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Pac-12 Notes

January 19th

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Pac-12 Coaches’ Hot Seat Rankings (Three Pac-12 coaches make the list)

From CoachesHotSeat.com … How the Pac-12 stacks up entering 2021 …

On the Hot Seat 

  • No. 3 … USC … Clay Helton
  • No. 5 … Nebraska … Scott Frost
  • No. 28 … UCLA … Chip Kelly
  • No. 29 … Colorado State … Steve Addazio
  • No. 30 … Oregon State … Jonathan Smith

Edge of the Hot Seat

  • No. 36 … Michigan State … Mel Tucker

Safe for Now 

  • No. 45 … Arizona … Jedd Fisch
  • No. 56 … Arizona State … Herm Edwards
  • No. 57 … Washington State … Nick Rolovich
  • No. 62 … California … Justin Wilcox
  • No. 63 … Stanford … David Shaw
  • No. 84 … Oregon … Mario Cristobal
  • No. 92 … Washington … Jimmy Lake
  • No. 106 … Colorado … Karl Dorrell 
  • No. 113 … Utah … Kyle Whittingham

Pac-12’s cumulative shortfalls some $200 million less than if there had been no football 

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … Halfway through the college sports cycle but fully through the football season, the economic damage from COVID-19 is becoming apparent across the Pac-12.

Four athletic directors have provided recent, and public, estimates of the expected shortfalls for the 2021 fiscal year.

It’s bad — brutal, in fact. But it’s not as dire as initially feared (before the Pac-12 restarted the football season):

— Washington State AD Pat Chun pegged the Cougars shortfall for FY21 at “around $30 million.”

— Utah’s Mark Harlan indicated his department will be “in that $35 million range.”

— Arizona’s Dave Heeke expects a $45 million deficit.

— And Oregon’s Rob Mullens believes the hit is “tracking more toward $65 million.” (The Ducks have one of the largest budgets in the conference.)

As for the damage done to the collective, some back-of-the-envelop math is required.

Let’s take the bottom and top ends of those estimates ($30 million and $65 million) and split the difference.

Next, let’s multiply that $47.5 million by 12 for a total estimated campus shortfall of $570 million.

There are several options for covering the losses: The departments can slash expenses and dip into reserves, take loans through central campus or make use of a Pac-12 lending program.

We expect each school to follow the best course for its specific situation, with the presidents making the final decision.

Key point: The total shortfall would be in excess of $750 million without football.

Washington loses defensive coordinator to Texas; joins CU and Oregon in search for new DC

From CBS Sports … First-year Texas coach Steve Sarkisian has his new defensive coordinator. After a search that included some high-profile names, it appears Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will join the Longhorns in the same capacity, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic. The news was first reported Monday evening by The Football Brainiacs

Kwiatkowski just finished his seventh year with the Huskies — all of which have featured him in either the DC or Co-DC roles with team head coach Jimmy Lake. Kwiatkowski came to Washington from Boise State in 2014 with former head coach Chris Petersen. He served as the team’s DC from 2014-17 before being named the Co-DC with Lake from 2018-19, at which time he also coached outside linebackers. With Lake succeeding Petersen a year ago, Kwiatkowski returned to his sole DC role while continuing his position coach duties.

Interest in Kwiatkowski is warranted. From 2015-18, Washington had the Pac-12’s best scoring defense and finished in the top 10 nationally in that category three times. Despite a difficult season in 2020 due to COVID-19, Washington still finished second in the Pac-12 with 25 points per game allowed.

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January 18th

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Former CU offensive line coach Klayton Adams hired to be ASU line coach

… Safe to say, Buff fans are not impressed with this hire, as Adams was not a popular coach while at CU … 

From SunDevilSource.comKlayton Adams, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant offensive line coach with the Indianapolis Colts, will replace the recently retired Dave Christensen as Arizona State’s offensive line coach and run game coordinator, according to people aware of the team’s plan.

Adams has nearly two decades of coaching experience and spent 14 years coaching at the college level including a six-year stint at the University of Colorado from 2013-2018, where he spent three years at the Buffaloes’ running backs and tight ends coach and three as their offensive line coach.

In addition to coaching Colorado’s offensive line from 2016-2018, Adams was named its co-offensive coordinator prior to the 2018 season and served in that role for a year before moving on to coach professional football with the Colts.

ASU analyst and NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman Kevin Mawae also interviewed for the position. Pittsburgh Steelers assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm had a preliminary conversation with ASU about the job but did not interview. News of ASU’s pending addition of Adams was first reported by Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports.

Continue reading story here

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January 17th

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Eric Bieniemy’s chances at an NFL job this year now “bleak”?

From CBS Sports … Despite interviewing for five vacancies, and having a request from the Texans to speak to them about their opening, the prospects of Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy becoming a head coach in 2021 appear bleak, according to league sources. Many of the spots where Bieniemy made a strong impression have already wrapped up their hires, and others are nearing a decision soon while Bieniemy is still coaching in the postseason.

Bieniemy interviewed with the Falcons, Lions, Jets, Chargers and Jaguars during the window in which coaches with teams on the playoff bye were allowed to speak with other teams. The Texans did not reach out to him then, but did submit a request to interview Bieniemy last week only after it became public that quarterback Deshaun Watson was upset with the process after urging ownership to consider Bieniemy for the job back when Bill O’Brien was fired. It is doubtful that interview even takes place, sources said, as the Texans interview more candidates Sunday while Bieniemy coaches the Chiefs — he cannot conduct second interviews with teams until his season ends, or the bye before the Super Bowl.

Bieniemy’s situation has not gone unnoticed within the coach, agent and player community, with many dumbfounded as to why Andy Reid’s top assistant cannot get the opportunity to be a head coach as so many with less experience as a coach and a player continue to be hired. League sources said the NFLPA is considering approaching the NFL about issues with diversity in the head coaching ranks — should this cycle end up with very few coaches of color getting hired — and the push to further reform the Rooney Rule will not subside, either.

Brian Levy — agent to Bieniemy and a multitude of other top African American coaches including Mike Tomlin — expressed frustration about how this hiring cycle has unfolded thus far. Levy is skeptical that the league will truly achieve more representative diversity numbers in coaching without further changes and adaptations to the process. Levy and other agents have also long called for the tampering rules within the hiring process to be altered, with coaches on winning playoff teams — regardless of race — penalized by the current rules by limiting and delaying availability. Rod Graves, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which works with the NFL on issues of diversity, recently told me he supports pushing the entire hiring cycle back to after the Super Bowl to level the playing field for all coaches.

“Every team making a coach or GM hire should be assigned a diversity officer by the league,” Levy said. “The league should oversee those individuals and they should be involved with the entire process and every interview to ensure diversity is truly being served. Let the league and the teams split the costs. Whatever it takes. Something has to be done to change the way these owners are thinking and the way these hires are made. Otherwise, you are going to get the same results and right now, I can tell you, nothing is changing (for the better).”

Continue reading story here

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January 15th

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Utah’s projected $35 million deficit actually good news for Pac-12 (less than expected)

From the San Jose Mercury News … Encouraging news surfaced this week in Salt Lake City, where athletic director Mark Harlan expects a somewhat  diminished budget hit.

Instead of a pandemic-created shortfall in the $50 million to $60 million range for the current fiscal year, the revision calls for a $35 million deficit.

The Utes can thank football TV revenue for the reduction (approximately $5 million per broadcast, split equally among the members).

