Pac-12 Notes

January 31st 

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Pac-12 Media Right Deal: Time to Get it Done

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12 presidents joined commissioner George Kliavkoff and conference executives on Monday at Arizona State for the conference’s quarterly meetings. The agenda featured a plethora of weighty issues, none more important than the state of the media rights negotiations.

For all the focus on the media rights themselves — that is, the underlying value of Pac-12 football and basketball — not enough attention has been placed on the third word in that oft-repeated phrase: negotiations.

Those are occurring on several levels.

— Kliavkoff has regular discussions with representatives from ESPN, Fox, Amazon and other media companies about valuations, packages of games, the weekly selection order and kickoff days and times.

— Within the conference, there are negotiations (in a loose, informal sense) about the type of media deal that works best. How much emphasis should be placed on chasing revenue? How much on maximum visibility? The ideal media contract for one school might not sit perfectly with another.

— Even inside the Pac-12 boardroom, there is a hierarchy that must be managed and navigated: The presidents’ highly influential executive committee, featuring Stanford’s Marc Tessiere-Lavigne, Washington State’s Kirk Schulz and Washington’s Ana Mari Cauce (the chair), steers the agenda and works closely with Kliavkoff on strategy.

As with all negotiations, the goal is to aim high but know the market. That’s not always easy, and in the Pac-12’s case, the market has shifted over time.

Last summer, when the conference began pursuing a media rights agreement following the thunderbolt from Los Angeles, the Big Ten’s massive deal created a valuation ceiling.

The Pac-12’s rights aren’t worth nearly as much, but Kliavkoff could draft off the Big Ten’s $1 billion annual deal: “If they are worth X, then we are worth two-thirds of X” — or something to that effect.

And in theory, the Big 12 would do the same when it went to the market with a reconfigured membership that did not include Texas or Oklahoma.

After all, the two leagues are similar in valuation: The Pac-12 has better media markets and the two top football brands (Washington and Oregon), while the Big 12 has better competitive depth and a superior basketball product.

Continue reading story here

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January 30th 

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Pac-12 Presidents and athletic directors meeting Monday with a full agenda

From the San Jose Mercury News … Pac-12 presidents, athletic directors and conference executives will gather Monday at Arizona State for a quarterly meeting that is anything but routine.

Momentous topics are on the agenda, including what a source called an “important update” on the media rights negotiations that will help define the future of the conference.

Commissioner George Kliavkoff has been working with potential broadcast partners for months to construct an agreement that satisfies the desire for both revenue and visibility.

Negotiations are expected to conclude in the next four-to-six weeks. But if talks with ESPN, Amazon, Fox and other media companies extend deep into the spring, campus officials could become anxious, lose faith in the process and explore alternatives.

(It is not known whether the presidents will discuss expansion options. At a formal level, that step won’t take place until the schools agree to a media deal and sign a grant-of-rights agreement that binds their media revenue to the conference.)

Kliavkoff is also expected to brief the presidents on the conference’s financial outlook, the ongoing transformation of the NCAA constitution and matters involving the Pac-12 Networks.

The conference recently fired two executives, CFO Brent Willman and Pac-12 Networks president Mark Shuken, for failing to properly address yearly overpayments by Comcast that are believed to total about $50 million.

(Sources expect Comcast to eventually withhold distributions to the Pac-12 in an amount equal to the overpayment total.)

The athletic directors will participate in a strategy session Monday, but a portion of the meeting will feature only conference executives and the presidents.

In past years, campus officials have gathered in Las Vegas at the Pac-12 basketball tournament, then again in May. In order to spread out the quarterly meetings, Kliavkoff moved the March event to late January.

Officials for USC and UCLA are expected to take part in discussions about current conference affairs but not conversations about the strategic matters involving the future of the league.

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January 28th

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Ranking Pac-12 Coaches: Where does Coach Prime fit in?

From WestCoastSports … The Pac-12 features an abundance of elite coaches. Who takes the top spot?

  1. Kyle Whittingham – Utah
  2. Lincoln Riley – USC
  3. Kalen DeBoer – Washington
  4. Jonathan Smith – Oregon State
  5. Chip Kelly – UCLA
  6. Dan Lanning – Oregon
  7. Deion Sanders – Colorado … Last season, Lincoln Riley breathed new life into USC to resurrect the program. This year, Deion Sanders appears to be doing the same at Colorado. In just over a month, Sanders has brought in 9 4/5 star players. It may take some time for CU to have the depth need to win 8 or more games but don’t be surprised if Colorado contends for a bowl in year one. 
  8. Kenny Dillingham – Arizona State
  9. Jake Dickert – Washington State
  10. Justin Wilcox – Cal
  11. Jedd Fisch – Arizona
  12. Troy Taylor – Stanford

Read full story here

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January 27th

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Pac-12’s options for dealing with the $50M in overpayments by Comcast

From the San Jose Mercury News … Multiple sources have confirmed the Hotline’s original report that the overpayments made by Comcast occurred on a yearly basis and, Comcast asserts, were for approximately $5 million annually over the course of 10 years.

That’s a $50 million bill.

But those same sources believe the Pac-12 won’t write a check to Comcast. Instead, the company will simply withhold payments to the Pac-12 Networks until it has recouped the $50 million.

Comcast is under contract with the networks until the summer of 2024. The math suggests that as a result of the (presumed) withholding of payments, each of the 12 schools will receive about $4 million less in revenue distributions from the conference over the 2023-24 fiscal years.

However, the Pac-12 has an emergency reserve fund.

In the spring of 2020, as the pandemic hit, the Pac-12 had about $22 million stockpiled.

