. Don’t talk about time, we can make it work.”

Shaw knows a thing or two about expanded playoffs given his lengthy experience in the NFL and he’s among the most plugged in head coaches at the college level given his position on the NCAA Football Rules Committee. While his position isn’t quite echoed at an official level in the Pac-12, he’s not alone out West in hoping for CFP expansion happening sooner rather than later.

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July 25th

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Utah “surprise choice” by Pac-12 media for conference champion

From CBS Sports … The usual players have dominated the Power Five preseason media polls, with Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma all being named as the top picks to win their respective conferences. However, voters out in Pac-12 country have put a different spin on their preseason media poll.

Utah was chosen as the conference’s projected champion for the upcoming 2019 season. The Utes nabbed 33 of 35 first-place votes to win the South division (USC received the other two), and then received 12 first-place votes for the Pac-12 Championship Game. Oregon and Washington received 11 and nine votes, respectively, to win the Pac-12 while USC (2) and Washington State (1) also received votes.

The Utes have been a trendy offseason underdog with their schedule and returning roster, but could this actually be the their year? Kyle Whittingham’s team did make it to the Pac-12 title game a season ago.

Here’s how the voting broke down for each division. While Oregon and Washington received 17 first-place votes each for the North, the Ducks barely topped the Huskies in total points (190 to 189) to officially be the preseason favorite out of that division. First-place votes are in parenthesis.

Pac-12 North

  1. Oregon (17)
  2. Washington (17)
  3. Stanford
  4. Washington State (1)
  5. Cal
  6. Oregon State

Pac-12 South

1. Utah (33)
2. USC (2)
T3. Arizona State
T3. UCLA
5. Arizona
6. Colorado

Pac-12 Title Game champion: Utah (12), Oregon (11), Washington (9), USC (2), Washington State (1).

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July 24th

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Larry Scott: Pac-12 discussing morning (10:00 a.m., MT) kickoffs with Fox

From Sports Illustrated … Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is considering having morning kickoffs for the 2019 season and beyond, NBC Sports’s Bryan Fischer reported on Wednesday.

According to Fischer, Scott has already had preliminary conversations with Fox about having teams kick off at 9 a.m. PT.

“We’ve discussed it recently. That would be new and out of the box for our conference but I’ve tried to put everything on the table. There’s a lot of frustration from fans in certain markets to the late night kicks,” Scott told NBC Sports. “I’d like to see one or two games this season that are 12 noon (ET) kicks be Pac-12 games and see what markets might respond positively to that.”

Scott said the early start could combat the low exposure the conference has faced due to late night games. With 9 a.m. starts, the Pac-12 would gain some added visibility on the Eat Coast by playing during the noon window as soon as this season.

Scott added that he has only just begun seeking feedback from the league’s athletic directors about the idea. The schools’ involvement in the early kickoff would be voluntary.

Notes from Pac-12 Media Day: Title game moving to Las Vegas; officiating review recommendations adopted

From CUBuffs.com … Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott touched on a number of subjects at his annual address to the media to kick off Wednesday’s Media Day. Among the highlights:

— The 2020 and 2021 conference championship games will be played in Las Vegas at the Raiders’ new stadium there. This season’s title game will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., for the sixth straight year.

— While the conference’s complete bowl lineup is not yet set, Scott did note that along with the Rose Bowl and Alamo bowls, the league will begin a deal with the Las Vegas Bowl in 2020 that will see the Pac-12 alternately play an SEC and Big 10 team instead of an MWC squad. It will be the first-ever bowl partnership between the Pac-12 and SEC.

— Noted that the league will accept and implement all of the recommendations from an independent review of the league’s officiating by Sibson Consulting. Key recommendations to be implemented for this coming season include:

The head of officiating to report directly to the Commissioner rather than the football administrator;

* Adoption of a new replay manual codifying processes and procedures that will eliminate the potential for an incident like the one in last year’s Washington State v. USC game reoccurring;

* Enhancements to training programs for officials, and more consistency in grading and training from the officiating supervisors; and

* A new communications protocol with more transparency and public comment around significant calls or errors that either impact player safety or the result of the game.

Read full Pac-12 Media Day recap here

Pac-12 Media poll: CU picked sixth in the Pac-12 South; Laviska Shenault only unanimous All-Pac-12 selection

From the San Jose Mercury News … Utah will face pressure unlike coach Kyle Whittngham’s program has experienced in its nine seasons in the Pac-12.

The Utes were the narrow choice to win the 2019 conference championship in the annual preseason media poll released Wednesday, edging Oregon and Washington.

(According to the conference, the media has accurately picked the Pac-12 champion in just four of the past 12 years.)

The Utes were the overwhelming favorite in the South division and received 12 votes to win the Pac-12 title game, one more than Oregon and three more than Washington.

The Ducks were picked to win the North by one point over the Huskies.

In addition, the Pac-12 unveiled its inaugural preseason all-conference team Wednesday morning.

One player, Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault, was a unanimous selection.

North Division

1. Oregon (17) 190
2. Washington (17) 189
3. Stanford 129
4. Washington State (1) 108
5. Cal 81
6. Oregon State 38

South Division

1. Utah (33) 206
2. USC (2) 167
3. Arizona State 118
3. UCLA 118
5. Arizona 85
6. Colorado 46

Pac-12 championship game winner: Utah (12 votes)
Others receiving votes: Oregon (11), Washington (9), USC (2), Washington State (1)

*** ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

First Team Offense
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
RB Zack Moss, Utah
WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
TE Colby Parkinson, Stanford
C Nick Harris, Washington
OL Trey Adams, Washington
OL Shane Lemieux, Oregon
OL Walker Little, Stanford
OL Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon

Second Team Offense
QB K.J. Costello, Stanford
RB Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State
RB J.J. Taylor, Arizona
WR Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
TE Hunter Bryant, Washington
C Cohl Cabral, Arizona State
OL Gus Lavaka, Oregon State
OL Abe Lucas, Washington State
OL Darrin Paulo, Utah
OL Penei Sewell, Oregon

First Team Defense
DL Bradlee Anae, Utah
DL Leki Fotu, Utah
DL Jay Tufele, USC
DL Mustafa Johnson, Colorado
LB Troy Dye, Oregon
LB Colin Schooler, Arizona
LB Evan Weaver, California
DB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
DB Julian Blackmon, Utah
DB Myles Bryant, Washington
DB Jaylon Johnson, Utah

Second Team Defense
DL Luc Bequette, California
DL John Penisini, Utah
DL Christian Rector, USC
DL Jordon Scott, Oregon
LB Nate Landman, Colorado
LB Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
LB Jahad Woods, Washington State
DB Camryn Bynum, California
DB Ashtyn Davis, California
DB Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon
DB Darnay Holmes, UCLA

First Team Specialists
PK Jet Toner, Stanford
P Oscar Draguicevich III, Washington State
AP J.J. Taylor, Arizona

Second Team Specialists
PK Brandon Ruiz, Arizona State
P Steven Coutts, California
AP Britain Covey, Utah

RB: Max Borghi, WSU; Joshua Kelley, UCLA; CJ Verdell, ORE
WR: Aaron Fuller, WASH; Theo Howard, UCLA; Dezmon Patmon, WSU
TE: Jacob Breeland, ORE; Cole Fotheringham, UTAH
C: Jake Hanson, ORE
OL: Zach Robertson, ASU; William Sherman, COLO; Austin Jackson, USC; Jaxson Kirkland, WASH; Dallas Warmack, ORE
DL: Thomas Booker, STAN; Jovan Swann, STAN; Levi Onwurzurike, WASH
LB: Palaie Gaoteote, USC
DB: Aashari Crosswell, ASU; Javelin Guidry, UTAH; Jaylinn Hawkins, CAL; Jevon Holland, ORE; Talanoa Hufanga, USC
K: JJ Molson, UCLA
P: Daniel Rodriguez, OSU; Ben Lennon, UTAH
AP: Travell Harris, WSU; Elijah Molden, WASH; Brenden Schooler, ORE; Tyler Vaughns, USC

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July 23rd

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Five Storylines for Wednesday’s Pac-12 Media Day

From CBS Sports … The final power conference media day will take place this week when the Pac-12 welcomes reporters and members of the media to Hollywood for a full day with all 12 of its schools represented on Wednesday. The car wash of shuffling the entire conference through in one day will provide plenty of soundbites to analyze as we begin to preview the 2019 season in the Pac-12.

