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Pac-12 Notes

April 15th

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It’s on: Regular recruiting calendars to resume on June 1st 

From ESPN … The DI Council approved all Division I sports to return to their regular recruiting calendars beginning on June 1, the NCAA announced on Thursday.

The Council acknowledged schools in different areas of the country could be limited based on regulations set by campus, city and state requirements, but the schools are no longer restricted by the created dead period that had been enacted since March 13, 2020.

“We are delighted to announce that as of June 1, all sports will return to their normal recruiting calendars,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We want to thank all prospective student-athletes, their families, coaches and current student-athletes for their patience as we determined the best way to move forward safely with recruiting in Division I.”

Men’s basketball will start a quiet period on June 1, which allows in-person visits on campus, along with an evaluation period towards the end of the month. Women’s basketball will also now be allowed to conduct the quiet period that runs through the entire month of June and will allow the schools to participate in the evaluation period July 6 through July 12.

Football recruiting will have separate waivers and allowances as the Council is permitting on-campus evaluations during unofficial visits during the days football camps, and clinics are allowed in June and July 2021.

For FBS programs, there will be a quiet period allowing camps and on-campus visits from June 1 through June 27, a dead period from June 28 through July 24 and a return to a quiet period July 25 through July 31.

That waiver will allow coaches to work players out individually while on unofficial visits to help make up for time lost with missed evaluation periods over the last year.

Continue reading story here

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April 14th

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Arizona hires Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd 

From CBS Sports … Tommy Lloyd, the longtime top assistant to Mark Few at Gonzaga, is slated to be Arizona’s next men’s basketball coach, sources told CBS Sports. An official announcement is expected soon.

Lloyd beat out three former Arizona players/current coaches in varying capacities: Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire, Arizona assistant Jason Terry and Lakers assistant Miles Simon. Arizona alum Josh Pastner also interviewed for the job, sources told CBS Sports.

Gonzaga has had an agreement with Lloyd for years to be Few’s successor whenever Few retires, but Arizona is regarded as a top-10 job in college basketball and this opportunity is too good to pass up. For Lloyd, 46, it’s a chance he’s been waiting for and one he’s earned. Alongside Few, he helped build Gonzaga’s program into one of the best in the sport.

Lloyd landed the job after interviewing with Arizona president Bobby Robbins on Saturday. Discussions slowed for a few days while Arizona circled back on candidates before taking next steps. Things accelerated Wednesday, when Lloyd became the clear choice. This will be his first job as a head coach.

Stanford alumni continuing fight to try and keep school from dropping 11 sports

From ESPN … Within minutes of the coaches and athletes finding out their sports would be cut last July, Stanford sent out a press release, dressing it up as an open letter from president Marc Tessier-Lavigne, provost Persis Drell and Muir, to announce the elimination of men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling.

“We were still on the zoom call when I started getting texts from people about it,” Stanford wrestler Shane Griffith said. “How could they release this to the public before even some of [the athletes] knew what was happening? That was heartbreaking.”

Athletes were informed that their scholarships would be honored should they choose to remain at Stanford to finish their degrees, but the sports would no longer be sponsored after the 2020-21 academic year. Griffith wasn’t the lone athlete with the potential to one day compete for an Olympic spot to see their world turned upside down.

“These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches,” the release said. “They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements.”

In an attached FAQ, the school said the decision was “considered a last resort, only to be undertaken if all other viable avenues had been exhausted” and “comes down primarily to finances and competitive excellence.”

Those lines rang hollow for people associated with Stanford athletics — including Olympians, current and former pro athletes, Stanford athletics hall of famers, current students, coaches and staff members. The idea that all viable avenues were exhausted despite keeping the overwhelming majority of the stakeholders in the dark was easy to dismiss out of hand, while independent fundraising efforts and athletic performances since, like Griffith winning a national championship in March, have exposed major holes in the logic presented in the original announcement.

After the news broke, a group of alumni that calls itself 36 Sports Strong formed to attempt to reverse the university’s decision. The group counts Andrew Luck (football), Julie Foudy (soccer), Kerri Walsh Jennings (volleyball), Josh Childress (basketball), Janet Evans (swimming) and Michelle Wie (golf) among a large list of high-profile advocates for the cause.

In an interview with ESPN on Friday, leaders from the group said they have received more than $50 million in pledges to save the sports, are close to fully endowing four and are optimistic they will be able to raise the remaining money needed to allow the 11 sports to become financially self-sustaining in the near future.

“I’m looking at the numbers and we believe that we are between 55 and 60% of the way there based on what we have,” said spokesman Jeremy Jacobs, a former Stanford volleyball player. “And this is in six months. So give us a couple of years and we think we can get there.”

One of the main sources of frustration for the 36 Sports Strong group, along with the impacted student-athletes and coaches, has been a steadfast refusal by the administration to discuss possible solutions. On Tuesday, however, the group is set to virtually meet with university leadership, at the request of Tessier-Lavigne, to discuss the group’s petition.

Stanford declined ESPN’s request for an interview with someone familiar with the university’s decision-making process, but issued a statement in which it disagreed with 36 Sports Strong’s financial evaluation.

“Discontinuing sports was an extremely painful decision, and it was driven by the financial challenges of supporting twice as many varsity teams as the Division I average at the level we believe is essential for our student-athletes to excel,” according to a Stanford spokesperson. “The fundraising numbers cited by groups that have organized to reinstate individual sports and all 11 sports have significantly underestimated the total amount of funding required to support the programs they wish to reinstate and, in most cases, do not appear to be accounting for the need to adhere to Title IX gender equity requirements.

“President Tessier-Lavigne looks forward to meeting with the leaders behind the petition to ensure their perspectives are thoroughly heard.”

The alumni group doesn’t just want to be heard — it expects a substantive discussion about how to save the sports and work on implementing a model that will allow them to thrive long-term.

“I don’t think we need a meeting just to be placated and soothed and be told that we’ve been heard,” said former NBA player Adam Keefe, a 2000 induction into the school’s athletic hall of fame who now works as a financial advisor. “We’ve had that meeting before. So the fact that [Tessier-Lavigne] reached out lends us to believe that they’re actually trying to figure out how to right this wrong, and how to restore the institutional credibility that they’ve lost to this process.

“I think after digging, really deep diving into the finances, it is very clear that this is not a financial decision. Cutting the 11 Sports will not eliminate the deficit in the athletic department.”

Continue reading story here

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April 13th

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USC conducting an actual spring game – and are allowing in 5,000 fans

… Dare to dream! … As noted previously, a number of Pac-12 schools, most recently Arizona and Washington, have opened up practices to fans … and every other Pac-12 school is playing its Spring game on a Saturday. CU’s April 30th “Spring Showcase”, which currently isn’t open to the public (thanks, Boulder County!), will not be a Spring game, but drills followed by a scrimmage (Even if there were an actual Spring Game planned, it would likely be limited due to the lack of healthy offensive linemen), and will be conducted at 9:00 a.m. on a Friday … 

From Reign of Troy … Well, would you look at this? Not only will USC football fans be welcomed back to the Coliseum on Saturday, but they’ll be treated to a proper Spring Game.

After years of the Trojans holding a glorified (and not-so glorified) spring practice in the form of a Spring Showcase, this year the Spring Game concept will return.

In a press release, USC confirmed the Spring Game “will feature four 12-minute quarters of live contact play, with the Trojan roster split into Cardinal and Gold squads.”

That means real life football at the Coliseum.

Best of all, friends and family of players as well as 5,000 Trojan fans will be in attendance. Season ticket holders will have to first crack at buying tickets.

Those who can’t make it out to the Coliseum will be able to watch on Pac-12 Network at 1 p.m. PT.

Continue reading story here

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April 12th

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Anticipated record payout by Pac-12 Networks in FY ’22 still not up to baseline projections from 2012

From the San Jose Mercury News … It has been a difficult year for the Pac-12 Networks, which lost its football inventory, tens of millions in revenue and dozens of staff members. But the other side of the pandemic could bring unexpected success in one aspect of the core mission.

Assuming college sports return to normal in the fall, the conference’s wholly-owned media company is projected to produce a record surplus in the 2022 fiscal year.

Current estimates call for a net surplus of $45 million, resulting in distributions of $3.75 million per campus, according to a Hotline source familiar with budget projections.

That figure is approximately $1 million more per campus than the last publicly reported payout, of approximately $2.8 million per school, from the 2019 fiscal year.

The FY20 payouts are expected to have increased slightly from that point and will be reported by the conference this spring with the release of its 990 tax filings.

The FY21 payouts are in flux and will feel the full impact of the pandemic — particularly the loss of the entire football season, which generates the majority of revenue for the networks.

When asked to explain the expected surge in both net surplus and campus distributions in FY22, Pac-12 Networks president Mark Shuken said via email:

“The Pac-12 Networks has been able to significantly increase distributions to members during the period 2019 – 2022 (projected) through a combination of diversification of revenue streams and efficiencies realized through new and innovative production technologies.”

Notably, the post-pandemic payouts will mark the first time the networks have reached the baseline revenue goals laid out by commissioner Larry Scott prior to the launch of the networks in 2012.

Continue reading story here

Without playing a game, UNC parts ways with offensive coordinator

From FootballScoop.com … The University of Northern Colorado did not get to play any football games in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had scheduled only a couple of closed scrimmages this spring.

Nonetheless, coach Ed McCaffery is making major changes on the offensive side of the football, sources tell FootballScoop.

McCaffery is parting ways with offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin and running backs coach Lyle Moevao, per sources.

Baldwin arrived at UNC with deep ties already to McCaffery as well as the Elway football family. Baldwin had served as McCaffery’s wide receivers coach at Stanford.

He also had a bevy of other stops around college football, including most recently serving on the Oregon State staff for three seasons from 2015-17. After a couple years away from the game, Baldwin returned to help McCaffery atop the Bears program.

Like Baldwin, Moevao had previously served on the staff at his alma mater, Oregon State. He had coached with Mike Riley, the Beavers’ former long-time head coach, in the Alliance of American Football.

Moevao also served as the Bears’ recruiting coordinator.

Named head coach in December 2019, McCaffery is yet to officially coach his first game for the Bears.

Northern Colorado is set to open its 2021 season at Colorado Sept. 3.

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April 11th

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Is Pac-12 football as underrated as Pac-12 basketball proved to be?

From Stewart Mandel’s Mailbag at The Athletic … The Pac-12 was underrated in basketball. Is it the same for football? Can they get a team to the Playoff? — Russell

I don’t think the Pac-12 has been underrated in football relative to College Football Playoff contention. The problem for the league is that it has been pretty accurately rated. When your eventual champ loses to the third-place team in the SEC West (as Oregon did to Auburn in 2019) or to the fifth-place team in the SEC West (as Washington did to Auburn in 2018), it’s tough to make a case that you belong in the Playoff — especially when you’ve got other losses on the resume. Those aren’t the only games that matter. USC losing four of its last five against Notre Dame doesn’t help, either. The most meaningful non-conference win the league has had in the past five seasons is probably the Trojans’ Rose Bowl win against Big Ten champ Penn State after the 2016 season.

How good the Pac-12 is top to bottom is another discussion, but I think it has gotten better on that front in recent years. We’re talking about making the Playoff, which means what matters is how good the best teams in the league are.

Oregon has the most talented roster in the Pac-12. The Ducks have won the league two seasons in a row, and they’ll be the favorite going into this season. If Oregon beats Ohio State in Columbus in Week 2, the entire Pac-12 will be taken more seriously in the Playoff race. If Oregon plays Ohio State close and loses and the Buckeyes wind up being as good as they usually are, the entire Pac-12 will be taken more seriously in the Playoff race. If USC can win at Notre Dame, the league will get taken more seriously. How much a Washington win against Michigan would matter will depend on whether Michigan can rebound from last season’s debacle, but that could be helpful. The teams that haven’t won the title in the past decade also could offer assistance. UCLA beating LSU would be huge, but if LSU has bounced back from last season’s mess, then UCLA hanging with LSU could help. Colorado also could aid the league’s image by playing well against Texas A&M.