The presidents approved the use of reserves to mitigate the loss of revenue resulting from the cancellation of the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments.

Exactly how much was tapped, and how much remains, is not clear.

The Pac-12’s tax filing for the 2021 fiscal year shows approximately $18 million in “savings and temporary cash investments.”

At least a portion of that stockpile could be the reserves, potentially available to offset the Comcast revenue hit.

According to conference bylaws, three-quarters of the presidents would have to approve any expenditures from the reserves.

Continue reading story here

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January 26th

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Making the case for San Diego State to join the Pac-12

From CBS Sports … After years of priming itself in hopes the West Coast’s flagship conference would notice, SDSU doesn’t have to flirt anymore. The moment has met SDSU, roaring down I-5 from Los Angeles to meet the school on what seems to be the Aztecs’ terms.

“We basically went from, ‘Hey, you’re doing a good job. Your break is coming,’ to, ‘You’re the only team in Southern California that plays FBS football that isn’t in the Big Ten,'” Wicker said.

The mood floating around Cali’s second largest — but still laidback — city is split between breathless anticipation and trying not to get too emotionally invested. Dreams have been dashed here before. See: The Chargers following the 2016 season.

“It’s not an if, it’s a when,” said a high-ranking industry source regarding SDSU’s future opportunity to join the Pac-12.

“Now that USC and UCLA are gone, there’s nobody really to block us,” said Jack McGrory, an SDSU alumnus, professor on campus for 25 years and now a member of the California State University board of trustees. “We’re the only viable option to have a team in Southern California.”

Still, this being realignment, there are never any guarantees.

“Once the ink is dry, so they say, then we celebrate,” warned David Malcolm, a real estate tycoon in the area for half a century who helped arrange the $15 million lead donor gift for Snapdragon.

Officially, the Pac-12 has said it will consider expansion once it signs a new media rights deal.

Sources tell CBS Sports that deal is expected to be made in the first quarter of 2023 with Amazon (or another streaming service) and ESPN. Expansion would follow. Regardless, it must happen fast with USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten in 2024.

Continue reading story here

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January 25th

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CU at TCU more likely to get Primetime coverage than CU v. Nebraska?

From Stewart Mandel at The Athletic

Normally when we look ahead for big nonconference games for the upcoming season, we pick out potential top-10 matchups. However, next season, Week 2 will feature two teams coming off terrible seasons, both with a new head coach: Nebraska vs. Colorado. I may be cherry-picking stats, but this has to be the most anticipated nonconference game of two former conference rivals, both coming off a losing season, with new head coaches ever.  — Nicholas R., Sioux Falls, S.D.

I’m not sure such a database exists, but I’d agree there will be more interest than would otherwise be expected between two teams that went 3-9 and 1-11, respectively, last season.

However, I’d argue Colorado’s Week 1 game will be even more intriguing.

Of all the games for Coach Prime to make his Buffs debut, it’s against a TCU team coming off a trip to the national championship. And not only that, but due to an unusually lackluster Saturday of season openers, it could well be ABC or FOX’s primetime game. Seriously.

The indisputable biggest game of Week 1, a likely top-10 matchup between LSU and Florida State in Orlando, is scheduled for Sunday. And remember, ABC/ESPN no longer has the Big Ten starting next season. Here is a list of other “decent” matchups outside the Big Ten that Saturday, keeping in mind the networks won’t hold their draft until the spring.

Florida at Utah (game may be played on a Thursday night)

North Carolina vs. South Carolina in Charlotte

Tennessee vs. Virginia in Nashville

Boise State at Washington

Colorado at TCU

I’m interested in all of them, of course, but the intrigue around Deion coupled with TCU’s 2022 run may well make it the “A-list” game. Whereas Nebraska-Colorado the following week will take a backseat to Texas-Alabama. And by the way, there’s another semi-glamorous Week 2 matchup between sub-.500 teams from 2022: Texas A&M at Miami.

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January 24th 

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ESPN Recruiting Rankings: CU in at No. 23 Nationally (No. 4 in the Pac-12)

From ESPN … Alabama is poised to officially claim its eighth No. 1 class under Nick Saban, and while commitments are minimal with only a small handful of ESPN 300 prospects still available, the release of the final player rankings for the 2023 class has spurred movement within the class rankings.

Ohio State saw its ESPN 300 total rise after speedster in-state signee Jermaine Mathews jumped into the rankings and among the top five CBs. His rankings bump helped the Buckeyes climb a few spots.

Overall, Billy Napier has had a successful first cycle as Florida’s head coach, but the public parting of ways between the Gators and ESPN 300 QB Jaden Rashada led to Florida falling out of the top 10.

With the Gators’ slide, Clemson climbed to No. 10 with a class led by five-star DT Peter Woods. The explosive defensive tackle has demonstrated the tools to be a disruptive force. After a dominant Under Armour All-America performance, he moved up in the ESPN 300 to No. 4 overall, giving the Tigers the top-rated defender in the nation.

Coach Jedd Fisch looks to have Arizona moving in the right direction and up in the class rankings. The Wildcats added one of the few new commitments this late, landing four-star LB Leviticus Su’a, a defender out of West Coast powerhouse program Mater Dei who closes on ball carriers well and is a good tackler.

While commitments have slowed, several ESPN 300 prospects remain uncommitted, including four in the top 100. Changes might not be as sweeping as they were in December, but little is set in stone during the final days of this cycle, with some commitments coming that could still help some programs close strong and rise.

