Pac-12 Notes – December, 2021 – January, 2022

January 31st 

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West Coast Football Pac-12 2022 Power Rankings – Not much expected of CU 

From WestCoastCFB

1. Utah

The Utes will enter the 2022 season as a potential Top 10 team and a clear favorite to repeat as Pac-12 Champs. Utah stumbled out of the gate in 2021 but after the change to Cameron Rising at Quarterback, the Utes became one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. The majority of offense will return with elite playmakers at QB (Rising), Running Back (Tavion Thomas) and Tight End (Brant Kuithe). On the offensive line, Utah is projected to return 4 starters and could enter the Fall with the top OL in the conference. Kyle Whittingham will need to replace a few stars with Devin Lloyd, Britain Covey, Nick Ford and Mika Tafua all off to the NFL, but no one develops talent consistently like the Utes. All things considered, there’s a great chance the Utes will be better in 2022 than 2021.

2. USC

USC may have had the best offseason in the country when they landed Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma. Riley is the most accomplished coach in the conference with 5 Top 10 finishes and 3 playoff appearances. His impact has already been felt in the transfer portal as USC has landed 9 transfers including Mekhi Blackmon and Brenden Rice from Colorado, Terrell Bynum from Washington, and Mario Williams and Latrell McCutchin from Oklahoma. Figuring out who will be the USC Quarterback will be key and the Trojans are still in the running for former Oklahoma star Caleb Williams.

4. UCLA

UCLA has had a nice offseason with the surprise return of Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and star RB Zach Charbonnet. The Bruins’ offense should be high scoring once again and with the resignation of DC Jerry Azzinaro, UCLA could make much needed strides on the defensive side of the ball. With the right hire, Chip Kelly’s squad could become very dangerous in the coming years.

5. ASU

Despite an 8-5 season, it felt like ASU underachieved relative to expectations. The Sun Devils now enter the offseason with concerns about possible sanctions that resulted from recruiting violations during the pandemic and it feels like they have lost the momentum under Herm Edwards that they once had. Jayden Daniels is back at quarterback for ASU and will need to make major strides if the Sun Devils are to contend for the conference title.

10. Arizona

The Wildcats have nearly had as good of an offseason as USC and that is saying something for a program that just went 1-11. Jedd Fisch has been a master at recruiting and marketing and it feels like he is building something special in Tucson. Fisch has 9 former 4 stars entering the program for 2022 and that should quickly get the Wildcats back to contention from week to week. Their biggest pick up thus far may have been the addition of WSU star Jayden de Laura. With one of the best QB’s in the conference, 5-6 wins is not out of the question.

12. Colorado

The Karl Dorrell era is on very shaky ground as players continue to transfer out. In recent days, Mekhi Blackmon, Jarek Broussard, Brenden Rice and Christian Gonzalez have all left. This team is devoid of talent and it is hard to see things improving much. This might be a 1-2 win team.

Read full story here

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January 30th

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Oregon’s new DC and Associate head coach both have histories of being investigated by NCAA

From the San Jose Mercury News … Oregon’s success on the field and emergence as a national brand was built on the cutting edge, but in crafting their new staff, the Ducks went where no other Pac-12 football program dared venture.

First-year head coach Dan Lanning recently hired Tosh Lupoi as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and Adrian Klemm as associate head coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator.

Both Lupoi and Klemm have deep ties to the West Coast, both have NFL experience, and both are known in the recruiting world as relentless, aggressive pursuers of talent.

Also, both coaches have been investigated by the NCAA for their recruiting tactics at other schools.

The rest of the Pac-12 has taken notice of the latest developments in Eugene.

“Given their past history and experience in recruiting in the Pac-12 and the Western footprint, I think there is a real intrigue among Pac-12 staffs with Lupoi and Klemm,” said Brandon Huffman, the national recruiting editor for 247Sports who is based in the Pacific Northwest.

“Will they have the success that was a strength for them in their recruiting efforts, or will some other flaws that drew the attention of the NCAA still saddle them?”

Klemm was hit with a show-cause order by the NCAA — perhaps the most serious penalty that can be assessed to an individual coach — for recruiting violations committed during his time at UCLA under Jim Mora.

Lupoi was investigated by the NCAA following allegations of recruiting violations during his tenure with Washington under Steve Sarkisian.

Continue reading story here

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January 29th 

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Report: NCAA ASU investigation shifts to head coach Herm Edwards

From SunDevilSource.com … After Arizona State offensive coordinator Zak Hill resigned amid NCAA investigations into recruiting violations, NCAA investigators are now looking into head coach Herm Edwards, according to Sun Devil Source. Edwards, among other coaches on his staff, were reportedly holding impermissible meetings with recruits. Tight ends coach Adam Breneman resigned Monday while wide receivers coach Prentice Gill and secondary coach Chris Hawkins were fired with cause.

Per the initial report from Sun Devil Source, Edwards was not named specifically in the NCAA investigation. Now, that appears to not be the case.

The NCAA investigation was into alleged claims that included multiple instances of high school prospects taking illicit on-campus recruiting trips to the Arizona State campus. Edwards and Antonio Pierce were named in the new findings from Sun Devil Source.

“AD officials have privately expressed concern to colleagues and others about the serious nature and far-reaching implications of the case ASU is facing, which is expected to include Level I violations in a Notice of Allegations by the NCAA this year,” Sun Devil Source reported on Twitter. “NCAA investigators have been told in interviews that in addition to Breneman, Gill and Hawkins, other ASU coaches participated in impermissible local meetings with recruits, including Herm Edwards and Antonio Pierce, two people with knowledge of those conversations told us.”

Continue reading story here

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January 28th

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Four Arizona State coaches (including offensive coordinator) out in NCAA probe

From ESPN … Four Arizona State assistants, including offensive coordinator Zak Hill, are no longer with the football program amid the NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations within the program, sources told ESPN.

Hill, who coached with the team during the 2021 season, resigned his position, according to sources.

Wide receivers coach Prentice Gill, secondary coach Chris Hawkins and tight ends coach Adam Breneman, who all were placed on administrative leave last summer when the NCAA investigation began, also are out. Gill and Hawkins were fired, while Breneman resigned, according to sources. All four coaches were implicated in the alleged violations, which occurred after the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Arizona State on Jan. 19 announced the hiring of Aaron Fletcher from Missouri as its new defensive backs coach. Juston Wood and Bobby Wade, who coached tight ends and wide receivers on an interim basis during the 2021 season, on Friday were elevated to full-time roles for the 2022 season. Neither Wood nor Wade have been implicated in the NCAA probe, sources said. Arizona State has started its search for Hill’s replacement. Former NFL coach Brian Billick, whom Arizona State hired Monday as an offensive analyst and adviser to head coach Herm Edwards, will not serve as offensive coordinator, according to a source.

Sources told ESPN that part of the NCAA’s investigation involves Arizona State hosting prospects during the recruiting dead period, which lasted from March 2020 to June 1, 2021. FBS programs were prohibited from having recruits on campus during that period. Several sources in the Pac-12 told ESPN that Arizona State also faces allegations about recruiting practices that occurred when the dead period ended, including possible improper contact with prospects at an off-campus recruiting camp in June.

Sources told ESPN that the departed Arizona State coaches implicated in the dead-period recruiting allegations have yet to speak with NCAA investigators.

Devils Digest first reported the Arizona State coaching changes. According to 247 Sports, Gill is planning to file a wrongful termination claim against the university.

Arizona State announced immediately after the regular season that Edwards, 67, would return as head coach in 2022. Defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce, who is also part of the NCAA investigation and did not participate in off-campus recruiting in 2021, also remains in his role.

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January 27th

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Iowa state bill would classify college athletes as employees

From CBS Sports … An Iowa state representative on Wednesday introduced a bill that would classify college athletes in that state as employees. The bill is authored by veteran Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines), who currently serves as the ranking member of the Iowa+ House Labor Committee.

The bill comes as conversation heats up surrounding player compensation amid the introduction of name, image and likeness rights for athletes. Several sources told CBS Sports last week the NCAA will have to soon deal with an employee-employer relationship, at least at the highest level.

Hunter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If adopted as law, the bill would apply to Iowa’s three public institutions: Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. It would not govern private schools in the state.

“My intel says it has no legs,” said a high-ranking source from one of those public schools who did not want to be identified.

Last year, National Labor Relations Board general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memo saying college players have been misclassified as “student-athletes” and should receive all the benefits of employee status.

Former Minnesota regent Michael Hsu later filed an unfair labor practice complaint to the NLRB in support of Abruzzo’s memo.

No college athlete has initiated a complaint.

Hsu compared the Iowa bill to California’s SB-206, the original state NIL bill filed in 2019 that spurred the momentum for the nationwide NIL movement.

This bill would allow the Iowa state board of regents — those who oversee the public universities — the ability to fix athlete compensation in the same way it sets compensation for school presidents and other state employees.

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January 26th

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Big Ten discussing elimination of divisions; eight-game conference schedule

From The Athletic … The future College Football Playoff format could have a major impact on whether the Big Ten eliminates divisions or changes the number of its annual conference games, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta told The Athletic.

The Big Ten currently has East and West divisions and plays a nine-game conference schedule that includes three cross-divisional games. Big Ten administrators have discussed dropping to eight games beginning in 2023 so it can create matchups with teams from the Pac-12 and ACC conferences, with which the trio has a working arrangement called The Alliance.

There also are serious discussions about the Big Ten ending divisional play with schools playing three opponents annually and cycling through the other 10 teams either every other year or two years on, two years off.

“We’ve had several conversations,” Barta said. “One of the things that we’re watching is whether it’s related to The Alliance, which we’re talking through and/or, what gives us the best opportunity to have the most success in the College Football Playoff format?

“We’re wondering if we’re going to know what the format is before we have to make that decision. So, we’re kind of waiting to see where that lands. But we have had active conversations about the schedule beyond 2022.”

The Big Ten released a revised schedule for 2022 earlier in January, accommodating six location switches and balancing and dispersing its marquee matchups throughout the season.

Continue reading story here

BYU’s move to the Big 12 could adversely affect Pac-12 non-conference scheduling

From the San Jose Mercury News … Brigham Young made life miserable for the Pac-12 last season, winning all five head-to-head matchups. The Cougars could cause just as much trouble in future years by not facing the conference at all.

The Pac-12 has 15 games under contract with BYU starting in the 2023 season, when the Cougars cease to be an Independent and join the Big 12.

Some of the matchups — and perhaps many — are at risk of being canceled as BYU makes room on its schedule for conference games in its new home.

The Big 12 has not determined whether it will play eight league games or nine once it adds BYU, Houston, Cincinnati and UCF. (The Cougars begin play in ’23; the others could join that year or in 2024.) And it must plan for the departures of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC starting in 2025, as well.

But either outcome could impact the feasibility of BYU facing Pac-12 opponents in any given year.

“Internally, BYU moving to the Big 12 presents us with significant scheduling issues,” said Merton Hanks, the Pac-12’s senior associate commissioner and chief of football operations.

It’s an issue for several teams over the next decade: Stanford and Utah have six games scheduled against BYU starting in 2023; Arizona has two and USC one.

Legally, the Cougars could walk away from as most, if not all of them. According to Pac-12 sources, game contracts with BYU typically include a opt-out clause for the Cougars in the event they join a conference.

All the current contracts were signed prior to BYU’s move to the Big 12 last summer.

One source indicated the potential loss of the Cougars as a frequent opponent is part of the larger discussion on the future of Pac-12 scheduling strategy.

The conference has played a nine-game rotation since the 2006 season but is evaluating the benefits of dropping to eight in order to improve its positioning for the College Football Playoff.

One option for the extra non-conference opponent is a series against the Big Ten, but there’s no guarantee the alliance partner will also drop to eight league games.

The Cougars are an ideal opponent for Pac-12 programs because of their proximity, the quality of the competition and their ability to sell tickets in opposing stadiums.

In some ways, they have played the role of a conference member, all while wanting — but being denied — entry into the league.

Continue reading story here

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January 25th

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New ASU coach Brian Billick has to answer for comment: “Some people go to college, some people go to Arizona State”

From Sports Illustrated … On Monday, the Arizona State Sun Devils announced former Super Bowl champion head coach Brian Billick had joined ASU’s football staff as an offensive analyst and special advisor to head coach Herm Edwards.

Billick, who served as the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2007, has a few connections with Arizona State.

Most recently, he coached ASU defensive end Tyler Johnson in the 2022 Hula Bowl.

He has prior experience with fellow special advisor Marvin Lewis, who served as Billick’s defensive coordinator in Baltimore from Billick’s arrival in 1999 to 2001. Lewis, who would eventually take the Cincinnati Bengals head coaching gig, met Billick twice a season as AFC North rivals from 2003 until Billick was fired following the 2007 season.

Billick also coached a handful of Arizona State player, most notably drafting tight end Todd Heap (2001) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (2003) as first-round picks.

Heap was Baltimore’s top rookie featured on the first ever season of Hard Knocks in 2001, a television series that follows a selected NFL team through the trials and tribulations of training camp.

Billick, doing his due diligence in teasing the shy/quiet newcomer in Heap, chose to take a small slight at Arizona State on camera.

“Todd’s funny because he’s got kind of that ‘aww shucks, I’m just from Hooterville, Arizona’ here,” said Billick in a close-up to the cameras, before the show pans to Billick speaking to Heap at practice.

“Some people go to college, some people go to Arizona State. I understand!”

Surely, this isn’t the first time something pop culture-relevant has taken a jab at Arizona State, which has been deemed the Harvard of the Southwest (if you’re bored, here’s a nice video of some times that ASU has been at the wrong end of jokes).

Props to those over at the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast for posting this video of Billick’s interaction with Heap.

Perhaps at some point Billick may have to answer for his joke, although working hands-on with Arizona State just might make him have a change of heart.

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January 24th 

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ESPN: Karl Dorrell joins Herm Edwards on Pac-12 hotseat

From ESPN … The 2021 college coaching carousel started early, spun furiously throughout November and early December, and ended with several of the sport’s biggest names changing addresses.

Many wonder if the historic cycle of coaching changes will stand out in both volume and drama, or whether it will be a harbinger for future carousels. Several factors suggest the latter is more likely. The money is bigger than ever. Patience with coaches is incredibly thin (largely because the money is bigger than ever). The current climate of roster management, specifically the transfer portal, has accelerated some employment decisions.

Looking ahead to the 2022 carousel, the landscape suggests either a normal-ish cycle or another wild one. There are obvious hot spots, such as Nebraska and Florida State, and others where changes wouldn’t come as a huge shock, such as UCLA, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and even Texas. But what made the past cycle so distinctive is the number of schools where no one expected changes, such as Florida, TCU and Washington.

Here’s the first look at the coaching hot seat for the 2022 season, broken down by league. Like in previous years, I’ve listed several coaches who are retirement candidates, even if they face little to no job pressure.

The Pac-12 … 

Hot seat: Herm Edwards, Arizona State; Karl Dorrell, Colorado
Keep an eye on: Chip Kelly, UCLA

The Pac-12 became a big subplot of the 2021 coaching cycle, fueled largely by some surprise hot spots. USC not surprisingly made a change with Clay Helton, but so did Washington, dumping Jimmy Lake after only 13 games. Washington State fired second-year coach Nick Rolovich for not complying with the state’s vaccine mandate. Mario Cristobal’s departure from Oregon to Miami meant one-third of the league’s schools will have new coaches for 2022.

The upcoming carousel should be lighter in the Pac-12, although at least one change is likely. Arizona State is sticking with Edwards as the NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations continues. Athletic director Ray Anderson is very tied to Edwards, who hasn’t had the breakthrough ASU sought when it hired the former NFL coach. Edwards is just 25-18 overall and 17-14 in Pac-12 play. If Arizona State is hit with significant penalties and the team doesn’t make big on-field strides, it might be time to split with Edwards. How his situation impacts Anderson’s status also is worth monitoring.

Dorrell had one solid (albeit abridged) season at CU and one lousy one (4-8 in 2021), and enters 2022 with three years left on his contract. The team has also lost a large group of players, including several standouts, to the transfer portal since late November. A few more wins and better offensive production under new coordinator Mike Sanford should bring Dorrell back for 2023. Colorado understands the up-and-down coaching transition it has endured, mainly because of Mel Tucker’s one-year stint in Boulder, and will seek stability with Dorrell if he gives them enough reason to do so.

Last week, UCLA and Kelly agreed to a new contract through the 2025 season, days before buyouts (on both sides) were set to drop from $9 million to $0. The Bruins recorded their first winning season (8-4) under Kelly in 2021, and finishing tied for second in the Pac-12 South. They return veteran quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and others, but any step backward in performance could lead to a change, especially since athletic director Martin Jarmond did not hire Kelly.

Read full story here

Big 12 Commissioner: “Division I is too large” (“Change is imminent”)

From Sports Illustrated … If anyone knows the issues within the NCAA, it’s Betsy Mitchell.

She was an athlete at one of college athletics’ richest juggernauts, Texas, has been a coach at Division I’s lowest tier and now is the athletic director of one of the NCAA’s smallest schools, Division III Caltech. She intimately understands the disparities between the NCAA’s 1,000 member schools. And she’s got a suggestion to fix it.

“The commercial priorities of some members means they need to go do their own thing,” says Mitchell. “I kind of wish they would.”

The rapid growth of a now-bloated Division I and surging revenues at the top of college sports have created an untenable situation: schools governing under the same umbrella despite striking disparities.

As a new gap splinters the haves and have-nots, college sports leaders are gearing up for the most transformative year in the industry since the late 1970s, a now 50-year-old fight barreling toward a figuratively “bloody” end, administrators say.

“Change is imminent,” says Ryan Cassidy, a former Rutgers football player who serves on several NCAA committees and has been integral in the latest transformation discussions. “This is going to be a rebirth.”

At this week’s 2022 NCAA convention in Indianapolis, just blocks away from the NCAA’s own headquarters, college leaders are poised to take the first step in the process of transforming how college athletics governs itself. A new, streamlined constitution—one that grants authority to each division to create its own policy—is expected to be approved Thursday in a vote of Division I, II and III members.

It sets the stage for a much more important step: the restructuring of Division I.

A microcosm of the NCAA, Division I is a fractured group of 350 schools, 32 conferences and three subsections—FBS, FCS and non-football-playing members—whose differing resources, missions and abilities have made it nearly impossible to regulate competitive equity. There is animosity and tension among them, mostly centered on how rules are made and how money is distributed and spent.

The conversation is largely driven by the FBS elite: the Power 5—the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12—and its commissioners, two of whom sit on the NCAA’s transformation committee, the group charged this spring with restructuring D-I. College sports’s richest leagues want to keep more revenue, spend more of that money in ways they currently cannot because of legislation and engineer their schools to participate and qualify in more championship events.

Many administrators fear oncoming threats from the rich and powerful, such as creating a fourth subdivision of schools and deregulating legislation that could further widen the gap in D-I, eliminating automatic qualifiers to championships and overhauling a revenue distribution model that keeps some smaller schools afloat.

“Everything is on the table,” says Tom McMillen, the president of Lead1, an association representing the FBS athletic directors.

“Division I is too large,” adds Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “There are more ways in which we are different than are ways that we are the same. There is an appetite [in the Power 5] for more control over our fate.”

Continue reading story here

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January 23rd

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Pac-12 commissioner Kliavkoff on playoff expansion: “The fans were misled”

From the San Jose Mercury News … Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff was a guest on the ‘Paul Finebaum Show’ on Friday — it airs on the SEC Network and ESPN radio — and offered a blunt assessment of the status of playoff expansion.