For the Pac-12 to get a team into the Playoff for the first time since 2016, the league has to be better in marquee non-conference games. The good news is the Pac-12 will have several chances to rehab its reputation before the Playoff selection committee next meets.

On the Move: 21 quarterbacks have transferred in or out of Pac-12 (so far)

From Sports Illustrated … Cal fans might have been surprised that three of the Golden Bears scholarship quarterbacks decided in the offseason to transfer, but such movement is not unusual this year, as 21 quarterbacks have either transferred in or out of Pac-12 schools since the end of the 2020 season.

Every Pac-12 school except Stanford, Arizona State and USC had a quarterback leave or arrive via transfer since the end of the 2020 season. And USC (J.T. Daniels to Georgia) and Stanford (K.J. Costello to Mississippi State) had their opening-game starting quarterbacks from 2019 leave after last season, while Arizona State (Jack Smith to Central Washington) had a quarterback move in September 2020.

Cal should be happy that starting quarterback Chase Garbers has no intentions of leaving, because starting quarterbacks are on the move too. Three players who were the starting quarterbacks at Pac-12 schools in 2020 have transferred out – Oregon’s Tyler Shough to Texas Tech, Utah’s Jake Bentley to South Alabama and Arizona’s Grant Gunnell to Memphis. Four quarterbacks who were starters elsewhere in 2020 have  transferred to Pac-12 schools – Charlie Brewer, from Baylor to Utah; Jarrett Guarantano, from Tennessee to Washington State; Jordan McCloud, from South Florida to Arizona; and Patrick O’Brien, from Colorado State to Washington.

Garbers’ brother, Ethan, is one of three Pac-12 quarterbacks who have transferred to another Pac-12 school. Ethan Garbers, a freshman at Washington in 2020, is now at UCLA; Gunner Cruz has transferred from Washington State to Arizona, and Nick Moore went from Oregon State to Arizona.

Arizona, which changed head coaches, had five quarterbacks either leave or transfer in.

Why all the movement? Well, in recent years it has become more and more common for quarterbacks to switch schools, hoping to find a place where they will play and develop. This offseason is even more ripe for transfers for two reasons:

1. The 2020 season did not count against a player’s college eligibility so seniors and grad transfers can play another season.

2. The NCAA is expected to pass a rule that allows all first-time transfers to play immediately, without sitting out a season.

The scary thing is that the quarterback transfer parade may not be over, because more quarterbacks may want to go elsewhere when spring practices end and players can gauge their place on the depth chart.

There is also the outside possibility that a quarterback in the transfer portal will return to the school from which he is transferring – if that school will still have him.

Here are the quarterback comings and goings from each Pac-12 school and a brief description of the transferring quarterback.

Colorado … 

OUT

Tyler Lytle: From Colorado to Massachusetts

Lytle was Colorado’s backup quarterback last season as a redshirt junior and played in two games, completing 4-of-7 passes for 13 yards, 0 TDs and 0 interceptions. Massachusetts went 0-4 last season and 1-11 in 2019.

IN

J.T. Shrout from Tennessee to Colorado

Shrout is participating in Colorado’s spring practice and getting reps because starter Sam Noyer is not participating in the spring following offseason shoulder surgery. Shrout played in four games (no starts) for Tennessee in 2020 as a redshirt junior. He completed 57.1 percent of his passes with 4 TDs and 3 interceptions. He started one game as a redshirt freshman.

Read full story here

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April 10th

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CSU coach Addazio: 2020 Rocky Mountain Showdown was “agendified” 

From the Denver Post … Last April, CSU head coach Steve Addazio was stuck in Cape Cod, preparing to sell the family home and move into a new one along the Front Range. COVID-19 effectively shut down athletic departments nationwide from mid-March to mid-June, forcing the Rams to prepare, coach, teach and recruit remotely.

July and August brought allegations and, eventually, a formal investigation into the program before CSU had played its first game of the Daz Era. The Mountain West slate got chopped up, then delayed to spring, then moved up to the fall again.

It would get weirder. COVID-19 restrictions forced the only contest the Rams played at Canvas Stadium, a rivalry win over Wyoming, to be held without spectators. The Rams lost three tilts on the field and another three to the coronavirus, as the pandemic forced the cancellation of a trio of contests. A fourth — the Dec. 12 home finale vs. Utah State — got called off the night before the game when the Aggies’ players voted en masse to boycott in protest of their university’s administration.

“It didn’t age me,” Addazio said of his first year on the job. “I would say it frustrated me. I think, quite frankly, that my experience was very valuable. I think if you don’t have a lot of experience, that it’s hard to get on those roller-coaster rides and come out the other end OK.

“I feel like it challenged all my experiences as a sitting head coach for nine years or so, 10 years … I feel like, without that experience, that would’ve been difficult. Because this was quite an undertaking.”

Advances in testing and contract tracing made the games possible, but it also made them speculative. Cancellations had schools sometimes scrambling for opponents by November and December. And it’s one of the Daz’s regrets that despite the neighboring programs sharing at least three matching open weekends, including Dec. 18-19, CSU couldn’t set up a game, home or away, with the CU Buffs.

“That (game) should have happened, and it didn’t,” Addazio said of the 2020 Rocky Mountain Showdown, which was CSU’s original home opener before COVID re-wrote schedules across the board. “And that’s unfortunate, because we did everything in our power to make that happen.

“So that’s not on us. We were fighting like crazy all the way to the very last week of the season, at the end, trying to put something together.”

Did that fight change your opinion of Buffs coach Karl Dorrell? Or of athletic director Rick George?

“Noooo, noooo,” Addazio replied. “Listen, everybody’s got their reasons for doing what they do … absolutely not. I just think it’s something that could’ve and should’ve happened. But that’s my opinion. I’ve got a lot of respect (for), I’ve heard a lot about Rick George, I know he’s a fabulous athletic director. And Karl’s just a tremendous guy. And no, no, I have nothing but respect.

“It’s just — like a lot of things last year, I just think that it got funky. And things got agendified. A lot of things got agendified.

Continue reading story here

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April 8th

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Oregon State/Oregon opposed to NIL legislation proposed by Oregon legislature 

From the Oregonian … The latest proposed state legislation to permit college athletes in Oregon to be compensated for their name, image and likeness is scheduled for its first public hearing Thursday afternoon.

Although the University of Oregon and Oregon State University are supportive of athletes being able to profit from what’s known as their NIL, the schools are opposed to the bill, which also calls for “royalty payments to each student athlete who is a current member of the team” related to an athletic department’s merchandising and apparel agreements.

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sens. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and James Manning Jr., D-Eugene, would allow college athletes in the state to earn compensation for use of their name, image or likeness and to retain representation related to those opportunities so long as their agent didn’t represent the school in the prior four years.

It would not allow athletes to enter into contracts that conflict with “team rules” or contracts between the athletes’ school and third parties that pertain to when an athlete is engaged in official team activities (i.e., conflicting apparel providers while playing), and would require “royalty payments to current members of team” from a school’s merchandise and apparel deals and “royalty payments plus premium to current or former member of team whose name, image or likeness is used.”

If passed, the bill would go into effect immediately, with Oregon college athletes able to earn NIL compensation beginning July 1, the same day that numerous similar laws are set to go into effect in a growing number of other states.

Courtney, the Oregon Senate President, crafted the proposed legislation and made it clear his intention is for all athletes on college teams to be able to earn a share of the apparel deals, which is the unique and controversial aspect of the bill compared to those in other states.

“You have to start with the student-athlete and end with the student-athlete or you’re not going to make any movement here,” Courtney said. “That’s why the NCAA is bogged down because these big institutions, if you start up there, you’re not going to get there.”

Continue reading story here

Report: Pac-12 to grant immediate eligibility to intra-conference transfers 

From the San Jose Mercury News … The conference is on the verge of a major policy shift regarding internal player movement.

According to multiple sources, the Pac-12 is expected to eliminate the redshirt year for undergraduates who transfer within the conference, thus granting them immediate eligibility.

But there’s a catch, and it’s a four-letter word.

The Pac-12 will only move forward if the NCAA provides cover.

That process could begin next week.

After several delays due to COVID, the Division I Council is expected to approve immediate eligibility for transfers when the group meets April 15, according to reports.

If the Board of Governors follows the Council’s lead and signs off on the change, the legislation would take effect for 2021-22: Players who transfer in the current academic year would be eligible at their new school in the fall.

The longstanding rule that requires undergraduates to establish a year of residency at their new school would be removed, but only the first time a player transfers.

If the NCAA approves the change, the Pac-12 is expected to follow by removing the mandatory redshirt for undergraduates who transfer within the conference, multiple sources said.

Currently, intra-conference transfers do not lose a year of eligibility, but they need a waiver to avoid the redshirt rule — a waiver that must be approved by the original school. If the new policy is adopted, that step would be eliminated.

Continue reading story here

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April 7th

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Arizona (finally) parts way with Sean Miller

Related … “Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller out after 12 seasons with the Wildcats” … from CBS Sports

From the Arizona Daily Star … Arizona is parting ways with Sean Miller after 12 seasons as the Wildcats’ head basketball coach, according to a report from Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.

Goodman reported that Miller met with UA president Robert C. Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke Monday night to discuss the coach’s future. With nothing resolved, they met again Tuesday morning and agreed to part ways, Goodman reported.

Miller, 52, led the Wildcats to five Pac-12 regular season titles and three NCAA Elite Eight appearances after becoming the permanent replacement to Lute Olson in April 2009. But he’s been surrounded by off-court questions since the federal investigation into college basketball was made public in September 2017.

An ensuing NCAA investigation led to five Level I (most serious) charges, including multiple allegations of academic misconduct, a bribery scheme and the cover-up of a loan. Arizona released the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations containing the charges on March 5th.

As recently as March 8, Robbins gave Miller a public endorsement.

“I’m not sure what the timing is going to be but we hope as soon as possible that we can get past this as a university, that Coach Miller, his family and his basketball program can move forward,” Robbins said. “You know, he’s out there recruiting. I think signing day is coming up soon. We’ve got a really good team. They’re young.

“And we’re eager to move forward and get the final chapter of this now almost four-year saga over. But Coach Miller is our coach.”

Miller was under contract through the 2021-22 season. He made $2.5 million plus $200,000 each from Nike and IMG.

Continue reading story here

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April 6th

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NCAA may consider single sites for future NCAA tournaments

From the Associated Press …  The NCAA used the single-site concept for its marquee championship out of necessity.

Now it could become part of the tournament’s future.

A day after crowning a national champion for the first time since 2019, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told reporters that the successful men’s college basketball tournament held primarily in Indianapolis and exclusively in Indiana could create a late-round model for future tourneys.

“If it’s the desire of the committee and the membership to consider something along these lines for the future, I think we would give it significant consideration,” he said Tuesday on a video call. “I would hesitate to say, though, I don’t think a 68-team single site, short of another pandemic, would be something we would have great interest in. However, once you get down to a fewer amount of teams, say the Sweet 16 and on, having teams in the same location may provide some opportunities the membership, coaches and all would want to consider for the future.”

Whatever happens, it won’t be anytime soon — at least not by choice.

The NCAA already has awarded preliminary round games through 2026 and intends to play those games as scheduled, something it couldn’t do this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced everyone to rethink how they could safely host games a year after the tournament was scrapped.

Players, coaches and staff members were tested daily for the coronavirus throughout the three-week event. Seating capacity was capped at 25% in the six playing venues. Fans were required to wear masks and those in the closest contact with teams, deemed Tier 1 personnel, essentially lived in an NCAA version of a bubble.

By almost any measure, the protocols worked.

Continue reading story here

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April 5th 

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Combined Football and Basketball Rankings: CU No. 15 Nationally

From College Football News … How much fun did the 130 colleges that play both football and men’s basketball provide in this craziest of years?