Their situation still isn’t good, but it’s not as bad as feared.

No two athletic departments handle their finances in exactly the same manner, so we’re hesitant to draw conference-wide conclusions based on Utah’s revision.

However, it’s not unreasonable to believe the downward revision at Utah is indicative of situations unfolding on other campuses.

Extrapolating from Harlan’s estimates, the total mitigation could approach $200 million across the conference, all of it rooted in the decision to play an abbreviated football season.

That’s hundreds, if not thousands of jobs saved, potentially.

To be clear: We aren’t judging the decision to play based solely on the dollars saved.

As with everything related to COVID, the calculation is complicated.

That said, the economics cannot be ignored entirely.

Pac-12 Transfer Portal update: CU t-7th in players leaving

The Transfer Portal has become an important means by which teams can supplement their roster. It will be especially active this year, with every player receiving an extra year of eligibility.

After Signing Day in February, teams should have a pretty good idea of where they stand with their roster (though the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, has yet to rule on how many scholarships teams will be allowed to have over the normal 85 in the next few years).

As of now, Colorado has lost five players to the Transfer Portal, with one player gained (it also bears noting that a player can still return to their original team).

  • CU players lost … QB Tyler Lytle … DL Jason Harris … DB William Anglen … WR K.D. Nixon … SS Derrion Rakestraw
  • CU player gained … QB J.T. Shrout (from Tennessee)

The rest of the Pac-12 to date (From 247 Sports):

  • Arizona … 9 players out; 5 in
  • Arizona State … 12 players out; 4 in
  • California … 4 players out; 1 in
  • Colorado … 5 players lost; 1 in
  • Oregon … 4 players out; none in
  • Oregon State … 7 players out; 4 in
  • Stanford … 2 players out; none in
  • UCLA … 6 players out; 2 in
  • USC … 5 players out; 2 in
  • Utah … 10 players lost; 4 in
  • Washington … 4 players lost; 1 in
  • Washington State … 11 players lost; 3 in

 

 

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January 13th

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Would a six-team playoff work better than an eight-team playoff?

From CBS Sports … What might work?

1. A six-team playoff: Expand by two teams (not four), adding two play-in games with the top teams receiving byes. That begins to address Group of Five concerns and lessens the possibility of top teams being able to “afford” late-season losses. Lose late and Alabama may have dropped to the play-in game this past season. It also reduces the increased financial burden on ESPN.

2. Move the CFP National Championship off Monday night: The CFP won’t go anywhere near the NFL during playoff weekends. Monday continues to be a stand-alone TV spot for the title game. But ratings have tanked. There has to be a way to make the games more popular. What about Friday night in prime time?

3. Reduce the playoff-or-bust mentality: All of the following may happen organically, but if not, options begin with reducing the number of bowl games, which creates more demand. With the expected, eventual addition of name, image and likeness rights, allow sponsors, apparel companies or even the network to pay star players bonuses for participating in non-playoff bowl games. That may help stave off massive opt outs only reducing those to potential early first-round picks.

4. Create more transparency: The current selection process is the most secretive of the wire-service poll era (since 1936). Is it too much to ask the 13 CFP Selection Committee members to release their top 25 votes week to week? They certainly should be made public on Selection Sunday. The players, coaches, media and public deserve to know.

Read full story here

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January 12th

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NCAA President “couldn’t disagree more” with FBS football splitting off

From ESPN … NCAA president Mark Emmert said he “couldn’t disagree more” with a proposal that the association should part ways with the most lucrative sports under its purview in an effort to preserve the education-based model of sports it espouses.

Emmert delivered his annual state-of-the-union style address Tuesday afternoon at the NCAA convention, which is being held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 10-minute speech outlined his prescribed approach to some of the most pressing challenges the NCAA faces in what he deemed a “seminal year” for the century-old association. He said that while it would be naïve to ignore the “enormous amount of revenue” generated by sports such as FBS football and basketball, his hope is that the member schools that make up the NCAA will focus on spending that money in a way that prioritizes the needs of college athletes.

The NCAA has come under increased pressure from lawmakers and others who believe it’s unfair for coaches and administrators to grow rich in a multibillion-dollar industry while athletes are not allowed to share in those profits due to amateurism rules.

The Knight Commission, a reformed-minded nonprofit group that studies college sports, suggested late last year that the best way to preserve amateur sports at the college level was for schools to remove FBS football — the entity that generates the most money and operates most like a business — from its counterparts.

Emmert said such a move would be treating football like a “pure entertainment industry with paid professionals,” a model to which he objects.

Continue reading story here

Familiar names find new home addresses 

Rich Rodriguez named offensive coordinator at ULM

From Arizona Desert Swarm … After taking the 2020 season off, former Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez has accepted a job as the new offensive coordinator at the University of Louisiana Monroe, the school announced Tuesday.

In the same release, ULM also revealed that his son, former Arizona quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, is joining the program as a graduate transfer.

Rich, 57, will work under new head coach Terry Bowden, the 65-year-old son of Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden. The Warhawks went 0-10 this past season. They averaged just 16.3 points per game, good for 122nd (of 127) in the country.

… Rick Neuheisel’s son joins UCLA coaching staff … 

From BruinsReportOnline … UCLA graduate assistant and former quarterback Jerry Neuheisel will be the next wide receivers coach for the Bruins, according to Bruce Feldman.

The son of former Bruin quarterback and head coach Rick Neuheisel will replace former WR coach Jimmie Dougherty who left Westwood last week for a position at Arizona.

Neuheisel played for the Bruins from 2012-2015, mostly in a backup quarterback role. After his final season with the Bruins, he headed out to Japan and played a year before returning to the states and taking a graduate assistant position at Texas A&M under Noel Mazzone, his former offensive coordinator at UCLA.

Former four-star wide receiver prospect Markese Stepp transfers from USC to Nebraska

From USCFootball.com … Former USC running back Markese Stepp has committed to Nebraska, he announced on Twitter on Tuesday. Stepp posted a photoshopped picture of himself in Nebraska gear to his Twitter account.

Coming out of Indianapolis in 2018, Stepp was a four-star prospect by 247Sports composite ratings. He chose the Trojans over Notre Dame, Georgia, Miami and others.

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January 11th

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2020 college football season is over: Was the journey worth it?

From Sports Illustrated … In the uncertain days of July, when nobody knew whether there would or should be a college football season, the angst level was high among university administrators. COVID-19 numbers were soaring—though they would seem pretty tame by today’s horrendous standards—and campuses were largely closed. Were we really going to try to do this?

“I hope we’re not selling our souls to the devil to try to play,” a Power 5 athletic director told Sports Illustrated then. It was a sobering quote.

Six months later, with just a single game remaining in a messy but nearly complete season, we circled back to give the same athletic director an exit interview. The single overriding question: Was it worth it?

The conclusions: Souls were not sold; scenarios did not reach the worst-case; but the journey was far from great.

“It’s dependent upon each program’s own experience,” the AD says. “I don’t think everything was the same. It was hard. That doesn’t necessarily pertain to how many people got COVID or how many games got canceled, but just the daily difficulties people had to endure.

“I think we kept our athletes healthy. I don’t think we compromised that. We did this because our student-athletes said they wanted to play. The love of the game.

“I’d think here, most of our athletes were glad they played. But I can’t say all of them felt that way. My experience here, and talking to other colleges, by the time we got to the end there was a sense of accomplishment, but even more a sense of relief. This was hard and we’re glad we’re done.