Here are a few storylines to follow that might get some traction from the coaches and players at the event.

1. The Pac-12 and the playoff … 

2. Washington’s quarterback battle … 

3. Can Justin Herbert lead Oregon back to the title game? … 

4. Drama in LA with Clay Helton and Chip Kelly … 

5. Khalil Tate’s resurgence year? … 

Read full story here

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July 22nd

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“The superconference that wasn’t: How the Pac-16 plan changed college sports”

From The Athletic … Larry Scott was sitting in an Oklahoma City airport lounge, waiting to board a plane. He was in the midst of a tour of multiple Big 12 campuses when he glanced at the television and saw a breaking news report.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is in Oklahoma City as we speak, on his way to pitch multiple Big 12 schools in person on the prospect of forming the Pac-16.

He couldn’t help but look over his shoulder.

“That was a bit of an eerie feeling,” Scott told The Athletic.

He joked with a few other members of the Pac-10’s traveling faction to break the tension.

“It was like we were on an episode of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ or characters in ‘The Fugitive,’ ” he said. “That was uncomfortable to see so much scrutiny and focus on where we were, who we were talking to, a lot of rumors circulating. … I learned a lot about how easy it is to track someone. That was not something I welcomed, but I realized it goes with the territory. It’s a reflection of the passion and intensity of feeling people have around these issues and their importance.

“It was eye-opening.”

So, too, was Scott’s plan.

In the summer of 2010, conference realignment monopolized the conversation across college sports. Scott had been in charge of the Pac-10 for less than a year when he embarked on a bold plan to raid the Big 12 and build a superconference.

Creating the Pac-16 would have decimated the Big 12, which formed in 1994 when Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech left the Southwest Conference and joined the Big 8. The Big 12 had less than two decades of history but boasted four of college football’s biggest brands in the Longhorns, Aggies, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Scott aimed to invite Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Colorado, making his league the biggest conference in college sports.

“There was a lot of momentum, a lot of excitement about it,” then-Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said. “It would have become an absolute superpower.”

It also would have devastated the Big 12’s leftovers.

For those with a road to an invite, the Pac-16 offered an intriguing proposition. It piqued the interest of everyone who might find their university inside the diamond-encrusted fences Scott described for prospective new members. Texas and Oklahoma could stay at the top of big-time football, and their campuses could begin rubbing elbows with academic elites like Stanford, Cal and UCLA.

Continue reading story here (subscription required) …

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July 21st 

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Three biggest questions looming over college football

From Yahoo Sports … No issues in the collegiate sports landscape trigger more fear, excitement or emotion than conference realignment, College Football Playoff expansion and player compensation. All of those issues will be woven together in the next few years, as revenue costs rise, cable television paradigms continue to change and the din for players to get a slice of the pie becomes louder.

Here’s a look at why those three topics will inevitably shape the next generation of college football.

When will the College Football Playoff expand? … 

When will we see the next realignment wave? … 

What’s next in player compensation? … 

Read full story here

ESPN Profile: What makes Mike Leach tick?

From 247 Sports … ESPN profiled Washington State head coach Mike Leach on Sunday for its E:60 news magazine show. “What makes Mike Leach tick? We tried to figure it out,” says EPSN reporter Jeremy Schaap.

ESPN visited with Leach three different times, once each in Pullman, in Cody, Wyo., and in Key West, Fla.

Schaap said Leach was equal parts colorful and polarizing, a brilliant coach and a lightning rod.  Entitled “Mike Leach, The Outsider,” the show touched on Leach’s career in coaching, his uniqueness as well as two controversies, one at Texas Tech and one at WSU last summer.

“There’s a little bit of drama in all of us,” said Leach. “There’s heroes, there’s villains. I do think sports are like that. They might hate me, but I’m still a pretty important part of that drama.”

Schaap asked Leach about the controversies surrounding his Texas Tech exit, and his tweets about Barack Obama in June 2018.

“After all you’d done to turn around that [Texas Tech] program and make it as successful as it was, why would they have it in for you?” Schaap asked.

“It started a year before,” said Leach. “So they wanted me to sign a lowball contract, and I’d been there nearly 10 years … and they keep pressuring me to sign this contract, sign this contract, sign this contract or we’ll fire you.”

Continue reading story here

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July 20th

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Joel Klatt reflects on Colorado/Nebraska rivalry

From HuskerOnline … The Nebraska vs. Colorado series has a different meaning to everyone.

For former Buffalo quarterback and now FOX national analyst Joel Klatt the series takes on a unique feeling.

Klatt grew up 20 minutes south of Boulder and attended the CU vs. NU games as a kid. Out of high school in 2000, Klatt was an 11th round pick by the San Diego Padres in the Major League Baseball draft. He chose baseball over football and realized he might have made a mistake shortly after.

It was the following year during the 2001 Nebraska vs. Colorado game that Klatt came to the realization he wanted to play football and give up baseball.

“I was sitting in the stands kind of lamenting minor league baseball and how much I hated it with my best friend,” Klatt recalls of that November 2001 day in Boulder. “I can remember it was around halftime or the third quarter, and he was like ‘why don’t you just quit baseball?’ That was honestly the first time I had even thought about quitting baseball. Then we charged the field and we were on the field, and I was like ‘maybe I should quit baseball!’ It’s certainly a game that has impacted my life in a positive fashion.”

Continue reading story here

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July 19th

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Jon Wilner: USC should be applauded for taking on an FCS opponent

… Wilner, who is the top reporter covering the Pac-12, has a blind spot when it comes to his beating the “USC must be great for the Pac-12 to be great” drum … 

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Trojans haven’t set foot on the field since early April but recently took a significant step toward long-haul improvement with an adjusted approach to scheduling.

They announced UC Davis as an opponent in 2021.

The move leaves UCLA and Notre Dame as the only major college programs to never schedule a team from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

(More on the Bruins below.)

We don’t know how often the Trojans will slot FCS opponents into future schedules, but the option will lighten their load when deemed necessary.

And it’s necessary.

USC’s path into the College Football Playoff — a path it has yet to navigate successfully — currently features 10 opponents from the Pac-12 (including the championship game), plus Notre Dame and two other FBS foes.

That’s 11 Power Five opponents, and sometimes 12, with a selection process that has not looked kindly on contenders with two losses.

Swap FBS for FCS — or Power Five for FCS — and USC’s prospects for 13-0/12-1 would brighten without material damaging the strength-of-schedule.

Continue reading story here

Scott Frost on Adrian Martinez: “Exactly what we’re looking for to run our offense”

From ESPN … Heading into his second year as Nebraska’s coach, Scott Frost appears to be very happy with where sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez is entering preseason camp.