The Pac-12 (with 2022 records) … 

  • No. 9 … Oregon (10-3)
  • No. 14 … USC (11-3)
  • No. 20 … Utah (10-4)
  • No. 23 … Colorado (1-11) …ESPN 300 commits: 3 | Previous ranking: 23 Pac-12 rank: 4 of 12
    Top offensive commit: RB Dylan Edwards (No. 140)
    Top defensive commit: CB Cormani McClain (No. 14)Deion Sanders is already proving to be a serious factor on the recruiting trail, as expected. After shocking the recruiting world by landing five-star CB Travis Hunter last cycle while at Jackson State, he pulled another recruiting shocker by flipping McClain from Miami to Colorado. Pairing McClain, a lengthy, smooth and physical defender with impact ability, with Hunter gives the Buffaloes arguably the most talented CB tandem in college football. Winning out for one of the nation’s fastest players in running back Edwards was a huge get, as was signing four-star Under Armour All-American WR Adam Hopkins. They bring game-changing speed that the Colorado program has been lacking. Wide receiver talent is on the way from Sanders’ home state in three-stars Asaad Waseem and Isaiah Hardge. The state of Oklahoma can be a great evaluation state for Sanders and staff, and three-stars Morgan Pearson and McCoy are two of those.
  • No. 28 … Washington (11-2)
  • No. 30 … UCLA (9-4)
  • No. 33 … Stanford (3-9)
  • No. 36 … Arizona (5-7)
  • No. 58 … Oregon State (10-3)
  • No. 64 … Washington State (7-6)
  • No. 66 … Arizona State (3-9)
  • No. 75 … California (4-8)

Read full story here

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January 23rd 

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(Former) Buff a likely first round NFL Draft pick

From ESPN … Who are the real first-round prospects for the 2023 NFL draft? No, not the players who will be drafted in the first round, but rather the players who actually receive a true Round 1 grade. And yes, there is actually a difference.

There will be 31 players selected in the first round, due to the Miami Dolphins being penalized a selection for violations of league policies relating to the integrity of the game. But NFL teams will not put first-round grades on 31-plus players. Why? The sacred first-round grade is reserved for a player who would be a Day 1 pick in any recent draft year, and the number varies by team and scouting department. One NFC team told me it limits its board to just 15 first-round grades to make scouts be more critical before handing them a special grade. Round 1 grades are reserved for players who are truly worthy of the early pick, not just those who will end up being one.

So I set out to list every player with a first-round grade and ended up with 20 names (up from 17 in my early-December update). My own rule of thumb is evaluating whether each player would have been a first-round pick in every one of the past five draft classes. The list could grow or shrink over the next three-plus months following all-star events, the scouting combine and college pro days. But for now, here’s a look at the 2023 draft class’ Round 1 grades. Players’ overall rankings are in parentheses after their names.

Christian Gonzalez, Oregon (No. 17)

Comp: Byron Jones

A transfer from Colorado, Gonzalez found his footing at Oregon under first-year coach Dan Lanning, who was the architect of the 2021 Georgia defense. Gonzalez has great size at 6-2 and 200 pounds, and his speed and leaping ability are elite traits. He had a breakout season in 2022 with four interceptions and seven pass breakups.

Read full story here

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January 21st

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Buffs may well end up having to play against $13M 5* quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada

Plus … From Pete Thamel at ESPN … Source: Former Florida QB committ Jaden Rashada plans to visit TCU next weekend. The Top 30 recruit is on a visit to Arizona State this weekend. Florida granted him a release from his National Letter of Intent earlier this week.

From ESPN … Quarterback Jaden Rashada is the highest-ranked uncommitted prospect in the 2023 class now that Florida has released him from his national letter of intent.

Rashad, the No. 27 recruit overall, signed with the Gators in the December signing period. A name, image and likeness deal worth a reported $13.8 million from a collective fell through, however, and Rashada requested his release.

He was granted that release Friday and is now free to enroll with any program he would like.

Most of the teams in Rashada’s original top list already have added quarterbacks, whether through high school prospects or transfers. Miami, where Rashada was once committed, took four-star Emory Williams; Texas A&M signed ESPN 300 signal-caller Marcel Reed; and LSU added ESPN 300 quarterback Rickie Collins.

The transfer portal window closed Jan. 18, and the late signing period is Wednesday, Feb. 1. Where does that leave Rashada, and what schools might be options for him going forward?

Arizona State

The Sun Devils were a team Rashada was interested in early on in his high school recruitment. His father, Harlen Rashada, played at Arizona State in the 1990s, and it’s closer to their home in California.

Rashada also has a relationship with new head coach Kenny Dillingham, who recruited him when Dillingham was the offensive coordinator at Oregon.

Dillingham needs a quarterback to help rebuild the roster and has made the position a priority this offseason. He brought in Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne, BYU transfer Jacob Conover and three-star high school prospect Israel Carter.

Washington

The Huskies don’t have an immediate need at quarterback with star Michael Penix Jr. returning for another season. The staff does have a need for the future, though, as former ESPN 300 quarterback Sam Huard transferred out this offseason.

The coaches didn’t sign a high school prospect in the 2022 class, signed Huard in 2021, and currently do not have a high school quarterback committed in the 2023 class. Building depth and competition for the future in this class is vital.

Locking in Rashada would be a huge win. The coaches could allow Penix to start this season, while getting Rashada acclimated and prepared to take over in 2024.

Cal

Cal might seem like an outlier, but the Golden Bears’ staff was one of the first to offer Rashada in high school. The coaches were in on him as a sophomore and had tried to get his commitment throughout.

Campus is closer to home for Rashada in California, and there is a big need at the position.

The coaches saw starter Jack Plummer transfer out after just one season in the program. Backup Kai Millner also transferred out this offseason, leaving Cal searching for help at quarterback.