“If we had to go through this again and do it again, I’m not sure everybody is signing up. I’m not sure anybody wants to do this again.”

Indeed, the hope is that a season without fans, a season of constant anxiety and constant swabs up the nose, a season of scheduling chaos, a season that exhausted everyone in pursuit of TV revenue, a season that laid bare how cravenly universities prostrate themselves at the feet of King Football … the hope is that we never have to go through that again.

But lo and behold, there is a champion to be crowned—Alabama and Ohio State will settle it on the field here Monday night. It is a fitting final act, a pair of big-brand programs that are extremely serious about football and extremely serious about winning. The head coach of one program missed his team’s big rivalry game after testing positive, and the other program has bulldozed through a series of pandemic impediments and complications—aided and abetted by a conference willing to change its rules to make it happen. If the sport itself has been deemed too big to fail, you could argue that these are its too-big-to-fail flagships.

Even when the season started, there was widespread pessimism about it arriving here, on schedule, with a national title game to be played. “I do think making it to the finish line means that the sport succeeded,” says ESPN’s Chris Fowler, who teams with analyst Kirk Herbstreit on the most prominent broadcast team in football. “I mean, against the odds and against a lot of smart people who thought it wasn’t possible, the sport did make it through.”

Continue reading story here

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January 10th

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Arizona coaching hires have little history recruiting in the West

From the San Jose Mercury News … We’re drawing no conclusions about the coaching staff’s ability to recruit at the level required to propel Arizona into the top half of the division.

Of the confirmed hires, most have not been active on the west coast recruiting trail in recent years.

Offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll has been in the NFL for six years as the Seahawks’ assistant offensive line coach.

Hunley, who will oversee the defensive line, hasn’t coached since 2015.

Cecil, who’s working with the secondary, has never been a college coach, save for his brief stint as Arizona’s interim defensive coordinator last season.

DeWayne Walker (defensive backs) hasn’t coached in college in eight years.

Scottie Graham (running backs) played in the NFL but has never been a college coach.

Brown has never coached west of Ann Arbor.

And Kevin Cummings (receivers) has just four years of coaching experience, at San Jose State

All of which means a heavy load of recruiting responsibility seemingly falls on two staffers:

— Tight ends coach Jordan Paopao, who spent seven years with Washington, was let go by Jimmy Lake in 2019 and spent this past season at UNLV.

— Dougherty, who coached for Washington, San Jose State and, most recently, UCLA.

For any program, recruiting is about contacts, energy and appealing to teenagers.

For the Wildcats specifically, it’s about re-establishing themselves within the state and making progress in Southern California.

Neither task will be easily accomplished.

For Arizona fans, early indications suggest the Fisch era be viewed with cautious optimism.

Continue reading story here

NCAA expected to table a vote on Name, Image and Likeness legislation

From CBS Sports … The NCAA Division I Council is expected to table a vote on name, image and likeness legislation scheduled for this Monday, multiple sources tell CBS Sports. The delay would come amid several legal challenges, a pending Supreme Court case and changes coming to the White House and U.S. Senate.

The NCAA Convention opens next week in what promises to be a transformative year for the 115-year-old collegiate sports governing body. The NCAA must consider not only NIL legislation this week but also one-time transfer legislation all while simultaneously fighting legal challenges on several fronts.

Two high-ranking NCAA sources told CBS Sports it is their expectation the vote on NIL rights will be tabled. Furthermore, NCAA president Mark Emmert told the Justice Department on Saturday that he has “strongly recommended” that votes on NIL rights and a one-time transfer exemption for all athletes be delayed.

“We believe, as courts have regularly held, that our current amateurism and other rules are indeed fully compliant [with federal antitrust law],” Emmert wrote in a letter to the Justice Department obtained by the New York Times. “Whenever we consider revisions to the rules, however, we of course receive input from many interested parties, and we welcome your invitation to consult with the department so that we can hear and fully understand its views as well.”

The Justice Department originally weighed in Friday. USA Today reported that assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim was concerned the NCAA’s approach to NIL “may raise concerns under antitrust laws.” Delrahim is a Trump administration appointee who has 11 days left on the job. He told USA Today those views may carry over to the Biden administration.

The Sherman Antitrust Act was put into law in 1890. It prohibits entities that “unreasonably restrain trade or commerce.” The Sherman Act has been applied many times in sports to regulate fair play and organization.

Nothing will be certain until the 40-member council meets Monday. The council is a 40-person body responsible for day-to-day NCAA legislative and policy decision making. It has a representative from each of the 32 Division I conferences. Voting is weighted toward the 10 FBS conferences, and within that, the Power Five (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC).

If the FBS conferences vote as a group, they alone have the power to table the vote as they control 56.3% of the voting points. However, the Power Five cannot decide the issue on their own. Those conferences control only 37.5% of the total vote. If the agenda stays on schedule, the NCAA Board of Directors would consider ratifying the legislation on Thursday.

“I just don’t think there is a rush to do anything on [NIL] right now,” Tom McMillen, a former Congressman and the head of Lead1 Association, told CBS Sports. Lead1 is a group that represents Division I athletic directors.

“I do think it may be heading that way,” said Shane Lyons of tabling the vote. Lyons is an NCAA Council member and the athletic director at West Virginia.

Continue reading story here

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January 9th

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Clay Helton upbeat despite calls for his firing: “I actually see this program trending upward”

From the Los Angeles Times … Over six tumultuous seasons at the helm of USC football, Clay Helton has grown accustomed to coaching under a cloud of uncertainty. As his Trojans stumbled across the finish line in each of the last three seasons, the head coach’s job security has become a perennial question, his seat perpetually hot for more than half of his tenure.

Helton is used to the constant drumbeat of disillusioned USC fans calling for his firing by now. But no season has ever been defined by uncertainty quite like this last one, as the COVID-19 pandemic upended college football, cut USC’s season to six games and complicated the conversation surrounding the coach.

A shortened season was enough for USC to part ways with its offensive line coach, Tim Drevno, and strength and conditioning coach, Aaron Ausmus, marking a third straight January of upheaval on the Trojans staff. Helton, however, will return in 2021, the embattled coach’s make-or-break campaign extending another year, even as that drumbeat grows louder.

After signing the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit (Corona Centennial’s Korey Foreman) last weekend, Helton spent the last week away from that outside noise, visiting in-laws in Texas and his parents in Florida, neither of whom he’d been able to see throughout the pandemic. By Friday, three weeks out from a devastating Pac-12 title game defeat, Helton was ready to defend the direction of his program in a wide-reaching phone interview with The Times.

“I see a program that just went to a championship game, that has made some investments in key areas,” Helton said. “I actually see this program trending upward, if you look at it correctly.”

Continue reading story here

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January 8th

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Boise State hires Oregon DC Andy Avalos as its new head coach

From ESPN … Boise State football is hiring Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, a former player and assistant with the Broncos, as its next head coach, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Avalos, 39, spent the past two seasons at Oregon, helping the Ducks to consecutive Pac-12 championships. He came to Oregon from Boise State, where he spent seven seasons as an assistant, the past three as the team’s defensive coordinator.

A former All-WAC linebacker at Boise State, Avalos replaces Bryan Harsin, who left last month to become Auburn’s head coach. Avalos coached under Harsin at Boise State and both played and coached for Chris Petersen at the school. Petersen, who resigned as Washington’s coach after the 2019 season, assisted Boise State with its coaching search, according to sources.