Every year we take all the 130 teams and rank them based on a which ones had the best combination of seasons in the two major revenue producing sports. Here are the relatively loose ground rules …

– Football is bigger. It just is. Of course some schools care a whole lot more about the hoops side – that’s factored into all of this – but for the most part, football is what drives athletic departments.

– What did you win? Did you win a conference championship, a bowl game, a few games in the NCAA Tournament? Did you make the final four in either sport? That’s the real fun for the fans.

– Schools that had winning seasons in both sports get extra credit. Maybe there wasn’t a championship, but come up with winning campaigns in both sports is terrific.

2020-2021 College Football & Basketball Combination Rankings

Losers In Both Sports

124 Cal

2020: 60 2019: 88 2018: 116
Football: 1-3 overall, 1-3 in conference, T5th in Pac-12 North
Basketball: 9-20 overall, 3-17 in conference, 12th in Pac-12

116 Nebraska

2020: 124 2019: 96 2018: 101
Football: 3-5 overall, 3-5 in conference, 5th in Big Ten West
Basketball: 7-20 overall, 3-16 in conference, 14th in Big Ten

Something Was Missing

97 Washington State

2020: 64 2019: 61 2018: 77
Football: 1-3 overall, 1-3 in conference, T5th in Pac-12 North
Basketball: 14-13 overall, 7-12 in conference, 10th in Pac-12

95 Arizona

2020: 91 2019: 111 2018: 19
Football: 0-5 overall, 0-5 in conference, 6th in Pac-12 South
Basketball: 17-9 overall, 11-9 in conference, 5th in Pac-12

94 Arizona State

2020: 23 2019: 29 2018: 52
Football: 2-2 overall, 2-2 in conference, 4th in Pac-12 South
Basketball: 11-14 overall, 7-10 in conference, 9th in Pac-12

Okay At One, Not The Other

85 Colorado State

2020: 105 2019: 121 2018: 83
Football: 1-3 overall, 1-3 in conference, 10th in MW
Basketball: 20-8 overall, 14-4 in conference, 2nd in MW

82 Utah

2020: 40 2019: 35 2018: 33
Football: 3-2 overall, 3-2 in conference, 3rd in Pac-12 South
Basketball: 12-13 overall, 8-11 in conference, 8th in Pac-12

77 Stanford

2020: 104 2019: 70 2018: 42
Football: 4-2 overall, 4-2 in conference, T2nd in Pac-12 North
Basketball: 14-13 overall, 10-10 in conference, T6th in Pac-12

75 Washington

2020: 62 2019: 4 2018: 43
Football: 3-1 overall, 3-1 in conference, 1st in Pac-12 North
Basketball: 5-21 overall, 4-16 in conference, 11th in Pac-12

Good Helmets, No Hoops

none

A Good Sports Year

32 Oregon State

2020: 90 2019: 104 2018: 118
Football: 2-5 overall, 2-5 in conference, 4th in Pac-12 North
Basketball: 20-13 overall, 10-10 in conference, T6th in Pac-12

Top 25

15 Colorado

2020: 84 2019: 92 2018: 92
Football: 4-2 overall, 3-1 in conference, 3rd in Pac-12 South
Basketball: 23-9 overall, 14-6 in conference, 3rd in Pac-12

13 UCLA

2020: 101 2019: 106 2018: 29
Football: 3-4 overall, 3-4 in conference, 4th in Pac-12 South
Basketball: 22-10 overall, 13-6 in conference, 4th in Pac-12

Top 10

5 USC

2020: 18 2019: 110 2018: 31
Football: 5-1 overall, 5-0 in conference, 1st in Pac-12 South
Basketball: 25-8 overall, 15-5 in conference, 2nd in Pac-12

The Trojans might not have won anything big, but they got to both the Elite Eight in basketball and the Pac-12 Championship in football. However …

4 Oregon

2020: 1 2019: 14 2018: 49
Football: 4-3 overall, 3-2 in conference, 2nd in Pac-12 North*
Basketball: 21-7 overall, 14-4 in conference, 1st in Pac-12

USC might have tagged the Ducks in the NCAAs, but it was the reverse for the Pac-12 football title.

Rankings By Conference

2020-2021 Combination Football and Basketball Rankings: Pac-12

1 Oregon

2 USC

3 UCLA

4 Colorado

5 Oregon State

6 Stanford

7 Washington

8 Utah

9 Arizona State

10 Arizona

11 Washington State

12 Cal

Imposter catches punts at USC practice

From InsideUSC.com … Some people don’t believe me when I say USC is a circus.

I got a call last night from a USC campus security source telling me what happened at Thursday’s spring football practice at Howard Jones Field. And you will find it hard to believe.

A guy showed up off the street who wanted to be a walk-on and found his way inside the McKay Center. He got ahold of a helmet and jersey, etc., and went out to football practice.

He was actually catching punts when someone finally wondered who this guy was. Some USC staff detained him and then called campus security, which came and picked him up.

It’s not too hard to believe he blended in for awhile because USC has so many players wearing the same numbers, it’s not easy to remember who is who.

Maybe he thought if USC has an imposter at coach, it can have one at practice.

Continue reading story here

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April 4th

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AP Poll of Athletic Directors: 93% see difficulty complying with Title IX with revenue sharing with athletes

From the Associated Press … The Associated Press asked 357 Division I athletic directors a series of questions about the effects the potential changes to the way athletes are compensated in addition to scholarships would have on college sports. Here are the answers provided by the 99 ADs who participated in the online survey:

Does your school have sports that are financially self-sustaining?

Yes — 21.43%

No — 78.57%

Total responses — 98

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If it is allowed, how likely is your school to share revenue with athletes in revenue-generating sports?

Very likely — 5.21%

Somewhat likely — 11.46%

Not very likely — 34.38%

Not at all likely — 48.96%

Total responses — 96

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Would you favor or oppose colleges and universities being required to give college athletes a share of university revenue derived from sports? (Examples: TV revenue, tournament appearance rewards or gate and concessions profits.)

Strongly favor — 2.06%

Somewhat favor — 9.28%

Somewhat oppose — 19.59%

Strongly oppose — 69.07%

Total responses — 97

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What effect would requiring schools to offer compensation to athletes based on a share of university sports-generated revenue have on the competitive balance of Division I sports:

Many more schools will be competitive — 3.06%

Somewhat more schools will be competitive — 3.06%

No impact — 4.08%

Somewhat fewer schools will be competitive — 13.27%

Many fewer schools will be competitive — 76.53%

Total responses — 98

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If your school were to offer compensation beyond scholarships to students, are there any sports that would lose funding or be cut by your school?

Yes — 73.68%

No — 26.32%

Total responses — 95

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If your school begins compensating athletes in revenue-generating men’s sports such as football and basketball, how will that affect your school’s ability to comply with Title IX? Would that make it:

Much easier — 0.00%

Somewhat easier — 0.00%

No impact — 6.19%

Somewhat more difficult — 18.56%

Much more difficult — 75.26%

Total responses — 97

Read full survey here

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April 3rd

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Arizona stuns UConn – “We shocked the world” – to set up an all Pac-12 women’s final

Related … “South Carolina’s missed putback sends Stanford into women’s NCAA tournament championship game” … From ESPN  … (Do yourself a favor and watch the video of last furious minute of this game) …

Related … FYI … CU’s women’s team went 1-2 against Stanford and Arizona, beating No. 1 Stanford in overtime, 77-72, on January 17th (CU’s first-ever win over a No. 1 ranked team), with both losses coming in close games (62-59 to No. 6 Arizona, and 62-54 to No. 6 Stanford) …

From ESPN … UConn went into the Final Four on Friday night as the heavy favorites, with the player of the year and a championship pedigree.

Arizona came in with an underdog coach and an underdog story, playing as if it had nothing to lose. For 40 minutes, the Wildcats played stifling defense and took freshman phenom Paige Bueckers off her game, pulling off the 69-59 stunner to advance to the program’s first national championship game appearance.

The Wildcats will face Pac-12 rival Stanford in the national championship game Sunday. It’s the first time the Pac-12 has had two teams face off in the championship game.

It was Arizona that looked like the team that had been there before, while UConn looked as if it simply could not handle the pressure or the spotlight. But in reality, it was the Wildcats’ first win against an AP No. 1 team — in their first-ever Final Four appearance, no less.

Afterward, UConn guard Christyn Williams said, “I think we came out with the wrong mentality. I thought we thought it was going to be easy, I guess, and we got flustered. They had great ball pressure. It wasn’t like anything that we’ve seen before this season. We just couldn’t get in the flow offensively.”

Arizona coach Adia Barnes and her team are probably not surprised to hear that, thriving off the doubters and the non-believers throughout the NCAA tournament. Guard Aari McDonald, who took center stage once again with a game-high 26 points, said the Wildcats use it all as motivation — especially getting left out of the NCAA’s own promotional video for the women’s Final Four.

Continue reading story here

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April 2nd

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Nebraska AD: “I have not been contacted” for Pac-12 commissioner’s job 

… The Buff Nation would have a meltdown (and justifiably so) if Bill Moos was the next Pac-12 commissioner … 

From the Omaha World-Herald … Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos told the World-Herald on Friday he has not been contacted about the Pac-12 commissioner position. A report from the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday listed him as one of the preliminary candidates.

“Flattered, but merely media speculation,” Moos said via text. “Have not been contacted.”

The Mercury News listed Moos — previously the athletic director at Washington State and Oregon — as one of four candidates under initial consideration. The report was clear that none of the four were finalists of any kind, and the Pac-12 has developed a roster of 10 to 12 names for consideration. The report indicated the search could go well into May.

The league presidents are looking to replace Larry Scott, who agreed to step down as commissioner after a tumultuous tenure over the last decade.

Moos’ five-year contract runs through the 2022 football season, and he has frequently said he intends to fulfill it. If he does, he is due a lump sum retention bonus of $1.25 million.

AP Survey: 89% of athletic directors opposed to sharing revenue with players

From ESPN … Back in January, two Democratic senators introduced federal legislation called the College Athlete Bill of Rights.

Among a long list of reforms, there was one item that jumped out as a potential game-changer to college sports: Schools would be required to share 50% of their profit with athletes from revenue-generating sports after accounting for cost of scholarships.

“How does that even work?” Boston College athletic director Patrick Kraft asked.

In an Associated Press survey sent to 357 Division I athletic directors, 69% of respondents said they would strongly oppose “being required to give college athletes a share of university revenue derived from sports.” Another 19.6% said they somewhat oppose sharing athletic department revenue with athletes.

Almost 77% of athletic directors said many fewer schools would be competitive in sports if schools had to share revenue with athletes and another 13% said somewhat fewer schools would be competitive.

An overwhelming majority of respondents in the survey that granted athletic directors anonymity in exchange for candor said sharing revenue with athletes would make it more difficult for their departments to comply with Title IX and provide equal opportunities to men and women. More than 75% said it would be much more difficult and almost 19% said somewhat more.

“What little revenue 95% of institutions realize through revenue sports, goes toward supporting other sports,” one respondent said. “Paying those 5% of students will devastate the other teams that rely on that revenue to survive …”

Continue reading story here

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April 1st

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Candidates emerging for new Pac-12 commissioner position (Rick George not mentioned)

From the San Jose Mercury News … Pac-12 presidents promised a premier pool of candidates for the commissioner search, but three high-profile options with ties to the conference are no longer involved.

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, who has roots on four Pac-12 campuses, announced late last week that he would not be a candidate.

An hour later, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith appeared to indicate he’s staying in Columbus. Smith, who once ran Arizona State’s athletic department, retweeted the Byrne news and included the following comment: “One of the best in business! Another one who appreciates stability!”

Meanwhile, multiple sources told the Hotline that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the former Stanford athletic director, has no interest in returning to the conference.

So three of the most respected minds in college football are out of the running.

Who’s left? And how long will it take?

The process could last deep into April, and perhaps the first half of May, as TurnkeyZRG continues vetting potential candidates to replace commissioner Larry Scott.

“They’re weeks away, at least,” a source said.