That leaves the coaches with three-star Fernando Mendoza, who signed in 2022, and TCU transfer Sam Jackson V.

This would be a tremendous opportunity for Rashada if his goal is to play right away. The talent around him wouldn’t be at the level of what he would play with at Washington or Arizona State, though, as Cal has lost quite a few players to the portal, including wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant.

All three schools will likely be options for him, and whether more programs show interest is yet to be seen. He has the talent to play at most schools, but the scenario, timing and his situation with Florida might limit his options.

Read full story here

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January 20th

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The Athletic: Pac-12 Transfer Portal winners and losers (CU a “Winner”)

From The Athletic … In 2022, the Pac-12 transformed from a middling league to arguably the most entertaining and competitive conference in the country.

With the additions of Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, other talented quarterbacks such as Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix as well as standouts all over the field, it’s impossible to understate the impact the transfer portal has had on the Pac-12’s upswing.

We’ve now gone through the first transfer portal window of the offseason, and five of the top 15 teams in the 247Sports team transfer rankings reside in the Pac-12. So the portal could have another significant impact on the league next fall.

With that said, let’s sort through the Pac-12’s winners and losers from the initial portal window.

Winners

UCLA’s skill positions

USC’s defensive line

Colorado

Landing two-way standout Travis Hunter, who was the No. 1 prospect in the country during the 2021 recruiting cycle, would have been an unquestioned win for any program. Shedeur Sanders will be one of Colorado’s most talented QBs in recent memory. Adding talented Arkansas State tight end Seydou Traore and USF receiver Jimmy Horn Jr. will give Sanders good options in the passing game, along with Hunter.

Deion Sanders’ first trip into the portal as the Buffaloes coach has the program ranked atop the conference in the transfer rankings — mainly because its added 23 players. Coach Prime will surely land more talent in the future.

Oregon’s defense

The QB-needy teams

Losers

Stanford

The Cardinal have lost nearly 20 transfers from their 2022 team. That might not be an issue at some programs, but at a place like Stanford where it’s difficult to admit transfers — the Cardinal have brought in only one so far — that attrition is going to be extremely difficult to overcome in the short term.

Washington State and Arizona

The Cougars have lost two of their top three receivers (De’Zhuan Stribling to Oklahoma State and Donovan Ollie to Cincinnati), their starting left tackle (Jarrett Kingston to USC) and two promising linebackers (Francisco Mauigoa to Miami and Travion Brown to Arizona State).

The Wildcats have lost three starters to USC: Dorian Singer, who was the second-leading receiver in the Pac-12 in 2022, corner Christian Roland-Wallace and Barrs.

Jake Dickert and Jedd Fisch have done some positive things at Washington State and Arizona, respectively, but we’ll see if they have enough depth to withstand some of these losses.

Continue reading story here

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January 18th

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Wilner: Pac-12 schedules have “competitive balance” 

From the San Jose Mercury News … It took a month longer than expected for the Pac-12 to finalize the 2023 football schedule, then a full 60 minutes for the public reveal on the Pac-12 Networks.

Was it worth the wait?

From the standpoint of competitive balance, yes. With little calendar flexibility (10 weeks for nine games) and a slew of likely top-25 teams, the conference managed to craft a lineup that provides the best chance for collective success.

— Except for USC, whose schedule is complicated by the Notre Dame series, each team has a bye during the middle third of the season.

— Nobody plays a road game against a team coming off a bye.

— Nobody opens the conference season with consecutive games on the road.

— Each team plays back-to-back road games once during the season (except Oregon, which doesn’t play any).

Granted, the degree of difficulty isn’t distributed equally. Washington plays USC and Utah; Washington State does not. USC plays Washington and Oregon; UCLA does not.

But those differences result from the underlying model in place for 2023. The Pac-12 scrapped the North-South structure last spring but is still using the crossover schedule rotation devised for divisions.

The trick for the conference office was ordering the games in a manner that avoided overloading any particular team while creating marquee matchups spread across the 10 weeks of league play.

With the Deion Sanders era underway at Colorado as many as six teams expected to start the season in the AP top-25 poll (USC, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Oregon State and possibly UCLA), there was no shortage of premium inventory.

Once conference play begins in force (Week Four), only one Saturday is devoid of a matchup worthy of the primetime windows on Fox or ABC/ESPN.

The choice game each week, as we see it:

Sept. 23: UCLA at Utah

Sept. 30: USC at Colorado

Oct. 7: No marquee game (Washington, Utah and Oregon are idle)

Oct. 14: Oregon at Washington

Oct. 21: Utah at USC

Oct. 28: Oregon at Utah

Nov. 4: Washington at USC

Nov. 11: Utah at Washington

Nov. 18: UCLA at USC

Nov. 25: Washington State at Washington

As for the team-specific schedules, we have a thought … or four …

Colorado: How’s this for intrigue: The Buffaloes open the Deion Sanders era at TCU and face hated Nebraska in the home opener; they open conference play at Oregon; and they welcome USC for the conference opener. (Any of those four could end up on Fox or ESPN/ABC.) Of note: Colorado and Cal are the only teams that finish with back-to-back road games.

Continue reading story here

ESPN: Teams which benefitted most from Transfer Portal (no surprise that CU made the list)

From ESPN … More than 2,500 college football players have entered the transfer portal since the window opened Dec. 5. This comes a year after 3,000 players entered the portal in the last cycle.