Last week, Boise State hired Jeramiah Dickey as its new athletic director. Dickey on Friday afternoon tweeted that the football coaching hire was “coming soon.”

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, a star quarterback at Boise State for Petersen, announced Saturday he would no longer be pursuing the school’s head-coaching job and had agreed to a multiyear contract with the Cowboys. Moore and Avalos had been considered the front-runners to replace Harsin, although Boise State also considered Montana State coach Jeff Choate, a former assistant for the Broncos, as well as Florida offensive coordinator Brian Johnson and Southern California offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, according to sources.

In 2019, Avalos was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, recognizing the nation’s top assistant coach, after overseeing an Oregon defense that finished ninth nationally in scoring. The Corona, California, native helped Boise State to three Mountain West Conference titles as an assistant.

Ranking the head coaching jobs in the Pac-12 – where does CU fall on the list?

From the San Jose Mercury News … On multiple occasions last month, the Hotline opined that the Arizona coaching job was one of the toughest in the Pac-12 because of the limited resources, modest tradition and small recruiting base — all cast against the Wildcats’ reputation as a basketball school.

During the multi-week coaching search that ended Dec. 23 with the appointment of Jedd Fisch, we wrote the following as part of our broader assessment of the Arizona program:

“It’s not quite as difficult to win consistently in Tucson as it is in Pullman or Corvallis. But for the foundational elements (resources, recruiting, tradition), Arizona football is closer to Washington State and Oregon State than to, for example, Arizona State, Utah and UCLA.”

That comment prompted a reader to request more context: How would we rank the coaching jobs in the conference?

Glad someone asked.

The breakdown below considers the challenges, advantages and prospects for success at each school under the guidance of a generic head coach.

We evaluated recruiting base, program tradition, facilities, staffing (the ability to hire and retain quality coaches) and institutional commitment.

Success was defined as two consecutive seasons of nine or more wins.

  1. USC
  2. Washington
  3. Oregon
  4. UCLA
  5. Stanford
  6. Arizona State
  7. Utah
  8. Colorado … Welcome to the third tier, where the talent acquisition and resource challenges make nine-win seasons more difficult to achieve. A case could be made for Cal in this spot, but our generic coach would encounter less campus resistance in Boulder than Berkeley. CU’s primary obstacle is the lack of in-state talent — especially in-state speed — and the heavy recruiting reliance on Southern California and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Many similarities to Oregon, but without the massive Nike influence.
  9. California
  10. Arizona
  11. Washington State
  12. Oregon State

For those scoring at home, this was my list (I decided to give it a try before reading Wilner’s article): 

  1. USC
  2. Oregon
  3. Washington … I had Oregon and Washington reversed, simply because of the Nike money. Oregon was a program which didn’t have a 10-win season in all of the 20th century, but now can buy wins. Washington doesn’t have that luxury;
  4. UCLA
  5. Arizona State
  6. Utah
  7. Stanford … My 4-7 rankings had the same teams as Wilner, but I have Stanford lower due to the admission concerns. The Cardinal has been down the past few years (if you need evidence … CU is 3-0 against Stanford since 2016). To me, it’s not that David Shaw is losing his touch, but more about the move to an Early Signing Day in December.  Some of the players who may have qualified to play in Palo Alto haven’t received their fall grades by the Early Signing Day, and can’t be guaranteed admission. Instead of hoping to get in to Stanford later, they have been opting to sign at other schools. I see this as being the reason for the slow (but noticeable) decline in talent on the Cardinal roster;
  8. Colorado … Really hard to argue with the placement here. If and when Kyle Whittingham leaves the Utes, CU might climb over Utah. But, for now, it’s hard to argue that CU is not at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting compared to the teams ranked above it, and the University’s commitment to winning football is often a tenuous one at best;
  9. California
  10. Arizona
  11. Oregon State
  12. Washington State. I had the bottom two reversed. I have been to Corvallis, and I have been to Pullman. If new head coach Nick Rolovich can maintain some of the momentum built during the Mike Leach era at WSU, good for him. But overall, Washington State is always going to find it more difficult to recruit than any other team in the Pac-12.

Former Michigan DC Don Brown hired to become Arizona DC

From YardBarker.com …. Don Brown may have taken the fall at Michigan this season, but he already has a new gig.

Brown has been hired by Arizona to be their new defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports.

Under Brown, Michigan had top-10 defenses in four of his five seasons. But the 65-year-old was let go after the Wolverines slipped to 50th this season.

Brown joins Jedd Fisch’s staff with the Wildcats. The two were coaches together on Michigan’s staff in 2016 under Jim Harbaugh.

Prior to Michigan, Brown coached at Boston College, UConn and Maryland. Fisch has been busy filling out his staff at Arizona, which includes Brennan Carroll as offensive coordinator.

Pac-12 South Stock Report: With USC falling (opt outs; early NFL entries), other division contenders emerge

… Remember you heard it here first (and second, and third) that CU, despite finishing second in the Pac-12 South in 2020, won’t be picked this fall to finish second … or third … or fourth … 

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News

Falling: USC

The deadline for early-entry candidates to declare for the NFL Draft is two weeks away, but we’re calling the race:

The Trojans are the biggest loser in the Pac-12.

They have been walloped by attrition, losing at least six players who competed in the 2020 season (plus one preseason opt-out).

The list of departed includes all-conference receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns, plus safety Talanoa Hufanga, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and elite linemen on both sides of scrimmage.

Losing players early to the draft is an indication of roster talent and, ultimately, can help with recruiting.

In that regard, the attrition reflects positively on the Trojans, who last year had just one player leave early, tackle Austin Jackson.

The problem comes when your depth chart isn’t properly prepare to backfill.

USC has no shortage of top talents at receiver, but we’re skeptical of the line play moving forward.

The substandard 2020 recruiting class could begin to impact performance.

Rising: South contenders

The attrition walloping USC has created an opportunity in the South.

We would place Arizona State atop the list of possible successors to the title based on the combination of returning talent at the skill positions, improving line play and a proven quarterback (Jayden Daniels).

Let’s not discount Utah, especially if consistency emerges at quarterback; the Utes should be well stocked on the lines of scrimmage.

(After disrupted starts, Utah and ASU were playing as well as anyone in the conference by the end of the regular season.)

And key returnees for UCLA (quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson) and Colorado (linebacker Nate Landman) should boost the division’s depth.

Read full story here

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January 7th

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Buffs won’t have to face A&M’s quarterback Kellen Mond in September

From ESPN … Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond is bypassing his extra year of eligibility and entering the NFL draft.

Mond, a senior who started all four years for A&M, made the announcement Thursday morning on Twitter.

This season, Mond led the Aggies to a 9-1 record and a win in the Capital One Orange Bowl. He finished his Aggies career as the program’s leader in career passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, attempts and total offense. He finished tied with Johnny Manziel for the school record in career total touchdowns with 93.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Mond ranks seventh in SEC history in career total offense (11,269 yards), 10th in total touchdowns and 11th in passing yards (11,269).

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January 6th

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Pac-12 woes: No Heisman votes; No First-team All-American for first time since 1961

From Sports Illustrated … To no one’s surprise, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy on Tuesday.

Also to no one’s surprise, no player from the Pac-12 was among the top 10 vote-getters for that award. That is starting to become a habit, one the folks in the West Coast’s power five conference would like to break.