In fact, Kliavkoff was fairly critical of the process that led to the current impasse, particularly the decision to publicly release a 12-team format last summer before it had been approved by all the conferences.

If you’ll recall, the commissioners of the SEC, Big 12 and Mountain West, along with Notre Dame’s athletic director, spent two years crafting the model, which they unveiled in June to great fanfare. Except seven of the 11 voting members, including the Pac-12 and Big Ten, had not reviewed or signed off on the proposal.

“The fans were misled,” Kliavkoff told Finebaum. “They were basically shown a format in June that didn’t have the approval of all the people that needed to approve it.

“It misled the fans, and it misled the media. I hope we don’t ever do that again. It was a self-inflicted wound.”

Kliavkoff added that he’s increasingly concerned the commissioners won’t agree on an expansion model before the end of the current contract cycle, which runs through the 2025 season.

Which means four more years of four teams.

Which is bad news for the Pac-12.

Read full story here

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January 21st 

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“With the NCAA backed into a corner, the age of paying college athletes is officially upon us”

From CBS Sports … College athletics, beyond just the NCAA, has been backed into a corner surrounded by barbed wire. There are few paths out. At this point, seemingly no amount of litigation or committees or legislation can deny what is inevitably coming down the tracks like a runaway train.

In some way, shape or form, athletes in the revenue-producing sports will have to be paid. Not just name, image and likeness rights or cost of attendance money, we’re talking some sort of partnership with the schools for which they put their bodies on the line.

Short of Congressional intervention — a Hail Mary at this point — that’s the only tenet remaining from a collegiate model that has melted away over the years like a Life Saver left out in the rain.

For many, there is little left of the innocence that drew a certain generation to the games in the first place. What has been positioned as a decisive moment this week at the NCAA Convention really serves only as background music.

What matters more are the parallel tracks carrying NIL, the transfer portal, player empowerment, a multibillion-dollar entertainment/athletic complex and a yawning lack of leadership at the top.

No rewriting of the NCAA Constitution is going to change that narrative in the short term. College athletics has not only lost a large part of whatever legal leverage it might hold to stave off pay-for-play, it has lost its way entirely.

“I do think we’re probably 2-3 years away from having a different relationship with our student-athletes,” said respected North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham, who is entering his 27th year in athletic administration. “It won’t necessarily be the student and the university. It may be employee-employer.”

That means a fundamental shift in how the games are administered and consumed.

If players are paid by their schools, will that turn off fans? It hasn’t so far.

Continue reading story here

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January 20th

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NCAA member schools ratify a new streamlined constitution

From ESPN … NCAA members voted Thursday to ratify a new, streamlined version of the association’s constitution.

The motion passed with 80.4% of members voting in favor, putting an expected stamp of approval on the first part of a two-step process to significantly reduce the responsibility of the association’s national office and to overhaul rules at all levels of college sports during one of the most tumultuous times in the industry’s history. Each of the NCAA’s three divisions will now start working on revising or creating their own rules to align with the fundamental principles laid out in the new constitution.

“This needs to be a declaration that we know that now in the coming months we’re going to think afresh about college sports,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said shortly before the vote during his annual address at the association’s convention.

The new constitution, which was prompted by significant legal and political losses for the NCAA last summer, is designed to simplify what many college sports leaders have called a complex and outdated rulebook. It shrinks the board of governors — the association’s decision-making entity — from 20 members down to nine and tries to ensure that current and former athletes have a larger voice in shaping the future NCAA.

The administrators and committee members who crafted the constitution hoped to reaffirm the NCAA’s focus on the “primacy of the academic experience” after a summer in which politicians and Supreme Court justices questioned the NCAA’s claims that it is unique and distinct from professional sports.

“Are we spending our resources in a way that emphasizes our core values and helping as many students as we can?” Emmert asked during his address Thursday. “That’s what’s driving frustration and anger both inside and outside college sports, and that’s what puts the whole enterprise at serious risk.”

The new constitution states plainly that college athletes should not be paid directly by their schools for athletic participation, but leaves it up to each division to decide what education-related benefits that athletes can receive from their schools and how athletes can make money from other sources by selling the rights to their own names, images and likenesses.

The groups in charge of sorting through those specifics and writing new rules met this week during the NCAA’s annual convention in Indianapolis and are slated to complete their work by August.

The Division I Transformation Committee plans to meet on a weekly basis for the next seven months to work through the details of its new rules. They will be tasked with finding a way to curb the escalating and competitive spending that has called college sports’ amateur status into question while also avoiding any nationwide rules that could be challenged by antitrust lawsuits.

Continue reading story here

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January 19th

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Why the ACC nixed Playoff Expansion: “Any coach that says they are in favor of the 12-team playoff doesn’t care about college football”

From CBS Sports … When ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said last week that his coaches were unanimously against College Football Playoff expansion “at this time”, he may have been understating the conference’s position.

ACC sources portrayed for CBS Sports the depth of the league’s concerns about tripling the field from four to 12 teams — at least within the current 12-year contract that expires after the 2025 season. Because of that consternation, CFP expansion is likely dead for at least the next four years.

ACC coaches and officials believe college athletics — football in particular — must work its way through numerous other complications as it tries to reform and deregulate before it sets its sights on expanding the postseason.

Amid COVID-19 issues and roster limitations, the ACC last fall asked the NCAA Football Oversight Committee for relief on the rule that preserves eligibility for any player who participates in less than five games during the regular season. In the postseason, ACC coaches said they were were told to apply for a waiver on individual cases for players whose eligibility would be impacted.

None of those waivers were granted, according to Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson, current chairman of the league’s head football coaches.

Clawson said some ACC schools are “not sure they are going to be able to practice in the spring” because of rosters diminished by the combination of COVID-19, injuries, graduation, opt outs and transfer portal departures.

The average ACC program has lost 10.4 players to the portal since the beginning of last the 2020 season, according to 247Sports’ tracker. It is not known how that compares to other leagues.

ACC coaches are concerned that level of churn is unsustainable with the annual limits of 25 signees in recruiting and 85 total players on scholarship. In 2020, rostered athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. As such, coaches do not have to strictly adhere to the 85-man limit in 2022; however, they must find a way to pare their rosters back down to 85 ahead of the 2023 season.

“How the hell are we going to get to 85?” said Clawson, who has been named to the American Football Coaches Association board of trustees. “Our rosters are getting thinner and thinner. We have less control over them, and the NCAA isn’t giving us any relief.

“What they’ve done is done a great job of opening up the outflow valve. And they haven’t helped us at all with the inflow valve.”

Continue reading story here

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January 17th

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Great-grandson of Bear Bryant transferring from Alabama to Arizona State

From CBS Sports … For the last three seasons, the Alabama quarterback room has included kin to program royalty, with Bear Bryant’s great-grandson, Paul Tyson, lined up alongside other Crimson Tide signal-callers. That connection came to an end recently when Tyson entered the transfer portal shortly after the national championship loss to Georgia. On Sunday, he named Arizona State as his intended destination.

A 6-foot-5, 228-pound pro-style quarterback with a big arm, Tyson he did not see significant action during his first two years with the program after showing up as a four-star prospect in the 2019 recruiting class. During the 2021 season, he took over as the primary holder on field goals and PAT attempts and closed out out a couple nonconference wins as the backup to Bryce Young.

Tyson was rated as the No. 12 player in the state of Alabama and an all-state selection at the 7A level, but with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner well-entrenched as QB1, it’s understanding that he’s pursuing opportunities elsewhere. Tyson was one of 11 Alabama players to enter the transfer portal either during or after the 2021 season.

Arizona State does seem to have its own QB situation settled for 2022 after three-year starter Jayden Daniels announced he would be back for a senior season instead of declaring for the NFL Draft, but Tyson’s move may be more focused on opportunities further in the future. In his transfer announcement, Tyson noted that with the COVID eligibility waiver, he’ll arrive in Tempe with three years of eligibility remaining.

Read full story here

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January 13th

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Wilner: Pac-12 schools should borrow against future media money in order to be competitive now

From the San Jose Mercury News … This will take a few minutes, so work with me …

For years, Pac-12 fans heard former commissioner Larry Scott preach the virtues of his media strategy — in particular, that retaining 100 percent ownership of the Pac-12 Networks would allow the conference to remain flexible in an ever-changing media environment.

Personally, the Hotline can’t count the number of times we heard Scott use the term “nimble” to describe the Pac-12’s strategic position.

But the reality is quite the opposite: There is zero flexibility with the Tier 1 partners (ESPN and Fox) or the Pac-12 Network partners (Comcast, DISH, etc).

The conference doesn’t have an early-out option, nor can it stream Pac-12 Network events directly to consumers. It’s locked into the current existence because of a 12-year agreement that was far too long, provides far too little exposure and produces far too little revenue for the campuses.

Consider this: The Big Ten’s current Tier 1 contracts were signed after the Pac-12’s deal, but they expire before the Pac-12’s deal. That’s nimble.

As a result, the Pac-12 is stuck with its low-exposure, low-revenue agreements for two more football seasons.

In both years, you will see the same number of games on the Pac-12 Networks, the same number of night games on all networks and only modest increases in the annual revenue checks sent from the conference to the schools.

However, major media deals are always negotiated in advance of their start dates. Sometime in the late winter or early spring of 2023, Kliavkoff will sign the contracts for the next cycle.

Once that happens — and perhaps even before it happens — the Pac-12 presidents must plow resources into football.

They know tens of millions of additional dollars are coming in 2024-25, so why not allow the athletic departments to borrow against the future revenues to improve the conference’s competitive position during the final years of the four-team playoff?

Let the football programs increase their recruiting budgets.

Let them spend more on coordinators and assistant coaches.

Let them proceed with facility projects.

Let them buy their way out of non-conference games that don’t maximize playoff potential.

The presidents know the money’s coming. Why not make the financial commitment necessary to bridge the brutal gap until the playoff expands and relief comes. (Kliavkoff favors investment.)

A comprehensive, sustained football revival will take time to execute, but the longer the Pac-12 waits to start, the greater the chasm to cross.

The imbalance of power isn’t static, folks. The SEC’s advantage is increasing every year.

The moment it becomes clear to Kliavkoff that the playoff won’t expand until 2026, the conference needs to act.

USA Today Final 1-130 (not kind to the Pac-12,, with six schools ranked 85th or lower)

From USA Today … After beating Alabama 33-18 in Monday night’s national championship game, Georgia tops the final USA TODAY Sports NCAA Re-Rank 1-130  of the 2021 season, followed by the Crimson Tide.

The two SEC juggernauts are followed by No. 3 Cincinnati, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Baylor, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan State, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Notre Dame.

The final top 25 includes seven teams from the Group of Five. After becoming the first team from the non-major leagues to reach the College Football Playoff, the Bearcats are joined by No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 14 San Diego State, No. 18 Houston, No. 19 Brigham Young, No. 24 Texas-San Antonio and No. 25 Utah State.

A deep list of options left several very strong teams just on the outside of the top 25. That includes No. 26 Arkansas, which took another big step forward in coach Sam Pittman’s second season, and No. 27 Air Force, which lost three games by a combined 17 points to opponents with a combined record of 32-9.

Bowl games also shook up the 1-130. No. 39 Central Florida jumped 13 spots after a Gasparilla Bowl win against No. 69 Florida, which fell four spots. No. 49 Western Michigan soared 23 spots after handing No. 42 Nevada a 52-24 loss in the Quick Lane Bowl. No. 50 Mississippi State dropped eight after being manhandled by No. 57 Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl.

All the way at the bottom, last place in the 1-130 again belongs to No. 130 Connecticut, which one just once and fended off No. 129 Massachusetts for the bottom spot in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Pac-12 … (and 2022 CU opponents) … 

  • No. 13 … Utah
  • No. 21 … Oregon
  • No. 27 … Air Force 
  • No. 29 … Minnesota
  • No. 36 … UCLA
  • No. 41 … Arizona State
  • No. 52 … Washington State
  • No. 55 … Oregon State
  • No. 83 … TCU
  • No. 85 … California
  • No. 91 … USC
  • No. 95 … Colorado 
  • No. 100 … Washington
  • No. 101 … Stanford
  • No. 124 … Arizona

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January 12th

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Report: UCLA defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro has resigned

… Reading the tea leaves … Perhaps Chip Kelly had to agree to a new defensive coordinator in order to keep his job … or this is a precursor to Chip Kelly leaving newt week when his buyout becomes $0.00 … 

From FootballScoop.com … UCLA defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro has resigned, sources tell FootballScoop.

Azzinaro is the second Bruin coordinator to leave the staff this week. Offensive coordinator Justin Frye took the offensive line job at Ohio State.

Azzinaro is a longtime lieutenant for Chip Kelly, dating back to when Kelly ascended to the head coach’s chair at Oregon in 2009. Azzinaro coached Kelly’s defensive lines all four years in Eugene and all four of his NFL seasons — three in Philadelphia and one in San Francisco.

After one season as Cal’s defensive line coach, Azzinaro re-united with Kelly as his defensive coordinator at UCLA, lasting all four seasons thus far in Westwood.

This week’s news must be viewed within the prism of Kelly’s contract. More specifically, as of this coming Sunday, it would cost UCLA nothing to fire its head coach of four mostly-underwhelming seasons.

Will this be the last year for divisions in the Pac-12?

From the San Jose Mercury News

The Pac-12 was anything but boring in 2021, which began with Larry Scott announcing his departure (Jan. 20), ended with a ghastly showing in bowl games and featured the hiring of a new commissioner, George Kliavkoff, a brief exploration of expansion, an alliance with the Big Ten and ACC, three in-season head coach terminations and plenty more.

But ’22 also figures to be momentous with NCAA legislative landscape shifting rapidly, College Football Playoff expansion stagnating and the Pac-12 attempting to fortify its long-haul position in the sport.

Here are 12 storylines to watch, in roughly chronological order:

1. Uncertainty in Westwood: Chip Kelly became a lame-duck coach as soon as UCLA backed out of the Holiday Bowl. His original contract runs through the ’22 season, and there has been no agreement on an extension. The $9 million buyout drops to zero on Jan. 16, allowing either Kelly or the Bruins to walk away from the other for nothing. His return is more likely than not, but hardly guaranteed despite the eight-win season. The next week or 10 days will be decisive.

… 3. The future of divisions: The Pac-12 is reconsidering the viability of the six-team divisions but won’t make a decision until it knows the format for the expanded playoff. The conference’s goal is to maximize its chances for multiple CFP bids on a regular basis, but those decisions cannot be made without first knowing the selection process. Our opinion: The divisions will be eliminated by the 2023 season, at the latest.

4. The Alliance: The Pac-12 also is mulling an eight-game conference schedule. Before the switch can be made, it must have 12 quality opponents lined up to replace the lost round-robin game for each team. (Its TV partners, ESPN and Fox, won’t trade a league matchup for a non-conference creampuff without asking for their money back.) The easiest solution: If the Big Ten also drops to eight conference games, the leagues could set a season-long series of inter-conference affairs. No word when the Big Ten will make a decision.

Read full story here

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January 11th

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CBS “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 includes three Pac-12 teams

From CBS Sports … Monday’s eighth College Football Playoff National Championship may have been preview of the ninth CFP National Championship. At least that’s the indication from my way-too-early top 25 ahead of the 2022 college football season.

Alabama is the runaway No. 1 for obvious reasons. It has most of its best players back, and coach Nick Saban has seven years to run on his contract. Any other questions?

With its offense alone, Ohio State is No. 2 and should be favored to win the Big Ten. No. 3 Georgia’s defense will have to be remade, but coach Kirby Smart has a bit of experience in that category. If the defense can be “fixed” soon enough, expect the Dawgs to be back in the playoff. No. 4 Oklahoma is going to be sneaky good with new coach Brent Venables. Jimbo Fisher became the first Saban assistant to beat the master, then finished tied for third in the SEC West. Much will be expected of Jimbo in Year 5.

No surprise but half the SEC (seven teams) are represented, followed by five teams from the Big Ten. It was hard to pass on Iowa, San Diego State, Houston, Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Utah State, among others, who fell just outside these early rankings. Remember: This top 25 can and will change as spring practice and summer workouts transpire over the ensuing eight months.

No. 13 … Utah … Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff says his league is undersized in both lines. That’s not the case at Utah where the Utes specialize in playing bully ball. Ask Oregon. Kyle Whittingham has assembled seasons of at least nine wins in six of the last seven campaigns. A rare nonconference battle with Florida opens the season.

No. 14 … USC … Lincoln Riley needs a quarterback. That problem could be solved as soon as Caleb Williams makes up his mind. If not, Jaxon Dart is capable of leading the offense if he’s pulled out of the transfer portal. Before anything happens, the Trojans have to get tougher up front. Watch Alex Grinch take another step as a defensive coordinator.

No. 18 … Oregon … Georgia in the season opener in Atlanta? Yes, please. Dan Lanning gets to measure himself as a head coach right away playing his old team. Cristobal has left a stocked cupboard. Watching a rookie coach from the SEC chase a Pac-12 title — the Ducks may be favored — will be fun to watch.

Read full story here

In-fighting at CFP board meetings render playoff expansion before 2026 unlikely: “We’re not even close”

From Stewart Mandel at The Athletic … On a virtual news conference last June, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, one of the four authors of a College Football Playoff working group proposal for an expanded 12-team format, all but beamed with pride over the end result of their two years’ of discussions.

“I really feel like everybody that was in the room was looking at this from the standpoint of what is best for college football,” he said of himself and his colleagues, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

It was quite the opposite on Monday, as Bowlsby emerged from three days of College Football Playoff board meetings here looking visibly frustrated and beaten down (on his 70th birthday, no less). In the seven months since that grand unveiling, the larger group of 11 commissioners and athletic directors that oversee the CFP have failed to reach unanimity on expanding at all.

“Not even close,” he said. Barring an 11th-hour change of heart by a couple holdouts — primarily the ACC — the current four-team model will remain in place for four more seasons.

A model, mind you, that all of them agree has had negative consequences on the sport, from a consolidation of power among a small handful of programs (almost all of them in the Southeast) to star players opting out of bowl games to an entire region of the country, the West Coast, left out of the main event for going on six years.

“Everybody’s more concerned about their own silos than somebody else’s,” said Bowlsby. “(In 2012), Jim Delany and Mike Slive got past their individual concerns to do what’s best for college football. That’s why we got to a Playoff. … That hasn’t happened this time.”

Leave it to college football to so badly bungle something so important to its tens of millions of fans over parochial turf wars and hurt feelings.

After three days of meetings — which themselves followed several previous meetings dating back to the call — the chances of seeing an expanded Playoff come to fruition prior to the current contract’s expiration in 2026 are rapidly approaching 0.0 percent. Mississippi State president Mark Keenum, chairman of the CFP board of managers, told reporters Monday he’s asked the commissioners to meet once more “hopefully within a few weeks” to see if they can resolve their differences.

“I’m optimistic,” he said.

Others fail to see what’s going to change in the next few weeks. Name the issue, and at least one conference is dug in on the opposite side of it. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren believes that automatic berths, originally proposed for the “six highest-ranked conference champions,” should be specifically designated to each Power 5 league. ACC commissioner Jim Phillips is still waging a seemingly one-man fight to limit expansion to eight teams, which publicly he says is an athlete-welfare issue but privately is an attempt to force Notre Dame’s hand to join his conference in full. The Pac-12 released a statement later Monday saying it was “strongly in favor” of CFP expansion. Others are at a disagreement on revenue sharing and other logistical issues.

“Have you seen the movie ‘Groundhog Day’?” joked Bowlsby.

“We’re in a nine-overtime contest, and none of us can accomplish a two-point conversion,” said Sankey.

