POSTED: November 9, 2023

Pac-12 Notes – Arizona Week

Pac-12 Notes – Arizona Week

November 9th

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University of Arizona in financial crisis: “Hard choices are inevitable”

From … The University of Arizona is cutting budgets and considering a hiring freeze to deal with what some members of the Arizona Board of Regents are calling a “financial crisis.”

The UA described its financial state to the regents on Nov. 2 and projected having just 97 days’ worth of cash on hand, its lowest since fiscal year 2013. The university must submit a report to the board by Dec. 15 outlining its plan to restore cash liquidity levels.

“Our financial health is fragile,” read one slide presented to the board by UA’s senior vice president and chief financial officer Lisa Rulney. “Hard choices are inevitable,” another said.

The cash flow issues, according to Rulney, stem largely from the university’s ambitious strategic investments towards financial aid and research.

“We have always assumed we had more time to dial back on strategic investments and prepare for the next opportunity and to build back our reserves,” she said. “It has become clear that our position is precarious and already turned downward.”

There has been a steady decline of days worth of cash on hand. In financial year 2021 the university reported 173 days of cash on hand, which decreased to 149 in fiscal year 2022 and to 110 in fiscal year 2023.

The UA initially forecasted having 156 days cash on hand for this fiscal year and presented that number to the board earlier this year, Rulney said. The method the university normally uses was significantly off, as the real number is 97.

Regents Chair Fred DuVal said the declining cash on hand is a “wakeup call.”

“We’ve got to turn this around,” he said. “Please don’t under club this crisis. Hit it. Turn this thing around.”

DuVal mentioned the possibility of postponing salary increases and reevaluating retirement programs.

“The urgency of reclaiming dollars and getting control over more of your budget is more present than ever,” he said.

Rulney reported that the university has implemented a 2% budget reallocation across the university for fiscal year 2024. When prompted by Regent Lyndel Manson, Rulney confirmed that the reallocation means a 2% budget cut.

The ABOR meeting took place just one day before UA President Robert Robbins and other university officials unveiled their $3 billion fundraising campaign, Fuel Wonder. The fund has already raised about $2 billion of its goal. Robbins told the board that none of the money raised in the campaign will go towards operating costs of the university, which would help the university with its cash on hand issue. Instead, the money will fund research, student life and financial aid, among other programs.

The university spends about $200 million on financial aid and merit money to attract high-achieving students, according to Robbins. The university has also spent money on what Robbins calls “moonshot programs,” which include funding research and discovery, according to the UA’s website.

“We made a bet on spending money,” Robbins said. “We just overshot.”

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November 6th

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USC fires defensive coordinator Alex Grinch

From ESPN … After USC surrendered 101 total points in the past two games, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was relieved of his duties, Trojans coach Lincoln Riley announced Sunday.

Grinch, who was Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021 before leaving for USC alongside Riley, led a unit that allowed an average of 34.5 points per game this season and was in the bottom 30 in the country in nearly every statistical category, including 120th in rushing defense and 107th against the pass.

In a statement sent via a USC spokesperson, Riley named D-line coach Shaun Nua and linebackers coach Brian Odom as co-defensive coordinators for the rest of the season.

Even going back to last season, when USC finished the year allowing 47 points to Utah in the Pac-12 title game loss and 46 points to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl defeat, Grinch had been the subject of much criticism surrounding his and the unit’s performance.

“As a coach, you don’t deflect,” Grinch, who took responsibility for the defense’s shortcomings on a weekly basis, said at practice last week. “I couldn’t be more disappointed in myself and the inability to get the guys to be more sound.”

Throughout the offseason, USC and Riley specifically preached patience and gave an optimistic outlook on the progress the defense would make with more time and more talent. Yet even as USC used the transfer portal to bring in defensive players such as former Georgia lineman Bear Alexander and ex-Oklahoma State linebacker Mason Cobb, the performance of the unit did not improve. USC finished last season as the 87th-ranked team in defensive SP+. This season, it is ranked 87th.

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November 5th

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Associate Press poll: USC and UCLA out; Arizona into Top 25 for the first time since 2017

From ESPN … Southern California dropped out of The Associated Press college football poll Sunday for the first time under coach Lincoln Riley and No. 15 Oklahoma State vaulted into the rankings for the first time this year.

The top nine teams in the Top 25 held their spots, led by No. 1 Georgia. The Bulldogs have now tied the second-longest streak atop the poll at 21 straight weeks, dating back to the middle of last season.

Georgia received 49 first-place votes. No. 2 Michigan got nine first-place votes, No. 3 Ohio State had three and No. 4 Florida State had two.

Washington remained No. 5, followed by Oregon, Texas, Alabama and Penn State.

The last time the first nine teams in the poll went unchanged this late in the season was Nov. 19, 2017.