It’s the second year in a row that no Pac-12 players finished among the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting. Before last season at least one Pac-12 or Pac-10 player was among the top 10 in voting every year since 1999, which was the last time the conference was shut out.

And this the first time since 1985 and 1986 that the conference went consecutive years without a top-10 finisher.

Here is the 2020 Heisman Trophy voting:

heismn voting

It wasn’t that long ago when the Pac-12/Pac-10 was a major player in the Heisman voting. In both 2004 and 2005, four Pac-10 players were among the top-10 vote-getters, with a Pac-10 player winning the Heisman each year (Matt Leinart in 2004, Reggie Bush in 2005, though Bush’s status as a Heisman winner was later revoked).

As recently as 2010 and 2011, three Pac-10 players were in the top 10 each year.

But the trend goes beyond the Heisman.

Not a single Pac-12 player was named to the first-team or the second-team AP All-America team this year. It’s the first time since 1961 that the conference did not have at least one AP first-team All-American, and that was back when it was a five-team conference known as the Athletic Association of Western Universities. Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State joined the conference soon thereafter to form the Pac-8. But even in 1961, with just five schools, the conference still produced two second-team All-Americans, something the Pac-12 failed to earn this season.

Continue  reading story here

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January 5th 

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Transfer Portal Pac-12 scorecard: Four teams are in double digits in numbers of players who have left their teams

The Transfer Portal has become an important means by which teams can supplement their roster. It will be especially active this year, with every player receiving an extra year of eligibility.

After Signing Day in February, teams should have a pretty good idea of where they stand with their roster (though the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, has yet to rule on how many scholarships teams will be allowed to have over the normal 85 in the next few years).

As of now, Colorado has lost three players to the Transfer Portal, with one player gained (it also bears noting that a player can still return to their original team).

  • CU players lost … QB Tyler Lytle … DL Jason Harris … DB William Anglen … CU player gained … QB J.T. Shrout (from Tennessee)

The rest of the Pac-12 to date (From 247 Sports):

  • Arizona … 13 players out; three in (two four-star players lost)
  • Arizona State … 10 players out; three in (three four-star players gained)
  • California … Two players out; none in
  • Colorado … Three players lost; one gained (one four-star player lost)
  • Oregon … Two players out; none in
  • Oregon State … Five players out; one in (one four-star player gained)
  • Stanford … Two players out; none in
  • UCLA … Three players out; three in (two four-star players gained)
  • USC … Five players out; two in (three four-star players lost; two gained)
  • Utah … 10 players lost; two in (three four-star players lost; one gained)
  • Washington … Four players lost; one gained (two four-star players lost; one gained)
  • Washington State … 11 players lost; two gained (one four-star player lost)

 

Pac-12 facing a critical year in 2021: Change the narrative – or continue slide from Power Five

From the San Jose Mercury News … We’re five days in with no clue how it will end, but this much is clear: 2021 is the most important year in Pac-12 football history.

It’s the last chance for the conference to reclaim lost ground.

It’s the bridge to a more prosperous future.

It’s the moment in time when the Pac-12’s diminishing stature rams into the media rights negotiations at the heart of the conference’s future.

Those negotiations are critical to expanding football resources, increasing exposure and allowing the conference to compete on the field with its Power Five peers over the coming decades.

Those negotiations are everything for the Pac-12, and the framework will be set in 2021.

The teams must win, the conference office must execute, and the collective must work in harmony to ensure maximum valuation is attainable when the Pac-12 negotiates with ESPN, Fox, CBS, NBC, Turner, Apple, Amazon or Facebook.

Name your network, pick your distributor — they’re watching, and they know the Pac-12 is desperate for cash and eyeballs.

“2021 is an enormous season moving into those media rights deals, in terms of where the Pac-12 stands in the Power Five,’’ said Brock Huard, the FOX analyst and former Washington quarterback.

“It’s been so gloom and doom about where you stand, and rightfully so. But the one saving grace is that you can change the narrative.”

The Pac-12 hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2014 season (Oregon) or produced a playoff team since 2016 (Washington).

Its top teams have lost a barrage of marquee games on Labor Day weekend and in the New Year’s Six bowl games.

Its scheduling policies, media exposure and officiating have, at various points, served to undermine the on-field product and heaped evidence onto the “doom and gloom” narrative.

… But some issues are very much within its control: Scheduling for success, avoiding officiating controversies, winning major intersectional games, competing for playoff berths, contending for the Heisman Trophy and producing in-season matchups that draw national attention.

We saw it all unfold, in ideal fashion for the conference, back in 2010.

That was the last season before the current media contracts were negotiated.

Oregon, LaMichael James and Chip Kelly reached the BCS title game.

Stanford, Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh won the Orange Bowl.

USC still carried its dynastic afterglow, generated national attention and drew big audiences.

The conference started the season with three teams in the AP top-25 and finished with two teams in the top five.

It was … relevant.

And guess what: It cashed in, to the tune of the groundbreaking $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox.

But this time around, the Pac-12 isn’t setting the market.

Continue reading story here

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January 4th 

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Arizona’s hiring of Jedd Fisch given a C+

From ESPN2020 coach: Kevin Sumlin (fired)

Replacement: Jedd Fisch (previously New England Patriots quarterbacks coach)

Grade: C+

Fisch has never been a head coach, but football fans are likely familiar with him — odds are, he has coached for your favorite college or pro team. Since 2000, when Fisch completed two years as a graduate assistant at Florida, his alma mater, he has worked for four college programs and seven NFL teams. Fisch, 44, has extensive coordinator experience and has been considered for several FBS head-coaching jobs, including Arizona when it hired Kevin Sumlin, Rutgers and Kansas. Despite mixed results, including this year with Cam Newton and the Patriots, Fisch has done a solid job of working his way into coaching searches over the years.

I like Fisch personally, and I think he could succeed in the right spot. The issue is Arizona made it very clear what type of coach it wanted after the Sumlin disaster. Arizona wanted someone directly connected to the school or the state, or at least to beloved former coach Dick Tomey. San Jose State’s Brent Brennan, a former Tomey assistant who built the Spartans program this year, seemed like a good option. Nevada’s Jay Norvell was another one. But university president Robert Robbins, who has a close connection with Fisch, ultimately had the final say here. That approach usually doesn’t work out. Fisch has coached in the Pac-12, but he needs to make good staff hires with connections to the state.

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January 3rd

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Canzano: Oregon deserved 4-3 record; road game at Ohio State in September looming

From The Oregonian … No disrespect to the nine-win Cyclones, but they mostly plodded along like one of those old disciplined Stanford-like outfits, making solid plays while watching with delighted eyes as the Ducks helped out with their sloppiest football of the season.

Three fumbles. One interception. Two Ducks’ quarterbacks shuttling in and out of the game with no apparent logic. I was surprised coach Mario Cristobal didn’t pull his mask up over his eyes in the fourth quarter. There was little doubt that Iowa State was the more experienced, more disciplined team, but Oregon just played flat dumb football.

“We obviously didn’t play up to our standard,” Cristobal said. “It’s a game of execution, and in critical situations we didn’t coach well enough or execute well enough. But we take losses as a team; we don’t point fingers.”

The Ducks’ final record: 4-3.

They deserved it, too.

I could list a long line of excuses for the loss, noting the ongoing pandemic and costly preseason opt-outs. I could point out that UO was the least experienced team in America this season. But it’s too late in the season for apologist thinking and it’s 2021 that I’m already focused on.

