POSTED: February 20, 2019

Pac-12 Notes


Pac-12 Notes

February 20th

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Pac-12 South spring practice preview – What to watch: CU going old school

From the San Jose Mercury News … This time last year, the South division was loaded with intrigue driven by fresh faces, be it the new head coaches at Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA or the freshman quarterback at USC.

There’s no shortage of intrigue this winter, either, but now it’s about several of those fresh faces reversing negative narratives.

The Hotline’s two-part preview of spring practice across the Pac-12 begins with the South because one team, Arizona State, is already halfway through its spring session.

Colorado
Start: March 18
End: April 27
Key addition: defensive tackle Jauna’vius Johnson (from Auburn)
What to watch: Obvious answer: Laviska Shenault’s toe. More nuanced answer: CU’s mindset. The Hotline chatted with Mel Tucker at the national championship game, and it’s clear that he plans to deploy a physical approach at the at the line of scrimmage, one shaped not only by his time in the SEC (Alabama and Georgia) but also the AFC North. (He was on the Browns’ staff when did did not stink.) Going old school in a division with several finesse teams makes sense for the Buffaloes. Adding Johnson is a good start toward that end.
Spring game: April 27 (12 p.m.)

Continue reading story here

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February 19th

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CBS Sports: Pac-12 hoping “Shark Tank” approach will provide an influx of revenue

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 schools took home an average of $31 million in media rights revenue last fiscal. That sounds like a lot, but it’s $19 million per year less than the Big Ten, $9 million per year less than the SEC. The Big 12 averages around $35 million, but with their third-tier rights, Texas and Oklahoma are taking home about $50 million annually each.

The ACC is ready to reap a windfall with the launch of its own network in August.

How does the disparity manifest itself out West? The list of underachievements keeps piling up.

  • Pac-12 football just completed its 15th year without a national championship, the longest drought among Power Five conferences. The league has missed the most College Football Playoffs (three of five) among its peers.
  • A season after being completely knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first weekend for the first time in 32 years, the Pac-12 may be a one-bid league this season.
  • The much-maligned Pac-12 Networks have sunk to the point that Oregon State is making about as much annually from the network as it is paying one of its coordinators.
  • Football attendance is down for the sixth straight season and at its lowest point since 1982. Games averaged 46,733 fans in 2018.
  • Someone out there doesn’t seem to like Scott being in office. A series of stories in the Oregonian has featured sensitive leaks and documents that only those on the inside could know about.
  • The league continues to return the smallest percentage of revenue back to its members, at least among the Power Five. Scott’s salary ($4.8 million) is more than the entire executive staff of the SEC ($3.7 million).
  • The league recently contracted with the same public relations firm that gave us Spuds Mackenzie. The result was a 34-page brochure titled “Communications Strategy Development Project.”

Yup, with all that under consideration, it turns out the league might have a problem with messaging, too.

“I can tell you this,” said former Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny. “If Larry Scott is sitting on the other side of the table and there’s an opportunity to sit [opposite of him], I’m going to sit next to him.”

Kilkenny is not alone. Arizona State president Michael Crow is one of Scott’s biggest supporters.

“To some extent, I don’t really understand [the criticism],” Crow told the Arizona Republic last month. “What I mean by that is when I came here in this job 16 years ago, the conference had very little income, the conference was not highly capable of doing all the things we’re now capable of doing.”

The league has doubled down on what it calls a long-term play. A private equity offering — first reported by the Oregonian — would get some lucky investor 10 percent of the Pac-12 for $500 million.

If that sounds like a bit of “Shark Tank,” you’re right. Some person, firm or corporate entity would own one-tenth of a Power Five conference.

In return, the league would receive an infusion of cash to close that financial gap with other Power Five leagues.

Continue reading story here

USC/UCLA on pace for worst combined football/basketball records since World War II

From College Sports Maven …  There have been, obviously, better days, weeks and seasons for football and basketball at USC and UCLA.

W-A-Y better, as in stupendously better–gloriously and euphorically better. Check out circa 1967-68.

Considering the dynastic lineages of USC football and UCLA basketball, dating to the 1920s, it had been heretofore almost impossible to imagine an academic-calendar scenario in which the local flagship universities could go “oh-for-four” in the revenue sports.

But, by god, look, they’re giving it a serious go.

This 2018-19 campaign has a chance to be the worst on record since, well, here’s a hint: war bonds.

… Now the nut fact: the combined record for USC and UCLA, in football and basketball, is 35-41 for the season.

This is hard to fathom and frankly unacceptable for the Pac 12’s most historically important national brand names.

The failure of pillars USC (football) and UCLA (hoops) is tough enough to swallow in any academic year and only only made worse when Trojan basketball and Bruin football are added as additional dead weight.

All four teams being woeful, in the same year, is as rare as Haley’s Comet.

Young followers of USC and UCLA sports need to know this is NOT how these guys have traditionally rolled.

USC claims its first football national title in 1928 and UCLA basketball advanced to the Final Four as recently as 2008. That’s 80 years of nearly uninterrupted, one-or-the-other, excellence.

Lest you think this is some grumpy old man piece pining for the good old days of John McKay and John Wooden.

As recently as 2007-08, our local power four combined to go 73-25. Only UCLA football, at 6-7, missed the party.

The fear in early 2019 is that kids will never know how good it was and continue to accept the mediocrity we are witnessing now.

At what point does a fanbase fall loyally in line with Iowa State?

And what we are seeing this year, if this Marina Del Rey yacht isn’t turned around, could end up the worst collective since the early World War II years.

In 1940-41, USC\UCLA went 24-43-2 in football\basketball.

Continue reading story here

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February 16th

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ESPN USC Spring Preview: Trojans likely to be unranked in the preseason Top 25 for the first time since 2001

From ESPN … Nothing that will take place between now and the start of the season has a good chance to generate much enthusiasm about USC football. After collapsing to 5-7 in 2018, USC’s large fan base is quickly growing disinterested, and offseason talk isn’t going to change that. Trojan fans are no longer buying what coach Clay Helton is selling.

The vocal majority wanted him gone after last year’s disaster, and once he was retained, a lot of that ire has shifted toward athletic director Lynn Swann. It’s an important spring at USC — they all are, really — but it’s unique in that expectations haven’t been this low in nearly two decades. It is highly likely that USC will be unranked in the top 25 of the AP preseason poll, which hasn’t happened since 2001.

Tough schedule ahead: USC could improve slightly from last season and still start the season 0-6. The Trojans’ schedule is that unforgiving: Fresno State (coming off a 12-2 season), at Stanford, at BYU (a game USC should have never scheduled), Utah, at Washington and at Notre Dame. While 0-6 is obviously a stretch, would anyone be that surprised if USC went 2-4? There are no gimmes there, and that these hypotheticals are even worth discussing speaks to the state of USC football and its current place in college football.

Continue reading story here

Jon Wilner: Pac-12 Networks may be stuck, but the Pac-12 is not 

From the San Jose Mercury News … The mid-week publication of the Hotline’s deep dive into the Pac-12 Networks resulted in a packed in-box, jammed Twitter feed and seven radio hits on Thursday alone.

Over and over, regardless of the platform, the same three, interconnected questions surfaced:

What are the options?

Is there any way out?

OK, this is depression; so what’s next?

In short: There are no options — at least no game-changing options for the Pac-12 Networks — because of existing contracts.

…  So the conference is stuck?

Not exactly.

The Pac-12 Networks are stuck, but the conference isn’t stuck. And it’s exploring the one option available: Create a holding company for its media rights (the content currently on ESPN, Fox and the Pac12Nets) and sell a portion of that company to an investor in exchange for up-front cash.

It’s a creative approach, the only way to generate significant cash before 2024 without having to sell equity in the Pac-12 Networks themselves. The holding company would retain all of the media rights for the 2024 negotiating cycle to create maximum value.

There’s no guarantee the schools will ultimately agree to sell equity, or that the preferred strategic partner will be motivated at the right price. But it’s smart to explore every option given the predicament with the Pac-12 Networks.

Read full story here

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February 15th

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ESPN Preseason FPI Rankings includes five Pac-12 teams

From ESPN … Clemson is predicted to be better than every other team in the country, so it makes sense that we’re forecasting the Tigers to have a dominating edge over every other team in the conference. The ACC is thin on upper-tier teams. In fact, after Clemson, it has basically … nothing. Clemson is more than 17 points per game better than every other team in the ACC. Our conference and playoff projections won’t be out for a couple of months, but it’s safe to say that the Tigers’ outlook for both of those will be awfully strong.

At this point, if you’re wondering how FPI works, jump to the bottom for a quick explainer. And if you want to see last year’s rankings at this time, you can check them out here — where you’ll find not only Clemson ahead of Alabama, but Notre Dame in the top five, a major surprise to most back then.

But let’s shift back to 2019 now — because there’s another story of dominance brewing aside from the Tigers.