Many of last year’s transfers made an immediate impact during the 2022 season, including USC’s Caleb Williams playing his way to the Heisman Trophy, safety Tanner McCalister helping take Ohio State to the College Football Playoff and several players rejuvenating their careers, such as quarterbacks Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), Bo Nix (Oregon) and Jayden Daniels (LSU).

The transfer portal has become a growing method of how teams construct their rosters. In 2020, 10.6% of FBS starters were transfers, according to SportSource Analytics. That number jumped to 15.9% in 2021 and 20.9% in 2022.

The portal officially closes for new entrants on Wednesday, though players in the portal are free to matriculate to a new school. The portal will reopen from May 1-15.

Who are the biggest names of this transfer cycle? Who are the sleepers that will become stars in 2023? Which teams improved the most thanks to the transfer portal? Tom VanHaaren, Craig Haubert and Tom Luginbill break down this year’s transfer cycle.

Which transfers will make the biggest instant impact in 2023?

DB Travis Hunter: Jackson State to Colorado
Hunter is such an upgrade to Colorado’s current skill in all three phases of the game. The level of competition is obviously elevated at the Power 5 level, but Hunter will be a vertical threat on offense (190 yards, four TDs), a dangerous return man and eventual shutdown corner in time.

Which quarterbacks transferred to a perfect fit for 2023?

Shedeur Sanders: Jackson State to Colorado
This is a natural fit (and the least surprising move of this transfer cycle). Not only was Shedeur’s father, Deion, also his offensive coordinator in high school, but when the elder Sanders took the job at Jackson State, Shedeur flipped his commitment from Florida State to the Tigers. This is a rare bond and history between a coach and QB, but the younger Sanders is also a perfect fit, as he has been productive as a college QB. This past season, he threw for over 3,700 yards with 40 TDs while completing 70% of his passes. Despite the FCS to FBS jump, he was an FBS caliber prospect in the 2021 recruiting class who should upgrade and stabilize the QB position for Colorado.

Who are the biggest transfer steals?

TE Seydou Traore: Arkansas State to Colorado
There was a point in 2019 when we saw Traore at a workout at the upstart NFL Academy in England. At that time, he was a raw but intriguing prospect with his length (6-4, 223), explosiveness and body control. Since he arrived in the U.S., he has continued to blossom as a player, catching 50 passes for Arkansas State this past season. He heads to Colorado as part of a big transfer class but is a name to monitor. A former soccer goalie, Traore has proved to be a quick learner with still room to grow. He should continue to make strides with the Buffaloes.

Read full story here

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January 16th

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Two opponents’ offensive weapons – TCU RB Kendre Miller and USC WR Jordan Addison – declare for the NFL draft

From ESPN … TCU running back Kendre Miller, who started for the national runner-up this past season, is headed to the NFL draft.

Miller, who announced his decision on Instagram, had 1,399 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns for TCU in 2022. The junior missed the team’s national championship loss to Georgia with a sprained knee sustained in TCU’s CFP semifinal victory over Michigan.

ESPN rated the 6-foot, 220-pound Miller as the No. 155 overall prospect for the draft. Miller had 623 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2021, but his production spiked this past season as the featured back under a new coaching staff. The Mount Enterprise, Texas, native earned first-team All-Big 12 honors.

From ESPN … USC wide receiver Jordan Addison, who won the Biletnikoff Award at Pitt before transferring last spring, is headed to the NFL draft.

Addison announced his decision on Instagram, writing: “To all my Pitt boys and my West coast men thank you for making this journey memorable forever.. See you on Sundays.”

His decision had been expected for weeks after he opted out of USC’s appearance in the Cotton Bowl against Tulane.

ESPN lists Addison as the No. 2 draft-eligible wide receiver and the No. 14 overall prospect.

Addison had 59 receptions for 875 yards and eight touchdowns in his lone season at USC, leading the team in all three categories. He had four 100-yard-receiving performances for the Trojans, including a season-high 178 yards on 11 catches in a road win over rival UCLA.

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January 13th

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Bill in Washington legislature to bind UW and WSU to same conference

From Yahoo.Sports … Conference realignment has loomed large over college athletics in recent months. Texas and Oklahoma are waving farewell to the Big 12, bound for the SEC. Over the summer, both USC and UCLA announced plans to exit the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024. Rumors and whispers have swirled, and it was reported that Washington and Oregon had conducted “preliminary discussions” about also leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

A bill proposed in this year’s legislative session seeks to link Washington’s two major universities in the same conference and aims to give state lawmakers input on a realignment decision. The measure’s primary sponsor, Sen. Drew MacEwen, R-Shelton, hopes to see Washington and Washington State remain in the same conference.

MacEwen and Senate colleagues Jeff Holy, R-Spokane, and Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, have sponsored a bill that would require both UW and WSU to compete in the same conference. The boards of regents for both schools could jointly recommend participation in a different athletic conference, but a move would be subject to approval by the Legislature, the bill’s text states.

“I think that both of those schools have rich history in this state, and I don’t think that decision should be made without public input via the Legislature,” MacEwen said of his proposal in an interview with the Kitsap Sun. “The intent of that bill is to, one, keep UW and WSU together, so we don’t end up losing one to a different conference and the other one is left in a conference that is dwindling, that being the Pac-12, and then at the same time, having the Legislature have input and oversight and approval of any major conference realignments. Looking at it from the taxpayer’s viewpoint, I think we have every right to do that and make sure that we honor our rich tradition in this state of both those schools.”

Continue reading story here

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January 12th 

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Rating Pac-12 First-Year Coaches: Grades from “A” to “B-” 

From CBS Sports … The 2022 college football season is complete, which means it’s time to look back on first-year coaching campaigns from across the country. The previous cycle was one of the busiest in recent memory as 29 FBS jobs became available, a massive increase from 18 during the previous cycle.