The Hotline has confirmed four names under early-stage consideration, but sources cautioned that many others are being discussed — perhaps 10 or 12 in total — and that new names could come under consideration over time.

At this point, sources stressed, none of the candidates would qualify as finalists.

“They’re floating a lot of names to get reaction from the presidents,” a source said.

Four of the names receiving initial consideration are:

— Randy Freer, the former Fox Network Group president who negotiated the company’s Tier 1 media rights deal with the Pac-12 and helped create the new Big East conference in his role at Fox.

— Oliver Luck, the former West Virginia athletic director and NCAA executive vice president who has run two professional leagues, NFL Europe and the XFL.

— Bill Moos, who played football at Washington State, served as athletic director in Pullman and Eugene and is currently leading Nebraska’s department.

— Gloria Nevarez, the former Pac-12 senior associate commissioner who left in 2018 to take charge of the West Coast Conference.

“There is some thought that she would provide a level of continuity,” a source said. “Some are interested in maintaining a connection to the campuses.”

Continue reading story here

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March 31st

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NCAA attorneys grilled by Supreme Court justices in landmark case

From ESPN … The justices of the Supreme Court of the United States questioned whether amateurism is an essential part of the NCAA’s business model Wednesday during a landmark hearing for the future of college sports while also expressing concerns about starting a slippery slope of judicial rulings that lead to the destruction of an American tradition.

The Supreme Court heard more than 90 minutes of oral arguments Wednesday morning in the NCAA v. Alston case, the first time that the nation’s highest court has weighed in on the business of college sports in nearly four decades. The question in front of the court is whether the NCAA deserves special relief from normal antitrust rules in order to protect its educational mission and preserve a tradition of amateurism in college sports. The court is expected to make a ruling some time in late spring or early summer.

A federal district court judge decided in her ruling in the Alston case in 2020 that the limits NCAA member schools mutually agree to place on what each school could provide to its athletes in compensation are illegal. The judge’s ruling opens the door for athletes to receive unlimited benefits so long as they are related in some way to education. That includes items like classroom equipment, study abroad travel, funding for post-graduation internships and cash payments for academic achievements. The NCAA appealed the judge’s ruling, arguing that the loose guidelines of education-related benefits could be exploited in a way that will blur the lines between college sports and professional leagues.

“Whatever their labels, these new allowances are akin to professional salaries,” said Seth Waxman, the NCAA’s lead attorney during his opening arguments Wednesday.

Waxman and the NCAA claim that the unpaid status of college athletes is a key part of their appeal to consumers. Waxman says that because amateurism is the characteristic that sets the NCAA apart from others in the marketplace of sports entertainment, the organization should get to decide how to define the line between amateurs and professionals. He said that the ruling in district court amount to a judge micromanaging the NCAA’s business.

Plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Kessler and several of the justices pushed back on the idea that providing athletes with money would cause the public to lose interest in college sports.

Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that athletes already receive some payment in the form of scholarships, stipends and other benefits and those allowances have not caused a downturn TV ratings or ticket sales.

Waxman said the NCAA defines payment as any compensation that goes beyond “reasonable and necessary expenses to obtain and education.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett later questioned why the NCAA should get to decide how to define what it means for an athlete to be paid.

Several justices also expressed skepticism about the NCAA’s “high-minded” claims about the importance of preserving amateurism.

Justice Elena Kagan asked why the court shouldn’t see the NCAA as an organization that has undisputed power of its market and uses the idea of amateurism to fix the price of labor. Kagan said that while amateurism may have been created more than a century ago to protect an institution that provides social value, that doesn’t mean that is its function today.

Continue reading story here

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Final NCAA numbers: Biggest cash haul in Pac-12 history 

From the San Jose Mercury News … One team’s still standing. For everyone else, there’s nothing left but the counting and the spending.

The Hotline has the counting covered. It’s all laid out below, down to the last cent.

Somehow, some way, the schools will take care of the spending.

Let’s start with the bottom line … or in this case, the top line: The revenue.

The 2021 NCAA Tournament has been the most lucrative in Pac-12 history and, according to our research, the second most-profitable any conference has ever experienced.

Quickly, the background on the distribution process:

• The NCAA receives approximately $800 million annually for the television rights to the tournament.

• The majority of the cash is funneled to schools across multiple NCAA divisions through an assortment of funds.

• One of those is the Basketball Performance Fund, which allocates dollars based on success in the tournament.

• Each game played is worth one unit to that team’s conference.

• The units are pooled and carried forward for six years.

• Each unit has a dollar value, which increases every year of the payout cycle.

Now, the real-world application …

The Pac-12 will finish the 2021 tournament with a record 19 units, which will be worth almost $40 million to the league over time.

Yes, UCLA is still playing, but the accrual process is complete.

The Bruins have maxed out with six units earned: First Four, first round, second round, Sweet 16, Eight Elite and Final Four.

There are no units awarded for playing in the championship.

In addition to UCLA’s six units:

— USC and Oregon State each earned four for reaching the Elite Eight
— Oregon collected three for the Sweet 16 appearance
— Colorado earned two for reaching the second round

(Oregon received a unit from the VCU game even though it was declared a no contest.)

That’s 19 total units for the conference, breaking the previous record of 17 set in 2001.

The units will be carried for six years at the following payout amounts (figures provided to the Hotline by the NCAA):

2022: $338,211 (per unit)
2023: $339,989
2024: $341,802
2025: $348,275
2026: $358,375
2027: $307,409

(The amount drops in ’27 because the 2020 tournament, for which there were zero units awarded, is removed from the payout cycle; that increases the total number of units in the pool and reduces the value of each unit, according to the NCAA.)

Add it up, and each unit earned this month is worth $2,034,061 over the six years.

Multiply $2,034,061 by 19 units, and the Pac-12 will receive a grand total of $38,647,159 for its collective performance.

The money is split evenly among the schools, leaving each athletic department with $3.22 million over the payout period.

Continue reading story here

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March 30th 

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Arizona opens practices: “We want to sell out our stadium. So why not start encouraging people to come watch us practice?”

From 247 SportsJedd Fisch is an open book.

Arizona’s new head coach is not the paranoid stereotype many envision when dreaming up a coach to lead a program: their playbook locked in a safe as they conduct brainstorming sessions with a clandestine support staff that out-works rivals because of sheer size of the operation; practices conducted far away from outside eyes behind 12-foot brick walls; non-answers to questions about rumored strife in the locker room or scheming issues everyone else can see on game days.

“What is the value of making it difficult?” Fisch said.

So, Fisch made a decision that might seem impossible for coaches elsewhere in Power 5 football: he opened the doors. Anyone can attend and watch practices at Arizona. The first-time head coach also decided to speak to the media daily.

“I’d rather you see what’s going on than hear it from somebody else,” he said. “We want to have 57,000 people at every game, we want to sell out our stadium. So why not start encouraging people to come watch us practice and watch how hard these kids are working?”

Fisch’s fiery enthusiasm and wide-eyed personality is difficult to miss. He has long hungered for success, and chased it no matter the sacrifice. He didn’t play college football, making him one of the few in the sport to become a coach. He instead played tennis in high school, and as a student at the University of Florida, became obsessed with the idea of becoming a head football coach. He left notes on Steve Spurrier‘s car for more than a year, practically begging the Hall of Famer for a foot in the door as a student assistant.

Continue reading story here

Column: Utah should leave Pac-12 for Big 12 (and take BYU along for the ride)

From KSL Sports … If there is to be any conference realignment it will revolve around teams going independent; which is something USC athletics director Mike Bohn said in passing that “everything is on the table” in regards to its football program back in February of 2020. If any school could do it, the Trojans would be one to be able to put together a good football schedule and get rewarded for it.

Even that statement by Bohn, which he backtracked to a degree, shows the Pac-12 is not exactly on solid ground.

The 10-team Big 12 conference is a more likely scenario for adding teams, and especially so since the league has played footsy with the likes of BYU, Cincinnati, South Florida, and Central Florida. The conference didn’t bite to add those schools but perhaps the lure of going after some Pac-12 teams could be interesting.

With Utah having no historical or sentimental reasons to stick in the Pac-12 long-term, they should be proactive and not be left behind and call Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby to start wheeling and dealing to see if Utah can join the conference.

The Utes should also strongly encourage the league to bring BYU along as a package deal to at the very least get back to 12 teams. Bowlsby and the league has already heard the Cougars pitch to join the league just a few years ago, and know that the biggest benefit is the large following BYU has due to being affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

There are a few other options for the Big 12 to add teams if it wishes to take down the Pac-12. This could be seen as a reverse of what the then-Pac-10 tried to do when Scott was first hired as commissioner and was very close to having a Pac-16 with six Big 12 schools, including gems like Texas and Oklahoma.

If the Big 12 wanted to gut the Pac-12, they could go after the Los Angeles schools to get to 12, add the Arizona schools, plus bring in Utah and BYU for the first 16-team conference. However, it might be a hard sell for USC and UCLA to bolt to the Big 12.

As for the Arizona schools, there have been murmurs over the past few years of the Big 12 going after them, so this would not be an entirely out-of-the-box scenario.

Just like Utah, the Arizona school’s history is not as deep-rooted as the rest of the Pac-12 conference. Arizona State has been to just two Rose Bowls since they joined the conference back in 1978 and Arizona has not achieved that mark. TCU has more Rose Bowl appearances than the Wildcats.

Money is a real issue and the Pac-12 is slowly falling behind and while its next media rights deal could help with that revenue gap with the likes of the ACC and Big 12 but it will still be miles behind the SEC and Big Ten and grow further behind.

That is why the Utes need to make joining the Big 12 its top priority. There would be much fewer 8 p.m. or later kick times just for TV, the Utes would have multiple games in Texas which the school recruits heavily and the conference gets more respect in the rankings.

Just look at last season when Iowa State lost three games but was still a top-10 in the College Football Playoff rankings; the Pac-12 doesn’t get that benefit of the doubt. Utah’s 2019 team had just one loss and ranked No. 5 heading into the Pac-12 championship, but even a win over a ranked Oregon team would not have guaranteed the Utes a spot in the playoffs.

All of those reasons are why the Utes need to get into the Big 12. There is the money that comes with the conference, which is nice, but also by bringing along BYU, the rivalry could finally get back to its rightful spot as the final game of the regular season.

Read full story here

Pac-12 commissioner search: Looking for “a discoverer,” because college sports are too fluid for a “pre-existing playbook”

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12 presidents are open to hiring a commissioner who would transform the conference’s business structure and implement a model used by professional leagues, according to the job description published by the search firm assisting the process.

The description includes the following passage:

“While historically intercollegiate conference offices have been focused on sport operations and the business of the ‘collective,’ the Pac-12 is open to a more modern conference structure and approach which can be seen in several professional sports leagues.”

The specifics of that approach focus on assisting campuses with opportunities “in their unique local markets” and are spelled out in the document posted on the TurnkeyZRG website.

Turnkey was hired to lead the search following the Jan. 20 announcement that the Pac-12 would part ways with commissioner Larry Scott this summer, one year before the expiration of his contract.

Overall, the job description is highly on-brand for the conference.

In the introduction, the document notes how “The entrepreneurial spirit of the West is alive and well in the Pac-12.”

In another section, it calls for the next commissioner to be “a discoverer,” because college sports are too fluid for a “pre-existing ‘playbook.’”

The conference wants a “lifelong learner” and “thought leader,” not someone “who thinks they have all the answers.”

Not surprisingly, there’s a desire for candidates with strong “business acumen” and “a demonstrated track record of quickly accelerating revenue.”

The framing of the job description indicates that Turnkey, which assisted the ACC on its commissioner search last year, is pushing the Pac-12 presidents to cast the widest possible net.

“This is too important for Turnkey to say, ‘Here’s your guy,”’ an industry source said. “They’re a real firm. They want to give them as many different types of options as possible.”

Continue reading story here

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March 29th

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Iowa picks up a nice little $10 million Endowment

… Still waiting for Coors, or Celestial Seasonings, or the South Park guys to help jump start the CU athletic department’s efforts to break through …

From ESPN … The couple who own a massive Interstate 80 travel center in eastern Iowa have donated $10 million to fund the Iowa football program and other athletics projects, the school announced Monday.