From the Pac-12 (and 2019 opponents):

  • No. 10 – Oregon
  • No. 17 – Washington
  • No. 18 – Utah
  • No. 21 – UCLA (??)
  • No. 24 – Stanford
  • No. 27 – USC
  • No. 33 – Washington State
  • No. 34 – Arizona State
  • No. 35 – Nebraska
  • No. 52 – Arizona
  • No. 55 – California
  • No. 62 – Colorado
  • No. 69 – Air Force
  • No. 83 – Oregon State
  • No. 102 – Colorado State 

Arrest warrant issued for Nebraska running back 

From ESPN … A judge in California has signed an arrest warrant for Nebraska running back Maurice Washington, his lawyer said Thursday, while university officials said the athletic department did not know the exact allegations against the player during football season.

Washington was charged in California in December with possessing and distributing a video of a former girlfriend being sexually assaulted by two other people in 2016, when she was 15.

He will surrender himself to authorities and appear in court in California to avoid being arrested, his attorney, John C. Ball said.

Washington is suspected of storing the video on his cellphone and sending it to the victim last March. He is charged with a felony count of possessing a video or photograph of a person under 18 who is engaging in or simulating sexual conduct and a misdemeanor count of posting a video or photograph of a person engaging in or simulating sexual conduct without consent, leading to the person suffering emotional distress. Washington was a star at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale, California, where he met the girl. He later attended high school in Texas.

Continue reading story here

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February 14th – Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Jon Wilner: Perception of Pac-12 Networks poor; reality even worse

From the San Jose Mercury News … Midway through their seventh year, the Pac-12 Networks aren’t merely stagnating. They’re shrinking in reach and drastically underperforming revenue expectations, according to information obtained by the Hotline that sheds unprecedented light on the financial realities of the conference’s wholly-owned media company.

Some schools, for example, are receiving annual payouts from the networks that are a fraction of what they’d hoped for — and a fraction of what has been reported in the media — when the real cost of the content is included in the calculation.

“From Day One, I worried about them having all those channels and having to produce all that programming,” said USF sports management professor Dan Rascher, referring to the seven feeds (one national, six regional) and 850 live events per year.

“That’s crazy hard to do without spending a lot of money on a lot of programming with low value.”

While frustrated with the lack of revenue, coaches and athletic department officials told the Hotline that the limited reach of the networks is at least as damaging to the football and men’s basketball products.

“We’ve go to get eyes on the product,’’ Washington State coach Mike Leach said. “It’s about exposure and money, and you don’t have one without the other.’

… The conference has never disclosed the financial guidance given to the campuses in 2011-12, during the run-up to the launch of the networks.

Officially, the schools were advised to avoid budgeting for a specific revenue amount and that in an extreme, worst-case scenario, the networks would still manage to break even.

However, in a pre-launch presentation attended by athletic directors, Scott dazzled the room by providing three ranges of annual payouts (once the networks had exited the start-up phase).

According to a source who attended the presentation, those payout ranges were:

High end: $7 million-to-$10 million per school per year

Middle: $5 million-to-$7 million per school per year

Low end: $3 million-to-$5 million per school per year.

When asked about that guidance, former Washington State athletic director Bill Moos said he didn’t recall the exact figures but remembered vividly the reaction in the room.

“We were all giddy,’’ Moos said. “And we wouldn’t have been a giddy over $2 million (per year).”

… Instead, the annual payout figures are made available for temporary viewing by campus financial officers on a secure website, according to multiple sources.

“It’s very frustrating,’’ one administrator said.

The figure provided on the website is a lump-sum amount. Two Hotline sources with access have copied down that amount over the years, then dived by 12 to determine the payouts to each school.

Those payout numbers are as follows:

2013: None listed
2014: $862,000 per school
2015 $1,677,500 per school
2016 $1,980,250 per school
2017: $2,522,167 per school
2018: $2,666,667 per school

Over the six completed fiscal years of the networks’ existence, the total payout per school, as tallied by campus officials,  is $9,708,584 per school — not even at the top end of the single-year range referenced by the source who attended Scott’s presentation.

“They told us, ‘This is what we think it’s going to be,’’’ said John Perrin, the longtime CFO of the Arizona athletic department who retired two years after the networks were launched.

“And it hasn’t panned out anywhere near where they thought.”

Continue reading story here

Jon Wilner: Pac-12 quarterback rosters – CU 5th-most stable

From the San Jose Mercury News … If the Pac-12 goes as its quarterbacks go, then 2019 has some promise:

Eight starters return, and that count doesn’t include Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who started seven games for UCLA, or Washington’s Jacob Eason, who played a full season at Georgia in 2016.

But if 10 teams are reasonably or completely set with the first stringer, precious few at solid at the backup spot.

And if 2019 goes as 2018 went, that could be a problem: Five starters missed time last season because of injuries.

… With that in mind, the Hotline presents the first of three installments in 2019 of the Quarterback Comfort Quotient (QBQC), which takes into account the quality and experience of not only the starter but the backup.

We’ll do this again after spring practice and then before the season. As we saw last year, the transfer market can change things just a bit …

5. Colorado
Projected starter: Steven Montez
Key backups: Sam Noyer, Tyler Lytle and Blake Stenstrom
Comment: Montez improved his efficiency markedly in 2018 and should be one of the top starters in the conference, an enticing mix of size, mobility and experience. The experience behind Montez is limited: Noyer has 41 career attempts. Add a new system to the mix, and things are anything but settled for the Buffs.

Read full list here

Stewart Mandel: Chip Kelly’s 2019 Recruiting Class at UCLA “inexcusable”

From The Athletic … UCLA had a poor recruiting class despite the Pac-12 being down. Do you think Chip Kelly is out of touch with today’s game?

Terry B., Tulsa, Okla.

UCLA’s class, ranked 44th by 247Sports, has become quite the polarizing subject between me and my podcast co-host. To me, it’s inexcusable, especially given the window of opportunity provided by rival USC’s historically poor recruiting cycle. It seems a pretty clear indictment of Kelly’s recruiting abilities. Bruce, who lives in L.A. and covered several of Kelly’s games last season for Fox, thinks it’s more an indictment of the recruiting rankings, given Kelly won big at Oregon with classes that at times finished well outside of the top 25. (The Ducks’ 34th-ranked 2008 class, for example, was loaded with big-time college players.)

Because this is my column, not his, let me explain why I’m right.

Kelly is clearly and intently selective in whom he pursues, extending far fewer scholarship offers than most Power 5 coaches. I have no doubt Kelly is a keen talent evaluator whose own opinions on guys may differ considerably from those of the recruiting analysts. And I have no doubt some of those 17 three-stars in the class will blossom into five-star players.

But evaluation is only half the battle in recruiting. You’ve still got to sell, sell, sell, and it does not appear Kelly and his staff did a particularly good job of it. According to SB Nation recruiting editor Bud Elliott, UCLA offered 40 four- or five-star prospects and landed … one. I mean, yikes. That’s not being picky, that’s them not picking you. Which is crazy given everything UCLA ostensibly has to offer — beautiful campus, major market, highly rated school, highly respected head coach. Heck, predecessor Jim Mora routinely signed top-15 to -20 classes despite zero evidence he could win Pac-12 championships.

Suffice to say, Kelly is not going to win Pac-12 championships if he fails to sign better classes than this one. I don’t think he’s “out of touch with today’s game,” but recruiting has never been his strong point. He needs to reevaluate how he handled this past cycle and make some necessary changes in his approach. Because UCLA should never, ever be finishing eighth in the Pac-12 in recruiting.

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February 13th

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Report: Jim Leavitt out as defensive coordinator at Oregon

From DuckTerritory.com … According to mulitple sources, Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will no longer coach at Oregon. The reasoning behind Leavitt’s departure isn’t known at this time, but sources said the Ducks have started a search for a new linebacker coach.

Oregon could not confirm or deny this report when reached for comment.

In conjunction with Leavitt’s expected departure, Oregon is also expected to promote co-defensive coordinator Keith Heyward to become the school’s new defensive coordinator.

… Leavitt has coached the last two seasons at Oregon as the defensive coordinator and also the inside linebacker coach. He was hired by former head coach Willie Taggart ahead of the 2017 football season. Taggart left Oregon less than a year after being hired and tried to bring Leavitt with him to Florida State, but Leavitt interviewed for the head coaching job at Oregon. The Ducks interviewed Leavitt and current head coach and at the time offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal, and elected to hire Cristobal over Leavitt.

This offseason, Leavitt either interviewed or tried to get an interview for the head coach positions at Colorado, Kansas State, and Texas Tech. All three schools hired other coaches.

Leavitt was paid $1.7 million this past season, the first year of a new four-year contract he signed with Oregon after Taggart’s departure.

Continue reading story here

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February 12th

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Jon Wilner: Pac-12 combine invite list a measure of how conference coaches are developing talent

From the San Jose Mercury News … If the NFL Draft is the ultimate judge of talent … raw, underwear-clad talent … then the Scouting Combine is a close second.

On Thursday, the NFL released the list of 338 participants invited to Indianapolis later this month, and it’s a useful tool for reflective evaluation of college rosters.