Perhaps more notably, the 2022 cycle featured some of the biggest jobs in the sport changing hands. USC poached Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma, making him the first coach to voluntarily leave Norman for another college job since 1947. LSU also grabbed a big name with Brian Kelly from Notre Dame. The Group of Five level also had some real difference-makers, including Troy adding Jon Sumrall and SMU nabbing Rhett Lashlee.

Now, it’s time to grade all of the first-year campaigns. Please note, As are limited for the most impressive first-year jobs in the country. Bs are for signs of promise. Cs are average. Ds are for disappointing debuts, while Fs are for first-year failures. The rare A+’s are reserved for success that would have been completely incomprehensible before the season started — and there are four of those.

Oregon … Dan Lanning … 10-3 … B+ .. Losing two of the last three regular-season games to squander a trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game was a letdown, but the Ducks showed real promise in Lanning’s first season. With quarterback Bo Nix returning in 2023 for a final season, the future is bright in Eugene.

USC … Lincoln Riley … 11-3 … A- … Riley ranks as perhaps the highest-profile poaching in modern history, and he lived up to the hype in every way during his first year in Los Angeles. The Trojans jumped from 4-8 to a Pac-12 title game appearance and Cotton Bowl berth on the heels of a Heisman season from QB Caleb Williams. Giving up 93 points in the final two games costs Riley points, but the bar is set.

Washington … Kalen DeBoer … 11-2 … A … If not for a bizarre road loss against Arizona State, the Huskies would have playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game in DeBoer’s first season one year after a 4-8 campaign. Regardless, Washington posted its best season since 2016 and established itself as a force to be reckoned with heading forward in the Pac-12.

Washington State … Jake Dickert … 7-6 … B- … Washington State couldn’t quite capitalize on a strong start to the season, but the Cougars didn’t have a bad loss. Dickert clearly has a vision for the program and will be one to watch heading forward.

Also … 

Colorado State … Jay Norvell … 3-9 … D … It can take some time to install the true Air Raid, but getting eviscerated by FCS program Sacramento State and barely surviving Hawaii wasn’t the best endorsement for a team that brought eight players from Nevada with Norvell.

Read full story here

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January 11th

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NCAA trying to limit transfers by restricting second time transfers

From CBS Sports … The NCAA Division I Council approved legislation on Wednesday to limit waivers for second-time transfers. Now, undergraduate players who transfer will have specific guidelines they must meet in order to be eligible for immediate playing time starting with the 2023-24 season or risk sitting out a year in between transfers.

First, a player can receive immediate eligibility if they have a physical injury or mental health condition that pushed them to transfer from a school. Additionally, the NCAA will consider “exigent circumstances” that could force a player to leave an institution — like sexual assault or abuse. No other factors will be considered, including academic considerations or playing time.

The new rules are an attempt to rein in the number of players using transfer portal, which has exploded since it launched four years ago. Nearly 2,000 players in FBS alone entered the portal in the first transfer window following the 2022 regular season. At least 120 quarterbacks alone have entered the portal, including a handful that were expected to enter the 2023 NFL Draft and opted for new starts at the college level instead.

Notably, Rice quarterback JT Daniels just landed at his fourth institution after leaving West Virginia. He played at USC from 2018-19 and Georgia from 2020-21 before starting for the Mountaineers in 2022. With these rules, Daniels would need to graduate in between each of his final two transfers or sit out and risk burning a year of eligibility.

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January 10th

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Wilner’s Pac-12 predictions: Coach Prime to finish 5-7 in Year One

From the San Jose Mercury News … With the 2022 college football season over and done, our attention turns to 2023.

It’s the last year of the Pac-12 as we have known it — the last year with USC and UCLA, the last year with the four-team playoff and the last year with the conference’s current media rights agreement.

The Hotline cannot let the opportunity to look foolish (or smart) pass without offering our predictions for the Pac-12 on the field/court and off.

Because what happens off the field in 2023 will determine what we see on it in 2024.

Here goes …

Football: Preseason hype

The stellar lineup of quarterbacks and hiring of Deion Sanders (by Colorado) will lead to unprecedented hype and six teams in the AP preseason poll — the highest total since the summer of 2015.

Washington and USC will crack the top 10, with Utah, Oregon and Oregon State in the No. 11-20 range and UCLA among the final five.

No other conference will have more than five teams in the poll.

Football: Rookie coach results

Because of difficult schedules and roster deficiencies, none of the three newcomers will lead his team into the postseason.

Colorado will be vastly more competitive under Sanders but finish a game short of bowl eligibility.

Arizona State will get walloped by NCAA sanctions, thus delaying Kenny Dillingham’s rebuilding project.

And Stanford will continue to flounder under coach Troy Taylor, whose task is the most daunting because of institutional challenges that don’t exist in Boulder and Tempe.

Football: The 2023 champion

With so much focus on the departing L.A. schools, Washington will be the last team standing after repelling challenges from the Oregon schools, Utah and USC. (The Bruins will experience a notable regression.)

However, the Pac-12 will (once again) fail to place a team in the College Football Playoff.

With a schedule that includes Michigan State (road), plus USC, Utah and the Oregon schools, the Huskies won’t reach the 13-0/12-1 threshold required for a playoff berth.

Continue reading story here

Wondering if it would happen: A Way-Too-Early Top 25 which includes Colorado

From RJ Young at Fox Sports … Perhaps the biggest question after watching UGA demolish a national finalist unlike any in the CFP era and not since Oklahoma got smashed 55-19 by Matt Leinart’s USC, how did this TCU team beat Michigan?