“I wouldn’t trade our guy for anybody in the country at that position, at the quarterback position,” Frost said at Big Ten media days Thursday. “On top of being a great player, he’s just a great individual. Exactly what we’re looking for to run our offense. We’re probably going to go as far as he can take us this year.”

Martinez is coming off an impressive first year in Lincoln in which he helped the Cornhuskers win four of their last six games following an 0-6 start.

Martinez, who is receiving a lot of preseason hype as a Heisman Trophy candidate, averaged 231 passing yards and threw eight touchdowns to two interceptions in those wins. He also averaged nearly 50 rushing yards in those games.

Continue reading story here

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July 18th

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Deep Dive: Why the Pac-12 is in the trouble it’s in compared to other Power Five Conferences

From The Athletic … One Power 5 athletic director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he thinks the conference’s perception is due to the fact that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott believes the quality of a conference is in its depth, rather than its top-shelf talent. That opinion, the AD said, runs contrary to the other four Power 5 conference commissioners, who define relative strength as their top team.

The Pac-12 declined to comment on this or any other matter addressed in this story.

This has put Pac-12 coaches in a weird spot. After missing out on the Playoff for the third time in five years, some are wondering what it’s going to take to get the Pac-12 back into a position of respect.

“It’s tough as a competitor to sit here and go, ‘Well, we need some team to beat everybody,’” one Pac-12 head coach said, “but for the case of the Playoff and the case of winning a national championship for the conference, I think it is important for somebody to take off.”

During the 2014 season, Oregon did. In 2016, Washington did. And in both of those seasons, the Pac-12 got into the Playoff. But in the other three seasons, parity has ruled.

Which Pac-12 team was No. 1 last season? It’s not easy to say. Some will point to Washington, but the Huskies lost to Oregon and Cal, neither of which won more than five Pac-12 games in 2018. Washington State ended the season as the highest-ranked conference team in the AP Top 25, but the Cougars lost to Washington and USC, a team that went 4-5 in Pac-12 play.

But again, things weren’t always this way.

Continue reading story here (subscription required) …

NCAA to start distributing $208 million to 50,000 former athletes

From ESPN …More than 50,000 former college athletes next month will begin collecting portions of a $208 million class-action settlement paid by the NCAA in a case that challenged its caps on compensation.

Hagens Berman, the law firm representing the plaintiffs in Alston v. the NCAA, said Wednesday that 53,748 FBS football players and Division I men’s and women’s basketball players who competed between March 2010 and March 2017 are eligible to receive compensation.

The law firm said payments will range from $5,000 to $7,500 for those who competed for four years, and checks will start being distributed in late August. Distribution was held up by one objector to the settlement, who missed a July 17 deadline to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

The settlement of damages in the case was approved by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in 2017. Earlier this year, Wilken issued a narrow ruling against the NCAA in the Alston case, saying the association could not cap compensation to athletes related to education.

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July 17th

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Vegas Pac-12 opening lines: Conference predicted to go 9-3

From the San Jose Mercury News … We’re six weeks from the season openers, but the bookies are locked in.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have published point spreads for the games on Week Zero (Aug. 24) and all major college matchups in Week One.

They expect an impressive start for the Pac-12.

The conference is, or will be favored in nine of the 12 games and heavily favored in seven.

Early odds per the Westgate Superbook.

Aug. 24
Arizona (minus-11.5) at Hawaii

Aug. 29
UCLA (plus-3.5) at Cincinnati
Arizona State (minus-25.5) vs. Kent State
Utah (minus-6) at Brigham Young

Aug. 30
Colorado (minus-11) vs. Colorado State (in Denver)
Oregon State (plus-16.5) vs. Oklahoma State

Aug. 31
Stanford (minus-6.5) vs. Northwestern
Oregon (plus-2.5) vs. Auburn (in Arlington)
Washington State (minus-33.5) vs. New Mexico State
USC (minus-13.5) vs. Fresno State

Note: Vegas hasn’t set lines for the Washington and Cal games because of the FCS opponents (Eastern Washington and UC Davis, respectively), but both will be multiple-touchdown favorites by late August.

Continue reading story here

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July 16th

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The Athletic: Best of the ’90’s includes the “Miracle at Michigan”; Bill McCartney

From The Athletic … After the 1980s produced 10 consensus national championships with no egregious snubs, the 1990s were filled with contentious title debates that resulted in college football unveiling the Bowl Championship Series in 1998.

Four of the first eight seasons in the decade featured split championships, and another season (1994) should have had one, too. Amid all the debates, Florida State threatened to build a dynasty, and Nebraska actually did.

Best games of the 1990’s

4. 1994: Colorado 27, Michigan 26. A decade after Doug Flutie’s famous Hail Mary to beat Miami, Kordell Stewart joined him in the pantheon of memorable finishes. After crushing Wisconsin at home, the No. 7 Buffaloes traveled to Ann Arbor for another Big Ten game against No. 4 Michigan. Colorado led 14-9 at halftime — Stewart had a Hail Mary intercepted in the end zone to end the first half — but Michigan scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 65-yard pass from Todd Collins to Amani Toomer, to build a 12-point lead. The teams traded fumbles in the fourth quarter before Rashaan Salaam scored to cut the deficit to 26-21. Michigan recovered an onside kick before punting, setting up Stewart’s heroics.

From his own 36-yard line, Stewart dropped back and launched a Hail Mary from the 27. It was tipped into the hands of Michael Westbrook in the end zone, giving Colorado an improbable win thanks to the the Miracle at Michigan.

5. 1990: Colorado 33, Missouri 31. In 1989, Colorado went undefeated in the regular season but lost the national title because of an Orange Bowl loss to Notre Dame. In 1990, Colorado shared the national title despite tying its opener, losing its second game and winning its sixth game after the worst officiating blunder in the history of sports.

The game featured plenty of fireworks, including touchdowns of 68 and 70 yards by Colorado’s Mike Pritchard and touchdowns of 49 yards and 38 yards by Missouri’s Damon Mays. The latter Mays touchdown on a screen pass gave Missouri a 31-27 lead with 2:32 left. With only 31 seconds to play, Colorado quarterback Charles Johnson — starting in place of the injured Darian Hagan — spike the ball after a first down at the 5-yard line. Eric Bieniemy was tackled at the 1, then stopped short of the goal line on “third” down. As bodies were untangled, Colorado spiked the ball out of desperation with only two seconds left. It should have resulted in a turnover on downs. Instead, the chain crew — perhaps distracted by a fan being treated for a heart attack on the track — and the referees lost count of the down.

On fifth-and-goal, Johnson just barely reached the end zone with no time left. Even though its winning touchdown came on a play that indisputably should not have been run, the Colorado win stood. The Buffaloes ran the table and got revenge against Notre Dame — with the help of a clipping penalty wiping out a 92-yard Rocket Ismail punt return touchdown in the last minute — with a 10-9 win in the Fiesta Bowl to split the national title with Georgia Tech.

Best coaches of the 1990’s

6. Bill McCartney, Colorado. Colorado’s patience with McCartney paid off, as he engineered a slow rebuild before pushing the Buffaloes over the top. They fell just short of the national title in 1989, then split the title with Georgia Tech in 1990. In five years in this decade, McCartney had a 47-10-4 record with a pair of top 10s, the national championship and a Heisman winner in Rashaan Salaam.

Read complete lists here

Oregonian takes an early look at the CU/Oregon matchup

From the OregonianWe’re taking an early look at Oregon’s opponents for the 2019 regular season. This 12-part series will feature analysis and insight from beat reporters who cover the teams Oregon will play this year.

Oregon storylines:

  • Friday night lights

It’s a short week for both teams and a rare Friday night game for both. It’s also the first meeting in the series since 2016, when Colorado came to Eugene and won 41-38.