For longtime Pac-12 watchers who were convinced of, or suspected, a decline in talent, the invite list provides a measure of proof.

The conference will send 39 players to the week-long event, the lowest total in years.

Pac-12 invitees:

2015: 44
2016: 49
2017: 47
2018: 45
2019: 39

Not surprisingly, the SEC dominated the invite list, with more than twice as many participants as the Pac-12.

… A few other notes:

• Cal was the big winner in the wins-per-participant sweepstakes: The Bears won seven games but received no Combine invitations. #coaching

• Meanwhile, USC won five games and has five participants.

• In addition to Cal, both Arizona and Oregon State were shut out.

• Kentucky had more invitees (eight) than USC (five) and UCLA (two) combined. (That’s wrong on so many levels.)

Continue reading story here

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February 11th

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Nebraska star running back Maurice Washington Faces ‘Revenge Porn,’ Child Porn Charges Over Video

Related … “Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Maurice Washington charged over video of alleged sexual assault” … from ESPN

Note … Washington had 77 carries for 455 yards and three touchdowns last season, and is Nebraska’s leading returning rusher …

Compare … “Recruits, be warned. Husker coach Scott Frost is watching your social media” … from the Omaha World-Herald

From NBC Bay Area … A star football player from the Bay Area, now playing running back for the University of Nebraska, faces criminal charges under California’s relatively new “revenge porn” law in connection to a video of a 15-year-old Bay Area teen allegedly being sexually assaulted, according to court records obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.

San Jose native Maurice Washington III did not record the video and is not part of the alleged assault involving his ex-girlfriend and two former classmates. But Washington is accused of keeping the video on his phone and sending it to the victim last March, along with the message, “Remember this hoe [sic].”

Washington, who dated the victim during his freshman year at The King’s Academy High School in Sunnyvale, is being charged under the “Revenge Porn” law because he’s accused of sending the video to inflict emotional damage on the victim. Because the victim was 15 when the video was recorded, he’s also being charged with distribution of child pornography, a felony.

“I tried so hard to forget it, and then to have someone just throw it back in my face like that and taunt me with it was just so evil,” Taylor, the victim, told NBC Bay Area on the condition we not use her last name. “Maybe that’s the wrong word to use, but I felt like it was evil, like why would you ever want somebody to feel that pain that I felt that day?”

The arrest is bound to reverberate across the University of Nebraska campus, as Washington was one of the school’s top recruits last year and was ranked by ESPN as one of the top running backs coming out of high school. According to a lead investigator on the case, the University was made aware of the allegations against Washington sometime last fall, but he was allowed to play through the entire season.

Continue reading story here

ESPN does a deep dive into the first year of the transfer portal

From ESPN … Justin Fields is college football’s next catalyst, helping the sport become either more progressive and player-friendly or dragging it toward the perils of free agency, depending on whom you ask.

Fields on Friday became the latest high-profile transfer quarterback to gain immediate eligibility at his new school, Ohio State, after the NCAA approved his waiver request. The top-rated recruit in the 2018 class left Georgia after a frustrating freshman season and now likely will be Ohio State’s QB1 as the Ryan Day era begins this fall.

On Nov. 30, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry will feature quarterbacks — Fields and Michigan’s Shea Patterson — who both benefited from this new transfer reality. Like Fields, Patterson bounced from the SEC (Ole Miss) to the Big Ten without having to sit out a season, which the NCAA requires for undergraduate transfers. Both quarterbacks hired Arkansas-based attorney Thomas Mars to advocate on their behalf with the NCAA. Each case differed in circumstances and rationale, but both ultimately proved persuasive enough.

Is this the new normal for college football transfers? For a certain group it is, but how large and diverse that group becomes is unclear. Players are excited about the NCAA transfer portal and the new freedom it provides. Many coaches are critical, using terms such as “free agency” and “epidemic” and saying the new transfer paradigm creates roster-management problems and empowers third-party influencers. Administrators are quietly monitoring the trends. And Mars’ phone doesn’t stop ringing.

“It’s really messy right now,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “The rules are not really hard rules. The positions that these young people get put in are really, really difficult. It’s become difficult for coaches to manage their rosters.”

Continue reading story here

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February 10th

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Mike Leach at it again – WSU picks up 26-year old graduate transfer quarterback

From ESPN … Former Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud has won an appeal for an additional year of eligibility and will spend his final season as a graduate transfer at Washington State.

WSU announced Gubrud, a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the best offensive player in FCS, joined the program Saturday morning.

“We are excited for Gage to come in and compete with the quarterbacks on our team,” head coach Mike Leach said. “He is an extremely experienced and productive player who led Eastern Washington to great heights in his time there. It’s not often that you can add a quarterback to your roster that has started 28 games and thrown for nearly 10,000 yards. We are looking forward to getting him on campus and finishing his collegiate career in a WSU Cougar uniform.”

Gubrud suffered a toe injury in the Eagles’ fifth game in 2018 that sidelined him for the remaining 10 games of the season and was initially denied a medical redshirt, according to the Spokesman-Review. However, because EWU advanced to the FCS national championship game, Gubrud ended up appearing in just one-third of the team’s game, qualifying him for a medical redshirt under NCAA rules.

Continue reading story here

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February 9th

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Jon Wilner gives back-handed compliments to Mel Tucker and CU Recruiting Class

From the San Jose Mercury News … An assessment of Pac-12 news on the field and off …

Rising: The North.

The division dominated the regular season and continued its momentum through the early signing window and into February.

The Pac-12 placed four teams in the Rivals’ final top-25, and three were from the North:

No. 7 Oregon, No. 19 Washington and No. 23 Stanford.

USC (17th) was the only South team in the top 30, in fact.

Team-specific assessments are below, but it’s difficult to survey the coaching, returning personnel and incoming talent and conclude that balance will return to the conference in the next few years.

Too many schools in the South are too many years away from high-level play.

Rising: Colorado coach Mel Tucker.

Tough spot for Tucker: Hired in early December, after a nosedive of a second half by the Buffaloes, he took over a program that’s light on in-state talent and multiple hours (by air) from the nearest recruiting hub.

And yet …

The Buffs emerged with a class that, in quantity and quality, meets the threshold they needed to avoid a longer-term backslide in depth.

Partial credit for this should go to former coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff, but Tucker finished impressively:

One-third of the class, which was ranked seventh in the conference by Rivals, committed after the New Year.

For context on the challenges faced by CU (whether the head coach is named Tucker or MacIntyre or Barnett or Neuheisel) consider these in-state numbers:

The 2019 class feature zero 5-star players and only one 4-star prospect (Luke McCaffrey).

The 2018 class had zero 5s and two 4s.

Yes, the Buffs must improve their hit rate with elite homegrown talent, but there is precious little of it.

Read full story here

Evan Worthington one of 39 players from the Pac-12 invited to NFL Combine

Colorado safety Evan Worthington was the only Colorado senior invited to participate in the NFL Combine (Feb. 26th – March 4th) in Indianapolis.

Overall, there were 39 Pac-12 players invited, or one more than the SEC East … Overall, the conference breakdown looks like this:

NFL Combine Invites:

SEC: 90
Big 10: 53
Just the SEC West: 52
ACC: 46
Pac-12: 39
Just the SEC East: 38
Big 12: 33

From the Pac-12:

  • Arizona – 0
  • Arizona State – 2
  • California – 0
  • Colorado – 1
  • Oregon – 4
  • Oregon State – 0
  • Stanford – 7
  • UCLA – 2
  • USC – 5
  • Utah – 6
  • Washington – 9
  • Washington State – 3

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February 8th

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CU’s Spring Game – From first to last on the Pac-12 calendar

From FBSchedules … The 2019 Pac-12 Spring Football Game schedule has been set, per listings on the Pac-12 official website. The Pac-12 Networks will televise all 12 Spring football games in 2019.

Spring football game action in the Pac-12 kicks off early this season with Arizona State’s Spring Football Game on Thursday, Feb. 28. The game is set for 9:00pm ET on Pac-12 Arizona.

Cal’s 2019 Spring Game is the only one scheduled for the month of March. The Golden Bears will play on Saturday, March 16 and the game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network/Pac-12 Bay Area at 2:00pm ET.

The remaining 10 Pac-12 Spring games will each be played during the month of April. Check out the complete schedule of Pac-12 Spring football games for the 2019 season below.