Continue reading story here

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January 10th

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Even Nick Saban believes NIL is out of hand: “We need some kind of national legislation to control that”

From YardBarker.com … The Alabama Crimson Tide will play Monday night for a chance to win a seventh national championship since 2009. A day ahead of that matchup, Alabama coach Nick Saban warned that a recent rule change may cause a power imbalance in college football.

“Name, image and likeness (NIL) is a positive thing for players,” Saban said Sunday, via Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated. “They’ve got the opportunity to earn money; I don’t think that’s a bad thing. What is concerning is how that’s used to get players to decide where they’re going to school. I don’t think that was the intention.

“We need some kind of national legislation to control that. There will be an imbalance as to who dominates college football if it isn’t regulated.”

Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart agreed with Saban’s evaluation, saying that “the separation that is already there is going to grow larger.”

Name, image, and likeness deals were made legal by the NCAA in June 2021. While it’s difficult to yet notice many shifts in the balance of power in college football, one notable movement has been the sudden, unprecedented recruiting power of Jackson State University. There was also a $1 million offer to Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams to transfer to Eastern Michigan.

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January 8th

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Kliavkoff to Pac-12 schools: “I can’t imagine a more obvious ROI than investing in football”

From the San Jose Mercury News … Two Pac-12 assistant football coaches earned at least $1 million in 2021. In the SEC, 16 assistants had seven-figure salaries.

The top-paid strength coach in the Pac-12 was merely the 19th-highest paid in major college football.

Meanwhile, the biggest recruiting budget in the Pac-12 doesn’t crack the top 12 nationally, according to a published report.

The only thing easier to spot than Pac-12 bowl losses are examples of the conference not plowing as many resources into football infrastructure as its peers in the Power Five.

New commissioner George Kliavkoff hopes to change that state of affairs by making the case to the university presidents and chancellors that investing in football can provide returns that benefit not only cash-strapped athletic departments but entire campuses.

“Historically, I don’t think we’ve made a great case for the ROI of footbalI,’’ Kliavkoff told the Hotline.

… Kliavkoff, who has been on the job for just six months, didn’t cite specifics. But he clearly grasps the connection between football investment and the potential returns across the university spectrum — financial returns, alumni engagement returns and, yes, educational returns.

“We need to invest in coaches and facilities,” he said. “That leads to better recruiting, which leads to winning, which leads to direct and indirect revenue and alumni engagement.

“And we’ve seen that it leads to more applications, which allows universities to become more selective in admissions.

“I can’t imagine a more obvious ROI than investing in football.”

Continue reading story here

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January 7th

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Way Too Early 2022 Preseason Top 25: Utah a Top Ten Team?

From thegamehaus.com … The college football season still isn’t quite over, but next year still can’t come soon enough. With that, here are the way too early 2022 college football top 25.

From the Pac-12 … 

13. Oregon Ducks

Oregon will lose Kayvon Thibodeaux, but their defense has plenty of stars coming back, including Noah Sewell. In an easier Pac-12, Dan Lanning should be able to do decently well in his first season as head coach.

7. Utah Utes

Devin Lloyd is off to the NFL from their defense, but almost all of their other key players are back. Cameron Rising is back at quarterback and Tavion Thomas should also return at running back. Kyle Whittingham has another team that can win the Pac-12.

… and that’s it …

Top 5 … 1. Alabama … 2. Ohio State … 3. Georgia … 4. Clemson … 5. Texas A&M

Read full story here

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January 5th

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Report: Texas A&M Boosters pony up $25 million to secure buy No. 1 Recruiting Class of all-time

From brobible.com … Texas A&M football currently holds the nation’s top recruiting class for 2022. With six five-star prospects, 19 four-stars and three three-stars, the Aggies are loaded.

Among the commitments, head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff landed the nation’s top-rated linebacker, top-rated defensive lineman and the second-ranked wide receiver. They also kept the nation’s second-ranked quarterback in-state, locking up the program’s biggest need for the foreseeable future.

And, although the class is all-but finished, there is still time to land another prospect or two before or on National Signing Day. With a 247Sports composite score of 328.82, it is the nation’s No. 1 class by more than 11 points over Alabama.

Needless to say, the Aggies have hit the recruiting trail extremely hard. Per a recent rumor, their boosters also spent a small fortune.

Apparently, Texas A&M’s 2022 recruiting class cost upwards of $30 million.

According to a message board user who goes by SlicedBread, the Aggies spent between $25 and $30 million to sure-up the nation’s top class. He reported that the effort was targeted and coordinated.

Although SlicedBread is not necessarily the best source in the world, the number is likely in the ballpark.

IT IS PERFECTLY LEGAL. TEXAS A&M IS DOING NOTHING WRONG, OR EVEN INVOLVED. IT IS ALL BOOSTERS.

In previous years, money was (allegedly) dispersed to recruits under the table. It was and is illegal to hand a prospect money directly in return for his commitment.

That is not what Texas A&M is doing. Under the NCAA’s new rules on Name, Image and Likeness, it can be done above the table, kind of.

CLICK HERE for a great explanation of what is reportedly going on.

For example, like what is reportedly being done amongst the boosters at A&M — and everywhere across the country — money can be distributed through deals for NIL. A recruit can be offered a lucrative deal in return for a commitment.

The University of Texas reportedly weaponized NIL to land No. 1 overall quarterback recruit Quinn Ewers. Texas boosters are also paying every offensive lineman on scholarship $50,000 through NIL.

So, when the math is all said and done, for Texas A&M to spend that reported number, is not hard to believe. Good for the Aggies for having that kind of money and using it effectively.

Here is how it reportedly plays out in College Station:

  • A recruit is targeted for a specific recruiting class.
  • A “point donor” then heads the recruiting effort.
  • The “point donor” gathers other donors around him.
  • Those donors create an LLC.
  • The LLC, in turn for a commitment, sponsors the targeted recruit.
  • That recruit, upon arrival on campus, receives money from the LLC.
  • In turn, the recruit promotes the LLC and its “cause,” whether that be a charity or a business.

According to SlicedBread, the Aggies even have a backstop in place. The deals are structured to keep players in College Station for multiple years.

Contracts are set up as multi-year deals. If a player leaves, he leaves the money behind in Texas.

NIL has changed the landscape of college football and what A&M is doing is completely legal and clearly effective.

Continue reading story here

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January 4th 

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UCLA quarterback shuffle: UCF transfer out; DTR back in? 

From 247 Sports … The fact that UCF transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel flipped from UCLA to Oklahoma Monday could be taken as an indication that Thompson-Robinson could very well return, according to those same sources.

This last season, Thompson-Robinson threw for 2,409 yards and 21 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions, and completed 62% of his passes. He also ran for 611 yards.  His QBR of 153.4 was No. 1 among Pac-12 quarterbacks.

Thompson-Robinson currently sits at No. 5 on the list of all-time career UCLA passing yards, and if he returned he’d have a legitimate chance to challenge the record of 10,708 set by Cade McNown in 1995-1998.

DTR’s potential return to UCLA for 2022 would be a huge boost to the program. With UCLA having a fairly soft schedule in 2022, and probably returning upward of 11 other super seniors — and potentially combining that with the return of one of the most experienced and accomplished quarterbacks in UCLA history — UCLA could be poised for one of its most successful seasons in recent memory in 2022.

Bowl season winners and losers: ESPN cleans up; Alliance leverage suffers

From the San Jose Mercury News … Three dozen postseason games have been played, five have been canceled, and two remain.

Our look at the winners and losers across the landscape …

Winner: ESPN. With COVID creating pent-up demand in 2020 and COVID forcing people to stay home in 2021, the bowl season has produced impressive audiences for ESPN: All but two of the first 24 games registered one million viewers. Fans who believe there are too many bowls will be disappointed to learn the ’21 postseason has justified the current lineup and expenditure. All hail the Cheez-It Bowl, which drew almost five million viewers.

Loser: The ACC. Without Clemson competing on the playoff stage, we saw the ACC for what it has been for years: A one-team league. The conference went 2-4 in the bowl season and is just 2-10 over the past two years. Until Clemson’s victory over Iowa State last week, the ACC had lost 13 consecutive bowls. The Pac-12 sends its sympathies.

Winner: The SEC. After a few ugly losses early in the bowl season, the conference dominated the games that mattered most (combined scores of semifinal wins by Alabama and Georgia: 61-17) and is assured of its 12th national title in the past 16 years. (Georgia would be the conference’s fifth different school to raise the trophy in that span.) SEC hegemony over the sport has never been greater.

Loser: Alliance leverage. The SEC’s mastery of the semifinals showed just how much the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC need the playoff to expand — and underscore why the SEC would be perfectly content with the current system remaining in place for the next four years. If anything, commissioner Greg Sankey’s leverage within the CFP boardroom has gotten stronger in the past week. Why vote to expand unless he gets exactly what he wants?

Loser: The Pac-12. We outlined the unseemly results — and attempted to provide an explanation — in our Saturday Night Five. But the bottom line is this: The Pac-12’s last postseason win was Justin Herbert’s final game in an Oregon uniform, and he’s finishing Year Two with the Chargers.

Winner: The Big 12. Five months after Texas and Oklahoma announced their intentions to depart, the Big 12 holdovers carried the banner impressively: Baylor beat Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl, while Oklahoma State edged Notre Dame in the Fiesta. Overall, the league is 4-2 in the postseason.

Winner: Pac-12 officials. Referee Steve Strimling and his crews easily cleared the bar in the two highest-profile games of the season for Pac-12 officiating: The Oregon-Ohio State duel in Week Two and the Alabama-Cincinnati semifinal in the Cotton Bowl. They were good enough on New Year’s Eve to go completely unnoticed.

Continue reading story here

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January 3rd

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Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff: “We have some self-inflicted wounds that we have to recover from” 

From YahooSports.com …  I called George Kliavkoff on Sunday afternoon after he had returned from Pasadena to his home in Las Vegas, hoping for a candid postmortem of his first football season as Pac-12 commissioner. I asked the first question, and Kliavkoff did not stop talking for 13 minutes.

Obviously, this has been weighing heavy on me,” he said with a chuckle.

He had plenty to get off his chest after attending Saturday’s Rose Bowl, where he watched Utah cough up a 14-point halftime lead in a 48-45 loss to Ohio State.

The Utes’ late collapse brought the Pac-12’s bowl record to 0-5 and the league’s mark against other Football Bowl Subdivision teams to an abysmal 9-23.

Our conversation began with Kliavkoff’s fresh take on yet another forgettable Pac-12 football campaign and the systemic flaws he has identified that continue to keep the league a national afterthought. It ended with detailed discussion of the drama of College Football Playoff expansion, how the Rose Bowl can maintain its venerable place in the sport within its new format and USC’s hiring of Lincoln Riley.

You have made it very clear from the get-go that football success was a major priority for you. What have you learned from observing this first season?

George Kliavkoff: Well, I think the learning from the season is that we’ve got a lot of work to do. We evaluated our nonconference performance, and it’s statistically our worst since 1983. Obviously, that wasn’t helped at all by the unfortunate results in all of our bowl games. For me, that just means we have lots of work ahead of us, and it starts tomorrow. I’m looking forward to digging in.

I think there are some overarching issues that are kind of beyond our control that contributed, and I don’t mean this as an excuse for the on-field performance. But I do think we operate in some of the most restrictive states when it comes to Covid protocols, and I think that that had a significant negative effect on the field last year, and I think there was certainly a hangover and carryover this year from that. Early in the season, we had some teams that had played a couple of games in 20 months that were competing against teams that had full seasons the previous April, and I think our guys had less repetitions both in practice and real-game situations than most of their competitors. Hopefully, we’re coming out of that and that won’t be an issue going forward. I also think, if we look statistically at underlying youth and high school football participation rates over the last decade or so, those have dropped more significantly on the West Coast than they have in the Southeast or the Midwest or almost anywhere else in the country, and those are our primary recruiting territories. That’s a long-term issue that we have to deal with and figure out how to work around.

I think we also have some self-inflicted wounds that we have to recover from. One of those is we’ve got to fix our media rights deals, and that has an element related to the amount of money that we have to distribute to every school, but it also has elements related to competitive disadvantages as it relates to our control over what teams get to play during what time periods during the day, and it also has some negative impacts on recruiting because of the lack of distribution of the Pac-12 Networks and the inability for some folks to get to see those games, and I think that hurts recruiting, if we’re honest with each other. I have 30 months left on those contracts, and I’m counting every hour. The Pac-12 fans have my commitment that we’re going to fix that. At the most, it’s going to take 30 months. I’m hoping we can start fixing it sooner, although I inherited some extremely restrictive and tightly written contracts that make it difficult to make many improvements prior to the termination of those agreements. We’re already working on those solutions.

I’ve been very public about the fact that the conference has football as one of its priorities, and obviously there’s a component of that related to playoff expansion, which we’re uniquely in favor of. Everyone is in favor of some form of expansion, but we’ve been the most flexible in respect to what form that takes — eight or 12 teams, [conference champions as] automatic qualifiers or not, who gets the automatic qualifiers. … So there’s expansion, but there are other things within our control. Do we play nine or eight conference games? How do we structure divisions? If we have divisions, do they play in our football championship game or is it our two best teams? How do we schedule both conference and nonconference? How do we gain more control over what time of the day some of our teams play? All of those things over the next couple years are within our control, and we’re going to do everything we can to optimize all of those conferencewide decisions for CFP invitations.

Continue reading story here

The Athletic: Semi-final beatdowns enhance case for playoff expansion

From The Athletic … In the end, Cincinnati looked like, well, a College Football Playoff semifinal team, and that might be the problem.

The final score of the Cotton Bowl was 27-6, Alabama over Cincinnati. The yardage was lopsided, too. The way the game played out wasn’t quite as bad — it was an 11-point game entering the fourth quarter. As far as Alabama semifinal games go, this one was a bit more interesting than usual. More than Alabama’s previous semifinal blowouts against Michigan State, Washington and Notre Dame. In that sense, Cincinnati “belonged.”

So here we sit. Through 16 CFP semifinal games after Georgia’s 34-11 win against Michigan in the Orange Bowl later Friday, 12 have been decided by at least 17 points.

A common refrain in recent years has been that the BCS was right, that there aren’t four teams deserving of a shot at the national championship. But Alabama’s slow-but-methodical beatdown of the Bearcats was yet another example of why the Playoff needs to expand, and it needs to do so as soon as possible. Let’s hope the commissioners who will meet at the national title game realize that.

It won’t change the results at the end, but it’ll give us something to enjoy along the way.

Over eight years, the CFP has pulled off the remarkable feat of failing to give us good semifinal games while also devaluating the New Year’s Six games outside the CFP rotation. The result is that the sport’s highest-profile games miss the charm and excitement that comes with the regular season, and what should be the climactic moments of the season often feel like duds. Alabama fans are so used to this that most had cleared out before Friday’s trophy presentation even ended.

It’s not what anyone envisioned when the format was put into place with a 12-year contract in 2014. It was supposed to give more teams a chance and produce a new class of winners. Instead, it’s provided Alabama a second chance in some years, and the Tide have reached the championship game six times in eight seasons.

The night before this latest CFP blowout, Michigan State and Pitt played a Peach Bowl without two of the most exciting players in the sport, as Kenneth Walker III and Kenny Pickett opted out. Do you think that happens if both teams are in a 12-team playoff? Of course not. Ohio State’s star receivers opting out of Saturday’s Rose Bowl should tell you what that tradition means when your goal is a national title.

It’s why the format must expand again. Not to produce different champions, but to give us competitive, meaningful games and change the ultimate goal of the sport.

The 12-team model that is most favored by the sport’s power brokers would give us a slate of eight additional games, including a first round of teams 5-12 that assuredly would produce more exciting results than what we get now. By giving byes to the Alabamas of the world, we’ll get teams that are more even in talent on the field for something that matters.

And if we put those games on campuses, where the sport was meant to be played, we’ll get electric environments that’ll produce memorable moments and experiences.

Continue reading story here

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January 2nd 

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Pac-12 view from 40,000 feet: Some challenges can be fixed sooner rather than later

From the San Jose Mercury News

The scene from 40,000 feet

The Pac-12’s performance this season isn’t a one-off by any means — the conference has struggled for years relative to its peers. The playoff drought (last appearance: 2016) is but one manifestation of the collective sag.

Some of the challenges are outside its control; some are self-inflicted.

Some can be fixed sooner than later; some might never be fixed.

Some are rooted in missteps at the campus level; some can be hoisted upon the previous regime at Pac-12 HQ.

Yes, it would help immensely if USC became a top-10 program under Lincoln Riley.

It would help if the Pac-12 is able to convince the top prep talents in California to stay home.

It would help if the Big Ten agrees to drop to eight conference games and partners with the Pac-12 in an Alliance series.

It would help if the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams.

It would help if the university presidents and chancellors across the conference were committed to winning at the highest level and allocated the necessary resources.

And it would help if commissioner George Kliavkoff hits the jackpot with the upcoming media rights negotiations.

But the issues run deeper even than those cited above.

The Pac-12 has a pipeline problem and, in that regard, isn’t much different from the Big 12 and the Big Ten.

The overwhelming number of elite recruits — the four- and five-star prospects who win playoff games and dominate the NFL Draft — reside in the southeastern quadrant of the country.

It’s true of the skill position players, and it’s especially true of the offensive and defensive linemen.

There are more big, fast bodies in SEC territory than in all other Power Five footprints combined.

And the gap is expanding.

It’s expanding because families are moving from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, and it’s expanding because concussion fears have impacted high school football participation on the West Coast to a much greater degree than in the SEC.

The Pac-12 footprint simply has fewer football players in general and fewer big bodies in particular, with the declines accelerating.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, prep football participation in California dropped 11.7 percent from 2014 to 2018 (i.e., pre-COVID data).

Meanwhile, Florida experienced a decline of just 0.6 percent over that five-year span, while Georgia, another key feeder state for the SEC (and others), lost just 3.2 percent.

These demographic trends don’t create a hard ceiling for the Pac-12. They don’t prohibit the conference from competing for CFP berths and national titles in future years.

Pac-12’s non-conference woes not limited to bowl losses 

From the San Jose Mercury News … The postseason could not have gone any worse for the Pac-12: It participated in five bowls, lost them all, and had to cancel a sixth game just hours before kickoff (because of COVID).

There are myriad explanations for the 0-5 record: injuries, opt-outs, transfers and coaching changes all impacted performance.

But those challenges aren’t exclusive to the Pac-12. Bowl-eligible teams in every Power Five conference must combat roster turnover, yet only the Pac-12 failed to win a game.

Bowl records to date (listed by win total):

Big Ten: 6-4
SEC: 5-6
Big 12: 4-2
ACC: 2-4
Pac-12: 0-5

It gets worse, however.

The Pac-12 was 0-2 in bowl games in the COVID-disrupted 2020 season, meaning it hasn’t won a postseason game since Jan. 1, 2020, when Oregon beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl to conclude the 2019 campaign.

That’s back-to-back postseasons without a single win. In chronological order from Dec. ’20:

Texas 55, Colorado 23 (Alamo)
Iowa State 34, Oregon 17 (Fiesta)
Utah State 24, Oregon State 13 (LA)
Oklahoma 47, Oregon 32 (Alamo)
Wisconsin 20, ASU 13 (Las Vegas)
Central Michigan 24, Washington State 21 (Sun)
Ohio State 48, Utah 45 (Rose)

This marks the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Pac-12 lost more bowl games than it won.

In that span (2017-21), the conference is 8-22 in the postseason, with no playoff berths and a 1-5 record in New Year’s Six games. (Oregon over Wisconsin is the lone win. The losses: Utah, USC and Washington to Ohio State; Washington to Penn State; and Oregon to Iowa State.)