  • Containing Laviska Shenault Jr.

Shenault is going to be an All-American candidate if he improves on his sophomore season. But all his scoring came in the first five games and he didn’t face the best corners in the Pac-12. That’s going to change this fall when he faces Graham and a few weeks later gets Paulson Adebo and Stanford.

  • Halfway point

Oregon will be halfway through the season after this game with a daunting three-game stretch awaiting. Anything worse than 4-2 would be a massive disappointment.

Colorado storylines:

  • Mario Cristobal-Mel Tucker connection

Cristobal and Tucker worked together at Alabama in 2015. The former inherited a far better situation in becoming a head coach in the Pac-12. The latter appears to be bringing a similar approach to the task of rebuilding the Buffaloes.

  • Can Montez win again at Autzen?

Steven Montez won his first career start at Autzen in 2016. CU will likely be a huge underdog (they were 10-point dogs in ’16). If Montez were to lead another improbable win it would be shake up the conference and be the signature win of Mel Tucker’s debut season.

Continue reading story here (including an interview with Brian Howell from the Daily Camera) …

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July 15th

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Below is a list of the Pac-12 football student-athletes selected to NCFAA preseason watch lists

2019 Maxwell Award (college football’s best player) Watch List
• Khalil Tate, QB – ARIZ
• J.J. Taylor, RB – ARIZ
• Eno Benjamin, RB – ASU
• Steven Montez, QB – COLO
• Laviska Shenault, WR – COLO
• Justin Herbert, QB – ORE
• K.J. Costello, QB – STAN
• Joshua Kelley, RB – UCLA
• JT Daniels, QB – USC
• Zack Moss, RB – UTAH
• Jacob Eason, QB – WASH

2019 Bednarik Award (college football’s best defensive player) Watch List – Monday, July 15
• Colin Schooler, LB – ARIZ
• Merlin Robertson, LB – ASU
• Evan Weaver, LB – CAL
• Mustafa Johnson, DE – COLO
• Nate Landman, LB – COLO
• Troy Dye, LB – ORE
• Paulson Adebo, CB – STAN
• Myles Bryant, CB – WASH
• Jay Tufele, DT – USC
• Bradlee Anae, DE – UTAH
• Jaylon Johnson, CB – UTAH

Four Buffs earn Watch List status

Press Release from CUBuffs.com … Signaling that the 2019 season is quickly approaching, four Colorado Buffaloes were named to watch lists for the Bednarik Award and the Maxwell Award Monday.  The two awards are the first of 16 award watch lists that will be released the next two weeks by the National College Football Awards Association.

Junior DE Mustafa Johnson and junior LB Nate Landman were both names to the Bednarik Award Watch List, presented to the college football defensive player of the year.  Senior QB Steven Montez and junior WR Laviska Shenault were named to the Maxwell Award, presented to the college football player of the year.  Both are presented by the Maxwell Football Club.

Mustafa Johnson was an All-Pac-12 performer and the team’s co-defensive MVP, bursting onto the scene last season as a sophomore in his first season after junior college.  He had 73 tackles, the most for a defensive lineman in the past 21 seasons, led the Buffs with 8.5 sacks and 18 total tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries.  His 18 TFL’s is the seventh-most in CU history and most in the last 25 seasons and his 8.5 sacks led the Pac-12.

Nate Landman assumes the defensive play-calling duties after also bursting onto the college football scene as a sophomore last season.  A midseason first-team All-American and All-Pac-12 Performer, he led the team with 123 tackles including 25 at or behind the line of scrimmage.  He was all over the field as evidence by his 10 third down stops (including two on fourth down), five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, four sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Steven Montez returns as a fifth-year senior and two-year starter who is already in the top five in most passing and total offense categories in CU history.  He ranks third in CU history with 7,648 yards of total offense and fourth in career passing yards with 6,841.  He has 27 starts to his credit and has started the last 22 games.  He has two of the top five seasons in CU history for passing yards and two of the top four for total offense.

The nation’s returning leading receiver and one of the most dynamic players in the country, Laviska Shenault is yet another Buff that burst onto the scene as a sophomore last season.  He was a midseason first-team All-American by just about every publication before being injured and missing three games of action the second half of the season.  Still, he led the nation in receptions (9.6 per game).  He was the only player in the nation to record five receiving and rushing touchdowns (six and five, respectively) and against Arizona State became the first CU player to have multiple receiving and rushing touchdowns in the same game.  Projected as a high first round draft pick next season, he’s ranked the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation by USA Today and the No. 6 prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft by Bleacher Report.

The calendar for the remaining award watch lists include: Davey O’Brien Award (July 16, top quarterback), Doak Walker Award (July 17, top running back), Biletnikoff Award (July 18, top receiver), Mackey Award (July 19, top tight end), Rimington Trophy (July 19, top center), Jim Thorpe Award (July 22, top defensive back), Butkus Award (July 22, top linebacker), Outland Trophy (July 23, interior lineman), Bronko Nagurski Trophy (July 23, top defensive player), Lou Groza Award (July 24, top place kicker), Ray Guy Award (July 24, top punter), Paul Hornung Award (July 25, most versatile player), Wuerffel Trophy (July 25, community service and academic achievement) and the Walter Camp Award (July 26, top player).

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July 14th

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FanSided on Pac-12 betting: Take the over on CU at 4.5 wins

From FanSided.com … When the 2016 college football season saw the Pac-12 send its second team in three years to the College Football Playoff, it looked like the conference was on its way to sustained prominence.  Since then, it hasn’t gone exactly to plan. Despite preseason hype, no Pac-12 team even sniffed the playoffs in 2017 or 2018. Washington is the only team to finish in the top 10 (10th) in the final rankings over that span.

Based on the 2019 Pac-12 win totals, it doesn’t look like the conference of champions will send a team to the Playoff this year either. In fact, FanDuel Sportsbook doesn’t project any Pac-12 team to win double-digit games. Is Vegas way off? Below are the 2019 Pac-12 win totals and advice on whether you should bet the over or the under.

Colorado — 4.5: Over

Last year, Colorado won their first five games…then lost the rest.  They return their quarterback, Steven Montez, for his senior year.  They will need him to shine under a young offensive line and new head coach.  The defensive-minded head coach will need his defense to keep things close.  The Buffs will need to find at least 2 conference wins.  Leadership out of Montez will help Colorado eke out just enough wins to hit the over.

Continue reading story here

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July 12th

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USC schedules first-ever game against an FCS foe (Trojans want a shot at Dan Hawkins?)

Note … Dan Hawkins has spent the past two seasons at his alma mater, going 10-3 last season … 

Related … “USC schedules first-ever FCS foe, leaves Notre Dame, UCLA as only FBS teams that haven’t” … from NBC Sports

From CBS Sports … USC announced three future home games on Friday afternoon, and they’re against UC-Davis in 2021, Nevada in 2023 and San Jose State in 2024. Now, as you read that sentence, some of you are probably wondering why a national site like CBSSports.com would be drawing attention to USC scheduling games against UC-Davis, Nevada and San Jose State. Maybe if they’d scheduled a game against Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State it would be worth your time, but surely UC-Davis, Nevada and San Jose State isn’t worth our time?

Well, you’d be two-thirds right.

The game against UC-Davis is significant. You see, before Friday’s announcement, USC was one of only three schools that could claim it had never faced an FCS opponent. That will come to an end when the Trojans host the Aggies on Sept. 4, 2021. Barring some unforeseen schedule changes between now and then, after that date, only Notre Dame and USC’s crosstown rival UCLA will be able to make that claim.