Anyway, here is my way-too-early top 25 ahead of next season  …

From the Pac-12 …

4. USC

The Trojans return the Heisman Trophy winner and expect to contend for the Pac-12 title and their first-ever trip to the CFP.

9. Utah

With Cam “Bad Moon” Rising announcing his return to the Utes, expect Utah to mount a run at a third-straight Pac-12 title in a league that hasn’t looked this competitive since the early aughts.

11. Washington

With Kalen DeBoer and Michael Penix Jr. leading the Huskies, the program won 11 games for the first time since 2016. With that tandem back in Seattle, the Huskies look capable of hunting their first league crown since 2018.

15. Oregon 

Dan Lanning turned in the best year by a first-time head coach in 2022, and he did it after the Ducks were embarrassed by Georgia in Week 1. If UO can keep that momentum, it can compete for the Pac-12 crown and a CFP bid in 2023.

17. UCLA

Chip Kelly landed five-star quarterback Dante Moore during the early signing period, giving the Bruins a boost and an expectation to be the best college football team in Los Angeles in 2023.

20. Oregon State

The Beavers were a quarterback away from realistically playing for the Pac-12 title in 2022. Now they’ve added DJ Uiagalelei, who promises to give OSU stability at a position.

21. Colorado

It’s Coach Prime Time in Boulder, and the Buffaloes ought to look ready to compete in a loaded Pac-12 with Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter each rocking the black and gold this season.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.

Final AP Poll has six Pac-12 teams (with nine CU opponents receiving votes)

From CBS Sports … Georgia finished off a perfect season with a resounding 65-7 win over TCU in the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night to finish No. 1 in the final AP Top 25. The poll marked six straight finishes inside the AP top three for the Bulldogs, including back-to-back No. 1 finishes.

Despite suffering the largest national championship game loss ever, TCU moved up to No. 2 in the final rankings. Ultimately, the finish is still the best for the Horned Frogs since 2010 when they shocked Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Michigan remained at No. 3 despite losing to TCU in the CFP semifinal, while Ohio State sat firm at No. 4.

Down the ballot, Washington moved into the final top 10 for the first time since 2016 after handling No. 25 Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Penn State also moved up to No. 7 after a dominant Rose Bowl victory over Utah. Florida State should enter 2023 as one of the top teams in the nation thanks to a No. 11 finish and the return of quarterback Jordan Travis.

Associated Press Top 25 … 

  1. Georgia (63)
  2. TCU
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio State
  5. Alabama
  6. Tennessee
  7. Penn State
  8. Washington
  9. Tulane
  10. Utah
  11. Florida State
  12. USC
  13. Clemson
  14. Kansas State
  15. Oregon
  16. LSU
  17. Oregon State
  18. Notre Dame
  19. Troy
  20. Mississippi State
  21. UCLA
  22. Pittsburgh
  23. South Carolina
  24. Fresno State
  25. Texas

Others receiving votes: Duke (49); UTSA (45); Air Force (40); Boise State (38); Minnesota (35); Texas Tech (19); North Carolina (8); North Carolina State (6); Iowa (4); Louisville (3); Purdue (3); Maryland (2); Marshall (2); Cincinnati (1); Illinois (1)

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January 9th

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Jon Wilner’s Preseason Top 25 has defending Pac-12 Champ Utah Fifth in the Pac-12

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Hotline’s 16th annual early top-25 rankings are unlike any in recent years in their leftward lean.

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with six representatives, followed by the Big 12 and SEC with five each and the Big Ten with four.

Credit a stellar lineup of quarterbacks for the Pac-12’s placement atop the heap.

Then again, projections of this nature have become exponentially more difficult — some might say ludicrous — with the creation of the transfer portal, which closes next week and reopens in May.

Speaking of May: Our not-quite-as-early-top-25 rankings will be published after spring practice, followed by the Hotline’s preseason top 25 during training camp.

5. Washington: The best team in the Pac-12 at the end of 2022 looks like the best for the start of 2023 with the return of quarterback Michael Penix, a slew of playmakers and several premier edge rushers. Our question: To what extent, if any, will the offensive line regress?

9. Oregon: Continued success in Eugene was secured when quarterback Bo Nix announced his return for ’23. There are holes to fill on the offensive line, but our focus is the other side of scrimmage: Can second-year coach Dan Lanning craft a championship defense?

11. USC: We expect more of the same from the Trojans (i.e., stellar offense, wobbly defense), but with one notable change: Their incredible turnover margin cannot be repeated. That reversion to the mean will result in two or three regular-season losses.

15. Oregon State: One of the best-run programs on the West Coast should produce another high-level season so long as one of the quarterbacks produces consistently. And the options now include Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei.

17. Utah: It’s difficult to get an accurate read on the Utes given the uncertainty over quarterback Cam Rising’s recovery from a leg injury in the Rose Bowl. (“It doesn’t look good,” coach Kyle Whittingham said after the game.) But the two-time defending Pac-12 champs are long past the point where significant regression is a threat. The floor is eight wins; the ceiling, 11.

23. UCLA: We have checked and rechecked and, yes, Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s eligibility has finally expired. But a breakthrough season hinges as much on upgrading the turnstile defense as it does finding a replacement for DRT.

Also considered: Baylor, Coastal Carolina, Fresno State, Iowa, Louisville, Minnesota, Mississippi, N.C. State, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Troy and UTSA

Read full story here

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January 7th

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First Way-Too-Early 2023 Top 25 Rankings has six Pac-12 teams

From Brett McMurphy at Action.com … Whether or not Georgia is successful in winning back-to-back national titles on Monday, I still have the Bulldogs as the team to beat in 2023.