The Will and Renee Moon Excellence Fund will endow the football head-coaching position in perpetuity, and Kirk Ferentz and those who follow him will hold the formal title of Moon Family Head Football Coach.

The Moons’ gift has three components: $5 million for the endowment fund that will support the football program, $3 million to support football and other athletics initiatives as determined by the athletic director, and $2 million for the revitalization of Kinnick Stadium’s north end zone seating and concourse.

Will Moon’s family opened the Iowa 80 Truckstop in the 1960s near Walcott. Now called World’s Largest Truckstop, the travel center has eight restaurants, a gift shop, convenience store, movie theater and museum, among other features.

Will Moon is a 1979 Iowa graduate. Renee Moon received her undergraduate degree from Iowa in 1984 and graduated from the school’s college of dentistry in 1988. The Moons are longtime donors to the athletic program.

“As we have become better acquainted with Will and Renee, it has become very clear they embody a true spirit of generosity,” Ferentz said. “Their commitment in making this gift, in the midst of a pandemic, is a remarkable commitment to their belief in our programs and student-athletes.”

Pac-12 has three teams in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2001

From the San Jose Mercury News … After the most remarkable two weekends the Pac-12 has experienced in forever, the conference claims three spots in the Elite Eight.

Oregon State will face No. 2 seed Houston on Monday, with the L.A. schools on the court Tuesday: UCLA plays No. 1 Michigan, and USC meets No. 1 Gonzaga.

If the Bruins and Trojans win, they will collide in the Final Four; Oregon State would play the Baylor-Arkansas winner.

We’ll start this column with some numbers, because the numbers are stunning:

— It’s the second time in conference history, and the first time since 2001, that the Pac-12 has three teams in the Elite Eight. (Back then, the trio was Arizona, Stanford and USC.)

— The Pac-12 became the first conference in tournament history to place four teams in the Sweet 16 when all were seeded lower than No. 4.

— The conference is 11-1 in tournament play against other leagues. This, after posting an 0-6 mark against AP top-25 teams during the regular season.

— The Pac-12 is 11-1 against the spread, with nine wins by double digits and seven against higher seeds. (Again, we’re excluding the USC-Oregon result in those numbers.)

— Most importantly for the campuses, the conference has secured 18 NCAA units, each of which brings millions in value over time.

That total breaks the longstanding conference record of 17 units, set in the 20021 tournament.

While the degree of Pac-12 success in March Madness is admittedly stunning, there was a foundation for some level of success.

As we examined on Thursday, the conference developed a strategic plan for improving the basketball product a few years ago, and it probably would have placed six teams in the field last year if COVID hadn’t shut everything down.

So, how do we account for the difference between the foundation for success and the jaw-dropping results unfolding in Indianapolis?

We believe the conference was, in fact, properly seeded by the selection committee based on the results from early in the year. It’s just that those results were misleading.

Pac-12 teams were impacted by COVID to a greater extent than many peers in other conference, because of the restrictions on the West Coast.

As a result, they lacked necessary preparation time and weren’t as prepare physically as their opponents in several of the high-profile showdowns.

But much of what we’re witnessing this month defies reason.

For example: Alabama shot 72 percent from the foul line during the season but made 11-of-25 against UCLA.

Meanwhile, Pac-12 opponents are shooting a collective 26.6 percent from 3-point range in the tournament — far below what would be considered a reasonable level.

Sure, the defense has been stout, but plenty of those misses were uncontested shots.

Yes, the teams have been resilient, but opponents have made a barrage of unforced errors.

The best explanation is that there’s no explanation.

It’s March, stuff happens, and the Pac-12 was due.

Continue reading story here

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March 27th

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Utah hires its new coach: Utah State’s Craig Smith

From ESPN … Utah has hired Utah State’s Craig Smith as its next head basketball coach, the school announced Saturday.

“Craig Smith brings incredible energy and passion, and a proven record of success,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have him lead our men’s basketball program, and look forward to our student-athletes experiencing his incredible work ethic, dedication to being a teacher of the game, and his ability to relate with his players and help them achieve their greatest potential.”

Smith, 48, has been at Utah State for three seasons, leading the Aggies to two NCAA tournaments and three top-two finishes in the Mountain West Conference. It would have been three NCAA tournament appearances, but the pandemic canceled the 2020 tournament after Utah State had won the Mountain West tournament.

The Aggies earned an 11-seed in this year’s NCAA tournament after making a run to the conference tournament title game. They lost to Texas Tech in the first round.

“My family and I are thrilled to join the University of Utah and the community of Salt Lake City,” Smith said in a statement. “… This program has a rich tradition of excellence in the history of college basketball. Our facilities are state-of-the-art and first-class in every way. Our fan base has tremendous energy, knowledge and passion. We can’t wait to pack the Huntsman Center, feed off the energy of The MUSS and bring a consistent winner back to the U!”

Smith also spent four seasons as the head coach at South Dakota, winning 48 games in his final two years with the Coyotes. He also won a Summit League regular-season title in 2017.

Utah had discussions with two NBA assistant coaches who played at Utah, sources told ESPN: Utah Jazz assistant Alex Jensen and New York Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant. But both opted to stay in the NBA.

Smith replaces Larry Krystkowiak, who was fired earlier this month after 10 seasons with the Utes.

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March 26th

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Alabama athletic director removes his name as a candidate for Pac-12 commissioner

From the Tuscaloosa News … Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne told The Tuscaloosa News on Friday that he was enjoying being “part of a special time” as the Crimson Tide men’s basketball team progresses through the NCAA Tournament and said that he would not be a candidate for the job of Pac-12 commissioner.

“It’s certainly flattering to be mentioned for such a prestigious position,” Byrne said. “Regina (Byrne, his wife) and I grew up in the Pac-12 footprint and have many friends and fond memories out there. However, the University of Alabama has become our home and it is an honor to work here with our incredible student-athletes, coaches, staff, university and fans.

“We have a lot of positive momentum across our department. This is where we hope to finish our career and do all we can to make a positive impact. I will not be a candidate for the Pac-12 commissioner.”

Current Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced he would be stepping down from his position in June, ending a tumultuous 11-year tenure.

The league’s presidents announced they would launch a nationwide search for Scott’s successor but have otherwise made no pubic statement.

Byrne came to Alabama from the University of Arizona in January 2017. He has frequently been mentioned as a potential candidate although there has been no confirmation of formal contact.

Continue reading story here

Wayne Tinkle and OSU will counter Loyola’s Sister Jean with seven sisters of his own

From The Oregonian … During Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game between Oregon State and Loyola of Chicago, television will repeatedly turn to Ramblers’ super fan Sister Jean.

Oregon State doesn’t have that, but coach Wayne Tinkle will have plenty of support off camera from a family that includes seven sisters.

The 55-year-old Tinkle is the youngest of 11 children. He grew up in the Midwest and Spokane as the baby brother to seven sisters named Kathy, Mary, Tina, Patty, Jennifer, Jane and Rose.

“All my sisters have been through a lot. I always talk about toughness and strength, gosh, from watching them growing up fight through adversity,” Tinkle said.

Kathy passed away in 2017, but Tinkle hears plenty from his six surviving sisters and three brothers during the Beavers’ postseason run. His brother Terry was at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday when OSU beat Oklahoma State.

Kathy was the sister who babysat Tinkle the most growing up.

“I know that she’s smiling down on us,” Tinkle said.

Next oldest is Mary, who Tinkle says “has always been super affectionate and supportive.” Tina and her family moved to Montana toward the end of Tinkle’s college playing career, and saw him in action.

“Great, great family. She’s actually come to Corvallis a few times to see games,” Tinkle said.

Patty also moved to Montana in order to be closer to Tinkle’s parents in Spokane before they passed away. Jane and Tina, Tinkle said, are very religious and “they’re probably praying for us, night and day, Mary as well.”

Jane and Jennifer played college basketball, Jane at Spokane Falls CC and Jennifer at Whitworth in Spokane. They’re also teachers in the Spokane area. Jane, who is single, is known for taking a lot of the nieces and nephews on summer trips “to get them cultured and that sort of thing,” Tinkle said.

Continue reading story here

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March 25th 

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List of worst football/basketball combination schools includes your friends at Nebraska

From College Football News … For all the talk about the other college sports – with a few notable exceptions – it’s all about football and men’s basketball when it comes to national attention and in most years, the revenue to pay for everything else.

Which schools had the worst year in both football and men’s basketball?

To get on this list, 1) in most years, a school’s college football team had to miss out on a bowl appearance, but after a strange 2020, it’s about who had a losing/disappointing campaign, and 2) on the hoops side, the men’s basketball team had to finish with a losing season.

FBS schools for football, only, so these rankings are out of the 130 that play both high-end football along with basketball.

And the 25 football & basketball schools who struggled the most in 2020 – and part of 2021 – were …

15. Nebraska Cornhuskers

The football powerhouse is overdue for things to start trending up after a 3-5 football campaign making it another clunker under Scott Frost. The basketball side had a few okay moments, but it went 7-20 to finish dead last in the Big Ten by a few games in a 3-16 conference season.
Last Year’s Hoops & Helmets Ranking: 124

7. Cal Golden Bears

It wasn’t just that Cal went 1-3 in the unfortunately limited 2020 college football campaign, it’s that it went 1-3 with a brutally painful 24-23 loss to Stanford. However, the win over eventual Pac-12 Champion Oregon was strong. That alone should be enough to give the school a break, but the Pac-12-last place 3-17 season in basketball ruined it.

Read full list here

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March 24th

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How did USC and Oregon end up facing one another in the Sweet Sixteen? (It’s BYU’s fault)

From the San Jose Mercury News … Combine the feedback with the re-engineering, and the Hotline feels fairly confident in the explanation below.

(Note: Our description will be much easier to follow if you have a copy of the brackets handy.)

To start: Oregon is in the right spot in the West region (upper left).

According to the true seed list, the Ducks were No. 25 overall, the highest-ranked of the No. 7 seeds (Nos. 25-28). Based on the S-curve format — it pairs the No. 1 overall with the No. 8 overall, the No. 4 overall with the No. 5 overall, etc. — they should have been placed in the same region as the No. 1 overall seed, Gonzaga.

The issue is USC’s placement.

The Trojans were the top No. 6 seed (No. 21 overall) and should not have been paired in the same region as the top No. 1 seed (Gonzaga). Their natural position on the S-curve was with the No. 4 overall seed (Michigan) in the East region (lower left).

However, the placement process is rarely clean, especially with the mid-level seeds, because of a series of bracketing principles designed to avoid matchups between teams from the same conference.

The teams are usually kept on their true seed line (i.e., their grouping of four) as you work through the S-curve, but the regional placement doesn’t always correlate to their natural position on that line.

In the case of the No. 6 seeds, the committee set their order in this manner: No. 21 USC, No. 22 Texas Tech, No. 23 Brigham Young and No. 24 San Diego State.

Per the S-curve, the top No. 6 seed should have been placed into a region with the lowest No. 1 seed, Michigan.

But it wasn’t.

“When the committee was seeding the six line,” Worlock explained via email, “there were obstacles that prevented the use of the S-Curve.”

The first was BYU.

By university policy, the Cougars do not engage in competition on Sundays and therefore required a Saturday-Monday region: Either the West or East (i.e., the left side of the brackets).

But the West was Gonzaga’s territory, and the West Coast Conference rivals — the only WCC teams in the tournament — played three times during the season.

According to Lunardi, the committee would have gone to great lengths to avoid placing BYU and Gonzaga in the same region.

Continue reading story here

NCAA tournament Pac-12 winners and losers (CU a winner)

From the San Jose Mercury News … Turns out, the most important shot of the Pac-12 season was a miss. A missed free throw, actually.

Think back two weeks ago, to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament in Las Vegas …

Oregon State leads UCLA 70-69 with three seconds remaining, and Bruins guard Jules Bernard is at the line, shooting two.