So why is USC doing this?

Well, while no official reason was given along with the announcement, associate AD Steve Lopes told The Athletic earlier this year that making sure the Trojans play seven home games a season would be a priority for the program in the future. With the Pac-12 playing nine conference games per season, the Trojans are forced to play five road games in conference every other year. That means at least two of its three nonconference games must be at home, and with its annual series against Notre Dame alternating locations each season, it’s not always easy to find FBS schools willing to make the trip to Los Angeles for a game. Finding an FCS school to venture to Los Angeles, however, is a bit easier.

Continue reading story here

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July 11th

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Path To The Playoff: Pac-12. Can Anyone Stay Alive In The Chase?

From College Football News … What has to happen for the Pac-12 to get a team into the College Football Playoff? Along with the obvious – just win everything, and get in – here are five key steps for the conference to make it.

5. Win A Big Freaking Non-Conference Game Already …

4. Wipe Out Notre Dame …

3. USC Needs To Be USC Again …

2. Oregon … Washington … Stanford … It Doesn’t Matter …

1. The Pac-12 Championship Winner Might Need Some Help …

Read full story here

CBS Hot Seat Rankings – only nine of 130 coaches (currently) in trouble

From CBS Sports … It was an offseason of massive turnover in college football. Twenty-seven programs — more than one-fifth of FBS — changed coaches. That means a large swath of coaches are in that honeymoon year with their new schools. In fact, the 2019 Hot Seat Rankings should be noted for their coolness. Specifically, 70 coaches — more than half of FBS — are rated 0 or 1, meaning they are either “virtually untouchable” or “safe and secure.”

The Hot Seat has long been an accurate predictor in terms of job security. Over the last four years, 12 of the 18 coaches rated 4 or worse (67 percent) eventually lost their jobs. (Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre and Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury were listed in multiple years.) Going into 2019, there are only nine coaches on the proverbial hot seat (rating of 4 or higher). Something tells me that, in the end, there will be more than nine coaching changes — mostly because it seems that the coaching carousel is always spinning.

Dennis Dodd has detailed the nine coaches sitting on the hottest seats ahead of the 2019 campaign. Below you can see where all 130 FBS coaches stand before the season begins (Liberty is now officially a full-fledged FBS member). Check out the ratings key first and see where every coach in college football ranks just two months prior to kickoff.

RATINGWHAT IT MEANSCOACHES
5Win or be fired3
4Start improving now6
3Pressure is mounting12
2All good … for now39
1Safe and secure58
0Untouchable12

From the Pac-12 … 

  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona … 3 (a 2 last year)
  • Herm Edwards, Arizona State … 1 (a 3 last year)
  • Justin Wilcox, California … 2
  • Mel Tucker, Colorado … 1
  • Mario Cristobal, Oregon … 1 (a 2 last year)
  • Jonathan Smith, Oregon State … 1 (a 1 last year)
  • David Shaw, Stanford … 0
  • Chip Kelly, UCLA … 2 (a 0 last year)
  • Clay Helton, USC … 4 (a 2 last year)
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah … 1
  • Chris Petersen, Washington … 0 (a 1 last year)
  • Mike Leach, Washington State … 1 (a 2 last year)

Read full story here

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July 10th

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Class of 2019 cornerback from USC enters Transfer Portal

... 247 Sports indicates that Davis had interest in CU before committing to USC last spring … 

From USCFootball.com … True freshman cornerback and former three-star Federal Way (WA) prospect Trey Davis has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, USCFootball.com has learned. Davis, who enrolled last month, was one of eight defensive backs USC signed in the winter.

Davis is the second 2019 cornerback loss for the Trojans this month: three-star prospect and JUCO All-American cornerback Jaylen Watson re-opened his commitment last week citing academics.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Davis signed in December after he verbally committed to USC in May, jumping on a scholarship offer from former defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford. Similar to Williams, Davis lost his senior season due to a knee injury.

“USC has been one of my top schools for a minute, it’s been a dream for a couple years now to be there,” Davis said after committing. “When the offer came down I knew I was going to hop on it quick, just making my dream a reality.”

“He’s quick, he’s physical, has active hands, strong in coverage and plays with an edge,” wrote West Coast Recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman. “At numerous events this spring, he’s locked down his side of the field when playing corner, but then would also cover slots and backs and shut them down routinely. He’s a player who we think has his best football ahead of him.”

Continue reading story here

California bill allowing athletes to profit from their likenesses one step closer to becoming law

From the Orange County Register … As California inches ever closer to a direct and potentially landscape-altering conflict with the NCAA, the state took another step Tuesday toward allowing its collegiate athletes to profit off of their names, images and likenesses.

The Fair Pay to Play Act, which was written as a direct rebuke of the NCAA and its long-standing rule barring athletes from receiving outside compensation, passed through the state Assembly’s Higher Education Committee on Tuesday with a unanimous 9-0 vote.

With an identical bill already approved by the state Senate, the Assembly’s bill will next be heard in August by the Appropriations Committee. From there, it would first move to the Assembly floor, then, if passed again, onto the Governor’s desk.

“No one else under California law can market your name, image or likeness without your permission,” said state senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who co-authored the bill. “Only student-athletes are prevented from that.”

If that were the case in any other industry, Skinner added, “there would be universal outcry.”

But the NCAA has long clung to its strict definition of amateurism, maintaining that its athletes should not be allowed to profit from such possible revenue channels, which could include anything from local sponsorships to autograph and apparel deals. In a letter last month, before the bill was first heard in committee, NCAA president Mark Emmert warned of “unintended consequences” and lobbied to postpone the bill, which he wrote “threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics.”

Continue reading story here

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July 9th

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Stats show why USC fans have little confidence in Clay Helton

From USCFootball.com … The original plan for today was to finally get around to going through all of Phil Steele’s many conclusions about this Trojans football team. Interesting stuff as it always is from Phil.

But that can wait for another day after reading this staggering, stunning tweet from ESPN’s Chris Fallica, “the Bear” as he’s better known from his College GameDay role as college football’s oddsmaker-in-chief.

Here’s the substance of his take, explaining mathematically why so many USC fans refuse to put much faith into a Trojan team headed by Clay Helton.

Fallica demolishes Helton’s tenure the last two seasons with five quick hits, to wit:

*** USC is 6-17-1 against the spread in its last 24 games. Under-perform much?

*** USC is 1-12 outright as an underdog and 2-11 against the spread. No gutty little Trojans’ upsets here.

*** Eleven of the 12 losses have been by double digits. Forget that FIGHT ON! stuff, when they’re down, they’re out.

*** Eight of those 12 have been by at least 17 points. Start the bus boys, we are outta’ here.

*** Average margin of loss in the last 12 games for USC as an underdog? 18.8 points. Again, you get the point. Even with Sam Darnold, these guys were not getting after it against the better opponents.

… And then there’s this: How in the world does USC ever find itself as the underdog in the Pac-12? And a beaten-up one at that?

How is that possible. You’re USC. And those guys are “the other 11.”

But even worse than losing is making it easy on them by not competing when the going gets tough.

The numbers here don’t lie. These recent USC teams have not made it tough on the way too many teams who were supposed to beat them.

And then they have not given their fans that sense of “stay with us, we’re not out of this game.” Because they most often were. Those 34-stright-point runs by Texas and Utah last season are hard to forget.

Those Trojan teams had no answers in any part of their game. And they knew it. So they pretty much said “what the heck . . . let’s get this over with.”

No good program ever does that. But USC has. Can that change? Of course, but it won’t be easy and if Chris Fallica were running the odds, he’d make it a longshot.