2019 Pac-12 Spring Football Game Schedule
All times Eastern. Listings subject to change.

Saturday, Feb. 28
Arizona State – 9pm, Pac-12 AZ

Saturday, March 16
California – 2pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 BAY

Saturday, April 6
USC – 2pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 LA

Saturday, April 13
Utah – 1pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 MTN
Stanford – 4pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 Bay
Arizona – 8pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 AZ

Saturday, April 20
Oregon State – 2pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 OR
Washington State – 4pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 WA
Oregon – 5pm, Pac-12N/Pac-12 OR
UCLA – Time TBD, Pac-12N/Pac-12 LA

Saturday, April 27
Washington – 3pm, Pac-12 WA
Colorado – 3pm, Pac-12 MTN

Rivals – CU’s Class ranked 44th; Mel Tucker’s Class gets a “B”

From Rivals … Pac-12:

  • No. 7 – Oregon
  • No. 18 – USC
  • No. 19 – Washington
  • No. 23 – Stanford
  • No. 36 – California
  • No. 38 – Arizona State
  • No. 44 – Colorado
  • No. 45 – Utah
  • No. 46 – UCLA
  • No. 57 – Arizona
  • No. 61 – Washington State
  • No. 65 – Oregon State
  • and …
  • No. 93 – Colorado State

Colorado: No. 44 in the team rankings

New coach: Mel Tucker, former Georgia defensive coordinator

Previous coach: Mike MacIntyre, first recruiting class (2013) ranked No. 67

Breakdown: Tucker and his staff finished the Early Signing Period with 17 signees and did a good job filling holes in their class leading up to the February Signing Period. Their top priority was signing four-star receiver La’Vontae Shenault, giving this class another big-time playmaker from Texas. Most of the new additions that came in January and February were on the defensive side of the ball with former Florida State and Ole Miss defensive line commit Lloyd Murray  picking the Buffs.

Farrell’s take: Tucker is known as a good recruiter and did a good job down the stretch taking over a Colorado team that wasn’t able to take full advantage of its Pac-12 title game appearance a few years ago. He has a challenge ahead of him, however, with the geographical disadvantage he has to overcome compared to other Pac-12 schools.

Grade: B

Darrin Chiaverini named one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation

From Rivals … With the addition of an Early Signing Period and official visits now starting in spring of prospects’ junior years, the recruiting landscape in college football has changed dramatically over the last two years. Some coaches and programs have fared better than others in adapting to those changes, and now that the class of 2019 is done and signed we are able to identify which assistant coaches did the best job in the most recent cycle. Led by National Recruiter of the Year Drew Mehringer of Texas, Rivals.com presents the Top 25 recruiters for the 2019 class …

Darrin Chiaverini, Colorado

Holding dual titles as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach, Darrin Chiaverini was one of three assistants held over from Mike MacIntyre’s staff when Mel Tucker took over the Buffaloes’ program in December. The task in any coaching turnover is retaining those commitments you want, and finding new targets to fill holes on the roster. Chiaverini expertly helped Tucker achieve both and sign a full class. The gem of Chiaverini’s haul was four-star wide receiver La’Vontae Shenault, who Colorado landed on the first day of the Late Signing Period. Chiaverini was responsible for at least six others, including the next-highest rated recruits after Shenault in receiver Braeden Huffman-Dixon and linebacker Jashua Allen.

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February 7th

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CBS Sports – USC and UCLA Recruiting Classes disappointments

From CBS Sports … Here are the biggest winners and losers from Wednesday’s National Signing Day action. 

Losers

UCLA: Already working on a disappointing class that came into the day ranked 43rd in the country, UCLA had five targets it was focused on adding. The batting average at the end of the day was .000 with two pending. The lineup isn’t pretty:

  • Linebacker Tuasivi Nomura signed with USC.
  • Defensive back Kenyon Reed signed with Kansas State.
  • Linebacker Drew Fowler elected to walk-on at Washington instead of accepting a scholarship at UCLA. Ouch.
  • Running back Jordan Wilmore has yet to sign as of this publication but looks bound for Utah or Arizona State.
  • Wide receiver Puka Nacua has yet to sign but is projected by most to land at Washington, Oregon or Utah.
  • Chip Kelly’s recruiting effort will need a facelift in the 2020 cycle.

USC: The Trojans are finishing up their lowest-ranked class of the internet recruiting era. Wednesday featured a few commitments but nothing like we’re used to seeing with USC. More notable were the losses. Hawaiian offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi chose Ohio State over USC, but more expected was the loss to Ohio State for Midwest offensive lineman Dawand Jones. The Trojans did get an National Letter of Intent from five-star wide receiver Kyle Ford, but another highly-regarded wide receiver in Nacua declined to sign. In fact, despite Nacua being committed to the Trojans, he’s got about four other programs in a better position as his decision approaches. USC may have found some future stars and NFL talents on Wednesday but they weren’t the kind of players that other programs were valuing in the same way we’ve come to expect.

Read full story here

ESPN: CU’s Recruiting Class merits only a “C+”

Note … It appears clear that the grades given out by ESPN were purely based upon national ranking (USC, for example, was given a “B” for its class, despite being, as noted above, the lowest rated USC Class in the internet recruiting area). The lack of any mention of Vontae Shenault is also a pretty clear indication that the CU write up was done days ago, with little attention paid to what Mel Tucker was able to piece together as the only first-year coach in the Pac-12 … 

From ESPN … The early signing period ends Friday night, but most all of the signatures that will come in already have. Coaches still have a February period to fill their classes completely, but midterm grades are out, and the SEC again has busted the curve …

Colorado: Grade: C+ | National rank: 47

New head coach Mel Tucker kept a top-50 class together through tough circumstances. The group is led by ESPN JC 50 OLB Jashua Allen. Four-star WR Braedin Huffman-Dixon and four-star ATH Jaren Mangham will bring needed playmaking to Boulder. A second talented WR in the fold is Tarik Luckett out of California. Filling needs on the offensive line was paramount in the class, and needs have been met with three-star OGs Austin Johnson and Jake Wiley and Under Armour All-America Game OT Valentin Senn out of Austria. Defensive back Mark Perry could push for a spot in the two-deep early on. Three-star OLB Marvin Ham out of Michigan was a nice flip from Boston College. Juco DLs Jeremiah Doss and Janaz Jordan will be forced into early action.

Read full story here

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February 6th

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Oregon recruiting Class best in Pac-12 and best in school history

From the Daily Camera … The traditional signing day Wednesday merely padded Oregon’s already stellar recruiting class, the best in school history.

The major ranking services all had Oregon’s class in the top 10 nationally, which also put the Ducks atop the Pac-12 Conference.

Oregon got commitments from 21 prospects when the early signing period opened in December. Among them was five-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who was ESPN’s top overall prospect and the highest-ranked signee ever for the school.

The Ducks added three more recruits Wednesday, including defensive tackle Kristian Williams, a four-star prospect out of Memphis, Tennessee, who announced on Twitter last weekend that he had decommitted from Minnesota.

Oregon also added Jamal Hill, a safety from Morrow High School in Georgia, and cornerback DJ James from Spanish Fort High School in Mobile, Alabama.

“You think that a second signing day is a little anticlimactic, but it’s not. It ended up being a really good start to the day. We were able to land the exact prospect we wanted at the exact position that we needed. So for us it’s been an extremely exciting and satisfying morning with the addition of Jamal Hill, DJ James and Kristian Williams,” coach Mario Cristobal said.

Continue reading story here

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February 5th

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Only four of top 30 California players Signing with USC or UCLA

… (a fact lost on the Denver Post, which just ran an article decrying out CU can’t hold in-state recruits) … 

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … From the Hotline’s corner of the Pac-12 galaxy, the primary unanswered question is this: Are Oregon and Washington simply renting in California, or have they purchased property inside the talent pipeline?

If you thought USC and UCLA had forgettable performances on the field last season, consider how they’re faring on the recruiting trail:

Of the top 30 players in California (per 247sports), four have signed/are expected to sign with the Trojans and Bruins.

Four.

Of 30.

How does that compare with past years?

Short answer: It doesn’t.

Slightly longer answer:

In 2015, the Trojans and Bruins signed 14 of the top-30 prospects.

In 2017, they signed 11 of the top 30.

The talent is flowing away from USC and UCLA at an astounding rate, folks, to the benefit of so many:

Oregon has six of the top 30 in the California senior class, including the No. 2 player in the nation, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux from Thousand Oaks.

Washington has four and could land a fifth (linebacker Daniel Heimuli).

Meanwhile, USC has three and could lose one (unsigned receiver Kyle Ford), while UCLA has … one.

Continue reading story here

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February 4th

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Arizona State to start – and end – spring practices in February 

Note … CU under Mike MacIntyre moved up spring practices, under the theory that any injuries sustained would have more time to heal before the season, that the team could do weight training after spring practices, and that the players would have more time to study for May finals. Mel Tucker, meanwhile, moved back spring ball, for the purposes of getting more weight training in before starting practices, and getting more time to know the players and set up practices. To each their own …

From azcentral.com … Is it really spring football practice if it begins — and ends — in February?

Arizona State is about to find out.

The Sun Devils, 7-6 overall and the second-place finisher in the Pac-12 South in 2018, start spring football drills at 9 a.m. on Feb. 5, earlier than ever. The spring game will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Sun Devil Stadium, long before most other colleges have even conducted their first practice.

Teams are allowed 15 practices with most opting to go three times a week. ASU, led by second-year coach Herm Edwards, will be going four times a week with morning sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and night practices on Fridays and Saturdays.