If Bernard makes both, UCLA takes a one-point lead and, absent a miracle shot, the Beavers lose.

They lose, their season is over, and we don’t hear another peep from them.

But Bernard only made one, sending the game into overtime.

The Beavers escaped, then beat Oregon and Colorado to win the tournament and clinch a berth in the NCAAs.

They’re still playing.

Without that missed free throw, Oregon State doesn’t set foot in the Madness.

Without that missed free throw, the Pac-12 sends four teams to the tournament, instead of five.

Without that missed free throw, Oregon State doesn’t advance to the Sweet 16, securing three NCAA units for the conference that will be worth about $5.4 million over the six-year payout period.

The lesson: March Madness giveth and March Madness taketh, and it usually happens on the margins.

Even the smallest plays — like a free throw in the quarterfinals of a conference tournament — can set in motion much larger forces that ripple through the tournament.

And the Pac-12, for the first time in a long time, is a prime beneficiary.

To the winners and losers from the first weekend …

Winner: Pac-12. The conference emerged from three years in the wilderness to dominate the opening weekend, placing four teams in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years. (No other league has more than two teams still standing.) Eight of the nine victories have come by double digits and five have come against higher seeds. The collective performance was nothing short of masterful from a conference that sent one team to the Sweet 16 in the two previous tournaments.

Loser: The Big Ten. The antithesis of the Pac-12 in every way, with a dominant regular season, nine teams invited to the NCAAs … and then a complete face plant. Of the nine teams in the field, only Michigan remains. Spring football, anyone?

Winner: Pac-12 campuses. The conference has secured 16 NCAA units (one unit per game played) that will carry a total value of approximately $29 million over the six-year payout period that begins next spring — that’s $2.4 million per school. The Pac-12’s all-time record for units earned in a single tournament is 17, set in 2001.

Winner: Colorado. The Buffaloes had a terrific season and McKinley Wright a stellar career. Our thoughts are with CU and the Boulder community.

Continue reading story here

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March 23rd

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Oregon State President resigns amid backlash from Les Miles scandal

From ESPN … Oregon State University president F. King Alexander has submitted his resignation amid backlash related to his role in the sexual misconduct saga at Louisiana State University, where he previously served as president.

The decision was announced during a session of the OSU board of trustees on Tuesday and would be effective as of April 1 if the board formally accepts it. Last week, the board voted to place Alexander on probation.

An independent investigation released earlier this month into allegations of sexual misconduct at LSU found a “serious institutional failure” and detailed systemic failures by LSU to appropriately report incidents of athletics-related sexual misconduct and abuse.

Former LSU athletic director Joe Alleva recommended in 2013 that Les Miles be fired as head coach of the football program after accusations of inappropriate behavior with female student workers, according to the report, which revealed that Alexander knew of the allegations against Miles when he was hired as president in 2013.

Alexander left LSU at the end of 2019 and started in his role at OSU in July 2020.

After Alexander was placed on probation last week, calls for his termination escalated, including a vote from the OSU faculty senate on Thursday asking for Alexander and several members of the board of trustees to resign.

According to the investigative report, which was handled by Husch Blackwell, Alleva sent an email on June 21, 2013, to LSU’s legal counsel and Alexander. Alleva wrote, “one more time I want us to think about which scenario is worse for LSU. Explaining why we let him go or explaining why we let him stay.”

According to the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Alexander has said that he was advised by attorneys not to fire Miles and that he was unable to dismiss him because the LSU governing board had made the decision to retain Miles before Alexander took office.

Big Ten and Big 12 had 16 teams in the Tournament (only two remain): “That’s pathetic”

From YardBarker.com … We’re through two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and the Sweet 16 is set. Some themes for the tournament have already been established, and they have to do with conferences.

The Pac-12 has absolutely thrived so far in March, while the Big Ten and Big 12 have completely bombed.

The Pac-12 entered the tournament with little respect.

USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State and Colorado were the only teams from the conference to make the Big Dance. UCLA had to defeat Michigan State in a play-in game just to reach the field of 64. No team from the conference had higher than a 5 seed (Colorado). And here we are after the first weekend, and four of their five teams have reached the Sweet 16, which is twice as many as any other conference. The conference went much of the season without teams ranked in the top 25. They’re showing that the pollsters slept on them badly.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten entered the NCAA Tournament with all the hype. They had a pair of No. 1 seeds (Michigan and Illinois), two No. 2 seeds (Iowa and Ohio State) and a No. 4 seed (Purdue). Michigan State was in the play-in game, but other than that, the worst seeds they had were two No. 10 seeds (Maryland and Rutgers). And the conference completely fell flat on its face.

Ohio State, Purdue and Illinois were on the wrong ends of some of the tournament’s biggest upsets. Of their nine schools to make the field of 68, only Michigan remains. That is pathetic and shows the conference wasn’t as strong as believed.

The Big 12 was believed to be a tough conference as well, but they’ve had a poor showing too. Of their seven teams in the Big Dance, only No. 1 see Baylor remains. Texas was the big embarrassment for the conference, as they lost in the first round to Abilene Christian. But the really bad performances for the conference came in the second round. West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma all lost in the second round. Oklahoma’s defeat to top seed Gonzaga was expected, but the others (except Tech) were favored to win their games. They all lost, with the Jayhawks dragging things down in an 85-51 shellacking from USC.

The Big Ten and Big 12 combined to put 16 of the 68 teams in the tournament. Only two of them made it to the Sweet 16. That’s bad. Four of the five Pac-12 teams made it to the second weekend. That’s good.

Maybe the Pac-12 doesn’t make it any deeper than this. Maybe Baylor and Michigan make it to the Final Four. But overall, we have seen what these conferences have done top-to-bottom this NCAA Tournament. The Big Ten and Big 12 flopped.

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March 22nd

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Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle on Pac-12 success: “Maybe now we’ll get some damn respect”

From The Oregonian …  In the aftermath of Sunday’s 80-70 win over Oklahoma State that put Oregon State into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1982, Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle didn’t miss an opportunity for some additional stumping.

“We’re obviously putting everybody on notice. I’m very happy for our program, but I’m extremely happy for the Pac-12 Conference,” Tinkle said. “Maybe now we’ll get some damn respect.”

Led by the sudden, dramatic rise of Oregon State, the Pac-12 is enjoying a basketball postseason it hasn’t had in more than a decade. The Beavers’ win over Oklahoma State improved the conference’s 2021 NCAA Tournament record to 6-0, not including Oregon’s no-contest.

The Pac-12 has taken a national beating for its lackluster NCAA tourney performances of late. By the end of Monday, that could get flipped on its head, as Oregon, USC, UCLA and Colorado attempt to join the Beavers in the Sweet 16.

Tinkle isn’t oblivious. He admits there are years where the Pac-12 deserved a pounding. But not of late.

“Last year it was looking like we could have had as many as seven or possibly eight (in the NCAAs),” Tinkle said. “It was tough without the preseason for us to earn that early this year.”

After Oregon State won the Pac-12 tournament and its first-round NCAA Tournament game over Tennessee, Tinkle said he received multiple congratulatory texts from rival conference coaches.

What’s good for Oregon State is good for the Pac-12.

“We have really come together as a group of coaches these last couple years because we are tired of it,” Tinkle said. “We need to stick up for each other. We need to go to bat for each other. Yeah, we want to kick each other’s ass when we go head-to-head. But let’s pull for each other. We’re really united as a coaching group.”

Continue reading story here

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March 21st 

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NCAA tournament success a (much needed) financial boon to the Pac-12 conference

From the San Jose Mercury News … Five teams arrived in Indiana this week, and all five are still standing — the first time in 12 years the conference has  advanced that many teams into the round of 32.

The collective performance includes four wins by double digits, three wins by double-digit seeds and one win by a declaration of no contest: Oregon advanced Saturday because of Virginia Commonwealth’s issues with COVID.

It’s enough to start the process of refurbishing the Pac-12’s reputation.

Equally important are the NCAA units that accompany each victory — units worth millions of dollars to the campuses over time.

In fact, the Pac-12 is approaching a record-breaking cash haul.

For those unfamiliar, here’s how the March Madness money it works:

* Every game played equals one unit.

* The units earned are pooled together and carried forward by the conference for six years.

* The Pac-12 receives an annual check from the NCAA based on the number of units collected over the rolling six-year period.

*  Each unit earned this year will be worth about $300,000 per year over the payout cycle — or $1.8 million total. (The value increases by a small amount each year.)

So far, the Pac-12 has banked 11 units based on its performance through the end of the first round.

Each of the five teams has earned two units — for the first- and second-round games — with the exception of  UCLA, which has secured three units because of its extra date in the First Four.

Even if the conference were to get swept out of the tournament in the second round, it will have earned 11 units.

Paid out over six years, they’re worth $19.8 million for the conference, to be split evenly among the 12 members.

The 11 units earned are more than the Pac-12 collected in the previous two NCAA tournaments combined (three in 2018 and seven in 2019).

It’s also more than the average number of units earned by the conference over the past six-year rolling period (10).

And because it’s unlikely the Pac-12 will go 0-5 in the second round — not out of the question, perhaps, but unlikely — we feel compelled to peek ahead.

In the eight postseasons since Utah and Colorado joined the conference, the Pac-12 record is 14 units, which was  earned in both the ’14 and ’17 tournaments.

2012: three units
2013: 10 units
2014: 14 units
2015: 12 units
2016: 11 units
2017: 14 units
2018: three units
2019: seven units
2020: N/A
2021: 11+ units

All that’s required for the Pac-12 to equal the expansion-era record is three games played beyond the second round.

Continue reading story here

UCLA coach on Pac-12’s undefeated first round: “The Pac-12 not being ranked all year was an absolute joke”

From YahooSports.com … Somewhere in San Diego, maybe listening to Grateful Dead tunes in his backyard teepee, Bill Walton must be smiling.

For once, his beloved Pac-12 is living up to its Conference of Champions moniker.

All five Pac-12 teams that received NCAA men’s basketball tournament bids advanced to the round of 32, the first time since 2009 that the conference still has that many teams alive after the first round. Four of the Pac-12’s victories have come by double figures. Three were as point-spread underdogs. Three came at the expense of power-conference teams from the Big Ten, SEC and Big East

Spearheading the Pac-12’s resurgence is UCLA, so far the only team in this year’s NCAA tournament to win two games. Johnny Juzang’s torrid shooting propelled the 11th-seeded Bruins to a come-from-behind First Four overtime victory over Michigan State on Thursday night and to a convincing 73-62 upset of BYU two nights later.

On Friday, 12th-seeded Oregon State toppled Tennessee to secure its first NCAA tournament victory in nearly four decades. On Saturday, fifth-seeded Colorado clobbered Georgetown, sixth-seeded USC overwhelmed Drake and seventh-seeded Oregon advanced via no contest after COVID issues forced VCU out of the tournament.

Only the Big 12 and Big Ten join the Pac-12 sending five or more teams to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Only the Pac-12 has yet to suffer a loss.

“You’re finding out that the Pac-12 not being ranked all year was an absolute joke, and some people ought to be ashamed of themselves,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said.

“I know good teams. Oregon State, Oregon, Colorado, USC, those teams winning is not a surprise at all to me. It’s not a surprise. I know we didn’t have great early-season stuff, but COVID and scheduling was way against us. On the West Coast, man, our teams didn’t have the whole summer. The rest of the country had workouts all summer. We didn’t.”

Continue reading story here

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March 18th

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Pac-12 Network subscriptions tank: ‘The whole notion of the Pac-12 Networks has to go”

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12 Networks endured furloughs, layoffs and a fall without football. But the other side of the pandemic carries a grim reality, as well.

The conference’s wholly-owned media enterprise continues to bleed subscribers, undercutting revenue and ramping up the pressure to make drastic structural changes during the three-and-a-half years of the remaining contract cycle.