But it absolutely must change. The question is how?

Continue reading story here

CU facing five “Year Two” coaches with much to prove

From CBS Sports … Year 2 of a college football coaching tenure can be a pivot point. The first year almost always comes free of expectations, but by the end of the third season, there is a body of work that can be fairly judged. In between, coaches have a roster that is a mix of their first recruiting classes, veterans recruited by the previous staff and — increasingly in the year of the transfer portal — a handful of players that have transferred in from other schools or the junior college ranks. Managing that hybrid roster and settling in with the lessons learned in Year 1 is a tremendous challenge, but it’s also presented incredible opportunities in years past.

Urban Meyer won a national championship in Year 2 at Florida, Nick Saban notched top-10 finishes and conference title game appearances in both Year 2s at LSU and Alabama and recently Scott Frost, in Year 2, led UCF to an undefeated 13-0 record.

On the flip side, Year 2 can signal to a school and fans that a coach isn’t the right fit for the job. Sometimes that’s warranted and other times it’s not, but if lowered expectations aren’t met in Year 1, and Year 2 doesn’t present some sort of turnaround, then it can be the first signs of a short end to a coaching stint.

Scott Frost, Nebraska: As a coach, Frost has proven to be elite communicator, and his message is resonating deeply throughout the community at his alma mater. An 0-6 start last season has been all but forgotten thanks to a 4-2 finish to the year, and the improvement throughout the end of 2018 has Cornhuskers fans on the edge of their seats heading into 2019. With quarterback Adrian Martinez back in his second year, Nebraska has the potential to make some noise in the Big Ten West and cement Frost’s place among the league’s top tier of coaches.

Mario Cristobal, Oregon: Improved recruiting following a drop-off on the trail has been the first sign of Cristobal’s positive impact on the Oregon program. Now he’s tasked with the challenge of delivering the sort of results that Oregon fans became accustomed to in the first half of the last decade. A big part of Cristobal’s “most to gain” status in Year 2 comes hand-in-hand with Justin Herbert’s status as one of the top quarterback talents in college football. All year there will be an NFL Draft-powered focus on the Ducks, regardless of record. Cristobal and the Ducks program can benefit from that spotlight if Oregon is in the College Football Playoff race. Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on result — the reality of that playoff contention hinges on a kickoff weekend game against Auburn.

Chip Kelly, UCLA: There are two sides to the Chip Kelly analysis. Some look at the strides the Bruins made a year ago with hope for a strong rushing offense led by Joshua Kelly and a big step forward for Dorian Thompson-Robinson in his second year as quarterback. The thinking, similar to Martinez and Frost at Nebraska, is that the trial by fire in Year 1 will have benefits when UCLA’s offense takes the field in 2019. The flip side of the Kelly analysis suggests that a “smartest guy in the room” approach to recruiting and the on-brand stubborn commitment to his beliefs and systems don’t set up well after inheriting a roster with talent deficiencies.

Herm Edwards, Arizona State: Last season, the Arizona State win total in Las Vegas was 4.5, so it’s clear that Edwards has already exceeded expectations in the early years of his tenure with the Sun Devils. Replicating that success is going to be tough without stars like Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry, but Arizona State was competitive enough to believe this hire is less of a wild experiment than some imagined after it was announced.

Read full story here (not discussed: Kevin Sumlin, Arizona) …

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July 8th

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Pacific Takes: Steven Montez higher rated than either of the LA school quarterbacks

From Pacific Takes … Top 50 2019 Pac-12 players 41-50 – We start our countdown of the top players in the Pac-12 in 2019.

Let’s start with players who just missed the cut before we get into detail:

52. Dorian Thompson-Robinson So. QB UCLA

51. JT Daniels So. QB USC

48. Steven Montez Sr. QB Colorado – Montez could do what Sefo Liufau did before him and progress as a senior and turn into a very good QB who leads the Buffs to a bowl. He actually might have better tools than Liufau and is a darkhorse to become a star at QB.

47. Khalil Tate Sr. QB Arizona – Two years ago we thought Tate was going to be Lamar Jackson. He’s not, but he’s still a scary quarterback to defend with a ton of experience.

46. Tyler Huntley Sr. QB Utah – Huntley flashed his potential before he got hurt as a junior. He’s still in this above average senior QB cluster, though he has the best shot of breaking out of it of any of these QBs.

Continue reading list here

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July 5th

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Mountain West future on line as TV talks take place

From Las Vegas Review-Journal … Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson oversees a league with needs as varied as its topography, and that is especially the case when it comes to deciding which TV and multimedia rights contracts make the most sense as negotiations take place for a new set of deals.

Some athletic directors and presidents place the emphasis on national and regional exposure and over having control of game starts. Other administrators, particularly those in the eastern part of the conference, are tired of 10 p.m. Mountain time tipoffs for basketball games and are willing to go more of a digital rather than linear TV route to make it happen.

It’s possible, perhaps even likely, the Mountain West will be able to accommodate all parties as it negotiates its new deals.

Sports media expert Joel Lulla, a lecturer at Texas, said he thinks a marriage between the Mountain West and the growing ESPN-Plus digital service makes sense.

The American Athletic Conference agreed to a 12-year, $1 billion deal with ESPN that includes a major portion of games being played on the digital format, setting the precedent of what’s expected to come. It’s about four times what the American made on its previous ESPN deal, but AAC fans who want to see their favorite team must pay $4.99 per month to watch.

“The number the American Athletic Conference got, it’s a little misleading because the AAC is going to have to produce a lot of events, and that’s going to cost millions of dollars,” said Lulla, the former head of ABC Sports’ legal and business department and a lead counsel at IMG. “But if ESPN-Plus and ESPN are not interested in the Mountain West, they’ve got a big problem because I don’t know who else is going to step up in any real way.

“They’re currently between the CBS deal and the ESPN deal somewhere in the $16, $17 million-a-year range. If ESPN-Plus is interested, they could double that easily. If ESPN is not interested, they could be looking at a 50 percent haircut.”

Continue reading story here

Three Pac-12 running backs given high odds at leading the nation in rushing

From 247 Sports … College football is stocked with a ton of talent heading into the 2019 season, but the position with the most depth may very well be running back.

Led by an ultra-talented group from the 2017 recruiting class, this year’s crop of running backs is both loaded with elite talent at the top and extremely deep. But only one of those running backs can finish as the nation’s leading rusher in 2019.

So who will be? Well, the oddsmakers at SportsLine have set some odds for the running backs with the best chance to lead the nation in rushing the upcoming season.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the 10 running backs with the best odds to lead the nation in rushing this season according to SportsLine oddsmakers. Players are listed from best odds to worst.

Eno Benjamin – Arizona State … SportsLine odds: 5/1

Benjamin is coming off a breakout sophomore season in which he finished as the nation’s fifth-leading rusher with 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns on 300 carries. In order for him to lead the nation in rushing, he’ll need to make a major jump in yards per carry from the 5.5 mark he averaged last season. But his cause is certainly helped by the fact that he’s the unquestioned bell cow for Sun Devils, with no other running back having received more than 45 carries a season ago. A former four-star recruit out of Wylie East High School in Wylie, Texas, Benjamin was ranked as the No. 6 running back in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports Composite.

Salvon Ahmed – Washington … SportsLine odds: 8/1

One of the most athletic tailbacks in the country, Ahmed has spent the last two seasons backing up Myles Gaskin, the program’s all-time leading rusher. But now he’s set to transition into the starting role and he’s poised for a big season. After rushing for 996 yards and 10 touchdowns on 165 carries over his first two seasons, he should see a significantly larger workload in 2019, but it remains to be seen whether it will be large enough to have a serious shot at leading the nation in rushing. A former four-star recruit out of Juanita High School in Kirkland, Wash., Ahmed was ranked as the No. 2 athlete in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports Composite.