It was Edwards’ idea.

“I talked to a lot of people and many told me they would love to go that early too but they can’t just because of the weather factor,” he said. “That’s something we don’t have to worry about. I have always thought the sooner you get can get your hands on the kids and start working with them, the better especially when you have a young football team.”

“We had some younger guys play well last year for us,” Edwards added. “Now how much better they might have been if we had gotten started sooner?”

Continue reading story here

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February 1st

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SEC distribution: An average of $43.1 million per school 

From ESPN … The Southeastern Conference distributed about $604.1 million of total revenue among its 14 member institutions for the 2017-18 fiscal year, an average of about $43.1 million per school.

In an announcement Friday, SEC officials said that total was an increase from an average distribution of $40.9 million in 2016-17.

The league said the 2017-18 total does not include $23 million that was retained by its schools to offset travel and bowl-related expenses.

“The distribution of revenue to the SEC’s member institutions represents a continued conference-wide commitment to support of our student-athletes in all areas of their college experience,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement.

… The SEC has long led the Power Five conferences in revenue distribution to its schools, but the Big Ten was expected to surpass it during the 2018 fiscal year.

In June 2018, The Detroit News reported that Michigan’s athletics department expected to receive about $51 million from the Big Ten in 2018 and $52 million in 2019. The Big Ten distributed about $37 million to most of its schools in 2017.

The Big 12 announced in June that it would distribute an average of about $36.5 million to its schools for the 2017-18 fiscal year; that total did not include third-tier TV rights for each school, such as the Longhorn Network.

The Pac-12 projected distributions of about $33.5 million per school in fiscal year 2018, and the ACC anticipated average distributions of about $28 million.

Read full story here

Jon Wilner: CU has the second-most difficult schedule in the Pac-12 South

From the San Jose Mercury News … Let’s start with a brief list: The nine games that, based on what we think we know, will matter most:

Oregon vs. Auburn (Arlington)
Northwestern at Stanford
Arizona State at Michigan State
Oklahoma at UCLA
USC at Notre Dame
Stanford at UCF
Nebraska at Colorado
Cal at Mississippi
Notre Dame at Stanford

That’s eight Power Five opponents, plus UCF (a back-to-back New Year’s Six participant) — all of them with the potential to shape the conference’s reputation.

As we saw in 2018, poor Septembers are exceedingly difficult to shake and carry immense collateral damage.

Washington State didn’t lose to a Power Five opponent, but the Cougars’ case was undermined by results from the collective.

12. Utah
Non-conference lineup: at Brigham Young, vs. Northern Illinois, vs. Illinois State
Toughest stretch: Oct. 19 vs. Arizona State, Oct. 26 vs. Cal, Nov. 2 at Washington
Misses: Stanford and Oregon
Comment: Utes benefit from the switch in cross-division rotations, dodging two North heavyweights. They took the arduous road to the South title last season. In 2019, the path is greased. That said, the non-conference lineup will be an issue if they sneak into the playoff conversation.

11. Arizona
Non-conference lineup: at Hawaii, vs, Northern Arizona, vs. Texas Tech
Toughest stretch: Oct. 12 vs. Washington, Oct. 19 at USC, Oct. 26 at Stanford
Misses: Washington State and Cal
Comment: Nice to see a Power Five opponent back on the schedule (first time since 2012). Combine the non-conference dates with UCLA and Colorado as the openers for Pac-12 play, and the Wildcats could be 5-0 when Washington pays a visit.

5. Colorado
Non-conference lineup: vs. Colorado State (Denver), vs. Nebraska, vs. Air Force
Toughest stretch: Oct. 11 at Oregon, Oct. 19 at Washington State, Oct. 25 vs USC
Misses: Oregon State and Cal
Comment: Not sure what to make of the non-conference portion — it could prove sneaky-tough or pleasantly soft (depending largely on Nebraska’s state of existence). For anyone else, missing Oregon State would be viewed as a disadvantage. For the Buffs, it means no nightmares.

Read full list here

Latest competition issue for the Pac-12 – California talent pool is drying up

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12 is facing numerous challenges as it attempt to keep pace with the SEC, Big Ten and other Power Five conferences, from the eat-your-own nature of its schedule to the lack of TV exposure to revenue for operations.

But there might be no greater threat over the next five or 10 years than a shrinking talent pool in its primary pipeline.

According to data collected by the National Federation of State High School Associations, participation in 11-on-11 tackle football in California has dropped 8.8 percent in the past five years:

2013 season: 103,474
2014 season: 103,740
2015 season: 100,205
2016 season: 97,079
2017 season: 94,286

Numbers from the fall of ’18 won’t be available until this summer, but Roger Blake, executive director of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), expects the decline to continue.

… Relative to other Power Five conference, the news is even worse for the Pac-12:

The primary pipelines for the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten have not experienced nearly the same level of participation decline as California.

In fact, numbers are up slightly over the past five years in Texas (164,544 to 164,664), Florida (40,606 to 41,852) and Georgia (32,979 to 33,027) while declining about four percent in Ohio (44,431 to 42,637).

Continue reading story here

One solution to fixing overtime – The “Silent Auction” method

From CBS Sports … I’ve always felt that the smartest thing the college game could do would be to have the offense’s starting field position move back with each overtime period. So if the teams start at the 25 in the first overtime, the second overtime would begin at the 35, the third at the 40, then the 45, and should it extend that long, as far back as the 50. I doubt many games would get that far.

While I liked that idea, last week, by sheer chance, I came across an overtime concept I’d never heard before. It was an idea that struck me as brilliant and the absolute best way to settle things in overtime at both the college and professional levels. I came across the idea via a tweet from Matt Hinton, but as Hinton informed me, the idea first surfaced way back in 2002 from an electrical engineer and Green Bay Packers fan named Chris Quanbeck. The idea was simple.

Overtime should begin with an auction of the football.

Of the options available in the proposal, the silent auction makes the most sense. The coach of each team would inform the officials of where they’d be willing to begin overtime with possession of the ball without the other team knowing. Then, whichever team is willing to start furthest from the opponent’s goal line would get the ball. So, if Nick Saban said he’d start at the Alabama 30 but Dabo Swinney said he’d start at the Clemson 25, Clemson would get the ball, and the first team to score would win. Both teams would have had a chance to possess the ball that wasn’t dependent on the flip of a coin but their own choice.

It would bring a whole new level of strategy to the game as well.

Continue reading story here

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January 31st

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Sports Illustrated: Why Is Everyone Hiring Mike Leach Disciples Instead of Actual Mike Leach?

From Sports Illustrated … USC has hired Graham Harrell of North Texas as its offensive coordinator, which seems like a logical move considering the Trojans’ original plan was to have Kliff Kingsbury run the offense in 2019. Kingsbury left USC after a month to be the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach—which still seems wild considering Kingsbury had just been fired as the head coach of alma mater Texas Tech after compiling a 35–40 career record. So it made sense that USC would replace Kingsbury with a guy who also played quarterback at Texas Tech, also became a coach after an NFL stint and also embraces the same Air Raid principles he ran as a player.

While it is an extremely logical move, it only serves to deepen my suspicion that decision-makers across the football landscape don’t understand what they truly want. They say they want an offense that is simple to teach, quarterback-friendly and stressful to defenses. This, they believe, will win them more games. And that has made a certain subset of coaches quite marketable.

So what do they actually want? They want Mike Leach.

The Cardinals hired Handsome Mike Leach, even though his results don’t match the results obtained by Actual Mike Leach at the same school. AML went 84–43 in 10 seasons at Texas Tech. He’s 49–40—including 37–15 over the past four seasons—at Washington State, an even more remote Power 5 outpost. The best selling point for Kingsbury is that he has a great eye for quarterbacks, and he’s excellent at developing them. He brought in Baker Mayfield as a walk-on* and saw the stratospheric potential in Patrick Mahomes long before anyone else. But AML has a pretty good track record on that front, too. He inherited Kingsbury and had him setting records. He recruited Harrell and had him setting records.

Continue reading story here

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January 30th

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Jon Wilner: Pac-12 should play early season non-conference games in Las Vegas

From the San Jose Mercury News … USC and Alabama made their assumed collision official on Wednesday, confirming they will meet in AT&T Stadium to start the 2020 season.

It’s not only a rematch of their 2016 opener. The showdown will also mark the fourth Week One intersectional duel in a five-year span for the Pac-12:

Washington and Oregon take their shots at Auburn in ’18 and ’19, respectively, then the Trojans get another shot at Bama.

All four games are in Atlanta or Arlington, provide the Pac-12 participants with tremendous exposure in first-class venues, and guarantee multi-million dollar paychecks.

And yet: The events are a few thousand miles east of ideal for the conference.

What Pac-12 football needs … what it must secure in coming years … is to create a mammoth football presence in Las Vegas, starting with an annual Labor Day weekend showcase game at the Raiders’ stadium (completion date: 2020) against marquee programs in the Big Ten.