So stark is the outlook that sources within the conference and the sports media industry believe the Pac-12 should consider shuttering the six regional networks — and possibly the entire operation — as the business model loses leverage in the evolving post-pandemic media world.

“The conference needs to rethink everything it does,’’ an industry source explained. “Its position has weakened in the last two years. The whole notion of the Pac-12 Networks has to go.”

That weakness is clear in the latest subscriber data:

The Pac-12 Network (the national network) now has just 14.8 million subscribers, according to Dec. ’20 estimates provided to the Hotline by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

That figure represents a drop of 17 percent over the past two years, based on S&P data: In Feb. ’19, the national network had 17.9 million subscribers. (At its peak five years ago, it had more than 19 million.)

In comparison, the Big Ten and SEC networks are believed to have more than 50 million subscribers.

The Pursuit Channel reportedly has 35 million.

… It’s not known what percentage of the operating expenses are tied to the six regional networks; the Pac-12 financial reports don’t break down line-item costs in that manner.

But one thing is clear: The campus distribution figure is lower than even the lowest initial estimates.

During a gathering of conference executives before the networks were launched in Aug. ’12, commissioner Larry Scott thrilled the athletic directors with projections for annual distributions once the enterprise had exited the start-up phase.

According to a source in attendance at the meeting, those estimates 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

Based on Hotline research and financial data provided by the conference, the networks have not yet distributed even $3 million to the campuses:

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
2019: $2,789,583 per school
2020: Not yet available

(Scott’s annual salary of more than $5 million is based, in part, on his role as the chief executive of the Pac-12’s media company.)

Where does that leave the networks, which have severely underperformed expectations in the areas of revenue and reach and are contractually bound to the status quo until the summer of 2024?

Continue reading story here

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March 17th

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A College Football 2021 Playoff Bracket: CU in as a No. 13 seed

From ESPN … Why should basketball get to have all the fun in March?

Better yet, why limit college football to a four-team playoff? 64 teams make it a lot more fun — and a lot more representative.

Here’s the format for ESPN’s fictional 2021 NCAA football tournament: We’ve seeded the teams 1 through 64, and the seeds are based to a large degree on ESPN’s latest SP+ projections entering the 2021 season. The top four teams are Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma (yes, the usual suspects). With the Sooners being the fourth No. 1 seed, that means they will travel to the West Region.

The seeds are just seeds. So, yes, there will be upsets. There always are, especially in the early rounds. We’ll keep things interesting, create some compelling storylines and potentially cause a little angst among certain fan bases.

And before anybody even thinks about screaming it, we are well aware that “ain’t nobody played anybody” coming into the tournament.

Today, we’ll examine the field and work our way through the first two rounds of the tournament, narrowing the pool from 64 to 16. We’ll then play the rest of the games and crown a champion with the late Luther Vandross’ “One Shining Moment” humming in the background.

The Bracket

1-seeds: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma

2-seeds: Georgia, Iowa State, Miami, Oregon

3-seeds: Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, Texas A&M

4-seeds: North Carolina, Cincinnati, Penn State, Iowa

5-seeds: USC, Louisiana, Utah, Arizona State

6-seeds: Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Texas, Michigan

7-seeds: LSU, Indiana, Auburn, UCLA

8-seeds: Nebraska (????) , Oklahoma State, Minnesota, TCU

9-seeds: West Virginia, Maryland, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State

10-seeds: Virginia Tech, UCF, Boise State, Liberty

11-seeds: Purdue, Pittsburgh, Arkansas, Mississippi State

12-seeds: North Carolina State, Washington State, Louisville, Army

13-seeds: Colorado, Northwestern, Baylor, BYU

14-seeds: SMU, Kentucky, Tulsa, Georgia Tech

15-seeds: Tennessee, Memphis, Missouri, Oregon State

16-seeds: Virginia, Kansas State, Florida State, Michigan State

First four out: Wake Forest, Cal, Boston College, Stanford

(4) North Carolina 31, (13) Colorado 17: It didn’t take Mack Brown long to make UNC nationally relevant again in his second stint in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels win 10 games in his third season and are one of the more improved defenses in college football, which Colorado finds out the hard way.

… Read full story here …

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March 16th

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Utah fires head coach Larry Krystkowiak 

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … The University of Utah is in the market for a new men’s basketball coach.

Utah athletic director Mark Harlan announced late Tuesday afternoon that Larry Krystkowiak is out as head coach after 10 seasons at the helm. Harlan’s statement is worded in way that indicates Krystkowiak was fired.

“Today, I informed Head men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak that I am making a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program,” Harlan’s statement read. “The decision comes after a thorough evaluation of the program — both on and off of the court — as I do with every head coach at the conclusion of their seasons. Ultimately, our program needs a new voice, a new vision and a new leader who can build upon Larry’s foundation and lead us to greater heights in the years ahead.

Krystkowiak’s departure comes five days after Utah fell in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament to USC, 91-85. The loss finished Utah’s season at 12-13, its first losing campaign since 2013. That was Krystkowiak’s second season at the U., when his team finished 15-18 overall and 5-13 in the Pac-12.

In his 10 seasons, Krystkowiak amassed a 183-140 record. Utah’s two NCAA Tournament appearances under Krystkowiak’s watch came in 2015 (Sweet 16) and 2016 (second round). Since those two March Madness trips, Utah has been to the NIT twice, including the 2018 championship game, but hasn’t made a postseason appearance since.

Krystkowiak has two years and roughly $7 million of total compensation left on his contract. In 2015, coming off the Sweet 16 season and with the program’s trajectory up, Krystkowiak signed an extension to keep him in Salt Lake City through the 2022-23 season. It is unclear if Krystkowiak will receive what is left on his contract.

Per Harlan, “the costs associated with this termination and the hiring of a new head coach and staff will be fully funded from athletically-generated resources. We will launch an immediate national search for a new head coach.”

Early names to keep an eye on as the coaching search unfolds are Utah State head coach Craig Smith, Colorado State head coach Niko Medved, and Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett.

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March 15th

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Recruiting “dead period” may finally be coming to an end June 1st

From CBS Sports …Because of COVID-19, the so-called “dead period” is in its 13th straight month. During a recruiting dead period, schools in all sports have not been allowed to host recruits nor visit them at their homes or schools. The NCAA first implemented a dead period on March 13, 2020, the day after the NCAA Tournament was canceled. The NCAA Council has extended it eight times.

That’s meant a different type of isolation. The lack of an in-person evaluation aspect of recruiting has given rise to the Zoom culture — for better or worse.

“You’re telling me we can’t have any interaction? Zero?” Perez asked. “That’s extreme.”

It may be about to end.

The NCAA Football Oversight Committee will recommend this week that the dead period transition to a “quiet period” on June 1, CBS Sports has learned. During a quiet period, college football programs can host recruits on campus and conduct camps.

If the NCAA Council approves the measure at its Wednesday meeting, there will be a sense of liberation. You may have been cooped up in your house; football recruiting this past year has been reduced to the screen size of your laptop.

By June 1, face-to-face recruiting will have been prohibited for 14 ½ months. Declining infection rates and the development of vaccines have led to this welcome reconsideration.

“We want the council to make that decision sooner rather than later so institutions will know what to plan for,” said Buffalo athletic director Mark Alnutt, a member of the oversight committee.

A high-ranking NCAA Council member told CBS Sports it “seems pretty likely we will end the dead period in June if virus cases continue to decline.” As we’ve learned, the coronavirus dictates things.

Continue reading story here

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March 12th

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Nebraska commits to playing Oklahoma after first trying to back out

From CBS Sports … Nebraska reached out to Old Dominion and New Mexico State for a Sept. 18 college football game that would have replaced a showdown against Oklahoma — one of the showcase games of the 2021 season — from the Cornhuskers’ schedule, sources told CBS Sports.

However, the Cornhuskers reaffirmed their commitment to playing the Sooners this season in a statement released hours after reports of their attempts to exit the game surfaced.

“The University of Nebraska is looking forward to playing Oklahoma in Norman on September 18th,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said in a statement Friday afternoon. “Due to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to Husker athletics and the local community, our administration did explore the possibility of adding an eighth game this fall. That option would have helped us mitigate cost-cutting measures and provide a much-needed boost to our economy. Ultimately, the decision was made to move forward with our game at Oklahoma in 2021.”

Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione released a statement earlier Friday afternoon stating that the Sooners never swayed from playing the game. “The Oklahoma-Nebraska football series represents one of the most unique traditional rivalries in college football,” he said in a statement. “… We fully intend and expect to play the game as it is scheduled.”

McMurphy first reported that Nebraska was “trying to get out of playing” the Oklahoma game, adding that Old Dominion and other MAC programs had been contacted by Nebraska.

“Nebraska has reached out to [Old Dominion], but it’s unclear whether they’re going to be able to extract themselves from the Oklahoma game,” a source involved with college football scheduling originally told CBS Sports. “They have reached out to ODU.”

“I think [Nebraska has] been calling around,” a high-ranking MAC source told CBS Sports.

Despite Nebraska’s statement, it’s not clear why the Cornhuskers were efforting such a scheduling switch so close to the start of the season. It would have been highly irregular to cancel a game contract six months before kickoff.

“Gesa Field at Martin Stadium”- Washington State sells naming rights to it stadium

From the Spokane Spokesman-Review … Get accustomed to it: Gesa Field at Martin Stadium.

One day after athletic director Pat Chun revealed Washington State’s athletic department had identified a corporate sponsor for an unnamed athletics facility, the school’s Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve a 10-year, minimum $11 million corporate sponsorship with Gesa Credit Union.

Gesa’s sponsorship gives the Richland-based company naming rights to the playing surface at Martin Stadium, but not the stadium itself. It’s believed to be the largest single-time donation to WSU Athletics in school history, according to Chun, and money will go toward general options of the athletic department.

“As we all know, the Palouse region of this country is renowned for its majestic fields, picturesque rolling hills and some of the most important farmland in the entire world,” Chun said. “Yet the most sacred field is 120 yards long and it resides in Martin Stadium on the Pullman campus of the Washington State University system.”

The Gecu sponsorship is non-exclusive and therefore won’t impact the school’s long-standing sponsorships with BECU credit union or U.S. Bank.

“This is specific to the naming of the field at Martin Stadium,” Chun said.

The athletic director said the deal includes “additional milestones in the agreement that would create additional Gesa donation opportunities to athletics.”

The partnership will also include two branch Gesa locations on the Pullman campus, at the Compton Union Building and The Spark. The credit union will also make specially-designed WSU debit and credit cared for Gesa members, with donations going to the Cougar Athletic Fund every time cards are used.

Report: Nebraska trying to get out of its game this fall against Oklahoma

From Saturday Tradition … Nebraska reportedly has no interest in playing Oklahoma this year, after all.

Friday morning, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported that Nebraska “is trying to get out of playing Oklahoma on Sept. 18.” The two programs had scheduled a home-and-home for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. This year’s contest was set to be played in Norman with a return visit to Lincoln on Sept. 17, 2022.

“The Cornhuskers have contacted other schools to play in Lincoln on that date, sources said,” McMurphy reported. “The game was scheduled to mark the 50th anniversary of 1971 “Game of the Century” b/w No. 1 Nebraska & No. 2 Oklahoma.”

It’s unclear why Nebraska is looking to avoid the game or if it would be willing to reschedule at a later date. The report is a bit of a bombshell, especially given the history between the two programs.

The Huskers and Sooners were once fierce rivals in the Big 12 and head coach Scott Frost and athletic director Bill Moos have talked about restoring some of those old rivalry games.

The 2021 season will mark the fourth for Frost in Lincoln. The Huskers are 12-20 in three years and have not appeared in a bowl game.

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March 11th 

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Six months from today: Showdown Saturday for Pac-12 (including CU v. Texas A&M)

From the San Jose Mercury News … The kickoff times and TV networks have not been set, the depth charts are in flux, and crowd sizes have yet to be determined. But barring a reversal in the course of the pandemic, the countdown to J-Day has begun.

Six months from today, everything is on the line for the Pac-12.

Sept. 11, 2021 is judgment day.