Mississippi moved up a spot to a season-high No. 10.

USC (7-3) lost to Washington on Saturday night in yet another high-scoring, defense-optional affair, and is now unranked after starting the season No. 6. Next week at Oregon, USC will play as an unranked team for the first time since 2021, a 4-8 season in which the school fired coach Clay Helton after two games.

“I think our guys are frustrated that we’ve been so, so close and we haven’t played good enough to be able to separate,” Riley said after the Washington game.

USC hired Riley away from Oklahoma after the 2021 season and he brought Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams with him as a transfer.

The Trojans started this season 6-0 but have lost three of four since, allowing 46 points per game.

Oklahoma State (7-2) is having an inverse season to USC.

The Cowboys beat rival Oklahoma for their fifth straight victory after a 2-2 start. The Cowboys’ jump to No. 15 matches the highest ranking for a previously unranked team this deep into the season since the AP poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989.

USC went from unranked to No. 15 on Nov. 13, 2016, after it beat No. 4 Washington 26-13 in Seattle.


Georgia’s No. 1 streak matches Miami’s 21 straight from 2001 to ’02. The Bulldogs still have a long way to go to catch USC’s 33 straight from 2003 to ’05.

What did both the Miami and USC streaks have in common? They both ended with a national championship game loss.


Four teams moved into the rankings this week, matching a season high.

Like Oklahoma State, No. 23 Arizona and No. 25 Liberty made their season debuts in the rankings.

Arizona beat UCLA on Saturday night and is ranked for the first time since a one-week stay at No. 23 in early November 2017. For the first time in school history, the Wildcats have beaten three straight opponents who were ranked at the time of the game.

Unbeaten Liberty is ranked for a second straight season. The Flames spent two weeks in the Top 25 around the same time last year.

No. 24 North Carolina also moved back into the rankings.

Dropping out along with USC were:

– Air Force, which was upset by Army to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten.

– UCLA, after taking its third loss of the season.

– Kansas State, which lost in overtime to Texas to fall to 6-3.

AP Poll …

  1. Georgia (49)
  2. Michigan (9)
  3. Ohio State (3)
  4. Florida State (2)
  5. Washington – no change
  6. Oregon – no change
  7. Texas
  8. Alabama
  9. Penn State
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Louisville
  12. Oregon State – up four
  13. Utah – up five 
  14. Tennessee
  15. Oklahoma State
  16. Missouri
  17. Oklahoma
  18. LSU
  19. Kansas
  20. Tulane
  21. James Madison
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Arizona – first ranking since 2017
  24. North Carolina
  25. Liberty

Others receiving votes: Fresno State (73); Kansas State (73); USC (46); Air Force (26); Toledo (25); UCLA (11); Iowa (6); SMU (5); Duke (4); West Virginia (3); Texas A&M (1); NC State (1); Clemson (1)

Pac-12 Lines:

From DraftKings …

  • No. 23 Arizona at Colorado … Noon, MT, Pac-12 Networks … Arizona is a 9.5-point road favorite
  • No. 13 Utah at No. 5 Washington … 1:30 p.m., MT, Fox … Washington is a 9.5-point home favorite
  • Washington State at California … 2:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2 … California is a 1.5-point home favorite
  • Stanford at No. 12 Oregon State … 3:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … Oregon State is a 20-point home favorite
  • Arizona State at UCLA … 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … UCLA is a 16.0-point home favorite
  • USC at No. 6 Oregon … 8:30 p.m., MT, Fox … Oregon is a 14.5-point home favorite


10 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes – Arizona Week”

    1. On the earn side, whatever he was/is paid is too much. He did not really earn very much during his tenure. His ending is a total debacle. Their defensive downturn really began on Oct 15, 2022 when they lost to Utah. They did go on a 5 game win streak, but their D started giving up many more points in all the road games, then ended with destruction v. Utah in the PAC12 Champ and then lost to Tulane. CW got them over the hump in many games. This year, CU exposed them in the 2nd half of Week 6 and they were never the same. Also, their cream puff games were over early. IMO, the film was out and the weaknesses were exposed.

      In terms of players, I looked at Wiki for USC which is more detailed than CU’s wiki. It is a cautionary transfer portal and coaching tale. For USC their situation was much different than CU , as many of the guys they lost were some touted recruits. They were not coming off a 1-11 season. Grinch did not enter his job with the cupboards bare. Their defense was not great in 2021, but neither was their offense. Their defense was decent in 2020 finishing 5-1.

      Riley and Grinch arrive. In year one, they lost 16 D players via portal and graduation/NFL. Many transfers went to lesser schools. They added 12 guys, many juniors and seniors–most from big schools but only 1 year to play (they were a raider/upgrader) and they had many of players with substantial overall game experience and/or NFL caliber. Also, they returned a 6 starters on defense as upperclassman–so they filled 5 starting spots.