“We can do for football what we’ve done for basketball,” said Pat Christenson, the president of Las Vegas Events. “In the past, the problem was we didn’t have the facility.”

Were the Hotline named czar of Pac-12 football, the first move would be to overhaul the schedule: End the outsourcing, bring it in house, and eliminate all instances of competitive disadvantages.

Continue reading story here

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January 29th

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USC to hire Graham Harrell to replace Kliff Kingsbury as offensive coordinator

From CBS Sports … USC is reportedly not moving far from its Air Raid desires for its next offensive coordinator hire. The Trojans are set to hire North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell to the same post as a replacement for Kliff Kingsbury, who never coached a game with USC, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.

Harrell, 33, played his college ball at Texas Tech and has quickly risen through the coaching ranks after a brief NFL career as a backup quarterback with the Green Bay Packers. In the last two years at North Texas, he and coach Seth Littrell have guided one of the most prolific offenses in the country and led the development of quarterback Mason Fine during his record-shattering career with the Mean Green.

Kingsbury was hired to be USC’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach but left after just days on the job to become the coach of the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 8th.

January 28th

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Pac-12 media strategy: Larry Scott explains the pursuit of an equity sale, long-term partnership

Related … Pac-12 press release announcing the hiring of The Raine Group … from the Pac-12

… “The Pac-12 CEO Group believes it is important to provide maximum support for our University athletic departments and our student-athletes,” said University of Colorado Chancellor Philip DiStefano, Chairman of the Pac-12’s CEO Group, the governing board of the Pac-12 Conference. “We look forward to working with The Raine Group, Conference and campus leadership to help us explore the significant opportunities in front of us, both in the short term and in preparation for 2024.” … 

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12 announced Monday that it has hired The Raine Group, an investment bank with experience in sports media, to advise the conference on its media rights strategy.

Basically, Raine is charged with playing the role of matchmaker, helping the Pac-12 identify a long-term strategic partner. That partner, in turn, would provide immediate cash to the schools and help the conference position itself for upcoming media rights deals.

The Pac-12’s current contracts with ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 Networks’ distributors (Comcast, Cox, etc) all expire in the summer of 2024, meaning negotiations for the next round of deals could begin as early as the fall of ’22.

News of a potential investor was made public last month in a report by the Oregonian, which indicated the Pac-12 was looking for an equity infusion:

In exchange for $500 million, the investor would receive 10 percent ownership in a newly-created holding company that would manage all the conference’s media rights (dubbed ‘Pac12 NewCo’). The schools would retain the remaining 90 percent.

The cash provided by the investor would be split among the schools to help compensate for the revenue gap that exists with other Power Five conferences.

But in the wake of hiring Raine as an advisor, commissioner Larry Scott told the Hotline that he hopes the process does more than identify a source of cash.

Continue reading story here

Arizona schools trying to one-up one another with running backs coach hires

From Tucson.com … When Arizona hired DeMarco Murray to coach its running backs, the move was applauded by UA fans and heralded across the Internet. Seldom do position-coach transactions make the front page of ESPN.com; this one did.

A week later, rival Arizona State made a corresponding move that drew less fanfare nationally. But ASU’s hiring of Chandler High School’s Shaun Aguano to coach its running backs made a splash within the state’s borders.

Some contend that Herm Edwards one-upped Kevin Sumlin, especially when it comes to in-state recruiting. Chandler produced NFL-bound Sun Devils receiver N’Keal Harry and current ASU starting cornerback Chase Lucas. Aguano has connections throughout the talent-rich Phoenix area.

“Aguano is royalty in the state of Arizona,” said Blair Angulo, who covers recruiting in the mountain and island regions for 247Sports.com.

“He’s well respected, not only among high school recruits but every other high school coach in the state. These coaches are going to look out for him, and he’s going to do the same.”

Analysts and coaches say the UA had a similar in-state asset in Charlie Ragle, a member of the Wildcats’ staff from 2012-16. Ragle came to Tucson from Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School, where he was the head coach. He left the UA in 2017 for Cal.

Continue reading story here

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January 27th

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Jon Wilner on USC: What. A. Mess.

From the San Jose Mercury News … Compared to Bru McCoy, Kliff Kingsbury was a USC lifer.

The latter was the glamorous, program-changing offensive coordinator for a whopping 34 days.

The former was the highest-profile newcomer in the Trojans’ class for 2019 … for about 10 days.

But you know who’s still there? The guys at the top of the org chart.

What. A. Mess.

If you thought it couldn’t get more embarrassing for the Trojans than Lynn Swann’s decision to retain Clay Helton despite public acknowledgment of issues with every aspect of the program …

Or Kingsbury’s short stint on staff …

Well, you shouldn’t have thought that, because of course it can get more embarrassing.

And has.

Now here’s McCoy, the top prospect in Helton’s class and the No. 2-rated incoming player in the Pac-12 (behind Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux), up and leaving USC after a couple weeks on campus.

Continue reading story here

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January 26th

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Three of four “biggest busts” from the Class of 2016 played for L.A. schools

From Bleacher Report … The 2016 college football recruiting class was filled with some names that we’ll be seeing on Sundays in the near future, but it also had a handful of players who have been unable to live up to their potential.

There are a number of reasons why a player might be considered a bust in college. Some have had unlucky streaks of injuries, while others have had a hard time getting on the field after being buried on the depth chart behind NFL-level talent.

4. Oluwole Betiku Jr., OLB – USC

Oluwole Betiku Jr., a former 5-star recruit and the top weak-side defensive end of the 2016 recruiting class, would likely admit his college career could have gone better so far.

During his first two seasons at USC, Betiku had only two tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss over 14 games. In 2018, he took a medical redshirt due to offseason hip surgery.

Betiku is now preparing to play elsewhere, as he announced a few weeks ago that he plans on transferring from USC.

It’s unclear where Betiku will wind up, but he should be able to make more of an impact wherever he ends up next. He still has an inspirational story coming from Nigeria, and Trojans fans who’ve followed him should still root for him to succeed where he goes.

3. Mique Juarez, OLB – UCLA

A few years ago, Mique Juarez was on the cusp of being a top-10 recruit, and he was the top-ranked outside linebacker in 2016.

For Bruins fans, that must feel like a distant memory.

Juarez didn’t play at all as a freshman, in part because he was dealing with the birth of his son, but he didn’t look like the same player in 2017. He spent most of his time that season on special teams, where he looked a bit out of shape and less aggressive.

Expectations were high for Juarez heading into 2018, but he ended up missing nearly all of the season with an undisclosed injury, per Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online. Sources told Pierson that “Juarez would likely take a medical retirement,” but she “later learned that Juarez wanted to try to recover from his injury and return next season.”

1. Jack Jones, CB – USC

When it comes to the biggest busts in the 2016 recruiting class, no one has an argument for the top spot other than Jack Jones.

Jones was a top-20 recruit and the No. 2 cornerback in the nation when he decided to go to USC. He even had a solid sophomore season in 2017, racking up four interceptions and 12 pass breakups.

However, Jones’ football career was put on hold when he was arrested in June due to his reported involvement in a burglary of a Panda Express. A month prior to the incident, Jones was ruled academically ineligible to play with the Trojans, per ESPN.com’s Kyle Bonagura.

Although Jones avoided felony charges, his football future is still uncertain. The Trojans have dismissed him from the team, but Jones still intends to play football again, according to Bonagura.

Talent has never been an issue for Jones, but his legal issues may make it hard for him to play for an FBS team again.

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42 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. Viska’s toe?
    True to form (or lack thereof) Wilner writes a blind and lazy column about the Buffs. I hope he is right about the Johnson kid who doesnt seem to have any previous PT but the key addition is really the two O linemen Mel has brought in.

  2. Never a good situation when two coaches interview for same job and one becomes the boss of the other. Probably kept him while they groomed the replacement and figured a year would cover it. Guess it did.
    Caustic demeanor? Probably for the SNOWFLAKES of the PNW.

  3. Wow
    Leavitt must be a caustic SOB. KState didnt hire sonny boy OR HIM. I can see TT wanting an offensive minded HC instead and RG not wanting to reward his fickleness. When he tried at OR and failed it probably got real awkward there. Jim obviously wants to be a head coach again real bad. …….and when he isnt it sounds like he aint happy and when he aint happy no one around him is happy.

  4. Doesn’t suprise me about Leavitt (if true). Based on all the years following USF football when I was based in Tampa he was a damn good coach but his abrasive personality rubbed people the wrong way. Be interesting to see what the real reason was for his departure.

  5. “We are excited for Gage to come in and compete with the quarterbacks on our team,” head coach Mike Leach said.
    Seriously?
    If Leach continues the grad tran trend good luck getting any other QBs on his team.

    And who is this Wilner guy? same one who had “modest expectations” for the Buff receivers before last season started? I got in his face about that and I want to thank Viska and Nixon for backing me up. Wilner is typical of the sports journalism scene when I lived in Cal for a year. None of them can see past the Nevada borderline.