It’s the most important Saturday of the most important season in years, with three games that will shape the present and define the future:

Colorado vs. Texas A&M
Washington at Michigan
Oregon at Ohio State

How they go, so goes … everything.

The Pac-12 has missed the playoff for five consecutive seasons, whiffed repeatedly in marquee matchups and faded from relevance nationally.

It lacks elite teams and star players.

It’s the object of derision more often than praise within the college football media ecosystem.

In the metrics that matter, it’s devolving into a purgatorial existence — less than the Power Five, more than the Group of Five — that threatens lasting consequences for all teams in all sports across the conference.

Because up ahead, on the fast-approach horizon, are the media rights negotiations that will frame the future.

Although the new contract cycle does start until the summer of 2024, negotiations likely will begin much earlier — as early as the late fall of 2022.

The strategy underpinning those negotiations will be finalized months before the issuance of opening bids.

ESPN, Fox, CBS, NBC, Turner, Amazon — none of the possible partners will wait for the final College Football Playoff rankings of the ’22 season to determine whether the Pac-12 is worth $5 billion over 10 years or $6 billion over 15.

The valuation process is done well in advance, which makes this fall the last chance for the conference to establish its worth and lure bidders to the table.

It’s the moment of collision, when the lackluster recent past meets the potential for a brighter future.

And within the 2021 season, Week Two stands alone.

It’s not the only day with a major matchup: UCLA hosts LSU on Labor Day weekend, while Stanford and USC take their swings against Notre Dame later in the season.

But the triple-whammy packaging on Sept. 11 will generate a lasting afterglow … or many months of gloom.

Continue reading story here

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March 10th

… Foe Pause … 

Phil Knight’s contributions to Oregon tops $1 billion mark

… For those of you too young to remember how much of a backwater Oregon was – the Oregon football team didn’t post a ten win season until the 21st century. Yup, over 100 years of football without a ten-win season. Then, Uncle Phil came along … 

From The Oregonian … Phil Knight’s contributions have flowed into the University of Oregon in increments of tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of dollars.

And now, with the completion of a rebuilt Hayward Field track stadium in Eugene, the billionaire’s total donations are approaching the $1 billion mark.

University of Oregon officials declined to confirm the Hayward price tag. But an Oregon athletics financial report estimates the cost at $270,047,937. That figure is an estimate prepared for the university by an appraiser.

Knight was the lead funder, though the university also declined to specify just how much of the money came from him.

Over the last 30 years, Knight’s largess has built a new library, a new law school building, a basketball arena and multiple improvements at Autzen Stadium.

For Hayward, Knight told the university that he wanted a “magic venue” that will be worthy of the world’s best runners, jumpers and throwers and a fitting home to the university’s strong track and field teams.

A new, enlarged stadium was considered vital by organizers of the Track and Field World Championships, which will be staged in Eugene in July 2022.

The Wall Street Journal first published details of Hayward’s cost and Knight’s role.

Continue reading story here

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28 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

    1. so will Daddio now tell us its been “De-agendafied?” The true agenda is up in Fort Fun. The recently rescheduled game has everything to do with filling their white elephant stadium, a hope to improve their in state recruiting along with the massive infusions of delusions of grandeur if they somehow manage to win…….which might keep the homeriffic (apologies to Daddio)sports section of the Coloradoan alive.

  1. Does anyone else think that UofA stood by and waited to fire Miller because it was a cheaper buy out now compared to a few months ago? And everything else was just BS?

    Plus maybe the recruiting class?

    1. Sweaty was headed for a heart attack or stroke anyway. A small win for him is now he can maybe head that off by focusing more on a weight loss program. All that stress of being on the hot seat probably had him downing 2 quarts of ice cream every night

  2. And…………………
    Kornholers finished 14 out of 14 in the big ten in that combined analysis.

    62-36 buddy

    The Mighty Buffs drove down them sheethole and they have never recovered.

    Yehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Go Buffs

  3. I suggest that anyone who wonders whether CU has enough money to pay it’s athletes look at this Fiscal Year 2020 Athletic Department budget document (https://cubuffs.com/documents/2021/1/19//MFRS_FY20.pdf). It’s quite long, but a very interesting read.

    I’ll summarize – basically the total revenue is $95 million. The expenses are (roughly): $12M for all “student aid” (scholarships, living expenses); $2M for food for all athletes; $16M for coach’s salaries; $16M for athletic department salaries; $1M for recruiting; $8M for the total expenses associated with putting on the games and practices (ie paying the other team, travel, equipment, uniforms, etc.); $13M for debt and rent associated with facilities; $13M overhead to the university; $6M for other non-specified expenses. I’m missing several millions here, but pretty close.

    Here’s what stands out to me, something like $15M of revenue goes to the athletes. $32M goes to pay athletic department salaries. $32M is paid by the athletic department back to the university (not including scholarships). Here’s an example of a question that I would like answered: We know the athletic department has had to raise the money to pay for building the Champion’s Center. Does the athletic department then need to pay “rent” to the University to use it?

    As the Supreme Court is deciding right now, if a higher proportion of the money goes to the athletes (who actually generate the revenue) and consequently less goes to non-athlete salaries and to “university overhead”, what is the university administration going to do?

    1. Exactly two sports make money: men’s football and basketball. The rest are money losers and rely heavily on those two sports. Prentup Field sports won’t see a dime of profit-ever. This revenue sharing thing is a lot trickier than people think.

    2. Add title IX and CU can’t really eliminate any non revenue sports, except maybe Cross Country and Track & Field and Skiing, not saying to eliminate those sports; it’s just those sports have both men and women so they wouldn’t count against title IX if eliminated. But CU has many National championships in skiing and location, location, location; and Olympians in all three, so I really wouldn’t want to see those programs cut.

      But, and I’m guessing here that the number of schollies are something like Men’s BB is offset by Women’s BB and CC, T&F & Skiing could all have equal men & women, BUT because of football’s 85 schollies you probably need 3 women’s team such as Soccer, Volleyball and Lacrosse to cover the 85 schollies.

      So that only leave what? golf & tennis and didn’t they already get rid of tennis?

      Point being how many non-revenue sports can/does CU want to eliminate?

      Compared to some schools, Stanford with the most and others like UCLA for example have many more non-revenue sports to balance than CU does. So, where, if any of you were AD, would CU cut?

      OR

      Can CU, because of already being lighter in the number of non-revenue sports weather the storm of the last year and bounce back without cutting any sports, but rather with just some smart, temporary cuts?

      1. Rick George has stated on multiple occasions that he doesn’t intend to cut any sports, so it would be hard to walk that back now. Best guess is that CU will take a loan from the Pac-12 fund set up for the deficits, and pay it off over a number of years. There will need to be some cuts and cut backs within the department, but on the whole it sounds like CU is in better shape than many of its Pac-12 brethren.

  4. It’s so freakin’ cool that pac12 teams are playing in 3 of the 4 elite-8 men’s games (just wish our buffs coulda been one of ‘em).

  5. LoCoBuff has it right on spot. As ineffective as the PAC-12 Network has been (not wholly their fault), Colorado has gotten the exposure that they never would receive unless they were in the Big 10 (The Cornpuskers have certainly flopped there)…..Or, if they were in the Big East, SEC, ACC….etc., etc.

    One can’t remake “Time Zones” and population concentrations, however, which means the people (and media) in the EAST are asleep by the time the PAC-12 Tips-Off or Kicks-Off.

    The only way to beat that is to have games start late a.m. – and no later than 7 p.m. in the east – which would create “exposure-potential” to viewers in the east. The only problem with that scenario is that the PAC-12 would need to get a major network to carry them in the east. (Difficult). Perhaps PAC-12 commercials for eastern TV promoting upcoming PAC-12 games and promoting the PAC-12 schools would help expand interest. Far-fetched, I know….but, ya need to think outside the box.

    I can’t help but think that the sad news out of Boulder pushed the BUFFS out of their mental “sweet spot” Our BUFFS simply were not themselves, missing one successive FT after another….missing successive 3 pt. shots. I don’t give a damn what anyone says, the BUFFS could have beaten FSU… with their Big “D” or not.

    Be proud BUFFS………WE LOVE YA and know you invested your whole heart and soul into your goal.

    1. I was wondering about that too, after watching USC kick Kansas ass I kept thinking, “but the Buffs beat them 3 times, they can’t be as bad as they were playing tonight?” And there was no joy in their faces, not even at the beginning of the game before they were behind. No finesse either, which is want they needed to beat the big line up.

      1. Yeah, Marcus. The BUFFS were totally out of sync. You said there was no joy in their faces. There wasn’t…..I didn’t see one smile the entire game. They were just going thru’ the motions. Don’t tell me they were enjoying themselves….THEY WEREN’T.

        THEY HURT…………..PERIOD.

        SAD…… Sad for our Buffs…………but worse: Sad for Boulder. Sad for the loss of lives, cut short of realizing a full lifetime……Sad for the families who won’t see their loved ones again.

        Our Buffs were SAD Saturday night. Their hearts were bleeding. Their souls were bleeding along with a saddened nation.

        May the Lord guide the repose of the souls who were lost.

        AMEN

        1. Thank you Bufftrax, very well said. My heart aches for the families and all of us
          Coloradoans. I’m sure most of the team has been to that store and to have heard any news at all had to be rough.
          Go Buffs

  6. Listening to final few minutes of Oregon State v. Tennessee on Friday afternoon on my drive home from work and PJ Carlesimo shared great tidbit I’d not known about Oregon State. After picked last in PAC-12, Coach had “12th” logo added to the t-shirts they wear under practice uniforms and the ones they wear under game jerseys so his kids would never forget. I think before this year they had last won NCAA game when Ralph Miller was on the bench and Steve Johnson was their big star.

  7. They could play that Iowa/Oregon game back 50 times and I don’t think the Duck score less than 85, it was way too easy.

  8. it was a solid LOL when I saw Cronin’s quote….”and some people ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
    If there is a shred of shame involved it ant enough to send them back to their mail room jobs.

  9. Yep, pac12 network is in trouble. But it sure has come through with televising Buffs games that might otherwise be played with no coverage.

  10. Old Dominion? New Mexico State?
    Sheeesh
    Is there a limit to the Cob fear and desperation for a win? Maybe its time for a real puzzler to find out who, on the carousel, would be desperate enough to replace Frosty in the corn house of cards.
    Is Osborne still alive?

    1. I heard the BP was willing but only if he could also be AD…………..for paybacks to several of those………….uppers and lowers and previous

      Just what I heard.

      Buffs.

      Note: Also heard the FlimFlamMan and WacMac were joining together to start a Home Mortgage lending company. Perfect. Actually it was also rumored they already had……invested in one……………somewhere on the west coast.

  11. As an old UA alum (yes I’m a CU alum too) I’m hoping it’s just talk and after the full season ends they find a new coach with more class on the sideline. Never thought OS was a good fit in Tucson.

  12. ep is probably out drinking a bunch of Bass Ales due to the fact that, as he calls him “Ole Sweaty” is still being backed by UofA Pres, kidding kidding.
    Seriously it will be interesting to see what eventually happens to “OS” and also to the AZ MBB program once the penalties come down. I would think that they would go in the direction of a new coach.
    Miller has never made it past the Elite 8 with a bunch of some very high caliber players over his reign here……. that might be another reason to make a change.

    1. And of course…(belch)…..sweaty had no idea what was going on around him.

      Also think…(swig) ……you are on to something. Wasnt it “Ole” who made the AZ name? Is sweaty just coasting on his momentum? He did manage to keep all those high caliber players coming in but maybe more than once with a little extra under the table “juice?”

      1. ep, are you suggesting that the juice under the table was a bunch of Benjamin’s and not the Sweat,or as someone once told me……”we don’t say Sweat here in Boulder, so I will comply by writing, was it more like perspiration belonging to Mr. Miller?

        1. hmmmm
          I think its safe to say any “bennies” would have a little “perspiration” on them. Does the NCAA have DNA discovery capabilities?

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