As forgettable as the 2021 postseason might have been for the Pac-12, we’re careful not to draw too many conclusions because of the roster upheaval that strikes so many teams, everywhere.

The most accurate assessment can only come from tallying the results of every non-conference game, from Week Zero through New Year’s Day.

So that’s exactly what we did …

Pac-12 vs. FBS opponents in the regular season: 9-18
Pac-12 vs. FBS opponents in the bowl season: 0-5
Pac-12 total record vs. FBS opponents: 9-23

The results include Oregon’s victory at Ohio State at one end of the spectrum and, at the other, five losses to Brigham Young, two losses to San Diego State and two to Utah State, plus the first loss to a Mid-American Conference team (Central Michigan) in Pac-12 history.

The facts are the facts, folks.

Flip the records (18-9, 5-0 and 23-9), and we’d be praising the conference for a stellar showing from start to finish.

But given the reality, no other conclusion can be drawn: The Pac-12’s collective performance over the sweep of the 2021 season was poor, if not awful.

Read full article here

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January 1st

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Utah can’t hold a 14-point lead in Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State as the Pac-12 finishes 0-5 in bowls

From ESPN … C.J. Stroud capped his record-setting offensive day by leading a 56-yard drive ending in Noah Ruggles’ 19-yard field goal with nine seconds to play, and No. 7 Ohio State beat No. 10 Utah 48-45 on Saturday night in the wild 108th edition of the Rose Bowl.

Stroud passed for a school-record 573 yards and a record-tying six touchdowns for the Buckeyes (11-2), who won the Granddaddy of Them All for the second time in four years with an offensive performance that shattered multiple long-standing offensive marks. Stroud’s yards passing and touchdowns both are Rose Bowl records, and he finished 3 yards shy of the record for yards passing in any bowl game.

Ohio State still had to rally from 10 points down late in the third quarter to get past the Pac-12 champion Utes (10-4), who got off to an electrifying start and stayed competitive even after star quarterback Cameron Rising went down with an injury with 9:56 to play in Utah’s first trip to the Rose Bowl.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba set the record for any FBS bowl game with 347 yards receiving while catching a school-record 15 passes and scoring three touchdowns. Marvin Harrison Jr. also caught three TD passes for the Buckeyes, who set a Rose Bowl record with 683 total yards.

Ohio State trailed 38-31 entering the fourth quarter despite the pyrotechnics of its passing game, but the Buckeyes immediately stopped Utah on downs at the Ohio State 31, and tied it on Harrison’s 5-yard TD catch with 10:12 left. Rising was injured moments later while getting sacked, the Utes had to turn to Bryson Barnes, who had never thrown a collegiate pass.

Smith-Njigba then made a 30-yard, over-the-shoulder catch for his third touchdown with 4:22 to play, but Barnes improbably led the Utes on a tying drive capped by a 15-yard TD pass to Dalton Kincaid with 1:54 left.

But Stroud coolly led the Buckeyes back downfield in the waning seconds, and Ruggles hit his easy field goal. Ohio State kicked off to Britain Covey, who already had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown earlier, but the Buckeyes smothered his cutback as time ran out.

Rising passed for 214 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 92 yards and a score, but he left the game with an apparent head injury after getting sacked.

With two top Buckeyes receivers opting out of the Rose Bowl, Smith-Njigba had a spectacular day that included TD receptions of 50 and 52 yards made 30 seconds apart — albeit with Covey’s TD return in between.

He broke Cris Carter’s 1985 school record of 172 yards receiving in a bowl game in the first half alone. He snapped Keyshawn Johnson’s 1996 Rose Bowl record of 216 yards receiving and then Terry Glenn’s 1995 single-game school record of 253 yards after halftime.

When Utah led 35-21 at halftime, the schools matched the 2012 Oregon-Wisconsin matchup for the highest-scoring half in Rose Bowl history — and they combined for 42 points and 443 yards in the second quarter alone.

The 24-year-old Covey’s sensational 97-yard romp through the Buckeyes in the second quarter was the first kickoff return for a touchdown in Utah’s entire bowl history. Covey, who also caught a 19-yard TD pass for the Utes’ first points, arrived at the school in 2015.

A sellout crowd dominated by Utah fans created a crackling atmosphere in the venerable stadium that opened in October 1922.

Continue reading story here

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December 31st 

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Washington State falls, 24-21, to Central Michigan in Sun Bowl

From ESPN … Lew Nichols III ran for 130 yards and a touchdown, leading late replacement Central Michigan to a 24-21 victory over Washington State in the Sun Bowl on Friday.

The Chippewas (9-4) ended a five-game bowl losing streak with their fifth consecutive victory this season. When Boise State opted out of the Arizona Bowl because of COVID-19 issues, Central Michigan switched about 300 miles east from Tucson, Arizona, to the Texas border city of El Paso.

Miami skipped the Sun Bowl for COVID-19 reasons as well. Central Michigan stayed in Arizona before bussing to El Paso the day before the game.

It was the first bowl victory for the Chippewas since beating Western Kentucky in the 2012 Little Caesars Bowl.

Washington State (7-6) never could get its offense going in the first half, finishing with just 53 yards and trailing 21-0 at the break. The Cougars dropped to 8-9 all-time in bowls.

The Cougars rallied in the second half behind backup quarterback Victor Gabalis, scoring three times to make it close. Gabalis was 12 of 23 passing for 180 yards and two TDs.

After a 13-yard scoring toss to Lincoln Victor pulled the Cougars within three points with 3:13 remaining, they had another chance starting at their 14-yard line with 2:41 remaining. Central Michigan stopped Joey Hobert a yard short on a catch on fourth-and-5.

Marshall Meeder kicked three field goals for Central Michigan, including a 52-yarder for a 6-0 lead and a 43-yarder for a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

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Arizona State falls 20-13 to Wisconsin in Las Vegas Bowl

From ESPN … Braelon Allen thought his week in Las Vegas was rather uneventful.

After all, it’s hard to really soak in Sin City when you’re only 17 years old. He’ll have to settle for his MVP award.

Allen ran for 159 yards and Wisconsin drained the final 9:57 off the clock with an 18-play drive that sealed a 20-13 victory over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Thursday night.

Allen, a true freshman from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, had 101 yards by halftime for his eighth 100-yard game of the season. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry this year, falling just short of joining NFL stars Melvin Gordon and Jonathan Taylor as the only Wisconsin running backs to average 7 yards per attempt over a full season.

“Being able to have the season that I ended up having, I can’t thank the guys enough for the support,” said Allen, selected the game’s MVP. “Keeping my head on straight and keep on encouraging me, just telling me my time was going to come. All the credit goes to the O-line and all the guys in the room.”

Graham Mertz finished 11 of 15 for 137 yards and a 7-yard touchdown toss late in the first quarter to senior tight end Jake Ferguson, who caught three passes for 33 yards for Wisconsin (9-4).

“Really proud of this group,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst said. “Took a lot of guys to get us that victory. It’s really what this season’s been. It’s a special team.”

The Badgers started 1/3 with Big Ten losses to ranked opponents Penn State and Michigan but answered with a seven-game winning streak to earn a 20th consecutive bowl bid.

“It was all of us just coming together, trusting each other, being confident in our prep and taking that extra step to perfect what we were doing,” Allen said.

Clinging to a seven-point lead, the Badgers took over at their own 3 with just under 10 minutes remaining and drove 90 yards to run out the clock in the first bowl game at Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels accounted for 199 total yards and threw an interception for the Sun Devils (8-5), who are 3-6 in bowls since 2011.

The Sun Devils were held to 219 total yards, including 102 in the first half. Wisconsin entered with the nation’s top defense, allowing 240.8 yards per game.

John Chenal had an early 8-yard touchdown run and Collin Larsh kicked a pair of second-quarter field goals to help Wisconsin build a 20-6 halftime lead.

Cristian Zendejas connected on a couple of first-half field goals and Daniyel Ngata scored on a short TD run in the third quarter for Arizona State.

“Disappointing outcome for us,” said Sun Devils coach Herm Edwards. “We got off to a bad start, I thought. Fell behind, and you don’t want to fall behind to a team like this. They chew a lot of time off the clock with the running game.”

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December 30th 

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Oklahoma races out to 30-3 halftime lead, settles for 47-32 Alamo Bowl win over Oregon

From ESPN … Bob Stoops and Oklahoma were winners together again, just like old times.

Kennedy Brooks ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns, Caleb Williams passed for three more scores and the 14th-ranked Sooners rode a dominant first half to a 47-32 win over No. 15 Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night.

The victory marked a brief and happy reunion for the coach and school he led to a national championship and 10 Big 12 titles from 1999-2016. Stoops was called off a golf course to come out of retirement to coach the bowl game after the abrupt departure of Lincoln Riley for Southern California.

“I’ve been out of it, came back,” Stoops said. “It was fun. More than anything, I appreciate the young people, the guys in the program, embraced me, were all in, and worked hard.”

Stoops earned career win No. 191 and boosted his bowl record to 10-9. Getting the latest victory was maybe the easiest part in all this.

Just as important were the tasks of steadying the program overall after Riley’s bolt west turned the program upside down. And he had to build a stable bridge to the new era under incoming coach Brent Venables, his former Oklahoma assistant who has spent the past nine seasons at Clemson.

“They’re getting a guy with passion, a guy that loves the game,” Stoops said. “A winner.”

And the coach who once earned the nickname Big Game Bob also turned into Big Hug Bob when he got to embrace son and Sooners receiver Drake Stoops after a second-quarter touchdown catch. Drake walked on at Oklahoma in 2018 after Bob had retired.

Oklahoma (11-2) raced out to a 30-3 lead as Brooks and Williams sliced up the Oregon defense. Brooks had 127 yards on just 10 carries in the first half with scoring runs of 16 and 29 yards, and another 40-yard run that set up Williams’ first touchdown pass to Drake Stoops.

Williams’ 55-yard TD pass to Marvin Mims Jr. hit the receiver perfectly in stride behind two Ducks defenders who were two steps late. Brooks then punched in the final score of the half.

The Sooners were so dominant at that point they looked like some of Stoops’ old teams of bulldozing running backs, defense and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks.

But Oregon (10-4) didn’t quit and made a game of it in the second half. The Ducks scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, two coming on long throws by quarterback Anthony Brown, to get within 44-25 by the start of the fourth. Brown finished with 306 yards passing and Travis Dye rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown for Oregon.

Continue reading story here

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December 29th

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CU 2022 non-conference opponents Air Force and Minnesota both win their bowl games

… Air Force 31, Louisville 28 … 

From ESPN … Air Force changed its strategy Tuesday for the First Responder Bowl, taking inspiration from its name and trying out its passing game. It worked.

Haaziq Daniels threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more to give Air Force a 31-28 win over Louisville.

Daniels completed 9 of 10 passes for a season-high 252 yards, leading a triple-option offense that came into the game averaging an FBS-best 340.8 rushing yards and the second-fewest passing yards at 82.5 per game.

The Falcons (10-3) didn’t throw a pass in their final game of the regular season, a 48-14 win over UNLV, and took a streak of 94 straight rushes from scrimmage into their second possession Tuesday.

“I figured we’d (pass) more then we did in the last game,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun joked. “I just think sometimes you get in games, you make adjustments.”

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield lamented his shorthanded secondary getting beat on man-to-man coverage. The Cardinals (6-7) were missing defensive back Kenderick Duncan (injured) and Greedy Vance, who is transferring to Florida State.

“Anytime you play a team like this, they’re going to take a shot,” Satterfield said. “They connect — they’re going to come back to it again.”

Senior Brandon Lewis had touchdown catches of 64 and 61 yards for the Falcons, finishing with five receptions for a career-high 172 yards. That’s the most receiving yardage for an Air Force player this season and the most ever in the Falcons’ 28 bowl games.

“I feel like I could have been doing this all season,” Lewis said. “I’m just happy that I did do it in my final game.”

Continue reading story here

… Minnesota 18, West Virginia 6 … 

From ESPN … While watching “Breaking Bad” for the first time last year, a particular scene caught P.J. Fleck’s attention.

The Minnesota coach had used television shows and movies — “Elf,” “Full House” and “Family Matters” among them — as motivation in the past and this one seemed a perfect fit for his defense.

In it, Walter White rises in anger during a discussion with his wife, Skyler, explaining no one was going to come knocking on their door and shoot them.

“I’m the one who knocks!” he shouts.

So does Minnesota’s defense.

Ky Thomas ran for 144 yards and a touchdown, Mar’Kiese Irving added 129 yards rushing and Minnesota shut down West Virginia to win the Guaranteed Rate Bowl 18-6 on Tuesday night.

“We wanted to be the defense that knocks and I thought we did that,” Fleck said. “It was just kind of a theme our guys rallied around.”

Thomas and Irving became the Gophers’ 1-2 punch after Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts sustained season-ending injuries. The two running backs carried most of the load offensively against West Virginia (6-7), accounting for 273 of Minnesota’s 358 total yards.

They were good, but Minnesota’s defense was flat-out dominating.

Controlling the line of scrimmage, the Gophers (9-4) overwhelmed the Mountaineers, holding them to 206 total yards to win their fifth straight bowl game, third under Fleck.

“They kind of grinded out a win and a credit to them — that’s how they did it all year,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “We just weren’t good enough today.”

It wasn’t much of a surprise. Minnesota finished fourth nationally in total defense, allowing 284.8 yards per game, and was ninth against the pass and run.

Continue reading story here

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December 28th

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UCLA backs out of Holiday Bowl hours before kickoff

From ESPN … UCLA was forced to pull out of the Holiday Bowl only hours before Tuesday’s scheduled game against NC State in San Diego because of COVID-19 problems within the Bruins program.

The school announced its decision around 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

“We are extremely grateful to the Holiday Bowl, students, fans, sponsors and the people of San Diego for their support this week,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said. “We are deeply disappointed for our young men in the football program that worked extremely hard for this opportunity. My heart goes out to them. The health and safety of our students will always be our North Star.”

The Bruins and Wolfpack were scheduled to play at Petco Park at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

“Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season,” NC State said in a statement.

The Holiday Bowl is the fifth bowl game to be canceled because of COVID-19 issues with at least one of the participating teams, joining the Arizona Bowl, Hawai’i Bowl, Fenway Bowl and Military Bowl.

The Wolfpack, who were trying to win 10 games in a season for only the second time in the program’s history, are the fourth ACC team to have their bowl game canceled. Boston College, Virginia and Miami were unable to play in their games because of COVID-19 issues.

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December 27th

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Sun Bowl back on: WSU to take on Central Michigan as a replacement for Miami 

From ESPN … Central Michigan will now play Washington State in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl on Friday, a move that allows both teams to play in a bowl game.

Both teams lost opponents to COVID-19 issues. Miami withdrew from the Sun Bowl on Sunday, sending the bowl scrambling for an opponent for the Cougars. That spot was filled by the Chippewas after their scheduled opponent, Boise State, withdrew from the Barstool Arizona Bowl on Monday. The bowl games and respective conferences worked out an arrangement for the Sun Bowl to move forward with a game, while the Arizona Bowl became the fourth bowl game to be canceled for COVID-19 reasons.

“We are grateful for the diligent work of the Sun Bowl Association, the Pac-12 Conference, the Mid-American Conference and Central Michigan University to ensure the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl will be played,” Washington State athletics director Pat Chun said in a statement. “A special thank you to CMU’s director of athletics Amy Folan and head coach Jim McElwain for prioritizing the bowl experience for both teams, especially the seniors who will be playing their final college football game.”

Washington State arrived in El Paso, Texas, for the Sun Bowl on Sunday, only hours before Miami announced it would not be able to play. Central Michigan was already in Tucson, Arizona, preparing for the Arizona Bowl. In a statement, the Sun Bowl said, “Being a four-hour drive from El Paso, the Chippewas are set up logistically to make the trip and compete on Friday.”

Washington State looking for last minute Sun Bowl replacement for Miami

From CBS Sports … Miami has withdrawn from the Sun Bowl due to COVID-19 protocols, the program announced on Sunday. The Hurricanes were set to square off with Washington State on Friday, Dec. 31 at noon ET on CBS in El Paso, Texas.

“We are extremely disappointed that our football team will be unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” Miami deputy athletic director Jennifer Strawley said in a statement. “But due to the number of COVID-19 cases impacting our roster we do not have enough student-athletes to safely compete, and the health and safety of our student-athletes will always be our top priority. This team worked hard all season to earn a bowl invitation and my heart goes out to our student-athletes, especially our seniors. I also want to thank Interim head coach Jess Simpson and our football staff for all of their efforts in preparation for this bowl game.”

Washington State has already arrived in El Paso for the Sun Bowl festivities. With a few days remaining until the annual postseason game, time — though very little — remains for a replacement opponent to be found for the Cougars.

“It is disappointing news that the University of Miami is unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” read a statement from Washington State. “We will work with the Pac-12 Conference and the Sun Bowl Association to hopefully find a replacement opponent for the game.

Continue reading story here

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December 26th

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Estimate: Collegiate athletes paid $579.4 million in first year of NIL

From the Seattle Times … University of Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is wrapping up a pretty good season. The 20-year-old redshirt freshman was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s overall and offensive rookie of the year. And now, he’s building his own brand.

The quarterback, who is studying business management — “just in case I don’t make it to the NFL or whatever” — said he hadn’t given much thought to trademarks until his agent, Shawn O’Dare, suggested he seek one for “Van Dime,” his newly earned nickname that’s a play on a popular term for a perfectly thrown pass.

“My media guys made a dime with my face on it,” Van Dyke said. “So Shawn had an idea to put out a shirt and it was selling pretty good. At first, I was like, yeah, it’d be cool to trademark it, but now I’m thinking it’s going to help me down the road, pop out my name, that trademark.”

Van Dyke is far from alone. More and more college athletes — whether they become future legends or merely show flashes of youthful brilliance — are registering protections based on their name, image and likeness. That’s thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for college athletes to receive compensation. They’re hoping to squeeze a few bucks (or, in rarer cases, a lot more) from their most ardent fans, typically by way of apparel sold through websites and social media-channels or partnerships with smaller brands.

Brands are on track to pay $579.4 million to student athletes in the first 12 months since the ruling, according to Opendorse, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based firm that works with more than 100 schools to help navigate the new landscape for athletes. National brands account for 65.7% of that activity, while local brands account for the rest. The average deal size for student athletes on Opendorse’s platform is $1,138.

“What was once reserved for the elite athletes is starting to expand to other athletes,” said Anthony J. Dreyer, a partner with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, whose focus includes intellectual property and sports disputes.

Continue reading story here

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December 24th

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Miami in danger of missing Sun Bowl tilt v. Washington State

From ESPN … As Miami continues to deal with COVID-19 protocols, the team will now arrive in El Paso, Texas, the day before the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl in an effort to play the game.

Washington State remains set to arrive Dec. 26 for the Dec. 31 matchup.

Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas told ESPN the Hurricanes are preparing to play as scheduled.

“Miami is doing everything they can to make sure they get here for the game, but COVID is dictating what can happen,” Olivas said. “We are not absolutely positive they are going to come, but they have told us, and I believe them, they are doing everything they can to play.

“I think they really want to be at the game; the way I understand it their results are headed in the right direction. We’re all optimistic they’re going to be here.”

Miami announced Tuesday that its team was in COVID protocols. Multiple players, affecting several position groups, tested positive, a source said, suggesting that a later arrival date was possible to enable the team to play.