  6. Wilner is a great cheerleader for the conference but thats as far as it goes. Wasnt that long ago he was telling us everyone needed to root for USC to carry the conference flag. Now he has to offer up this column about po’ po’ USC. I didnt know whether to LMAO or gag when I read both.
    On top of that he follows with “wrong resumes rising.” I dont have to ask how that sits with Husky fans. It hacks me off as a Buff fan.
    So the Utes, Sun Devils, Cougers et al are supposed to be good little co dependent followers of the traditional powers….USC in football and UCLA and AZ in hoops and relegate our own programs to the back seat?
    Maybe VK can dredge up some of Wilner’s old columns about how great MM was when he was coaching in his hometown…….except that its obvious Wilner doesnt give 2 cents for his hometown.

  7. Its amazing how many of us think we’re going to win this next season with a new coach.

    1st year head coaches regular season records:
    Nick Saban – Alabama- 6-6
    Dabo Sweeney Clemson – 4-3

    Just don’t see an 7-5 record with a new coach.

    1. 6-6????

      BOWL GAME

      BUFFS.

      Note: Oh for 6 -6 the last 2 years.

      Note 2: Actually I believe the 2 years of 5-7 have improved the MIghty Buffs going forward.

      Note 3: God works in mysterious ways is as fact.

  8. I would love to see overtime changed by simply pushing the starting field position back to the 40 or even 50 yard line.

    There wouldn’t be so many overtime periods if it was a lot harder to get a free field goal. The 25 yard line never made sense to me: you can realistically expect to hit a field goal even if you *lose* a few yards!. You should at least have to get a first down or something.

  9. Perhaps I’m naive here, but I have an opinion regarding the Pac12 network. I buy that full ownership is better long term. However, this assumes that it is run effectively. I don’t see any evidence that suggests that it is in fact being run effectively, and the result is that the conference owns all of something that is failing. My question is who has been in charge of developing and growing the network? Specifically, why did they not hire in someone with a proven record developing or at least leading a major network like this. For example, hire a senior executive from ESPN, or one of the other sports networks (conference affiliated or otherwise) which has proven success? It feels like there’s no one steering the ship with vision and leadership. Who is leading it anyway, and what were their prior qualifications?

  10. Wondering when Vegas will start putting out odds 2 years in advance. Shouldnt be that hard for Clemson, Alabama and maybe Ohio State….hmmm scratch Ohio State as they have a new coach…insert Oklahoma.

  11. Hey…its dollar bill day in PAC 12 notes.
    How long was Kingsbury at USC? 15 minutes? Makes Taggart’s stay at Oregon look like tenure. Tenure that is going to cost the Ducks what may be 2 more years of his salary.
    And then there is “poor” Urban. (I wonder if there is a Suburban Meyer out there?) Are his medical conditions real? If they are those dollar bills, that he must already have accumulated a ton of them, must also be better than opiods at relieving the pain.
    Then on the flip side….well kinda on the flip side….is Bobo being Mr. “accountable” by turning down a 100K raise. Somehow that loses a little steam when he is making 1.8 mill to begin with.
    Even so, these coaches have a long ways to go to match my heroes, the Koch Bros. They are worth billions, are in their 80’s and they show up at the office every day at 7:30 AM rarin to make more.

  12. Wow. That’s interesting, but not surprising, about sales for the natty at Levi Stadium.

    I actually barely knew the game was there, until a week or so ago. I figured it was a play to drive audience, and help the SEC steal more west coast recruits.

    But? Ticket sales seem indicative of the whole NCAA football dynamic, I think. Put this game east of the Rockies (well, maybe not at Mile High) and it probably sells out.

    West? Not so much. And, that’s probably true even if a Pac 12 team were playing in it.

    And, that swings right back to recruiting. Why would the top kids play here, when college football for most people is an afterthought, when it’s religion in other parts of the country?

    Here’s to hoping Mel and Co can make some headway with those top recruits taking a fresh perspective.

    Go Buffs.

    1. familiarity breeds contempt. Maybe they will schedule next year’s Clemson Alabama game in the inside of a NASCAR track next year.
      Look at the commitments of the top 5 star recruits this year. Seems like half of them are going to Alabama. Things aint what they used to be for sure.

    2. “Put this game east of the Rockies … and it probably sells out.”

      “West? Not so much. And, that’s probably true even if a Pac 12 team were playing in it.”

      Rose Bowl game sells out every year. Had Washington been in the game, they’d sell tickets. Unfortunately this latest Nation Championship game would have struggled anywhere that wasn’t in the SEC footprint as it was a match up we’ve seen two times before and so not too many people really cared.

      1. Maybe. Either way, that is a fair point. But, the counter point is that the Rose bowl is the grand daddy of em all. And hundreds of thousands go to the rose parade. Some of them go to the game too, regardless of who’s playing. But, having grown up with a family house a few blocks away, spending Christmas and New Years there not infrequently, I have always been able to get cheap tickets on the way to the game. Even when UCLA is playing (which granted, has been a while). I don’t think that is the case in sec country, nor at osu, Michigan, etc. however, that is conjecture, because I have never been to a a game there. I have been to va tech games, but that was 45yrs ago…

        Go Buffs

      2. I was curious, so I looked up the tv ratings. They appear to have been the lowest in a while which supports your point that general apathy may have been as much a factor in attendance as location, or any larger shift.

        Hopefully my concern that the landscape of football has shifted the power centers to a point that will be hard to shift back, is proven unfounded.

        But, seems like it may be the case, to me. On the other hand, maybe I am just another aging dude saying “shit ain’t like it used to be!”

        And, maybe CU football gets back to the level it used to be, in the glory days. That would be sweet.

        Go Buffs

  13. It seems that someone on the inside of the Pac12 is feeding John Canzano at the Oregonian information. Maybe some cracks are starting to appear?

    The Pac12 has a perception problem because a lot more people are starting to get a perception of the true problems. Any Buff fans that didn’t see Canzano’s 4 part series that came out several months back, needs to go back and read those articles. Stuart, thanks for providing these links, as I probably would not have seen them otherwise. These articles completely opened my eyes about Larry Scott, conference money distributions, the Pac12 presidents, the network, crazy game scheduling (i.,e. “Pac12 After Dark”), continued bad officiating, etc.

  14. Finally saturated with football. Its getting to where it doesnt matter what the uniform is, its all getting to be the same. Seems like Lindgren has created a movement, for lack of a better word (pun intended).
    I have never seen so many line of scrimmage sideline passes. They are all the same no matter what you call them. I will say that during the bowl games I watched the rate of success defined by at least a 5 yard gain was probably 1 in 4 as opposed to the regular season where it was more like 1 in 8 .
    I also could have sworn Lindgren was calling the plays in the Stanford and Oregon games. They win of course but only because their opponents were using the Lindgren playbook as well.
    The Washington OSU game was similar to many others. The team that was 2 scores behind with a few minutes left, WU in this case, stayed with the dink and dink. Ask the coach why and he will say “Awww you gotta take what the D is giving you.”
    Yup, and the reason they are giving you the dink is because they know that with the meager time left odds are way better than 50 to one you are gong to score, recover an onside kick and score again. Why these guys dont try and take what the D isnt giving is a mystery to me, especially in the last game of the season that doesnt amount to beans in the standings. Call it chiken, conservative or what have you. Maybe I will call it the Herm Edwards “we just ran out of time” syndrome.
    And if you really want proof its all the same now tune in to the annual Clemson-Alabama game which is another great sign of what is wrong with college, or the NFL development league football. I got much better things to do than tune that one in.

    1. EP, happy new year. Off to another “things ain’t what they used to be” year?

      You’ve been watching football a lot longer than I have (you firmly dated yourself talking about the Liberty Bowl from ’69 or whatever, as your favorite). Heck, sounds like you’ve been watching football longer than I’ve been alive!

      But, let me catch you up (not that you don’t know this, it’s just an interesting train of thought that you started). The spread (and really iterations of it) started loooong ago. Basically, to help let teams w/ lesser athletes try to take advantage of some mismatches, in space, b/c the old “three yards and a cloud of dust” was moving them in the wrong direction, offensively (literally going nowhere).

      Dirk Koetter, yeah that guy, started doing it at BSU. Hawkins, Petersen, etc. are in that line (and Lindgren too). The other branch of that is from Hal Mumme; the Leach crew (that’s proliferated since then).

      The Pistol was another iteration. I think the dude who was at Reno w/ Kaepernick helped develop that approach. Now? You’ve got the NFL picking up on it, and… having some success (see someone named Jared Goff having some success in that type of offense, as well as a young man named Patrick Mahomes.)

      Of course, offensive innovation drives defenses to innovate, and the cycle starts over.