Cristobal and his staff needed to elicit better, more efficient production on Saturday. If there isn’t a decided off-season course correction, the Ducks are going to walk into next football season and get laughed off the field at Ohio State in Week 2.

There are 245 days until the 2021 season opener vs. Fresno State at Autzen Stadium. A Saturday after that, the Ducks go to Columbus to play a Buckeyes’ team that will enter the season penciled into the College Football Playoff. I hear a lot of talk about Oregon wanting to create a physical, smash-mouth football identity. I see the recruiting rankings. I like the messaging, but on Saturday, I saw nothing on the field that mirrored it.

That has to change this offseason.

Continue reading story here

Oregon in Fiesta Bowl not a surprise: “They were not a good team this year”

From the San Jose Mercury News … This is not to fault the Ducks for their showing in the Fiesta Bowl: That was who they are.

They were not a good team this year.

They nearly lost at home to UCLA (3-4) and its backup quarterback.

The lost to Oregon State (2-5).

They lost to Cal (1-3).

Then, after Washington was unable to represent the North in the title game, the Ducks were handed extra rest and preparation time while their opponent, USC, was playing its third game in 13 days.

The Ducks were faster, fresher, better prepared and the better team in the conference championship.

But that was the outlier, folks.

What we saw today was the mistake-prone, mediocre Oregon team that we saw most of the season, only matched against an opponent far more capable than any the Ducks faced during the season.

As soon as we saw Oklahoma run Florida off the field in the Cotton Bowl, the Hotline knew Oregon was in trouble:

Two weeks ago, Iowa State took those same Sooners to the wire in the Big 12 title game.

The Cyclones aren’t physically superior to Oregon, but they are savvy, they’re smart, they love to grind, and they’re built to feast on the mistakes of others.

Oregon committed four turnovers.

So yes, the last appearance by the Pac-12 in the 2020 season was a clunker — the last two appearances, in fact, were clunkers.

But again, let’s not lay this all on Oregon and Colorado.

Five bowl-eligible teams declined invitations.

There hasn’t been a playoff-worthy team in years.

The conference office did the title game all wrong.

The university presidents restarted the season too late.

It was all a big mess — Colorado and Oregon were simply the last ones at the scene.

Now, it’s time to forget and move on.

Read full story here

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January 2nd

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Pac-12 finishes 0-2 in bowls after Oregon’s 34-17 loss to Iowa State

… Big 12’s #1 and #2 teams take out Pac-12’s #1 and #3 teams by a combined score of 87-40 … Oregon and CU commit a combined seven turnovers, while gaining none …

From CBS Sports … It’s been a historically good year for No. 10 Iowa State. The Cyclones capped off an impressive 2020 season with a 34-17 win over No. 25 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl for its ninth win of the season. This marks just the third time in program history that Iowa State has notched as many victories and the first time since 2000.

The Cyclones suffocated Oregon in a way that you’d expect a triple-option team to do, possessing the ball for nearly 43 minutes of game time — that’s nearly three full quarters. And the offense kept the ball moving, going 11 of 19 on third downs and 2 of 3 on fourth downs. Four of the Cyclones’ 11 drives went for at least 10 yards with three of those drives spanning at least seven and a half minutes. And while running back Breece Hall didn’t have many explosive plays, he had a career-high 34 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Conversely, Oregon ran just 46 plays to Iowa State’s 85.

Oregon ends its season at 4-3, but the Ducks never gave themselves a chance to win with five turnovers. Sloppy play was prevalent on both sides through turnovers and penalties, but Oregon really paid for poor ball security and bad special teams play. Here’s what else we learned from Saturday’s game.

Continue reading story here

Star defensive lineman becomes the fourth USC player to declare for the NFL Draft

From USCTrojans.com … Stalwart USC defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu announced on Friday that he will forgo his final season and enter the 2021 NFL Draft. He is the fourth Trojan to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft along with offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, safety Talanoa Hufanga and cornerback Olaijah Griffin.

In three seasons as a starter Tuipulotu recorded 104 total tackles, 15 TFL, 8.5 sacks, three passes defended and two forced fumbles. The former five-star prospect recorded 23 total tackles, 3.5 TFL and two sacks playing in USC’s new three-man front in 2020. He earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors by the conference and the Associated Press.

The former five-star prospect faded at the end of the shorted season, but looked like an All-American candidate early in the year. Pro Football Focus deemed his game against Arizona (eight total tackles with one sack) one of the ten best performances by 2021 NFL Draft prospects for that week.

Tuipulotu was rated the No. 60 overall prospect and the No. 5 defensive tackle, according to the 247Sports Composite. He was the No. 13 overall prospect and the No. 1 defensive tackle in the 247Sports rankings.

Blowout Alamo Bowl win not enough to keep Texas from firing Tom Herman

From ESPN … Texas announced Saturday it has parted ways with football coach Tom Herman after four seasons, with sources telling ESPN’s Chris Low that the Longhorns have zeroed in on Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as his replacement and hope to finalize a deal with him soon.

Texas said in a statement that athletic director Chris Del Conte evaluated the program and recommended a change to university president Jay Hartzell. Herman went 32-18 at Texas and 7-3 this past season, which culminated with a win over Colorado in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Tuesday.

“Decisions like this are very, very difficult and certainly not something I take lightly,” Del Conte said in a statement. “As I’ve said before, my philosophy is to wait until the end of the season to look at all of the factors in evaluating any of our programs.

“After much deliberation and a great deal of thought, as I looked back at the totality of where our football program is and in discussing its future, it became apparent that it was in the best interest of the University of Texas to move in a different direction.”

Hartzell and Kevin Eltife, the chair of the UT board of regents, agreed with Del Conte’s recommendation and approved the change, according to a statement from the university.

Sarkisian, who compiled a 47-35 record as a head coach at USC and Washington, won the 2020 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant. Alabama faces Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 11.

Sarkisian, who is making $2.5 million per season on Nick Saban’s staff with the Crimson Tide, declined overtures from Auburn in its head-coaching search last month and turned down the Colorado head-coaching job last year.

Continue reading story here

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January 1st

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BYU announcement benefits FIVE Pac-12 teams

… BYU’s 2021 schedule makes the Cougars an honorary member of the Pac-12. BYU plays Arizona (in Las Vegas), Utah and Arizona State to open the season, then plays at Washington State and USC later in the season … 

From CBS Sports … BYU junior quarterback Zach Wilson burst onto the college football season in 2020 as the Cougars vaulted into national prominence, and now he’s vaulting to the next level. Wilson announced on Friday that he will forgo his final season of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft.

“To all my boys on the team and everyone else involved in my time here … without you, I am nothing,” he wrote on Twitter. “You never forget the ones that went to battle with you, they are a. part of you forever. Forever grateful to my line and receivers, the strength staff and training staff for their endless dedication to me.”

Wilson threw for 3,692 yards, tossed 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions during a sensational season that saw the Cougars spend the majority of the season in the AP Top 25. He also added 254 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Arizona hires Pete Carroll’s son as offensive coordinator

From DesertSwarm.com … The Arizona Wildcats are hiring Brennan Carroll as their offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.

Carroll, 41, is the eldest son of Seattle Seahawks head coach/former USC head coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll and new Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch worked together for two seasons (2011-2012) at the University of Miami. Fisch also worked for Pete in Seattle in 2010 as the Seahawks’ QB coach.

Brennan Carroll got his start in coaching under his father at USC from 2002 as a graduate assistant before advancing to tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.