Olivas said there has been no change to the schedule of events for Washington State despite the surge of COVID cases across the country. “As far as our plans, they’re continuing because we do have another team coming in, and we’re going to show them our hospitality that we’re famous for in El Paso,” Olivas said.

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December 23rd

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Pac-12 Alumni Council already a success

From the San Jose Mercury News … On Monday, the Pac-12 announced the formation of an alumni council designed to advise the conference on ways to strengthen the football product. The group includes luminaries from every school, including NFL Pro Bowlers like Tim McDonald (USC), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington) and Steven Jackson (Oregon State).  [CU’s representatives are Chad Brown and Mike Pritchard]

Merton Hanks, the chief of Pac-12 football operations — and a former Pro Bowler himself with the 49ers — will lead the council, which is focused on driving interest and attendance and crafting strategies for success (perhaps via scheduling).

The Hotline spent 24 hours seeking feedback from contacts across the conference who are on the front lines of recruiting and day-to-day management of the teams. Can the council make a difference? Is it merely for show? What’s the general reaction on the campuses?

Several sources questioned the material impact the council can have on three of the building blocks essential for a thriving football product:

Recruiting top prospects.

Hiring elite coaches (and coordinators).

Maximizing media value.

The sources stressed that any limitations in these areas wouldn’t come from a lack of desire or ideas by council members but, rather, the restrictions posed by campus budgets, NCAA rules and existing media deals.

— The Pac-12 is locked into its contracts with ESPN and Fox through the 2023-24 college sports season.

— The potential for a significant shift in non-conference scheduling depends largely on the Big Ten’s desire to make it work through the alliance partnership.

— The university presidents ultimately control spending on football.

— The alumni council cannot take an active role in recruiting or pay prospects for name, image and likeness opportunities.

So the council’s work will focus on matters of messaging, engagement and certain strategic areas, either on the campuses themselves or through social media channels.

And that’s just fine.

Because even if the entire endeavor were simply for show — and I don’t believe that’s the case, at all — the mere creation of the council would still be a victory for the conference.

Optics matter, and Pac-12 football needs all the help it can get on that front.

It needs the donors, fans and recruits to believe the conference office and the campuses want to win at the highest level … that football does, in fact, matter more than anything else … that the powers that be are willing to try new things and listen to new voices and admit what they don’t know and upgrade the football product during a momentous stretch in the evolution of the sport.

The council is a mammoth step forward for a conference that, until six months ago, valued NCAA championships in the Olympic sports as much as it did CFP appearances.

Put another way:

Not long ago, the Pac-12’s general counsel was in charge of the football operation.

Now, the conference is seeking input from former All-Americans.

That, folks, is progress.

Read full “Stock Report” here

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December 22nd

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Report: CU cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin hired by Oregon

From The Oregonian … Oregon is adding a veteran Pac-12 secondary coach.

Colorado defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin is expected to join Dan Lanning’s staff with the Ducks, according to The Athletic.

Martin, 48, has spent the past two seasons at CU, prior to which he was at Arizona in 2018-19, spent seven years at UCLA and three seasons at Washington.

He earned $300,000 this season in his second of a two-year contract at CU.

The Southern California native has consistently been one of the best recruiters in the Pac-12.

Continue reading story here

CBS Sports Grades First-Year Head Coaches: Jedd Fisch gets a D-

From CBS Sports … The 2021 college football season is almost in the books, which means it’s time to hand out grades for all of the first-year head coaches. Last offseason’s coaching carousel provided us plenty of intrigue heading into this season, including Steve Sarkisian’s move to Texas, Bryan Harsin’s decision to leave Boise State for Auburn and Josh Heupel’s jump up from UCF to Tennessee.

The Group of Five level had plenty of turnover as well, including the return of Butch Jones to the head coaching ranks at Arkansas State and Blake Anderson’s journey from Arkansas State to Utah State.

There were 18 coaching changes overall that took place from mid-October all the way through the end of spring. Let’s break all of them down and hand out some grades.

Arizona … Jedd Fisch … 1-11 … D- … Six of Arizona’s 11 losses were by double-digits, and for the most part, the Wildcats were the punchline to a very bad joke. Fisch was a disaster in his first year in Tucson, but it’s not like we expected much.

A few others … 

Texas … Steve Sarkisian … 5-7 … F … Texas is back … to being below .500 for the first time since the Charlie Strong era. What’s more, Sarkisian’s Longhorns lost to Kansas at home in the middle of a historic six-game losing streak. What an abject disaster in Austin.

Vanderbilt … Clark Lea … 2-11 … D+ … Lea went winless in conference play in his first season with the Commodores, and one of his two wins came over lowly UConn. The bar isn’t very high in Nashville, but he was nowhere close to reaching it. The road win at Colorado State was fun, though.

Kansas … Lance Leipold … 2-10 … B- … Leipold’s 2-10 record was par for the course at Kansas, but the Jayhawks did top Texas for their first road conference win since 2008. A glimmer of hope is something that Kansas fans haven’t had in a long time.

Utah State … Blake Anderson … 11-3 … A- … The Aggies dominated San Diego State in the Mountain West Championship Game and topped Oregon State in the LA Bowl. It was Utah State’s fourth double-digit win season since 2012, which tells you exactly what kind of standard there is in Logan.

Read full story here

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December 20th

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Pac-12 Announces Football Alumni Council (includes Chad Brown and Mike Pritchard)

Press release from Pac-12 … The Pac-12 announced today the formation of its first-ever Pac-12 Football Alumni Council, bringing together former and current football star student-athletes and coaches from all 12 universities to support Pac-12 football strategy and promotion efforts.

The Council is designed to leverage the knowledge and promotional power of prominent Pac-12 football alumni in support of the Pac-12’s football goals, which include elevating the football brands of all schools and the Pac-12, supporting recruiting efforts, and ultimately maximizing CFP selections and winning national championships.

Initial Pac-12 football alumni on the Council, which is intended to be inclusive and will expand its membership over time, are: Scooby Wright (Arizona), Brandon Sanders (Arizona), Eric Allen (Arizona State), Justin Forsett (Cal), Shane Vereen (Cal), Alex Mack (Cal), Chad Brown (Colorado), Mike Pritchard (Colorado), Mike Bellotti (Oregon), Tyrell Crosby (Oregon), Steven Jackson (Oregon State), Brandin Cooks (Oregon State), Toby Gerhart (Stanford), Zach Ertz (Stanford), Toi Cook (Stanford), Johnathan Franklin (UCLA), Marcedes Lewis (UCLA), Derrick Deese (USC), Tim McDonald (USC), Steve Smith (Utah), Lincoln Kennedy (Washington), Brock Huard (Washington), Dana Hall (Washington), and Jack Thompson (Washington State).

Led by Pac-12 Senior Associate Commissioner for Football Operations Merton Hanks, the Council held its initial set of meetings during the month of November and at the Pac-12 Football Championship Game in Las Vegas. Discussions focused on potential marketing, promotional, social and PR initiatives to build and enhance the Pac-12 football brand; concepts to help drive interest in and exposure for Pac-12 football along with attendance at Pac-12 football home games; opportunities for Pac-12 football alumni to promote the value of being a Pac-12 student-athlete and to generate greater interest in Pac-12 football through social media and other channels; and strategic opportunities to better position Pac-12 football for success through key operational levers such as scheduling. Implementation of select agreed upon initiatives is expected to begin the first quarter of 2022.

“The Pac-12 consistently produces high performing and marquee NFL players along with former football student-athletes who go on to incredibly successful careers both within and beyond the gridiron,” said Hanks. “We are committed to building deeper relationships with our football alumni through substantive engagement on football matters. Our Pac-12 Football Alumni Council boasts unmatched football knowledge and national fan followings, and we look forward to working with them to support Pac-12 football across both promotional and strategic levels.”

“It is such a privilege to be a part of an alumni council that understands the challenges ahead for college athletics and college football in particular,” said Brock Huard, former University of Washington star quarterback, six-year NFL veteran and current college and NFL broadcaster with FOX and host of College Sports Today on SiriusXM radio. “But more importantly, this group seeks to maximize the massive opportunities in front of the Pac-12 and its incredible institutions.”

The Pac-12 Football Alumni Council intends to meet several times per year around marquee events and important moments of the year.

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December 19th

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Breaking down Pac-12 schedules: Stanford toughest overall; CU with the toughest November

From the San Jose Mercury News … The 2022 Pac-12 schedule was released Thursday, months earlier than recent editions and with a twist that should aid the competitive balance.

Here’s the master grid. Let’s dig in …

— The schedule is created by the conference office, with Merton Hanks, the senior associate commissioner for football operations, in the lead role.

Hanks and his team create several models, which are presented to the athletic directors for a vote. The winning model doesn’t necessarily make every school happy, but it makes the fewest number of schools unhappy.

— One of the best features of the 2022 schedule is the distribution of byes, which are clustered across four weeks in the middle of the season for every team except Stanford.

Once conference play begins, teams coming off a bye face opponents also coming off a bye in all but one case: Stanford doesn’t have a bye the week before it plays Arizona State.

As a result, there are no instances in which a team that played the week before has a road game against a home team coming off a bye — a significant competitive disadvantage that has been present in Pac-12 schedules in previous seasons.

— There are no weeknight conference games until the middle of November, when Colorado visits USC.

However, that could change in coming months. The Pac-12’s network partners, ESPN and Fox, could move a maximum of three games to Friday night.

— Three teams face stretches in which they play three conference road games in a four-week span: Arizona State, Stanford and Washington.

— Every team plays back-to-back conference road games (with no bye in between) except UCLA and USC.

— Stanford has the most difficult schedule logistically, by far.

The Cardinal is the only team with a bye in September, forcing it to play 10 consecutive weeks. It faces USC, Oregon and Washington in the opening month, and it has two instances of back-to-back conference road games, although the second game of the second back-to-back is in Berkeley. (No other team plays back-to-back conference road games more than once.)

This year, USC had a bye before its mid-season trip to Notre Dame. Next year, Stanford visits South Bend after playing Washington, Oregon and Oregon State in back-to-back-to-back fashion.

— Toughest September: Oregon, which plays Georgia in Atlanta, Brigham Young and Eastern Washington at home and Washington State on the road.

— Toughest October: Stanford, which plays Oregon State and ASU at home and Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA on the road.

— Toughest November: Colorado, which plays Oregon and Utah at home and USC and Washington on the road.

Continue reading story here

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December 17th

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Pac-12 Recruiting Stock Report: Not a good week for the conference

From the San Jose Mercury News

Commentary on football recruiting …

Falling: Pac-12 reality

The single busiest day of the 2021-22 recruiting cycle produced several team-specific breakthroughs but was not kind to the Pac-12 in general.

Granted, there are good reasons for the poor overall performance, and the situation is extremely fluid (as we’ll address momentarily). But after the critical first day of the early signing period — the more impactful of the two signing periods, by far — the conference lags its peers in the talent acquisition process.

Only one team, Stanford, is slotted in the top 30 of the 247Sports national rankings, compared to 12 teams for the SEC, eight for the Big Ten and four each for the ACC and Big 12.

Two of the programs best equipped to compile elite recruiting classes, USC and Washington, are currently Nos. 81 and 89, respectively, behind the likes of Toledo, East Carolina and Arkansas State.

Falling: Pac-12 blue chips

Within the poor overall performance is a decided lack of blue-chip recruits — the four- and five-star prospects who are most likely to become impact players and land in the top rounds of the NFL Draft.

The Pac-12 has signed a total of 32 blue-chip prospects thus far. The SEC has signed 123; the Big Ten, 72.

Quantity matters in recruiting. A series of small classes can lead to problems with depth and an uncomfortable reliance on walk-ons.

But quality is critical, too, especially in pursuit of championships and playoff berths.

Thirteen recruiting classes nationally carry a per-player rating of 90 or better, according to 247Sports — meaning the classes are stocked with blue-chippers.

In the Pac-12, only Oregon clears that bar (although USC is close).

Falling: Numbers

Only two teams, Stanford and Arizona, signed at least 20 players, and the average across the conference was a mere 13.5 signees per team.

Those numbers help account for the Pac-12’s low rankings. The 247Sports algorithm takes quantity and quality into account, and the majority of SEC teams, for instance, signed 20 or more players.

It also suggests a shift in the nature of recruiting: More teams are leaning on the transfer portal to fill a reduced number of roster spots. (The free year of eligibility in 2020, as a result of COVID, affected the flow of scholarship players.)

We won’t have a true feel for the incoming classes until after spring practice.

Continue reading story here

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December 16th

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CU’s 2022 Pac-12 schedule: Buffs open at home v. UCLA on September 24th

From CUBuffs.com … The Pac-12 Conference released its schedule Thursday morning for conference football games for the 2022 season, with the University of Colorado’s final slate having five league home games along with six in all at Folsom Field to mark the stadium’s 99th season of service.

The non-conference schedule has been set since 2015; the Buffs will open the season at home on Friday night, Sept. 2 against TCU, which will mark the first-ever meeting between the two universities.  It will be only Colorado’s third season opener at home since 2009, but the second in a row on a Friday.  It will be the 27th straight year that the Buffaloes will have at least one non-Saturday contest.

Colorado will then hit the road for two non-conference games on the road, the first time that the Buffs will have a pair outside the state since 2011, when CU opened at Hawai’i and played at Ohio State in week four.  This time around, on Sept. 10 the Buffaloes will travel some 90 minutes south to take on Air Force in Colorado Springs for the first time since 1974.  A week later, CU will travel to Minneapolis to face the University of Minnesota on Sept. 17; the only previous game there between the two was back in 1992.

(The last time CU had two non-league games in succession on the road was when it was still in the Big Eight Conference; in 1994, Colorado played at No. 4 Michigan and No. 16 Texas back-to-back … the Buffs won both games and the college sports world knows how that game in Ann Arbor ended).

The Buffs will open Pac-12 league play at home for the seventh time since joining the conference in 2011, on Sept. 24 with UCLA the opponent for the third time in five years.  CU is 5-6 in Pac-12 openers, with two of those wins over the Bruins, (38-16 in 2018 and 48-42 in 2020, which was Karl Dorrell‘s first game as Colorado head coach).

CU begins the month of October on the road and will head to Arizona to take on the Wildcats on Oct. 1, as the Buffaloes will be gunning for a third straight win in the series.  Colorado’s lone bye week of the season follows on Oct. 8, which will see the second portion of the schedule begin with the Buffs remain at home for the annual Family Weekend affair against California on Saturday, Oct. 15.  Colorado then will head to the Pacific Northwest for the first of two times in 2022, facing Oregon State on Oct. 22; CU won a thrilling 37-34 double overtime win over the Beavers in Boulder in the school’s Homecoming game this past fall.

The Buffs then will return home for two games in a row, the first on Oct. 29 against Arizona State which will serve as CU’s 107th annual Homecoming game.  Colorado has won four of its last five games on Homecoming weekend, including a 40-16 verdict over the Sun Devils in 2016.  The next Saturday, the Buffaloes open November at home on the 5th against reigning North Division champion Oregon.

CU’s second Friday night affair of the season follows, with the Buffs heading to the landmark Los Angeles Coliseum to take on Southern California on Nov. 11.  Colorado is searching for its first-ever win against the Trojans (USC leads, 15-0, including 7-0 in L.A.); it’s the latest the two will play on the coast since the first meeting in 1927, which was on Nov. 12 that year.  CU will remain on the road, headed back northwest to play Washington on Nov. 19, tying for a third straight victory against the Huskies but for the first one in Seattle since 1989.

CU will then close the regular season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), hosting the defending Pac-12 champion Utah Utes in a game that will finish off Folsom Field’s 99th season (the stadium’s first game was on Oct. 11, 1924).  Utah has won nine of 11 games against CU since both joined the league, and it has enabled the Utes to overtake CU for the series lead, 33-32-3.

The Pac-12 Championship game is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 2, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Stanford and Washington State are the two conference opponents that will not appear on CU’s schedule for the second straight year; both will return for 2023-24 in place of California and Washington.

Season ticket renewals will go out in mid-March; single game tickets will be available for purchase in July.  Anyone interested in putting down a deposit for 2022 season tickets can visit this link: http://buffs.me/FB2022.

Colorado was 4-8 in 2021, including a 3-6 record in Pac-12 play which tied the Buffs for fourth place in the South Division.  At present, the Buffaloes are set to return 67 lettermen from that squad, including 17 starters.  Dorrell and his staff just signed 19 new high school prep performers to the program on Wednesday.

Television game selections and start times for the first three weeks of the season will be known by June 1, with all remaining games from Sept. 24 through the final week of the regular season to be made 12- or on occasion six-days in advance per contractual agreements with the Pac-12’s television partners, ESPN, FOX and the Pac-12 Networks.
 2022 COLORADO FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

 DateOpponent Site
 SEPT.    2 (Fri.)  TCU (N) BOULDER
 Sept.    10 at Air Force Colorado Springs
 Sept.    17 at Minnesota Minneapolis
 SEPT.  24 *UCLA BOULDER
 Oct.       1 *at Arizona Tucson
 OCT.      8 —BYE—
 OCT.   15 *CALIFORNIA (FW) BOULDER
 Oct.     22 *at Oregon State Corvallis
 OCT.   29 *ARIZONA STATE (HC) BOULDER
 NOV.    5 *OREGON BOULDER
 Nov.    11 *at Southern California (N) Los Angeles
 Nov.    19 *at Washington Seattle
 NOV.   26 *UTAH BOULDER
 Dec.      2 (Fri.)  Pac-12 Championship Game Las Vegas

*—Pac-12 Conference game.
N—Night game.
FW—Family Weekend.
HC—Homecoming.

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December 14th

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Chase Garbers, four-year starting QB for Cal, will not return for a fifth season

From Sports Illustrated … Chase Garbers, who has been Cal’s starting quarterback the past four seasons, announced on social media on Tuesday that he is giving up his final year of college eligibility and entering the 2022 NFL draft.

Garbers has already graduated from Cal, but because the pandemic-shortened 2020 season did not count against a player’s college eligibility he had the option of returning to Cal for one more season. He discussed those option recently.

It leaves Cal without much in the way of experienced quarterbacks at the moment. Grad transfer Ryan Glover started the one game this season in which Garbers was unavailable due to COVID restrictions. Glovers was ineffective and it is not clear whether he will return next year.

Kai Millner was a highly rated quarterback prospect when he signed with Cal, but he did not play this past season as a freshman. Zach Johnson came out of spring ball as the No. 2 quarterback, but he was passed over in favor of Glover in the Arizona game.

Continue reading story here

Momentum building (due to so many coaching changes) to move Early Signing Day

From CBS Sports … This week is Greg Sankey’s chance to boast, “I told you so.” The SEC commissioner was among those who spoke the loudest against the introduction of an early signing period.

It would impact the sanctity of high school state playoffs, he said. It would eliminate climate-friendly January campus visits at warm-weather SEC campuses, he said. It would impact bowl preparations, he said. It would distract schools in the middle of December coaching searches, he said.

Whoa … on that last note. The early signing period — the 72-hour window beginning Wednesday — has become a mushroom cloud rising up from the offseason horizon five years into its existence. What no one planned on are its massive unintended changes to the entire football calendar.

Increasingly, if you wait too long before the early signing date to make a coaching, roster or program move, you’re way too late.

Almost half of the 28 coaching changes in 2021 came during the season (13), a large portion of which were at least a tacit reaction to the early signing period. Athletic directors wanting to get a head start on recruiting and bound by that artificial mid-December deadline thought nothing of canning coaches in the middle of the season.

“It is what it is,” Sankey said last week at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in Las Vegas.

The powerful administrator seemed resigned to the current fates. In one way or another, all of his initial concerns — when the early signing day was instituted in 2017 — have been realized.