      Now, where this gets interesting to me, is that it sounds like Mel is going to be even more hybrid than Lindgren was. Personally, I liked their use of QB runs, and more balance than some spread teams in the run/pass ratio; using mid and deep throws, etc.; but to quote Leach, “50% run and 50% pass is 50% stupid” so…what do I know?! And, as an interesting aside, in my Holiday travels I ran into a starting linebacker at UCLA, he noticed my CU gear – I always travel with it – and I saw his UCLA stuff, and we started talking; he mentioned in scouting CU, they knew they ran 50% of their offense through Viska – and everyone else figured that out too. Anyway…

      From what we’re hearing, Mel and Jay will look to be able to go at tempo, go slow. Play spread. Play under center. Use the ground and pound game, but also have speed. Sounds great. But, can they really be that multiple, both in game planning, weekly coaching, and recruiting? If so, more power to them. It sounds great, for sure.

      The thing I noticed, again, watching the bowl games, is that by and large (pun intended) the Pac 12 teams seems outsized by pretty much everyone else. The OSU D and O lines, for example, looked like men playing against boys vs. UW, for the most part. And, not only are they big, but… friggin’ fast too. You know the guys, 280-320 and running like 4.8 or 5.0 40s. Crazy. And, UW has some of the biggest and most athletic O and D line guys in the Pac 12.

      Unless and until the Pac 12 can start getting those guys again – and it may well be cyclical, but the $$ disparity may be stalling cycles from coming back around (oh, and PED’s by Clemson players, allegedly, and SEC boosters paying top recruits, allegedly) it may be a lot easier said than done for the Pac 12 teams to really right the ship, from a recruiting standpoint.

      Along those lines, it’ll be interesting to watch Mel and Co recruit. It seems right now, they believe third tier South East and East Coast players may be better than first and second tier West Coast kids. They may be right. We’ll see.

      And, if they get the big uglies who just aren’t fast enough (since they play in the Pac 12 where speed is more prevalent than power for most teams) will it work?

      Going to be interesting to watch the new regime do what they set out to do.

      And, it’s only like what, 9 months away from getting to see it in action? That’s cool. And, of course we will get all the feel good spring ball stuff pretty soon too. That’s cool, too.

      Looking forward to it.

      Go Buffs

      PS- as an aside, I was joking – mostly – with some friends and in some of my posts that I thought Rick should’ve talked w/ Jeff Monken, at Army. You want to talk going full circle? The Triple Option is basically what CU ran in their glory days (with a bit more passing). But, what I like about Monken is that – regardless of scheme – it appears that dude can coach. Disciplined, very hard nosed play. And, his record of success does a lot of talking, in my eyes (sure, they play in a lesser conference, but dude hung 70 on Houston and has Army winning in a way they haven’t in two decades). Granted, it seems the triple option may be closer to dying than any sort of revival, but? You’ve been around long enough to see sooooo many things go from nearly extinct back to en vogue, that… stranger things have happened. Anyway, enjoy the year. Enjoy CU basketball – hopefully – and we’ll see you ’round these parts from time to time.

      Go Buffs

      1. So do you think the PR guy that the PAC 12 just hired to fix their “broken brand” can recruit some of these huge/fast linemen? If he does they will they just sign on at USC or Stanfor?. I wonder how many recruits they could pay off with the PR guy’s compensation? If the PR guy could somehow get the PAC 12 teams to win more games he might be worth it. (You can tell I think its a reach.)
        Mel was the “safe” choice and its hard to argue with his credentials but the Army guy is intriguing. One scenario would be Mel kicking Butt at Boulder so much that he heads back to GA as the head coach there. Maybe then Rick would go with an Army or Klieman type guy.
        There are pieces of the triple….or maybe it should be called the 2 and a half option that are being used right now. Penn State almost beat Kentucky with McSorley faking the hand off to the TB up the middle, then to the WR on the jet sweep and then keeping it with a run right up the middle many times for good yardage. He was too slow to take it to the perimeter that many times.
        One problem with that is that it was overused just like the sideline pass. Funny how these teams put themselves in a straight jacket offensively. A truly diverse offense would contain a bit of everything including the triple option…..and a guy who knows when to use all those options.
        I sure hope I enjoy Buff basketball. Tad has the kids that can do it if they just focus. Right now they can hardly be called the “icemen”

        1. It’s an interesting discussion. I haven’t coached football, so I can only glean this anecdotally, but when you’re that diverse, or multiple, it seems you run into two challenges – or coaches think you do – which are 1) getting your players to understand and execute everything well, and 2) having an identity – which ties back into 1.

          Again, what we hear from Mel, Jay etc. sounds great. But, as we know – and they are already saying – gotta execute. So, where will they really focus? Or, will they really try to be “all things offensive”?

          Interesting to sit on the sidelines (ie: our couches) and pretend we could do better though. I’m glad I never thought I could coach football for a living. That seems hard.

          Go Buffs

          1. coaching at the D1 level is extremely hard….but also extremely rewarding. Look at MM. After one stint at a D1 level he pocketed not only 10 million while he was here but stands to cash in at over 9 million more. He could retire in a fashion not many else in the country could imagine yet he continues on. Of course he is younger than I am but I dont have any sympathy for the difficulty of his travails.

  15. For Your Information

    6 and 6 teams in bowl games
    Virginia Tech
    Oklahoma State
    Tulane
    BYU
    Wake Forest
    Minnesota
    TCU
    Baylor
    Vanderbilt
    Purdue

    You (HWSRN2) frigging couldn’t coach em up to beat Oregon State. You deserved to frigging be fired.

    MFHCMT ……….Go Buffs.

    1. Glad 2018 is coming to an end …
      Also coming to an end … VK’s bashing of Mike MacIntyre. We’re moving on, big guy, come along for the ride.

  16. 2018 ….the year the Wac-a-Mac game was exposed. A game for people of mediocrity . RG said OUT DAMN MEDIOCRITY …….and the nation was cleansed …..and the light shown on the nation once again……….now onto the future following the staff of light held by RG and the new leaders of the Mighty Buffs.

    But First….
    The meaning behind the words from the “valley of the aches”
    mediocrity. participation ribbons. wanting to win but did not can not. so sorry. love the mirror. love the live mirror. mickey and me. email buddies. mickey tried hard just like me. if you criticize mickey you criticize me. defending mediocrity is my life. if you don’t agree with me i will continue to question you…building a strawman you cannot defeat. it is I. like mickey i have to tell you about my past. it is important you see. i take after the teflon coach. and the money changers were driven from the court yard along with the sheep and the pigs. co. to ms. seeing reality early is important. living reality is important. wanting mickey to succeed. wishing mickey to succeed. watching mickey fail. pretending not to see it and suggesting he did not fail (did use toilet paper rather than his bare hand) success!!! justifying. blinded sheep. mickey protected his flock (which was bag full of lemons…failures) like i protect mickey. cause doing it is protecting me.

    It is time. The herd with MFHCMT WWG1WGA…..Up the Valley Up the Buffs.

    Mighty Buffs

    1. What the heck was in those cookies VK and the Dog were eating Christmas morning when the rest of the fam slept? (Whatever, it sure is long lasting).

  17. Dang nab it………….sheesh as well. Simply amazing that Wilner espousing his “new bowl” plan/dream/or whatever, once again gives the MIghty Buffs zero and I mean zero acknowledgement let alone any respect. Us poor Buffs………………..We don’t deserve or get nice things…………….

    Damn it………………………WHIP THE KRAPPOLA OUT OF EM ALL. NO MORE MR. NICE (WACAMAC) GUY………………”*UCK EM UP, *UCK EM UP……………GO CU………………….MFHCMT GO KICK THEIR ARSES OVER AND OVER UNTIL THEY BEG FOR MERCY.

    YOU DON WANNA BE PLAYING THE BUFFS…………..YOU JUST DON’T………………I CAN AND WANNA LIVE WITH THAT

  18. OMG Minshew has to be joking. Either that or he feels the need to dress as weird as his name. That would have been trying too hard even in the 70’s. Maybe he has tried everything else when it comes to picking up chicks. Not sure if presenting one self as a cartoon is going to help with the chicks or the NFL owners.

  19. So Herm thinks he ran out of time? seriously? If they did it was when the 3rd quarter ended. the Fun Devils were dominated in the 4th. Thanks again, Herm, for showing us football aint exactly rocket science.

  20. Interesting article from SJose on the pac12 network model. I’m in the minority that thinks they’re doing the right thing, long term.

    1. That was an interesting piece. I was talking this through w/ a buddy (and also a Buff) who’s spent a lifetime in sports marketing/sponsorships, etc. and knows all the people quoted in that piece. In his eyes, it’s a tough sell.

      In mine? IF the confluence of streaming TV, vs. how we consume it now, comes at a time when the Pac 12 is back to relevancy with football and basketball, so the demand for the product is there (because I don’t believe the demand for the Olympic sports product is all that strong, nationally) then it could be a huge windfall in the next round of negotiations.

      We know streaming live sports is going to be huge. I’m more concerned about the demand for the Pac 12 product, to deliver the $$ that would make this structure really pay off.

      Point being, you may be in the minority in your opinion, Steve – you certainly are amongst us ’round here – but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong, by any stretch.

      We’ll see.

      Go Buffs

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