When Pete left for the Seahawks in 2009, Brennan began a four-year stint at Miami as a recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach and wide receivers coach.

He was hired as the Seahawks’ offensive line coach in 2015 and held that job until the end of the 2019 season when he became the run game coordinator.

Read full story here

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December 31st

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Arizona defections hits an even dozen

Related … “Arizona cornerback Lorenzo Burns declares for 2021 NFL Draft” … from azdesertswarm.com

From azdesertswarm.com … The NCAA transfer portal now has enough Arizona Wildcats players in it to form its own entryway.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Drew Dixon announced Thursday he was transferring for his final two seasons of eligibility, making him the 11th player to leave the program since November.

Dixon, a Tucson native who starred as a quarterback and receiver at Sabino High School, appeared in only two games for Arizona in 2020. He had three catches for 46, all coming in the Nov. 28 loss at UCLA, but then opted out for the remainder of the season.

In 12 career games, Dixon had 17 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Dixon is the fifth wide receiver to leave the program in the past month, joining redshirt junior Stanley Berryhill III, redshirt sophomore Jamarye Joiner, sophomore Boobie Curry and true freshman Ma’jon Wright. Berryhill has since committed to Ball State for 2021.

Arizona’s other departures include quarterbacks Grant Gunnell and Rhett Rodriguez, with Gunnell committing to Memphis, offensive linemen Robert Congel and Jamari Williams, and defensive backs Khary Crump and Edric Whitley. Crump and Whitley, both true freshmen, never played for the Wildcats.

CU/Minnesota game just got more difficult

… Buffs are set to begin a home-and-home series with Minnesota on September 18th in Boulder … 

From Fox Sports … Mohamed Ibrahim is returning to the University of Minnesota for another season.

Ibrahim, who was eligible to enter the 2021 NFL draft, announced his plans Monday via social media.

“I am looking forward to coming back and making more memories in 2021 – which will also include getting my degree,” Ibrahim wrote on Twitter.

As a redshirt junior in 2020, Ibrahim collected plenty of hardware. He was named the 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year and a third team All-American by the Associated Press. In six games, Ibrahim rushed 175 times for 925 yards and 15 touchdowns, leading the conference in all three categories. He averaged 154.2 yards per contest and out-rushed Iowa’s Tyler Goodson, the conference’s second-leading rusher, by 163 yards despite playing two fewer games.

“I am extremely grateful for all the individual success that I have been fortunate to accomplish during my four years as a Gopher,” he said. “However, I know that I would not be able to accomplish any of it without my teammates and coaches.”

Ibrahim also collected 200+ rushing yards in two different contests, dropping 224 yards on 30 attempts against Illinois and 207 yards on 41 attempts vs. Maryland.

Florida coach blames blowout loss on having only 60 players (CU had 51)

From ESPN … Florida coach Dan Mullen said his team could have opted to not play in Wednesday night’s Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic based on player availability but chose to anyway because the players wanted to compete.

Following a 55-20 blowout loss to No. 6 Oklahoma, Mullen said his depleted roster would have allowed the No. 7 Gators to skip the game.

“With the number of people that were out for the game, we were under numbers actually,” Mullen said. “We had the numbers to not play the game.

Added Mullen: “I give our guys credit. … Our young guys wanted to go play in that game, and they wanted to get that experience and wanted to be on that stage.”

On Tuesday, Mullen estimated that he would have 60 scholarship players available. The SEC this season established a minimum threshold of 53 scholarship players for game participation, but teams could opt to play even if they didn’t meet that number. There were also minimums at three key positions: quarterbacks (one), defensive linemen (four) and offensive linemen (seven).

Mullen did not specify if the Gators were under the minimum at a specific position.

Read full story here

Compare … Colorado had 51 players who suited up for the Alamo Bowl … and that total includes five walk-ons (Texas had 68 players suit up). When asked about opting out of the game, CU head coach Karl Dorrell said:

“Yes, we were short a lot of people but you know me now and I don’t make any excuses. We got to play and figure out how to do it with what we got. And I was expecting us to play better than that. I was expected to be more competitive. I was expecting a lot of it to be better than what it looked like so it just shows me I got a tremendous amount of work to do. And really, that is what it is- there are no excuses.”

 

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December 30th 

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Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Talanoa Hufanga, turning pro

From USCFootball.comTalanoa Hufanga is turning pro. The Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year announced on Wednesday his intentions to enter the 2021 NFL Draft, foregoing his final two years of eligibility at USC.

Hufanga was a prized possession for defensive coordinator Todd Orlando this season because of the 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior safety’s versatility to play at all three levels of the defense. No one since perhaps Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu has been used in such a dynamic way as Orlando used Hufanga during the Covid-shortened 2020 season. In six games, Hufanga lined up in 21 different positional alignments, according to Pro Football Focus.

“He’s got a certain skill set that’s unique,” Orlando said. “There’s some hybrid type of outside backer/strong safety and he’s got really good vision too.

Hufanga’s first-team selections by the Associated Press and Sporting News give him two of the five official All-American selectors by the NCAA along with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF). If he earns first-team status from one of the other three, he will become USC’s first consensus All-American since Adoree’ Jackson in 2016. Landing on all three first teams would make Hufanga the first unanimous All-American Trojan since Marqise Lee in 2012 and the 28th in school history.

Continue reading story here

Oregon DC leading candidate for Boise State head coaching position 

From YahooSports.com … One week ago, the Auburn football program hired Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin away from Boise, Idaho to become the next head coach in Auburn, Alabama.

Now, the Broncos are looking to fill the vacancy left behind on the ‘surf turf.’

Current Oregon Defensive Coordinator Andy Avalos is reportedly a leading candidate for this position, according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.

Avalos played linebacker for the Broncos from 2001-2005 amassing 365 tackles, good for fourth all-time in program history. He later returned to Boise State as an assistant coach, working his way up from defensive line coach (2012-13), to linebackers coach (2014-15), to defensive coordinator (2016-18). His three defenses he coordinated were ranked 29th, 38th, and 30th in team defense nationally.

This performance was good enough to catch Mario Cristobal’s eyes and take over the defense with the departed Jim Leavitt. Under Avalos, the Ducks defense from a 49th place finish in 2018 to 9th place in 2019 in team defense. Oregon also led the conference in both interceptions and forced turnovers under Avalos.

On Tuesday during media week leading up to the Playstation Fiesta Bowl where the No. 25 Oregon Ducks are set to face the No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones, Avalos addressed the situation with Boise State:

“I get it, that’s my alma mater. A lot of blood sweat and equity into that university. But ultimately… I have not been engaged in that process,” said Avalos when asked on Tuesday.

“I’m sure they have a process they’re going through but we’re focused on ours here and we’re focused on finishing.

“There hasn’t been any formal interaction there.”

Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator and former Boise State QB Kellen Moore is also considered a leading candidate to replace Harsin.

Arizona MBB self-imposed NCAA tournament ban criticized: “Miller hasn’t been held accountable for anything”

From Sports Illustrated … In the latter stages of 2020, we have a new trend in college athletics: the self-serving self-imposed ban.

On Tuesday, Arizona became the third school in the last five weeks to issue itself a postseason ban for rules violations, sidelining its men’s basketball team for the 2021 NCAA tournament. Earlier this month, it was LSU that gave itself a football bowl ban. And in November, Auburn banned its men’s basketball team from the ’21 Big Dance.