“We were clear, and it’s foreseeable,” Sankey said. “It was a concern of ours a decade ago. It was a concern of ours five years ago. It’s a concern today, but we have to deal with reality. Do others see what has happened as problematic? They have to see for themselves.”

That includes the knee-jerk reaction in an entire hiring cycle. If it wasn’t USC firing Clay Helton after two games, it was Texas Tech showing Matt Wells the door after eight games despite having a winning record at the time and being one game away from bowl eligibility for the first time since 2017.

Continue reading story here

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December 13th

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For Fun: Quotable Quotes from the 2021 season

From ESPN … Let’s look back at all the twists and turns of the year in college football in the words of the people who lived it.

— “I don’t think it’s going to take us as long as many might think. We’ve got a talented young roster. I think we’re going to hire a tremendous coaching staff. … This work will be all gas and no brakes. We will lay down on the hammer and go get it.” — Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, at his introductory press conference on Jan. 12.

— “You don’t need brakes when you run out of gas.” — Fox analyst (and current interim Oklahoma coach) Bob Stoops, before 4-7 Texas’ final game this season, against Kansas State.

— “About half of our game plan was out the window when they lined up how they did.” — Nebraska coach Scott Frost on his offense facing Illinois in coach Bret Bielema’s first game back in college football since 2017.

— “My father was a farmer, and there’s an old saying you reap what you sow. If you sow kindness, you reap kindness. If you sow jackass, you reap jackass.” — A lightsaber-wielding Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, after beating Florida and Dan Mullen, the year after Mullen wore a Darth Vader costume to his postgame press conference after beating Drinkwitz and Missouri.

— “In our world, we battle more academically prowess teams.” — Washington coach Jimmy Lake, on if he considered Oregon a recruiting rival.

— “Oh man, I’m not even thinking about Georgia. Kirby won 100-0 or whatever today.” — Arkansas coach Sam Pittman, after the Hogs’ 20-10 win over Texas A&M, the same day that Georgia, his next opponent, beat Vanderbilt 62-0.

— “People cheer. You go to any school in the SEC, except for maybe Vanderbilt, and people are cheering.” — Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott, on if the crowd was a factor when they played Auburn.

— “I mean, I completely hate candy corn. [I like] gummy bears for sure. The Haribo ones. It’s got to be the Haribo ones. And then the other thing I like is when they used to have the Sprees in a box. Outstanding. You have to go to the dollar store to find it, but I do. And then the latest … There’s still candy innovation, although a while back I found that Europe had better candy than we did overall. It’s because they have gummy everything. But they have those Nerds Clusters, which is new. Which is good! The Nerds Clusters is good. And then if you go chocolate, probably Almond Joy.” — Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, to SEC Network’s Alyssa Lang, on the field after beating Vanderbilt a week before Halloween.

— “They’re thinking they’re going to recruit better and they’re going to get more money. Anybody that thinks Texas’ football problems have been a result of league affiliation are completely delusional.” — Bowlsby, on why he thinks the Longhorns and Sooners were departing for the SEC.

— “There’s not a lot of empirical data out there to suggest this will work, let’s be honest. But I also think, if there’s a decision point, whether it’s football or anything else, you know, Scott’s a brother, he’s a Husker, and he’s a Nebraskan.” — Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts, on the decision to bring Frost back for another season with a $1 million pay cut and staff changes despite a 15-27 record in Lincoln to that point.

— “No. I mean, look, … unless that fairy godmother comes by with that $250 million check, my wife would want to take a look at it first. I’d have to run it by her.” — Kelly, on Nov. 22, on if could imagine a scenario where he would leave Notre Dame.

— “It’s a great night to be a Tiger. I’m here with my family, and we are so excited to be in the great state of Louisiana.” — Kelly, at his introduction as the new LSU coach, on Dec. 2.

Continue reading story here

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December 10th

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Utah’s Britain Covey (finally) calls it a collegiate career

From The Athletic … Utah wide receiver and return man Britain Covey has finally called it quits on his collegiate playing career, officially announcing his intention to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday. The first-team All-Pac-12 selection will play in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

An undersized quarterback at 5-8, 170 pounds out of Timpview High School in Provo, Utah, Covey appeared in all 12 games for the Utes as a true freshman kick returner and slot receiver, earning freshman All-American honors from numerous outlets. He’d leave the program for two years to serve a mission for his church before returning to form for the 2018 season.

After redshirting in 2019 due to a lingering injury suffered during the 2018 Pac-12 Championship, Covey still had another year of eligibility thanks to the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, but he opted not to return for 2022. He was a key component to Utah taking home its first-ever Pac-12 title last weekend, bringing in five catches for 72 yards.

While he made most of his highlights via returns on special teams, Covey racked up 181 catches for 1,977 yards and 10 touchdowns throughout his career as a receiver. He is Utah’s all-time leader in career punt return yards (1,092).

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December 9th

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Pac-12 commissioner proposes a bold (and common sense) scheduling plan

From TrojansWire.com … Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff entered a situation in which Larry Scott gave him a low bar to clear: “Just don’t be Larry Scott” gave Kliavkoff an easy public relations victory when he took over on July 1 of this year. Obviously, though, Kliavkoff had to show he could lead the Pac-12 and bring a fresh, strong voice to the conference and college sports.

He is certainly doing that.

If college football listens to Kliavkoff and adopts the idea he proposed on Wednesday, this sport will become a lot more fun, a lot fairer, and — crucially — more profitable on television. Dollars will be made if Kliavkoff’s new idea is embraced by ESPN and other college football television rights-holders.

Here’s the idea: Pac-12 commish George Kliavkoff calls scheduling college football games 12 years in advance “insane.” He hopes the Alliance members can create an inter-conference challenge format where dates get saved and non-conference games get scheduled the preceding January.

The scheduling model comes from the NFL, where a last-place team plays a comparatively softer schedule the next year, and a first-place team plays a tougher schedule the next year.

Makes sense, right? Utah, Pittsburgh, and Michigan are the champions of the three alliance conferences: the Pac-12, ACC, and Big Ten. They would play each other next year, with ESPN creating a special scheduling show in January to reveal the matchups and times. The ESPN scheduling show would give the network more television inventory. Pac-12 football would gain exposure and media attention in January. Intrigue surrounding college football scheduling would last into the offseason, “owning the calendar” the way the NFL has done for so long.

This idea makes far too much sense to be ignored or delayed. It’s such an obvious fix — not only the part about flexing non-conference games, and having Power Five conferences playing each other, but having a special schedule reveal show and doing other things to continuously promote Pac-12 football 12 months a year, every year.

George Kliavkoff is winning fans and admirers because he shows he understands television and the need to continuously promote a product with aggressive, original thinking and energy.

USC star wide receiver Drake London declares for the NFL Draft

... London was a one-man wrecking crew against CU this past season, with nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in USC’s 37-14 win in Boulder … 

From ESPN … USC’s Drake London, widely considered one of the best wide receivers in college football this season, announced Wednesday that he would be forgoing his senior season and declaring for the 2022 NFL draft.

“It’s been a true blessing to compete as a Trojan over the past three seasons,” London wrote in a statement addressed to “Trojan Family” and posted to Twitter. “You welcomed me with open arms and I will forever be grateful for the love you’ve shown me. I will never forget our time together and all the people I’ve forged lifelong bonds with. To my coaches and teammates, thank you for pushing me each and every day. I would not be in the position I am today without you all.

“I will forever be a Trojan and cannot wait to represent the best brotherhood in the NFL. Fight On!”

London is No. 7 overall on Mel Kiper’s latest Big Board, as well as his No. 2-ranked receiver. At one point this season, London was as high as the No. 4 overall prospect on Kiper’s board. The junior wideout leaves USC having amassed over 2,000 receiving yards with 15 touchdowns in three seasons.

“I never saw it when I got here,” London told ESPN back in October of his success and NFL future. “I thought I was just gonna be a role player, in the background, just learning from the older guys. But [coaches] threw me in the fire and ever since then, I’ve been looking at it like, this could be real, this could be possible. And now that [this season] is going on? It’s definitely a surprise.”

Continue reading story here

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December 8th

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CBS 1-130 rankings: Half of the Pac-12 ranked 80th or lower 

From CBS Sports … A 57-day run as the No. 1 team in the CBS Sports 130 — our comprehensive ranking of every FBS college football team — has come to an end for Georgia. The new team at the top is a program arguably the most familiar with the No. 1 spot in these rankings, Alabama, after the Crimson Tide knocked off the Bulldogs in Atlanta on Saturday to claim the SEC championship.

The Crimson Tide started the year at No. 1 in the CBS Sports 130 but fell to No. 4 after losing at Texas A&M as a nearly three-touchdown underdog. Alabama moved up and down throughout the top five as it turned in both easy wins against quality opponents (Ole Miss) and head-scratching nail-biters against teams it was favored to beat handily (LSU). Sometimes Alabama would drop, other times it was jumped by another contender after an impressive performance. But from the moment the Aggies upset the Tide, Georgia held the top spot in our rankings.

… We will collect ballots from the experts at CBS Sports and 247Sports again after the bowl season for a final 2021 ranking of every FBS team. In doing so, teams will have a chance to improve or give up positioning, sometimes in dramatic fashion, before we cement our opinions for the season. For now, however, here’s how the entire FBS landscape stacks up from No. 1 all the way to No. 130.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 11 … Utah
  • No. 15 … Oregon
  • No. 35 … UCLA
  • No. 41 … Arizona State
  • No. 43 … Oregon State
  • No. 46 … Washington State
  • No. 82 … Cal
  • No. 85 … Washington
  • No. 86 … USC
  • No. 93 … Colorado
  • No. 94 … Stanford
  • No. 123 … Arizona

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December 7th

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Oregon loses three top commitments from the Class of 2022

From ESPN … Oregon lost three commitments on Monday after it was announced Mario Cristobal was no longer the Ducks’ head coach. ESPN 300 offensive tackle Kelvin Banks, quarterback Tanner Bailey and linebacker T.J. Dudley all announced they were no longer committed to Oregon.

Banks is the highest ranked of the three at No. 33 overall. He’s a 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman from Summer Creek High School out of Houston, Texas, and had been committed to Oregon since June.

Bailey is the No. 139 recruit and the No. 6 pocket-passer out of Gordo, Alabama. He isn’t ready to say what schools have reached out to him, but Bailey said there have been a number of schools that showed interest. The quarterback said he, along with the rest of the commitments, were surprised by the move and had no idea Cristobal was leaving.

“I didn’t see the coach Cristobal thing happening, I don’t think any of the recruits did, either. I think the coaches were confident he would stay, but I think at the end of the day, we all know coach Cristobal and his situation,” Bailey said. “He’s a great husband, dad, coach, mentor, so everyone has a ton of respect for him. I think that decision is best for him being an alumni, his family’s down there, his wife’s family is down there. So, I think that’s the best choice for him and we totally understand it and respect it.”

Bailey said he isn’t going to rule out signing early on Dec. 15, but that given the timing of Cristobal’s move, it doesn’t seem likely he would have enough time to pick a new team. Bailey is now the only uncommitted ESPN 300 quarterback in the class, so he will likely have plenty of options.

Dudley is ranked No. 232 overall, and is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker from Montgomery Catholic High School in Montgomery, Alabama.

With the three decommitments, Oregon is now down to eight ESPN 300 commitments and 16 total commitments.

Oregon star DE Kayvon Thibodeaux declares for NFL draft; to skip the Alamo Bowl

From ESPN … Star Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux said Monday night he will forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.

Thibodeaux will not play in the Ducks’ bowl game, a matchup against No. 16 Oklahoma in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, and instead will begin preparations for the draft, in which he could be selected with the top pick.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Thibodeaux rated No. 1 overall in his latest Big Board. Fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has him as the No. 2-rated prospect in this year’s class.

“Thank you for embracing a kid from South Central, Los Angeles and giving me the opportunity to transition into a man ready to take on the world,” Thibodeaux wrote as part of a post on social media, in which he thanked “the University of Oregon, the city of Eugene, and Duck Nation for their unwavering support.”

The 6-foot-5 Thibodeaux was the Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year in 2019 and a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last year after arriving at Oregon as the No. 1-ranked player in the class of 2019. He played 10 games this season — an ankle injury slowed him early — and finished with seven sacks and 49 total tackles.

Thibodeaux was also at the forefront of players’ ability to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. He signed a handful of deals, including one with eBay, another with United Airlines and a six-figure memorabilia deal. Thibodeaux also released an NFT in partnership with Nike founder Phil Knight and sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield that sold for $100 per unit. In September, Thibodeaux launched his own cryptocurrency called $JREAM.

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December 6th

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ESPN Predictions for Pac-12 bowl games (Pac-12 to go 1-5)

From ESPN … You no longer have to feign excitement about the College Football Playoff selections, the New Year’s Six bowl pairings or the entire rundown of bowl matchups.

The most exciting part of the first Sunday in December is here: my instant bowl predictions for all 44 games over the next five weeks.

There might have been a time where I dreaded doing these, especially amid all the news in the sport. But as the years have gone on, I have warmed to this exercise, mainly because I’ve improved at it. Indeed, last year’s truncated bowl quick picks produced a 18-8 record, coming off my 32-9 bonanza in 2019. Sure, there were some off-base forecasts (Louisiana Tech over Georgia Southern, Houston over Hawai’i), but also some strong ones (Oklahoma State over Miami with close score predictions).

I’m even getting a few emails from people wagering on my picks (not recommended).

The easy part about my predictions is that they’re straight up, and are made before most point spreads are listed. The challenge here is the timing, both the expediency of making picks and not fully knowing about player opt-outs, coaching changes and other factors that will impact the matchups. As always, motivation level is a big part of the assessment.

With those disclaimers out of the way, the time has arrived.

Ready, set, bowl!

Rose Bowl … Utah v. Ohio State

Utah will try to mimic Michigan’s brilliant game plan against the Buckeyes, as the Utes and Wolverines are similarly constructed. Kyle Whittingham’s team surged down the stretch and twice bullied Oregon at the line of scrimmage. Ohio State poses a much tougher task, especially with a passing game that, unlike Oregon’s, can truly stress the Utes’ secondary. Utah could be the more motivated team, too, appearing in its first Rose Bowl, while Ohio State had set its sights on a third straight CFP appearance. But the Buckeyes typically rise up well in bowls, and quarterback C.J. Stroud will look to make a statement before a 2022 season when the team returns to the national title mix. Utah takes an early lead, but Ohio State pulls away in the second half behind Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Prediction: Ohio State 35, Utah 26

Los Angeles Bowl … Oregon State v. Utah State

The Beavers are bowling for the first time under coach Jonathan Smith, and the first time overall since the 2013 season. Oregon State has a signature win over Pac-12 champion Utah but didn’t finish the season nearly as well as Utah State, which thumped San Diego State to win its first Mountain West title since 2012. Other than a no-show against Wyoming, coach Blake Anderson’s Aggies team played very complete football down the stretch. Oregon State’s defense isn’t reliable enough to get my pick here, as I like Logan Bonner (3,560 pass yards, 36 touchdowns) and Deven Thompkins (96 receptions for 1,589 yards) to have big days in L.A.

Prediction: Utah State 39, Oregon State 35

Holiday Bowl … UCLA v. North Carolina State

UCLA has made only one previous Holiday Bowl appearance (2012), which is one more than NC State. The Bruins didn’t produce the breakthrough season that they hoped for in Year 4 under Chip Kelly, but they finished with three straight wins and can record their first bowl victory since 2015. The location certainly favors UCLA, as NC State will be traveling across the country, but the matchup leans toward the Wolfpack, who boast a significantly better defense than the Bruins. NC State should be able to make enough stops against Zach Charbonnet and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. I don’t see UCLA keeping Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (3,433 pass yards, 35 touchdowns) in check. Leary throws four touchdowns and NC State wins.

Prediction: NC State 41, UCLA 35

Alamo Bowl … Oregon v. Oklahoma 

Amid all the bowl predictions fun, I took a break to watch coaches Mario Cristobal and Bob Stoops on a Zoom call for the Alamo Bowl. Cristobal, the subject of Miami rumors all weekend, looked understandably uncomfortable, while Stoops seemed completely at ease. He’s still ticked off about Oklahoma’s controversial loss to Oregon in 2006, and hilariously ended the call by wishing Cristobal luck on the recruiting trail. Oregon was blown out twice in its last three games. The Ducks are beat up on both sides of the ball and could be disinterested for this matchup after spending most of the season in CFP contention. Big Game Bob wins a not-so-big game in his return to the Sooners’ sideline.

Prediction: Oklahoma 35, Oregon 24

Las Vegas Bowl …. Arizona State v. Wisconsin

Both teams certainly entered the season with loftier goals, but both also should be excited to be in Las Vegas to close out the year. Wisconsin should have a strong contingent of fans, and Vegas is a short trip for most ASU fans. The Sun Devils got a boost with the return of quarterback Jayden Daniels for the 2022 season, but they will face a linebacker-loaded Wisconsin defense that ranks No. 2 nationally in efficiency. The key will be whether Wisconsin controls tempo with Braelon Allen and the run game and doesn’t put quarterback Graham Mertz in difficult situations, or ASU gets its own ground game going. Ultimately, Wisconsin’s defense will be the difference in a close one.

Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Arizona State 23

Sun Bowl … Washington State v. Miami

Miami has lost 10 of its past 11 bowl games, including two defeats in the Sun Bowl (one against Washington State in 2015). After all the turmoil around the Hurricanes program, I have a hard time seeing Miami players and coaches being too excited for a late December trip to El Paso. Washington State, meanwhile, finished the season playing very well and is excited for the future under coach Jake Dickert. The quarterback play in this one should be fun with Miami emerging superstar Tyler Van Dyke and WSU’s Jayden de Laura. Although both teams played well during the second half of the season, the vibe around the Cougars seems much better at the moment.

Prediction: Washington State 34, Miami 28

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December 5th

… Foe Pause … 

Bowls set for six Pac-12 teams

Los Angeles Bowl …  Oregon State (7-5)/Utah State (10-3) – December 18th – 5:30 PM – ABC
Holiday Bowl … UCLA (8-4)/NC State (9-3) – December 28th – 6:00 PM – FOX
Alamo Bowl … Oregon (10-3)/Oklahoma (10-2) – December 29th – 7:15 PM – ESPN
Las Vegas Bowl …  Arizona State (8-4)/Wisconsin (8-4) – December 30th – 8:30 PM – ESPN
Sun Bowl … Washington State (7-5)/Miami (7-5) – December 31st – 10:30 AM – CBS
Rose Bowl …  Utah (10-3)/Ohio State (10-2) – January 1st – 3:00 PM – ESPN

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December 4th

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USC finishes with identical record as CU after 24-14 loss to Cal

From ESPN … Trey Paster scored on a 55-yard fumble return in the second quarter, California’s defense made a clutch stop near the goal line, and the Golden Bears held off Southern California 24-14 in the season finale for both teams.

Christopher Brooks added a pair of short scoring runs on a day when Cal’s offense struggled reaching the end zone to help the Golden Bears (5-7, 4-5 Pac-12) to their first home win against the Trojans since 2003.

“It means a lot to end the season with a victory,” said Cal quarterback Chase Garbers, who was 18 of 21 for 177 yards. “Just the way this whole season has gone and what our team has done, t shows how big of a family we are. Had some ups and downs but came out on top tonight. The defense played lights out.”

Jaxson Dart, making his third start for USC (4-8, 3-6) in place of injured quarterback Kedon Slovis, threw a 45-yard touchdown before being forced out with an injury in the third quarter.

It was USC’s final game before new coach Lincoln Riley takes over next season.