      In year 2 they lost 14 players, 2 to underclassmen to NFL and 12 to portal. Plus, they lost other key starters to the NFL draft: Drake Jackson, Polo-Gates, Tuipulotu and basically their entire DB group + great LB’s. These guys played in 10+ games already with 9+ starts–so they were sort of gutted. This time more portal guys were lost to P65 team and competitors (UW, WA, Arizona, ASU, Fresno State (they were picked to win the MWC), even some previous transfers departed. IMO, the 2023 team re-tool was more like they were raided/marginally upgrading, rather than doing the raiding. Again, they added a bunch of good guys from good schools, however the infusion of talent was younger, not nearly the # of Grad/NFL caliber transfers. This resulted in their D starters being much more inexperienced overall from the 2-3 deep. Bear Alexander was their best grab.

      Simply, Grinch was a total bust. Overall, IMO their defense lost talent and experience from 2021-22. They were playing guys with much less experience. They still had the high octane offense, however like CU that is a double-edged sword for the defense. Their rushing stats are not great, but marginally better in 2023, however they still play @Ore and @UCLA, so will probably drop; and their D ranking will too.

      I see the CU defense improving some over the season even in difficult circumstances (rarely was the USC offense shut down, CU’s offense has had substantial problems). They had a rough early start with a tough schedule and were exposed. However, as CK and staff is getting much further into the install, the players gained experience playing alongside each other, and further implementing the D install there has some steady progress. Certainly, they still need some guys, especially on the DLine given graduation and maybe a special LB or two. IMO, you can add instant talent on the DLine (however that takes time to gel) or maybe a great LB, but not add across the entire defense. There will be growing pains. Grinch was basically re-installing his defense in Year 2 with less talent.

      This is where CU can and may have learned some valuable lessons: (1) the huge purge this year, could be a good thing, if CU returns a bunch of players with experience in the same D system (USC’s 1/2 in 1/2 out approach, did not appear to work); (2) one thing that I give props to CK and the D staff is that they have played a bunch of players–so hopefully guys stay, also the new transfer rules should help that some; (3) I think it is important that CU limits attrition to a degree–you want starters back and don’t want to lose valuable talent in your 1-3 deep–this is up to Prime and his whole staff; (4) in contrast to Grinch, CU’s defense improved this 1st season (not great, certainly statistically–we are at the bottom) but much better as of late. You can see some talent out there. You can see some better understanding and execution of the scheme. Have there been debacles Yes–Stanford, USC early; (5) a high octane offense is a double-edged sword, CU needs to improve on the line and find a running game; and (6) HC Lincoln Riley (like Nathanial Hackett) just focusing on offense, can lead your defense to demise–it is a blind spot. I think Prime’s approach of having a DC and OC/now-C-OC’s, can pay some dividends.

  1. SOOOOOO……………My worst fears from the Beavers’ – not-so-hard victory.





    1. Go back and watch any game from 2022 – Average score: 44-15. Average score in November games last year: 55-13.
      It won’t make the current issues go away, but it will remind you we actually do live in a better world than a year ago.

      1. How much longer will that last if the coaches on offense remain stuck un concrete? The issues are ludicrous. Its like there is no Prime, no Lewis its like some dad of a 10 year old walked through the door with a Schembechler VHS tape on how to coach Pop Warner football.

        1. QUOTE OF THE MONTH:

          EP……….” its like some dad of a 10 year old walked through the door with a Schembechler VHS tape on how to coach Pop Warner football”. WTG E.P.

          YEP….STUART…..This year is different….but, it’s not like the Phoenix rising from the ashes….YET. Is it going to improve ?….ABSOLUTELY…..

          We still need an OC who can operate with a bit more “PINACHE” than a 5th grader scratching plays out with a stick on the school grounds.

  2. AZ has stout O-line and D-line. they are the 3rd best team in Pac. Cal got a beatdown and still had 109 yds on 29 runs. ASU got destroyed and still ran the ball 29 times for 43 yds. Buffs NEED to run the ball more than 11 times to have a chance…and keep QB alive for another week before Utah breaks both his legs. I guess we don’t have any blocking TE’s but you would think that would help.

  3. Back in August, who would have thought USC and UCLA would be out of the AP poll and Arizona in? Crazy times we live in… AZ certainly is playing loose and confidently, so another stiff challenge for the Buffs. If Shedeur can light it up then CU has a chance, but otherwise this one could be another loss.

  4. Bad time to be playing Arizona. They’ve beaten three ranked opponents in a row and were a single play from beating USC as well. They were also only a few plays from beating Mississippi state and made a game of Washington.

    Arizona is the third best team in the conference right now.

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