Jermar Jefferson – Oregon State … SportsLine odds: 10/1

Jefferson wasted little time making an impact for the Beavers as a true freshman last season. He appeared in all 12 games for the Beavers and despite not cracking the starting lineup until Week 3, he went on to rush for 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns on 239 carries, highlighted by a 254-yard outing against Arizona State. He finished ninth in the country in rushing, while no other freshman ranked higher than 30th. A former three-star recruit out of Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif., Jefferson was ranked as the No. 41 running back in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports Composite.

Read full list here

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July 3rd

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Ranking Pac-12 offensive lines: CU in the top half

From Pacific Takes … 2019 Pac-12 offensive line rankings: Oregon has the Pac-12’s strongest offensive line …

6. Colorado (T Will Sherman So. G Tim Lynott Sr. G Brett Tonz Sr. C Colby Pursell So. T Arlington Hambright Sr.) – The Buffs have put together a nice offensive line led by Sherman who might actually be the Pac-12’s best offensive linemen. Lynott is a talented veteran and Auburn (should read: “Oklahoma State”) grad transfer Hambright should help right away.

Read full story here

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July 2nd

… Foe Pause … 

Washington leaves Nike for Adidas

… Take that, Mr. Knight! …

From NBC Sports … Today was the dawn of a new era for the Washington Huskies. A lucrative new 10-year contract with Adidas officially started today, July 1, as Washington is now officially no longer a Nike-branded school.

“We are very excited to kick off our partnership with Adidas, and I think our student-athletes and fans will appreciate the depth of thoughtfulness and commitment they have poured into these launch activations,” Washington Director of Athletics Jen Cohensaid in a released statement. “Leading up to the partnership launch, Adidas has shown a huge appetite to listen and learn what makes Washington unique, and I believe that spirit will be reflected throughout all of these activations.”

Fans will have to let their imaginations run wild just a little longer before the first look at Washington’s new football uniforms are unveiled for the first time. The new football uniform will be unveiled on July 10. Don’t expect too many changes from Washington’s standard look and color scheme, but count on seeing some standard Adidas design elements implemented into the Husky uniforms. And of course, prepare for some sort of alternative uniform, although that may be held off for a later point in time.

Washington had been a Nike school since 1997 and the contract had been estimated to be valued at about $3.5 million per year. As previously reported, the contract with Adidas is valued at $119 million between how much cash Adidas will pay directly to the university, how much is reserved for product and marketing.

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July 1st

… Foe Pause … 

Ex-USC assistant suing school claiming he was forced out for reporting NCAA violations

From CBS Sports … A former USC assistant is suing the school after he claims he was forced out for reporting possible NCAA violations. Rick Courtright, a defensive quality control assistant for the Trojans from 2016-18, is seeking at least $2 million in damages in the whistleblower case, which specifically names defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

According to the complaint obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Courtright overheard a conversation in which Pendergast worked with then-graduate assistants Brett Arce and Austin Clark to pay two USC students to take online classes for them. Courtright also claims he witnessed Pendergast handing an unspecified amount of cash to Clark, who then allegedly gave it to one of the students.

Arce is a defensive quality control analyst with USC while Clark is currently an assistant at Illinois coaching the defensive line.

Courtright reported the allegations to USC’s compliance office in June 2017 and filed an anonymous complaint with the school. Additionally, Courtright reported possible NCAA violations committed by the grad assistants for inappropriate use of a school courtesy car and driving full-time assistant coaches around while recruiting. The complaint then goes on to state that Courtright’s actions resulted in retaliation against him, leading to his forced resignation in 2018.

Continue reading story here

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40 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. The percentage of attendance is not a very good way of comparing, UCLA plays in the Rosebowl with about an 100,000 seats, USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum with as many seats and like any other team their sales rely on wins too; and they are not winning right now.

    Meanwhile WSU, OSU and even OU have pretty small stadiums and OU was selling out when they were winning, last couple of years are not their norm either.

    I’d say Boulder’s seat count is closer to average of the bigger programs playing on their OWN campus, not as large as the 110,000 in the big house, or a few others. So, at 50% UCLA is selling way more seats than the smaller stadiums have seats. At 77% CU is selling almost what some of those smaller stadiums seat and it’s been down years for wins and attendance.

    Once Tucker starts to win again attendance will rise, not because of a game time, but the product. Win 10 games and be playing for the PAC12 on game 11 and fans will come to a 10am game against Utah or another PAC12 team; even if it’s snowing. 😉

    1. Wilner also used actual attendance in the article. Here are CU’s numbers:
      Colorado
      Official 2018 attendance: 45,809
      Estimated in-house count: 41,228
      Folsom Field capacity: 53,750

  2. Is it true that the Boulder DC did not send Brian Howell to the PAC 12 Media event? Did the DP have a media rep at the event ? Even this two bit paper here in Tucson had a couple of guys there. It would be interesting to know if the the DC was the only home town college newspaper not represented.

    1. VK, I like my eggs yolks just mildly runny on the Eggs Benedict that you would be serving me. Country fried or hash brown potatoes……it doesn’t matter which ones. I also require a couple extra English Muffins with a Wild Blueberry Jam on the side. The Bloody should be pretty spicy with a nice fresh stalk of celery in it and an olive or two on a tooth pick. A Chile Lime coating on the rim of the glass would be also very nice.

      1. A chile lime coating??? Sounds to me like you are the one who should be serving breakfast. VK will probably hand out golf ball shaped bran muffins. If you accept the challenge I would prefer pecan infused cinnamon roll french toast with a side of real country ham (none of that honey crap). Substitute a tequila sunrise for the tomato juice made with Patron, of course. I havent found any of the thousands of new boutique tequilas I like better.

  3. I hope that Larry Scott’s announcement that the conference is “exploring” some 10:00 am starts bears fruit…even more games in the 2:00 pm or 6:00 pm slots would be a marked improvement over having to burn the midnight oil as is so often the case.

  4. aaahh the ol PAC 16 try. Brings to mind that “solid” Christian school Baylor who took to bad mouthing CU in desperation when it looked like they may be left behind. The Baylor pres Ken Starr who made a huge federal case and career over Clinton’s indiscretions had the school scandal over protecting some players from rape charges.
    Besides RGIII I hate Baylor worse than the cobs. I will always root against them.

  5. Fully disagree with Jon Wilner, USC is showing desperation by adding an FCS opponent to their schedule. I don’t like the games on anyone’s schedule, particularly on CU’s. These are complete BS games.

    But if they are going to do this, then wield it as an advantage the way the SEC does and schedule the FCS game in November. That way you get the benefit of a “win” in November while essentially enjoying a bye-week the way the overrated SEC does every year.

    In fact I would argue that playing the Nuns of the Poor academy in November has likely been the single biggest benefit to the SEC under the new Pretend-offs. No one recovers from a loss in November to still make the final 4 semifinals, thus the SEC protects itself for one weekend in November while the other conferences cannibalize themselves.

  6. 3. USC Needs To Be USC Again …
    2. Oregon … Washington … Stanford … It Doesn’t Matter

    Well Buffalo-Chip on that Bull-sheet.

    Oh sure the condoms being the condoms again…………What cheating? Illegal stuff? Yup that’s them. That 12 note song is ancient. As Tom Jackson said………….IT’S OVER FAT MAN..