The game – which came a day after the Pac-12 championship game – was originally scheduled for Nov. 13 but was postponed three weeks due to COVID concerns within the Bears program.

Cal’s defense has been up and down all season but came through with enough big plays hand USC its fourth straight loss – the Trojans’ longest skid since 2001.

“You miss two field goals, fumble twice, don’t capitalize in the red zone, just little things,” USC interim coach Donte Williams said. “Way too many mistakes that lead to the outcome of that game, which is a loss.”

Continue reading story here

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December 3rd

… Foe Pause … 

Utah mauls Oregon – again – to win Pac-12 title 

From ESPN … Devin Lloyd returned an interception for a touchdown, Cam Rising threw for another score and No. 14 Utah clinched the first Rose Bowl berth in school history with a 38-10 victory over No. 10 Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night.

This game was a near carbon copy of the one in Salt Lake City two weeks ago when the Utes (10-3, No. 17 CFP) jumped out early and won 38-7.

While that game all but ended the playoff hopes for Oregon (10-3, No. 10), the rematch delivered coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes the Rose Bowl prize they had been seeking since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.

It capped an emotional last 12 months for the Utes program that has dealt with the deaths of two players.

Utah had lost its first two trips to the conference title game, including two years ago to Oregon, but left little doubt this time.

Rising engineered a TD drive on the opening possession after converting a sneak on fourth down near midfield. Tavon Thomas capped it with a 2-yard run.

Lloyd then returned an interception 34 yards for a score later in the first quarter and Utah put the game away by scoring twice in the final 27 seconds of the first half.

Rising hit Dalton Kincaid on an 11-yard pass with 27 seconds left. Then Malone Mataele intercepted an ill-advised pass from Anthony Brown to set up Jadon Redding’s 50-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it 23-0.

Thomas and T.J. Pledger added TD runs in the second half for the Utes to the delight of the huge contingent of Utah fans among the 56.511 in attendance for the first title game in Las Vegas.

Utah’s Kyle Whittingham on retirement: “Not even contemplating that right now”

From KSL.com …  It was almost a throwaway question at the end of Kyle Whittingham’s weekly press conference Monday.

Has the 17-year head coach at Utah considered retiring if his team can get to the Rose Bowl and win? Not your average question days before Utah looks to win its first-ever Pac-12 Championship against an Oregon opponent ready for a rematch after a 38-7 drubbing less than two weeks ago.

But the question had merit, and it came after a Sports Illustrated report cited “industry sources” who believed that the all-time winningest coach at Utah had considered the option of retirement should his team win Friday (6 p.m. MT, ABC) in Las Vegas and then go on to beat a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl. A week ago, Jon Wilner gave Whittingham a 65% chance of retiring.

What a way to go out after more than 25 years at one program in a profession that’s always in flux — Whittingham remains the second-longest active head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I’m having as good of time right now as I ever have, so I’m not even contemplating that right now,” Whittingham said.

Not exactly a no to the question, but it’s not something he’s considered — at least publicly.

Some of that decision changed as the team started to win — Whittingham said it all came in Week 4 when the team found its identity and everything started to click for a team with a lot of promise and preseason expectations. It was also a time when the team suffered its second tragedy in less than a year’s time, which brought the team together in a way nothing else could.

“It’s no fun to not win games and have — in my opinion, we were underachieving,” Whittingham said. “That really gets under your skin, but once we started to have things click and you can see we’re trending in the right direction, that really makes it a lot more enjoyable to come to work every day.”

His team is now one win away from the Rose Bowl and a potential boost to a program that has been trending in the right direction for the last few seasons under his guidance. With the wins comes better recruits; and with better recruits often comes a better chance to win more games. That’s an attractive position for Whittingham to be in moving forward.

Whittingham has been vocal about not wanting to coach past 65 — he turned 62 last week — and had retirement language added to his recent contract extensions. Should he choose to retire, Whittingham would become a “special assistant” to the athletic’s program where he will serve as a consultant and participate in “speaking engagements, fundraising, and meetings with donors and prospective donors,” among other duties.

CFB Blue Bloods set record for futility in 2021

From On3.com … Four college football blue bloods set a group record this year. But it’s not a record for which they’d like to be remembered.

For the first time, per Matt Brown of The Athletic, Florida State, Nebraska, Texas and USC all finished the season with a losing record. Florida State and Texas finished 5-7, Nebraska finished 3-9 and USC is 4-7. In total, that is a 17-30 record from four of the country’s most storied programs.

… While Nebraska has the worst record of the four teams, they were likely the most competitive team in the group. The Cornhuskers became the first team in college football history to lose nine games by single digits. Their largest margin of defeat was a 26-17 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 6. Additionally, Nebraska finished with a score differential of zero in the Big Ten. They scored 239 points, and they gave up 239 points all on the way to a nine-loss season. Head coach Scott Frost will return for another year, but he may start 2022 with the hottest seat in the country.

USC is the only team on the list that is not yet done with their 2021 season. The 4-7 Trojans are slated to play Cal on Saturday as their final regular season game, a game which was rescheduled for Dec. 4 after it was postponed due to COVID-19 issues for the Bears. After firing former head coach Clay Helton in September, USC’s issues this season largely were not on the offensive side of the ball. Their defense, however, was nothing short of abysmal. The Trojans allowed 32.5 points per game, which was last in the Pac-12.

Read full story here

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102 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes – December, 2021 – January, 2022”

  1. I have a hard time believing anyone takes these predictions this time of year seriously. Yet the publications must make money and the guys who concoct this stuff must get paid. I have more respect for the janitor that cleans theses predictor’s offices. At least they are doing something productive

  2. Hard to bet against the 7 teams he picked.

    Buffs need to wind at least 6 and get selected to some other bowl where a team can’t qualify .

    Go Buffs.

  3. So the NFL Scouts and GMs are the ultimate judges of talent? Pffft
    Some how Branch had to wait for the 4th round and I think Brady went even later than that.

  4. kind of another blow seeing Minnesota at 19 ……….after Sanford.
    but
    once again all this prediction stuff is pretty much garbage.

    1. Like he said, it’s all about the data gathering. Players only not coaching changes.

      Anyway it’s junk crappola.

      Says this is it but it may not be.
      Sounds like ??

      Buffs

  5. Oregon’s new DC and Associate head coach both have histories of being investigated by NCAA

    Nobody cares…………

    Go Buffs……………….Do Good on all fronts……………..
    Win

  6. I like the Iowa bill. It would simplify things and possibly help bring a rational level to player compensation…ie no million dollar deals for one player.

    I was being paid by CU as a grounds crew employee while I was enrolled. …so why not?

    Of course Iowa wont pass it because they are probably scared none of the AL or OHSt types wont go with anything that will limit their spending and that will leave them further in the dust.
    This could be the component that keeps things a little more on a financial level for teams that dont go with a super conference.

  7. I don’t think this is a cautionary tale (poll) for the good players entering the transfer portal, as it looks like 3-5 players from CU in the transfer portal will either end up at USC or Oregon.

  8. Herm on the hot seat
    Thats a good one
    The admin has basically condoned the cheating and in spite of blatant evidence the NCAA has disappeared. Maybe because of what was worse cheating that has now become legal with the NIL no one cares anymore.

  9. Rittenburger is a big 10 flunky.
    He got this job when they fired all the high paid people doing this job.

    He is like that adam guy on espn who professes to be an insider but he just repeats stuff other people have already said

    Up his buffalo

  10. I think the player safety/# of games discussion is interesting, and valid. Simple solution would seem to be to drop a creampuff non-conference game or two, so the regular season is only 10-11 games, not 12. Sure, that hurts the little guys getting pay days, but, as others have pointed out, the Ivy League can now buy their way back to national championships, if they want to, anyway (although Southwestern Alcorn State may not be able to).

    And, if the idea is to continue drawing eyeballs to continue making more billions, losing those games in exchange for meaningful ones that theoretically are more competitive drives that bus, too.

    Go Buffs

  11. So Tyson (chiken family?) is “Bear” Bryant’s great something or other. Now days, since Saban, half the Tide fans would have to be reminded who Bryant was.
    Reminds me of one of my favorite Buff memories. Before the Liberty Bowl Bryant asked who Bobby Anderson was….after which Booby answered by running over his tobacco chewing noodlers for 240 plus yards.
    If Tyson ever faces the Buffs hopefully he will eat his first serious burrito the night before.

  12. Dang
    Sounds to me like Scott was working for the networks under the table….and most likely Dish.
    What a disaster. Can he be sued?
    Now about the PAC borrowing money. This sounds like an earache thing. I worked most of life to eliminate my debt. Mission accomplished and it feels great. If I ever have to fill out another loan ap I might shoot myself.
    If the PAC decides to follow that financial wizard, Wilner’s advice and out themselves further behind the 8 ball how will that money be distributed fairly?
    CU could certainly need more money to pay assistants but would Oregon get more here too? Especially after they poached Leavitt and Martin for the big bucks?
    Recruiting is done so much electronically these days I don’t see much increase needed in those budgets….especially for teams who have a name that recruits for them like USC and the Ducks in football or AZ in hoops. It would be especially disgusting to award ASU with more money to recruit with right now.
    and connected to recruiting why would a school like Oregon (or even CU) want rival schools to get more money for facilities when it would eliminate their recruiting advantage in that area?
    Buy their way out of games that dont maximize playoff potential?
    wow
    Thats Wilner pumping for USC again. Once again that would just help increase the distance between the haves and the have nots in the conference.

    1. I think he meant individual universities should loan money to the athletic department based on the promise of future increases to the media deals. I don’t he meant the conference giving loans or advances to the schools. I could be wrong.

  13. who is left for UCLA after the coaching crop has been well picked over?
    Will they do a Michigan/Harbaugh thing and finally decide to keep him around?
    Dont know if they reduced Harbaugh’s compensation but you would think they would do that to anyone they were considering dumping.
    OK so thats not being realistic.

  14. Ah, so the ACC is trying to force Notre Dame’s hand w/ holding at an expansion to eight, hoping they will have to join to ensure making it. We’ll see how that goes. I’m guessing they’ll join a conference/super conference soon anyway.

    My preferred plan – regardless of whether 8 or 12 team playoff expansion – is all conferences go to 9-game in conference schedule. I think that keeps alive many historic conference rivalries. It also helps the SEC not go undefeated so easily. Pac and Big and ACC can still do cross conference scheduling. The FCS teams get hurt a little, maybe, but so what? And maybe not b/c there’s still a spot or two for P5 and G5 match ups, as well as FCS.

    Conference champs are AQ. G5 gets at least one AQ from conference champ. Then ranking.

    Basically, I’m with Kliavkoff, in that there are a lot of good options, including the Pac going to only 8 conference games, but I like that less. Sticking to some old traditions, I guess. And, the Rose Bowl and NY6 bowls can also all keep their places w/ the new playoff.

    Go Buffs

  15. When your talking $20-30 million coming from boosters each year, I’m not sure Alabama has that kind of horsepower….

    1. That’s what I was thinking w.r.t. the Saban comment, and concern about Texas money. But I was also thinking eventually Yale, with all those wealthy Wall St alums, might have the top football team when this thing plays out.

  16. Nick saban and Kirby smart are saying NIL may shift the balance of power? Ok.

    And back to that atm story, we learned the eastern Michigan offered Caleb williams a million dollar nil deal, and did they also mention something for jackson state? But somehow, no details on any of the atm’s $20-$30 million booster spend on nil?

    Still not buying that story, and how that was presented.

    Go Buffs

  17. We all knew Saban was a smart guy but it seems like he just had an epiphany. Wasnt he bragging about the NIL money at Alabama earlier?
    There is too much of a good thing? Killing the golden goose by killing every other team year in and year out has already turned the CFP into reruns. I quit watching it 3 years ago.
    I’ll leave it up to the “experts” on how they are going separate the money form “inducements.”
    Color me skeptical that if they do anything it all it will still leave an advantage to the already haves.

  18. I’m not buying that A&M story. At least not as outlined. It’s conceptually feasible, and sure, there are plenty of deep pockets to make something like that happen, without caring about ROI, but the logistics, and the money allegedly disbursed, seems cumbersome. Much simpler ways to accomplish the same thing. They’ve already been doing that for years. Generations, actually.

    So, that class had what, 20-25 kids? At $20mill-$30mill in total value/cost? Ok. So, on average each kid got a mill and a half? Not buying it.

    So, some got $3mill and others got $100k? Not buying it, although much more plausible.

    Then the logistics of it all. There’s a point man for each recruit, who sets up its own LLC w/ however many boosters? So is that five, ten or 20 different LLC’s for new entities without anything specific for operating a business? Ok, so that LLC is in what business or philanthropy that the kid will promote?

    If I’m Texas, I’d have an army of interns following those kids seeing unsocial media/cyber stalking (and their families too) to see what they’re promoting and how. Granted, there’s no enforcement if caught, but that doesn’t matter. It would be a case in point for TX to throw at A&M. Think they wouldn’t (while also doing the same thing, but probably in more efficient ways)?

    So, Joe Recruit isn’t promoting anything? Or is promoting some bogus entity/thing? Hey, that’s pay for play which is, ahem, illegal.

    Then the logistics of it, so back to the $1mill-$1.5mill/player average. That’s contractually paid out over 3-5 years, to keep them around, right? So, of those recruits, none of them are hemorrhaging cash for their welcome parties? Did they sign NDA’s? I mean, we’ve heard of all the million dollar deals (probably not all, but you get the point). So these are quiet? Is the money going into a trust to be used later, so there’s no “hey wait, Jimmy got this and Joe got that?” What happens in the event of injury? What happens in the event of not even playing, for whatever reason? Getting busted for something?

    Then we’re supposed to believe that (per 24/7’s rankings, a quick perusal) A&M boosters paid millions to go from 8th best in 2021, and 6th best in 2020, and 4th best in 2019, to try to get to #1? Possible? Sure. Likely? Hell no. Or, if true, it’s nothing new. It’s just now more plain to see. I’m still not buying it, at least not in the method and scale as that story purports.

    Go Buffs

    1. They may be Texans but these Texans already have the best lawyers and accountants in Texas, Wall Street and even overseas working for them. Maybe they will let your highness see all the detail and how they have handled all the contingencies.
      Let me know when they reach out to you for help.

    2. So what happens if player X wants to hit the transfer portal his sophmore or junior season after receiving some $ benefits…
      Is it take the money and run or not so fast son ?

        1. I hear ya, but signing contracts sounds like problems to come. Hopefully there are guardrails to make sure these youngsters don’t get hosed.
          One thing to be a 20 year old in the NBA where it is a salary and you have an agent, vs in college where it seems like/is free money, i don’t know…
          Ever see that South Park episode where the Apple comes back and says “remember that agreement you signed and agreed to all the terms” but never actually read ?
          HumancentaiPad…
          Going to be a lot of learning. Perhaps business and finance classes/seminar will be requisite.
          I am starting to like CU’s approach for the moment.

          1. Guard rails? Wow. I doubt it. And most of them (players and their families) don’t have the resources to hire attorneys to help them negotiate those contracts. However, I would bet plenty are out there saying “we will help” for a percentage. So there is that.

            And the fun part about contracts is they are generally binding, unless completely and obviously usurious. There may be some age and consent issues, but either way, I imagine many a lawsuit will be filed for various alleged and real breaches.

            Love the South Park reference. How about the crackbaby basketball episode?

            Go Buffs

  19. What’s really sad is at schools with fans like a&m, the boosters can start that LLC to get the players and yet say it’s a group of dealers, cars, RV,s, motorcycles & off road, trucks or guns and etc, there are enough well off fans that can make those LLCs profitable and now you have perpetual money to fund that position/player 9and the next) with no caps; giving the team more money (each position/player can have a different LLC group) to spend than what is allowed in the NFL.

    1. Marcus, that’s not how an LLC works (nor a partnership, corporation, charitable entity, etc.) as far as the IRS is concerned. And, these fat pocket people care about the IRS (and skirting their rules). They are also certainly way more savvy than I am w/ all that.

      Nevertheless, it needs to have revenue into it and expenses out of it. Or one or the other. So, a co-op of car dealers for example, or any business group, would be a pretty sticky entity for the founding members to put together. They can have startup funding/contributions from members, and use that to “sponsor” a player or players, but then what? And, what is the actual activity the entity is involved in? Not so easy like it looks. Possible? Sure, but not in the way that story purports, ie: hey, there’s joe recruit, let’s create an LLC to go get him paid. It’s much easier for them to have their bag men take a bag of cash, literally, and give it to the kid or their family. Or a car, or fleet of cars, etc.

      Go Buffs

      1. LLC’s are ridiculously easy to set up. There have been numerous cases in Montana where people have purchased expensive vehicles or RV’s through an LLC they set up on line in ten minutes. They set up a Montana LLC, buy the vehicle in the LLC’s name (avoiding sales taxes), and take the vehicle home.
        I have no doubt that the money holders in Texas can figure out a way to make an LLC work to fund whatever enterprise they want to funnel funds to athletes.

        1. Absolutely they are. People also buy cars (and by cars, I mean the $100k+ variety) and register them in places like TX or ID, or OR, when they live in CA to avoid the annual registration fees and purchase sales tax. That’s penny ante stuff though. That’s taking a tiny individual risk of being audited as a result of those activities, let alone being caught for them. It’s the same thing w/ having say an LLC for real estate investments, or a “Farm” business like EP may have for his hay sales. Easy. Low risk, whether legitimate or not.

          But funding them with millions of dollars, or even hundreds of thousands, for the sole purpose of sponsoring a kid for an athletic program is more complicated. That’s a nice path to an IRS audit. And, those fat cats don’t like those IRS audits. Plus, in that instance, what’s their business purpose? Oh, to sponsor kids and get them to sign letters of intent? Not legal. And, if it’s one guy creating that LLC to do what they want with their money? Easy. If it’s three or more? Damn. I’ve seen plenty of small partnerships with people who thought they were of similar mind blow up over much smaller #s.

          That’s why places like UW and whoever else we’ve read about, and those we haven’t, set up actual operating entities for NIL purposes (and to funnel funds) driven by those same booster types, and run with actual business intent (allegedly) but in a much more defensible position. Like you w/ BK’s, in my world, I see a lot of tax returns, and people w/ a lot of businesses and activities. I have a few myself. And, I’m also very much penny ante compared to these guys. No way am I buying what that story says they’re doing in that manner.

          The good news? It’ll be easy to track and see as this whole thing evolves. In my opinion, that’s the best thing about NIL. Nothing changed. It’s just now out in the open for us to have fun watching.

          Go Buffs

          1. This thing cant be that complicated.
            Why do you need an extra LLC when this money is basically advertising?….for the biz you already have. Last time I looked advertising was deductible. And if you wanted to funnel money in from different sources why couldn’t that extra LLC be an advertising agency?
            As a Buff fan its hard to imagine why watching this is fun. Even if you arent I’ll bet you think watching paint dry is fun.

          2. Eric you write long paragraphs on how hard it is and why they can’t, even through Stuart, a lawyer no less, says how easy and why, you agree, but it’s too much money is still the argument.

            Then ep says it’s just advertising money and you again agree but says that’s why you don’t believe they did what you just admitted they did????

            Let me make it simple, Roseville Auto Mall has 15 dealerships and the biggest ones and most of the others say let’s start an LLC for the whole auto mall to run advertising campaigns and they create that very easy to do LLC (thanks Stuart).

            That money is there for not only that player but others that follow too. 25 million for a 5-6 year business plan and a perpetual income from that advertising allows the LLC to operate for years to come and the initial investment is now being replaced by “advertising fees” from the profits made from rabid fans buying cars from those dealerships just because they support a winning program.