Schools are falling on swords all over the place. Except the swords are made of styrofoam, not steel. This is all an act, designed to appear painful while attempting to avoid real pain.

The new page in the playbook: take a ban with a team that is below the school’s usual standard, in a season that is a mess, and then expect credit for it when it’s time for an infractions hearing. Arizona is 7–1 but lost its only game away from home and has a No. 38 Ken Pomeroy ranking, after being in the top 20 six of the previous eight seasons. Auburn is 6–2 and No. 65 in the Pomeroy Ratings, its lowest ranking in four seasons, and star freshman recruit Sharife Cooper has not played due to an eligibility inquiry. And LSU’s bowl ban is particularly hilarious, given the Tigers’ 5–5 record (3–5 at the time) and high number of player opt-outs.

… In announcing its postseason ban Tuesday, Arizona threw multiple former assistant coaches under the bus, though not by name. We do know that Emanuel “Book” Richardson did time for his part in the bribery scandal, and the contract of Mark Phelps was not renewed in 2019. Were there others involved? That remains unclear.

“The decision is an acknowledgement that the NCAA’s investigation revealed that certain former members of the MBB staff displayed serious lapses in judgment and a departure from the University’s expectation of honest and ethical behavior,” the school release said. “It is also in accord with the penalty guidelines of the NCAA for the type of violations involved. This decision also reinforces the institution’s commitment to accountability and integrity as well as serving the best long-term interests of the University and the Men’s Basketball program.”

The last sentence there lays it on a bit thick, given that the “commitment to accountability and integrity” has included retaining head coach Sean Miller for three years since the scandal engulfed his program. Miller hasn’t been held accountable for anything that occurred, even though NCAA rules stipulate that he should be, and ultimately likely will be. Head coach control legislation means that violations committed by staff members—now acknowledged by the school itself—are the responsibility of the head coach, so there seems to be a high likelihood of sanctions coming Miller’s way. Yet the school continues to stand by him like a sacred cow, as does Auburn with Bruce Pearl and LSU with Will Wade.

Continue reading story here

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21 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. Interesting story on jerry neuheisel. Jerry neuheisel has been on UCLA’s staff for like three years. Maybe longer. I think he started with mora and was retained by chip.

    Unless Rick has another blond-haired son (he does) who played qb at ucla (he does not). Did t know his prior role, I guess graduate assistant?

    Go Buffs.

  2. “We evaluated recruiting base, program tradition, facilities, staffing (the ability to hire and retain quality coaches) and institutional commitment.”
    ummm
    “the ability to hire and retain….” which is connected directly to the real job ranking…the coach’s salary. When you look at a lot of coach’s “commitment” (read the dinner bell Mel types, of which there are a bunch) if they arent getting the top salary you know they are putting “institutional commitment” somewhere down the line.

    1. The ones who know aren’t talking, and the ones who are talking don’t know.
      I would avoid the speculation, and see – when Wilson gets hired elsewhere, or when CU hires its new S&C coach – if any new information comes to light

    2. This is speculation, but one thing people don’t talk about much is how the strength coach can work with the players during the off season when the other coaches can’t. I’m not completely clear about what is allowed and what is not, but I think the strength coach can run drills (with no pads) like seven on seven during the off season. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t you name your offensive coordinator or QB coach as the strength coach so the offense could be practiced, playbook taught, the QB’s footwork could be worked on, etc. all year round? Maybe the Buffs want a strength coach who really knows the offense and can run the off season practices more effectively.

      1. Maybe going out on a limb here, but the first qualification for a S&C coach is to be really, really good at, well, strength and conditioning.

        I see your point, but it seems to conjure up that line from those erudite philosophers Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap: “There’s a fine line between stupid and clever…”

        Those non- coaches allowed 7 on 7 drills need to be run by your starting QB and offensive captains. That’s when the culture of your program shows up and successful teams have it in spades.

        Your s & c coaches need to make sure the team is strong, developed, in top physical condition and still able to perform through a season’s grind. The good ones are highly skilled at that and hard to find. No place for amateurs.

  3. No knock n Devonte Smith. He probably deserves it but it sure helps when you have a team full of 4 and 5 stars to help out. His QB was third on the voting list. Doubt if anyone will win the award without being on a top 5 team.
    What I find interesting is that Trey Lance is being mentioned in a few mock drafts as the second QB to be taken and he isnt even in the top 10 Heisman candidates receiving votes

  4. I would take the 4 star player in and out stat with a grain of salt. There is a decent chance they are in the portal because their 4 star rating has been exposed.

    1. ep, yes-sir-re, Big Time Cholly in high school comes down to earth as just another football player that has to earn his playing time in college. What it really amounts to is a life lesson that happens to everyone at some stage while here on this planet.

  5. It seems CU is doing well keeping its talent and athletes. That seems to say something about Dorrell and his ability to build a relationship and trust with these athletes.

    1. Ask and ye shall receive … Karl Dorrell was given a C- by ESPN, the lowest of the 2020 new hires …

      2019 coach: Mel Tucker (left for Michigan State job)
      Replacement: Karl Dorrell, previously Miami Dolphins wide receivers coach

      Grade: C-

      I graded Colorado on a curve of sorts, as the timing of the search — in mid-February, when the coaching carousel had slowed and 2020 recruiting had finished — really hindered the process. Dorrell has been a Pac-12 coach, winning 10 games at UCLA in 2005 and reaching a bowl game in all five seasons with the Bruins (look at what has happened to the program since his firing). He also has familiarity with Colorado as the team’s offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach under Bill McCartney. But it’s hard to get excited about a 57-year-old who wasn’t on anyone’s radar as a head-coaching candidate until Colorado came calling. Colorado couldn’t land Eric Bieniemy or Steve Sarkisian and seemed to be scrambling for viable candidates before settling on Dorrell. He hasn’t coached at the college level since 2014, when his Vanderbilt offense averaged only 17.2 points per game. Dorrell isn’t a dynamic personality and will need very smart staff hires to sustain the momentum Tucker had begun building.

  6. do you think Tom Herman is asking himself why he didnt play Thompson sooner? Fat Chance
    Si is reporting his buyout is over 15 million and the for his entire staff its over 24 million
    AND in addition to that it sounds like they are going to have to pay Alabama to get Sark.
    Dinner bell Mel looks like chump change now.
    Will football ever kill the golden goose?

  7. I googled it An entire 33% of tube time in a football game is commercials. Aint it great? A change of possession gives you enough time to prepare smothered burritos for you and all the the bros. And if you are having a tough time squeezing off another kind of burrito in the toilet dont fear. You will get back just in time to find out how to end your troubles in the sack.
    I especially like the ones that are shown over and over again. You know, the ones that are trying to hide what they are advertising until the very end. I found out if I love my family its necessary to buy a Subaru.
    I can understand that even more commercials are necessary to support the insane money race in college football but doesnt the NFL have a salary cap? Maybe billionaires like Kraft dont have enough money to spend in sleazy massage parlors.
    Seriously?
    Its a damn good excuse to quit watching the Broncos today and blow off some steam in here.
    oh
    and I almost forgot …..now they are doing split screen commercials between plays on some channels

    1. You are truly a man of the 80’s. The 1880s.

      Not that what you say is inaccurate, at least in this case. But it is also very, very old news.

      Go Buffs

  8. wouldn’t it be a hoot if sweaty was cuffed and hauled off in the middle of a home game Law and Order style? To bad Lennie passed away or he could be deputized to take part while handing out the obligatory wise cracks.

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