    What about UCLA…………..that writer is a duphis.
    Stanford?……………….nice fencing team……………..Oregon…………..ugly mascot……………………..Washington……………a state of whiners.

    Go Buffs.

    Note: The Mighty Buffs play all 4 of those that the egghead says need to step up to make the 12 relevant. May a Buffalo-crow (yes there are crows called buffalo crows) launch an airborne chip right to his noggin. 3 of his sweeties coming right dang here to the Magnificent Folsom Field and the Buffs going to visit the other one………Sheesh…………..

    Note 2: “THESE BUFFS AIN’T YOUR GARDNERS BUFFS” write that down.

  7. “……Pacific Takes: Steven Montez higher rated than either of the LA school quarterbacks….

    Oh crappola there goes the ego and the pizzas.

    Buffs

    Note: Good kid. Okay player. Still a child with an ego………………”all about me”…………….4 years and no growth………………..Okay as I always said…………….never had a real qb coach………………and certainly never a real HC………………..so maybe I am a little hard em………………….but dang nab it shut up and execute………………………….like Stu does

    1. Hmmmmm…..did Montez finish several strokes ahead of you?
      Gee VK I would have figgered you would give him credit for one thing. He wont be “asked” to force the ball into Jay now and then.
      and if you think Mel is the kind of guy who will let it be …”all about him”……no worries…. if it truly is you will find Lytle, Stenstrom or Lewis starting probably in that order.

      1. Yo ep.
        I wish him the best. I just recall his arrogant attitude after 2016. Didn’t like like it. Yup no more pansies over the middle. Anyway HCMT is getting everyone fired up……………even you dang nab it…………..I know you are.

        6 games. I just want 6 wins. And once they get 6 then get the 7th.

        Go Buffs.

        Note: Next year is gonna be tougher than this year

  8. Almost fainted away when I saw Pacific Takes give Montez some due. It still aint enough. Dont why everyone is in love with Huntley. I’m sure he is a better than average college QB but he has also been the benefit of superior talent in the other positions and I dont think he has Montez’ physical passing skills. If Steve can have a decent year, hopefully away from the past stale offensive play calling, an improved O line (he certainly has the receivers) my money says he will be drafted ahead of Huntley. Tate? lets see if he can duplicate his 2 year old past glory first with everyone keying on him.

  9. The thought of the NCAA shaking in their boots is quite amusing. They are the ones who have already allowed money to corrupt college football. The athletes themselves…the basis of the whole shebang are the only ones not reaping massive financial rewards off their efforts….aside from the few that make it to the NFL.
    Emmert whining about Cal making a fair national championship impossible is really funny. its already not fair. If the NCAA wanted to make things fair they would put a limit on the spending of coaches salaries, training facilities, recruiting budgets, uniforms etc etc etc. along with taking the scheduling power away from the networks.
    Not saying I am completely in favor of all that but if you are going to allow billions of dollars fly around do like Cal and go all the way…..and tell the NCAA to take their hypocrisy and shove it

  10. Now we know why NBC Sports is last in covering major sports. They couldn’t even be bothered to find a picture of Mel T in a Colorado shirt! They show him in a Georgia pullover! And then they add a snarky comment at the end of a joke of an article. Amateurs and losers!

  11. Fair pay to play act isnt “paving” the way to end of amateurism. Its been paved already by coaches salaries, TV rights, paraphernalia sales and all the mind boggling money that is rolling into everyone but the players. The “act” is simply the striping being painted on the pavement that has already ended amateurism.
    You want to resuscitate amateurism in college football have the NFL create a developmental league of their own for the players who can get paid and would otherwise be taking basket weaving while waiting for the draft.
    College football would then be just like in those golden years when pro players made less money than someone with a good degree.

  12. Ahh yes
    PJ Fleck is blaming his inability to hold on to recruits on society. Dont get me wrong. Society has plenty of problems but somehow I don’t see recruiting as one them.
    I’m all for the “transfer portal.” When you get teams with nothing but 4 and 5 stars on the bench, let alone on the field, its nice if a few of those bench riders would like to show off their skills at other schools. Heck, PJ Fleck and the Gophers might even benefit from a few of these transfers……if PJ would loosen up a bit. Bottom line is spreading the talent wealth a little might lead to a little more parity in College football. Maybe we will get to see someone other than Clemson and Alabama in the last game of the season. I might even watch instead of cleaning out the garage.

    1. CU SHOULD HAVE NEVER LEFT THE BIG 12. That’s where they belong if they want to compete for National titles. The PAC 12 is in trouble and they know it

  13. “Oregon looks to import SEC football to Pac-12“

    Oh, so I guess in their trip to Alabama and Georgia schools, Oregon was shown things like:

    – how to have mega boosters pay players without getting caught,
    – how to give players NCAA impermissible monies without getting caught,
    – how to have assistant coaches sway recruits with illegal payments
    – how to schedule FCS teams in November when other teams are playing conference games
    – how to never schedule a true away game during the Non-Conference portion of the season
    – how to have EsecPN claim that your conference is better than all others, when in fact they are — top to bottom — no better or worse than any other Power 5 conference
    – how to have the media bias boost 75 percent of all of your teams into the top 25 pre-season polls so once the season begins, you can’t help but have a “ranked” team play a “ranked” team.

    I’m sure this is what Oregon could have learned without traveling to the mythical land of “best”. In fact, that would clearly be a trip to Clemson based on the past 4 years. But EsecPN (who fully owns the SEC Network) doesn’t want you to notice that.

    1. so thats why 80 to 90 % of the ESPNU (XM radio) is SEC programming. Whenever they do stray its almost always Michigan, Notre Dame or Ohio State. I decided to listen until I heard something concerning the PAC 12. After about a month lo and behold….30 minutes of PAC 12 discussion. I dont listen anymore.

  14. Wonder where CBS would’ve ranked HCMM? Probably about same as HCMT. How could HCMM be higher than Smith from Oregon State? That is a game I will never get past. That one and the losses to Montana State and Sac State. The past 3 HCs for the Buffs have had signature losses that outstrip any signature wins. Here’s hoping HCMT never has anything close to those signature losses!

  15. “Colorado second in the Pac-12 in Spring Game attendance.”

    Really ? The Spring Game must have had improved attendance. I missed this year’s game but saw most all of MM’s (dull experience) Spring Scrimmages. The only thing that pumped my psyche was to visit The Sink. SAD.

    SKO BUFFS !

      1. Yes, Here is the page with the Spring Game history.
        Spring Games
        For future reference, go to the CUBuffs.com home page, click on football, then under “Additional Links” click on “Information Guide”. That takes you to the entire media guide, which has all of CU’s history.

  16. Methinks that CBS Sports is living in the past. Putting the Cornholers at 17? What have they proven? At least wait until they’ve beaten somebody, anybody!

  17. po po USC. Anyone besides a corrupt hollywood star s’posed to feel pity for them? Maybe the rowing team can resurrect trojan pride. The PAC 12 king is dead…long live the king….Washington that is. The coach who should be coaching the Buffs and his players earned it. Wilner might as well get used to 75% of the Pac NW carrying the conference banner for a while. (sorry Or St).
    I wont watch an Alabama or an Ohio State game. I might start after a few underdogs give them a serious butt whooping. I will give Oklahoma a pass who has taken up the Oregon banner of the most exciting offense in the country.

    1. No ep the rowing team honors will always belong to Washington………..read “Boy’s In The Boat.”

      1. AZ – I thought that had to do with women’s anatomy……. Excuse me I digress and may have single handily dropped the IQ on Stuart’s board one full notch.

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