            Don’t you think local business, usually an insurance or dealership of some kind who supports the little league teams don’t make sales off of that?

          3. Marcus, as Stu pointed out – and I agree – LLC’s are stupidly easy to set up. You can either use legalzoom, or find any number of templates online, and file with whatever state you like.

            My point, however, is that it’s the operating, administering, reporting, and filing that can be cumbersome. And, the IRS is watching. And yes, so are whoever has set them up’s CPA’s and attorneys, to keep the IRS at bay.

            My opinions are from the vantage point of someone who’s had a sole proprietorship, has a corporation, and am, and have been, a member of several LLC’s and partnerships. Let alone what I am involved with on behalf of my friends and clients.

            If I’m Joe Big Bucks A&M, why bother with that hassle of a separate LLC to pay someone, or many people as a “sponsor” for them to promote my already existing business, OR, maybe, just maybe, create my own single-member LLC?

            It not only alleviates the operating/reporting hassles, but then I’m my own boss, and don’t have to meld my thoughts w/ my friends or associates who may think Johnny QB isn’t worth what I do?

            So, if the entire premise of that story – the structure of how they’re doing it – is bogus, then most of the rest of it probably is too. In my opinion (yes, I realize my views are opinions, not facts).

            Does that mean boatloads of money are not being tossed around surreptitiously? Absolutely not. But, players have been getting paid to go certain places for ages. NIL is shining a light glaringly on that. And, sadly, CU is again seemingly behind the eight ball. That’s all I’m saying.

            And in the same breath, as I’ve said before, CU won’t be able to compete at the highest levels of pay for play (if that’s what we want to call it). They don’t need to. They should be focusing on the whole spectrum of teaching kids how to maximize their NIL value, facilitating relationships, and helping educate them about how to build and manage those revenue streams – and others – for the rest of their lives. That is where a place like CU can differentiate itself. At least in my opinion. And they seem behind on that, too.

            Go Buffs

          4. Marcus, you’re in Sac? (or at least the metro). Nice! As to your Roseville Automall example, it is an existing business. With a product to sell, which is its location and the dealerships within it. The automall itself doesn’t sell cars, as I’m sure you know.

            I don’t know for sure, but I guess I could ask, as I have clients who are GMs at some of our local dealerships, but I think the Automall itself was built not by the car dealership owners, but by a land owner who then leases their space to those dealerships. They built it to collect rent and give dealerships a one-stop shopping atmosphere, what, 30yrs ago? It was a new formula then, that has been adopted everywhere now.

            The ATM story was talking about boosters creating new LLC’s. They then need to have a business to promote. So, what business would they be in? Tiddlywinks? I jest.

            But that again belies my point. Why start a new entity, and create whatever business or charity it is, when you can just use what is already operating?

            Now, for the Texas one that created a charity? Great. That’s a different twist, and doesn’t rely upon business operations. They can pay kids to support a variety of charities that also already exist (or create new ones, if they want to go through that hassle). And, since it’s a 503c, presumably, the boosters can fund it as part of their charitable contributions. Again, good for them, and keeps the IRS off their backs.

            Go Buffs

          5. No, I live in SoCal, but I wrote to my audience, who lives in that area, 😉 . By their own comments. I was familiar with the Auto Mall because years ago I went up there to audit a dealership’s or two “flooring” loans, so instead of just writing an auto mall, I added what I figured would be a familiar name to it.

          6. PS: Yes, auto malls are built by developers to attract rent, most are built with multiple anchor dealership signed up in advance, hence the customized GMC, Ford, Honda or Porsche dealership and etc that follows the floor plans and fascias of their brand.

            But, they will set up a advertising fund and the management of that advertising for the whole auto mall to attract shoppers to that mall, hoping people will want to visit the multiple brands that they have in a one stop location; often funded by a small fee on each sale. I’ve seen these fees for years on my audits.

          7. Yeah, marcus, you got me curious. Roseville automall is an association, basically like an hoa. So as dealerships come and go, they buy in, pay dues, etc. I didn’t look to see who currently owns that land, but that’s likely another entity, whether with affiliated members, or not.

            Go Buffs

  20. I think I know how most of us who comment here feel about NIL. But reading that TA&M article really gets my blood boiling, picturing the free-for-all that has been created and mobs of big-a$$ donor clowns running around various high schools trying to entice these kids and their families with a guaranteed lottery ticket. The rules of engagement between coaches and recruits are strict. Something similar is going to be needed for NIL.

    1. Strict?
      still waiting on any NCAA response to ASU.
      A&M is where the real Texas oil money is. There are probably more A&M grads that are CEOs of major oil companies than any other school. Their and their company’s massive income makes these donations easy.
      So you can buy your way to an NC. What does that really make your victory worth? All I can see is making you the stereotype Texan bellowing in a bar. Next time you see one of these guys ask em how many tackles they made or yards gained.
      Still gotta have a coach though. Jimbo has already had some stellar classes and from where I sit they underperformed.

  21. Here is another nugget for everyone to chew on. the two best offensive skill players for Alabama and Georgia are freshman from…………California. If the PAC-12 teams can’t keep PAC-12 country players from going east of the Mississippi, then we have no hope.

    You could say the same thing about Colorado and womens basketball, if CU *just kept its in-state talent only*, they would probably be looking at competing for national championships each year. Nearly half of Stanford’s team is from Colorado.

    1. Whole lotta folks moving into my neighborhood from California. If their kids excel at anything they will probably go back to Cal for college (f not the SEC).

  22. The order of finish in the number of bowl wins is simply a generalized reflection of how much the population of each region of the U.S. cares about college football. I really don’t see that changing much going forward. The PAC-12 might be able to put forward maybe 1 (probably just one) or 2 teams (Oregon/USC) that can compete for a NC (if they get some quality coaches and concentrate the PAC-12 talent at just those 2 schools) but not more than that. The SEC (and to a lesser extent, the Big 10) can put 4 or more teams that could compete for a NC, although right now it looks like an SEC only national championship game for a while, with an occasional breakthrough team from another conference.

  23. Utah finally ran up against a “trench” better than theirs. Regardless they tried to do their best chev of yore impression by running up the middle with zero misdirection way too many times.
    On the flip side I thought I saw Stroud on his cell phone a couple of times (to his stock broker for Monday’s opening?) while waiting for an open receiver.
    If it wasnt for 3 very fortunate plays Utah could have lost by a lot more:
    Covey’s TD return of course
    Rising’s stumblebum TD run which could have been called back for holding. You could see on the replay where a Ute O lineman knocked a potential tackler off Rising but had his arm around him from behind.
    Finally the beautiful strip of Smith Njigaba (?) as we was less than 10 yards from the goal line.
    The back up Ute QB managed a TD drive but the writing was on the wall almost the entire game depicting the deficient Ute pass D.
    You watch AF and you will see a winning run game. They score a number of TD’s passing too. but only after the opposing D has been in the box forever trying to stop them there.
    You wont see a whole lot of other teams with a winning record that rely on a run heavy O and they are the ones that have a dominating O line. Its the pass game that puts a team over the top (pun intended).
    I’m not asking for a pass heavy air raid empty backfield on every play offense for the Buffs. Would a balanced attack be too much to ask? or too big for a baby step?

  24. The end of the duck’s season reminds of the 2016 one for the Buffs. Whats the next guy’s name Danning? Dunning?. It will be tough for him to pull a dinner bell Mel because anyone who is anyone also has a new coach this year.
    Is Phil night drinking heavily? on suicide watch or just eating a half gallon of ice cream every day?

          1. hmmm Happy New Year!

            It appears that ear bug has moved into you.

            But you did announce yur quitting as a Buff fan. Right after the coal crap from stu.
            This is a good class. Better than we know.
            High level OL coach
            High Level DL coach
            Midnote: and you rant every chance you get about the importance of the lines and the coaches…………..Welp?
            The OC will be a major major improvement.

            Looking for a great year 2.5 for HCKD

            Go buffs

    1. I turned it off at halftime. Yawn. Maybe for the best.
      The TV people should spotlight Phil-moneybags on camera a few times throughout the game? You know, to check in on the mood of the Duck’s owner and GM. Add some drama. Just like in the old days with Al Davis and the Raiders.

      1. Remember the lip readers who used to, and maybe still do, try and tell what play the OC was calling so they could tip off the D? Whoever is playing the ducks might need 2. One for the OC and the other for Phil.

  25. Buffs better get their stuff together quickly! Non conference Tcu, @AF, @ Minn is not an easy schedule for a team with at least 4 new position coaches and a team looking find their identity. Let’s et it done Buffaloes!

  26. Well slap that skeeter and heat up my grits
    looks like the SEC is a big ZERO after 4 bowl games so far.
    I know I jinxed the sweep by saying that but saying that makes me happy

      1. Hey its still a paltry 1 and 5
        That SEC juggernaut SC finally broke into the win column in the Duke’s Mayonnaise bowl.
        You didnt like the Kimmel bowl. I’ll bet your eyes were glued to the screen every second for the Duke’s Mayonnaise bowl.
        I lol every time I see the name Duke’s Mayonnaise bowl. ” It’s got tang” I wonder if they use it on grits to give them a wee bit of little flavor.

  27. Assistant Demetrice Martin leaving CU Buffs for Oregon is a big loss for the Buffs for a lot of reasons.

    Money money money.

    Go Buffs.

    Good Luck Meat.

    Note: Martin would owe the Buffs $100,000 for taking another NCAA assistant job during the term of his agreement, plus another $50,000 for taking an assistant job in the Pac-12. Well there ya go.

    1. Ahh replying to myself cause I didn’t think it through so I bring up
      BRETT MAXIE Assistant Coach/Safeties/Defensive Passing Game Coordinator

      So now what. Sure Safeties and corners aren’t the same so need different coaches. Do they?

      Well there are a lot of them
      2021 roster (listed as)
      Corner backs 7
      Defensive backs 2
      Safeties 9
      total DB’s 18

      Sheesh can one coach handle that many. With good helpers he probably can
      Assistant Coach/Safeties/Defensive Passing Game Coordinator….one would think he could add CB to his responsibilities.
      Go Buffs DB’s (either or………no prejudice from me)

      Note: Seen it done both ways
      Note 2: I just like the DB’s being directed as a group. They say they like em to switch between positions. In fact I prefer one voice for the DB’s with good helpers.
      Note 3: And oh by the way do not forget that VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT – DEFENSE is hanging out there………………….for some reason
      Note 4: And an offshoot is there is now space for a dedicated dline coach. Gotta have that guy ( Do it again……SD??) Gotta have that guy…..
      Note 5: Two linebacker coaches……………….I guess but why?

      2022 the year of the mighty Buffs………..
      GREG BROWN eh

      1. Greg Brown? Not a bad idea. He had rough go as the D Coordinator under Embree, but who didn’t? He is a well respected DB coach.

  28. Here goes Jaaaahn again
    first he says:
    “Two of the programs best equipped to compile elite recruiting classes, USC and Washington, are currently Nos. 81 and 89, respectively, behind the likes of Toledo, East Carolina and Arkansas State.”
    Then he turns round and says:
    “Thirteen recruiting classes nationally carry a per-player rating of 90 or better, according to 247Sports — meaning the classes are stocked with blue-chippers.
    In the Pac-12, only Oregon clears that bar (although USC is close).”
    so tell me Jaaaahn
    is USC doomed to be bludgeoned by the likes of Arkansas State or is Lincoln going to use all those blue chippers to bludgeon all the other little sisters of the poor in the PAC?
    finally the “gott” pundit of the PAC 12 says:
    “We won’t have a true feel for the incoming classes until after spring practice.”
    seriously?
    it will all be crystal clear that soon?
    Good luck with that
    and thanks for admitting everything you just said before that is pretty much hooooey

    1. Get off my lawn, John. Or? Just don’t read his stuff? That could work too. But, you are such an optimist, you read every word, because maybe some day, he will capture the rapture of the inner ep?

      And, my apologies. Just cracking myself up again. Have a bitchin Christmas.

      Go Buffs

      1. Eric, I’m a Buff fan and Wilner isnt. I can understand why you cant understand.
        nice that you can find someone to crack yourself up. Whats his/her name?
        And you have a bitchin Christmas too Dude. Maybe an interesting Christmas as well…..and maybe not. We shall see. Santa might bring you a new skateboard I reckon.

  29. Hmmm the 2022 schedule.
    Initial comments.
    Before the bye ya get 5 games.
    3 on the road
    2 at home
    3 non con non of these will be easy
    2 conference I easy 1 not so easy
    Sheesh could the Buffs head into the bye 1 and 4?
    ( optimistic me 3 -2 and 1-1) (but with a little home luck it could be 4 -1 and 2-0)
    so 3-2 and 1-1 is it.

    Remaining 7
    4 at home 3 on the road
    Start out 3-0
    Next two 0-2
    final two 1-1

    So for the year

    7-5 and 5-4

    I’ll take it

    Business Buffs

  30. Good morning Stuart.

    I ordered the book. Knowing very little about Montana other that what I’ve seen on Yellowstone, I’ll be expecting LOTS of murders and scantily clad vulgar women.

    1. Hmmm the 2022 schedule.
      Initial comments.
      Before the bye ya get 5 games.
      3 on the road
      2 at home
      3 non con non of these will be easy
      2 conference I easy 1 not so easy
      Sheesh could the Buffs head into the bye 1 and 4?
      ( optimistic me 3 -2 and 1-1) (but with a little home luck it could be 4 -1 and 2-0)
      so 3-2 and 1-1 is it.

      Remaining 7
      4 at home 3 on the road
      Start out 3-0
      Next two 0-2
      final two 1-1

      So for the year

      7-5 and 5-4

      I’ll take it

      Business Buffs

      I like the last part.

      I believe it to be true. Totally

      Lots of Buffalo in Montana.

      Business Buffs.

  31. Thanks for the coach quotes Stuart. The chuckles took the mind away for a while from the interminable wait for an OC.
    My favorites?

    Hate to say it but Leach and I have probably crossed paths in the candy aisle.
    Gotta be Harbro. And now Harbro has outdone themselves….sour gummy bears… yeee haw
    and of course almond joys.

    Bob Stoops take on Texas…Dont need no brakes when you run out of gas” had me on the floor.
    I have a feeling the Okies will be just fine recruiting with Stoops and I hope Sark stays with gas instead of the alky.

    Speaking of alky you are drinking beer in Portland and the crowd goes for coors light 2 to 1 over Deschutes? mindboggling but somehow expected.

    And the best one of all was Frost admitting his checker level play calling is about as diverse as his facial expressions….but he is a bro…..go bro

  32. Since Amazon has pretty much everything now, I would like to see them and the PAC-12 make a deal at contract time to stream all PAC-12 games on Prime. Then if you have a computer or a smart TV you can watch the Buffs play no matter where you are in the world. No more relying on on regular TV channels.

    1. Sling TV already has Pac12 network, which can use on any smart TV, mobile device, etc. Amazon Prime does give a lot more visibility though. But until then, Sling and I am sure other platforms have the Pac12 network.

  33. One stop shopping for KD at Oregon. A QB and an OL
    no VK not shrooms. Even they would produce a bigger picture of reality

  34. Was rooting for Utah last night and they delivered…solid program.
    Have to feel comfortable with how the Buffs showed up and battled the Utes two Fridays ago.
    The Utes, who ratttled the Oregon Nikes 2 times…wow !
    CU Buffs need to rise up and make the Pac-12 south the place to be 😉
    KD on the road recruiting, let’s go get some coaches

    1. Good, but not great, from what I understand. It will be a transition year, with Andy LeRoy stepping in for CU Hall of Famer Richard Rokos, who won eight national championships in 25 years. Though it is heartening to know that Rokos will be a volunteer assistant this year.
      The season will be interesting, with CU having several Olympic hopefuls trying to make it to the Beijing Olympics.

      LeRoy: “There are a couple of athletes, (Magdalena Luczak), an incoming freshman who is actually over in Austria right now. She is likely to go, she raced in the World Championships last year. We have a couple athletes who took this year off from CU, Cassidy Gray and Stef Fleckenstein that are back with their national team in Canada hopeful to race in Beijing. Current athletes like Filip Forejtek is hopeful to make his appearance. We will see if some of the Nordic athletes are able to make it. Weronika Kaleta took an extra class over the summer to get some extra training here in the fall, and hopefully, she can show up, and maybe Magnus (Boee). We’ll see, it is a little ways away, but we are aware of all the criteria for all of the national teams and hopefully, they can punch it through into the Olympics. The Olympics fit really well into our collegiate schedule, they wouldn’t miss many races and they could qualify for Championships before Beijing, go to Beijing and return to CU and compete with us at Championships.”

      Utah is the defending national champion, and will host the NCAA championships in March. CU finished 2nd last year, and anything below third nationally is a disappointing season for CU’s most decorated program. LeRoy was a good choice to replace Rokos, and should produce national champions … I’m not sure, though, that it will be in 2022.

  35. 5 star recruits – $1 million NIL deals
    4 star recruits – $500K NIL deals
    3 star recruits – $10 – 100K NIL deals depending on how much the coach likes them.

    Looks like CU will continue to be in the running for 3 star recruits, but landing the occasional 4/5 star…not going to happen.

    1. There are only so many 4 and 5 stars to go around so CU might pick up a few now and then. OK 4 star only.
      Problem is they have 3 years to jump ship through the portal when the fat cats have an opening.
      What that does is make the lower tier teams the proving ground of the star rankings for those same fat cats.
      And the rich get richer beat goes on.

      1. So yur saying CU would be like a Jr College then?
        Except it would not be because of player academic issues, but rather player NIL money issues?

        Interesting.

        Go Buffs………………………………..Up the donations or “Lose baby”

  36. Simply insane
    Quit dancing around with this NIL crap and let em get agents, sign professional contracts, give em a gott verdammt salary or whatever you call a contract compensation and get it over with.
    College football has been the exclusive free to the NFL farm club anyway. Make it just like the the NFL and make the NFL start picking up the cost.
    Get it over with
    Once that happens I will go back to watching high school football until those beardless wonders start to become millionaires.

  37. None of this matters. Who will be the new OC and OL coaches? I haven’t heard any speculation or names. Stuart do you have any insight?

    1. There are about 50 names being bandied about on the message boards right now, but no one has any insight.

      My first concern: the budget for assistant coaches next year. CU spent $3.4 million this year (a record). CU will owe Chiaverini over $600K for the final year of his contract.
      Translation: CU needs a budget for AC’s north of $4 million just to get someone of Chiaverini’s caliber.
      If the Buff Nation wants better than Chiv, they had better hope there are some big donation dollars in the pipeline.

      1. Speaking of budget, one of the rumors is that Karl wanted to replace Chev last year, but with the buyout of Tyson’s contract, he was told they couldn’t afford Chev’s on top of it. If that’s true, once again, it’s interesting there aren’t any donors willing to help in that effort.

        Either way, I would hope they’ll have the staff moves completed (out and in) within the next week or so, since it seems that could play a role in who signs in two weeks, who stays or goes from the current roster, etc.

        Go Buffs

      2. “Chiaverini’s caliber? ….better than Chiv”?
        Can the Offense get any worse?
        Sorry, I had to say that
        might have been better to say to get someone else at the market price.
        I noticed the head coaching openings at some of the big name schools has led to a number of other schools with possible candidates to give their HCs 10 year 90 million dollar contracts to keep them in place….
        Can the temp of the oven be turned up high enough to cook the golden goose?
        How long will it be before schools without the resources to keep up (CU too?) finally say “enough is enough” and can football altogether…or start their own league with price controls in effect getting back to an amateur sport?

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