The Bulldogs rank No. 1 in Action Network’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings of 2023. Rounding out the top five are No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Ohio State.

These rankings are fluid and expected to change based on the never-ending transfer portal, any late coaching changes or if the NCAA gives Michigan the Death Penalty (that’s a joke Wolverine fans, just like Michigan’s goal-line offense against TCU. Too soon?).

The remainder of my top 10 consists of No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Penn State, No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Clemson and No. 10 Oregon.

If you’re the only person on the planet who disagrees with my way-too-early Top 25, I have good news: I will provide updates to my Top 25 rankings as the season gets closer.

Overall, the Pac-12 leads the way with six teams among my Top 25, followed by the ACC (5), SEC (4), Big 12 (4), Big Ten (3), AAC (1), Sun Belt (1) and Notre Dame.

Action Network’s power ratings listed with each team are from Action Network senior writer Collin Wilson. They currently do not factor in all player transfers or players that may leave for the NFL. Wilson’s power ratings — and my Top 25 rankings — are expected to change drastically when rosters and/or coaching staffs are finalized in the coming weeks.

For supplemental information regarding college football, refer to our NCAAF futures, odds, picks and projections resources.

National recruiting rankings are from 247Sports, and transfer portal rankings from On3 as of Jan. 5.

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 8 Washington
  • No 10 Oregon
  • No. 13 Oregon State
  • No. 15 USC
  • No. 16 Utah
  • No. 24 UCLA

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January 5th

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College Football Playoff may bypass 12 and go straight to 16 teams

From CBS Sports … When a College Football Playoff working group submitted options for an expanded playoff field 20 months ago, the main surprise was that the CFP was that far down the road considering expansion whatsoever. The contract for a four-team bracket had five years left to run. That was locked in.

The second biggest shock? The working group had considered as many as 16 teams. Now, two years from the debut of the 12-team playoff and in the wake of the best set of CFP semifinals to date, there are those who have seen enough.

If 12 is good, 16 is a whole heck of a lot better.

“I have [thought a 16-team playoff is superior],” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “I’ve thought that way for a long time.”

The structure exists to add four more teams to the expanded playoff field. It has been discussed, even modeled. It was one of the 63 options presented by that working group to the CFP Management Committee.  As recently as July, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith was quoted by ESPN as saying, “Sixteen just seems to be out there. You can’t ignore it.”

“I think [16 teams is] the most natural,” said Craig Thompson, outgoing Mountain West commissioner and a member of the four-person working group that created the 12-team bracket. “I’m not advocating for it, but … I can’t imagine a scenario that it’s at least not discussed [before 2026].”

Thompson is not alone.

“I think 16 is the number,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “Four was better than two. Twelve is better than four. Sixteen is the number in my mind.”

“That’s where everyone sees the evolution going,” American commissioner Mike Aresco said. “I can see that happening down the road.”

You might notice all three commissioners have one thing in common: Their Group of Five conferences would benefit greatly from even more access. But that’s why the bracket was expanded in the first place.

“My view is we needed to bring people into the national championship,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who did not speak specifically on a 16-team bracket. “I don’t think it’s healthy for college football and college football globally that a West Coast team has not been in the playoff since 2016. … It’s a national game.”

In the forthcoming 12-team bracket, the six highest-ranked conference champions will be guaranteed bids (the top four receiving first-round byes) with six at-large teams filling the rest of the field. This season, that would have meant Tulane (which upset USC in the Cotton Bowl) as the No. 12 seed. Utah, as Pac-12 champion, would have gotten a first-round bye as the No. 4 seed.

Continue reading story here

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January 4th

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Tampering with players rampant, but “code of silence” prevents punitive action from being taken

From CBS Sports … Jeff Traylor was about to name names. A perpetrator from a Power Five school, the UTSA coach says, used an NIL offer hoping to persuade two of his players leave the Roadrunners. The players in question had not entered the transfer portal.

All the participants shall remain nameless, but Taylor came darn close to outing the sources of his frustration only to ultimately remain silent.

“You know what the narrative is going to be: ‘The coaches are going to leave. Why can’t the players leave?’ That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying you shouldn’t be messing with someone’s kids not in the portal,” Traylor explained CBS Sports.

The UTSA coach’s exasperation took form a couple of weeks ago when he posted a tweet asking the NCAA how to report “Power Five schools who are trying to poach our young talent.”

… This free-for-all started July 1, 2021, when the NCAA ceded its power to regulate recruiting. There were so many states with so many NIL laws that the association couldn’t play legal whack-a-mole without finding itself in the crosshairs.

Now filling the void are unscrupulous talent acquisition experts. The process has become so refined coaches don’t even have to be involved.

“It’s hard to name names in our business,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes explained. “It’s the one thing you don’t do. The way this stuff happens … typically it’s not a coach that reaches out to a player. It’s [someone else] talking to one of your players. Or his trainer calls … or a high school coach.

… There is a code of silence in the coaching profession. The Mafia calls it omerta. So yes, a lot of this is on the coaches themselves for not speaking up. Either everything stays within the coaching fraternity, or perhaps one needs to step up and name names.

Still, the predation of his players could become so frustrating Traylor might have to listen to future Power Five offers that have come his way.

Continue reading story here

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January 3rd

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Pac-12 media deal: Better to slow play negotiations, or get a deal done? 

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News

With the Big 12 setting the valuation floor on a media rights deal, is it better for the Pac-12 to wait and do the deal later next year? Let some time pass and look for a bigger increase?

This topic came up in conversation recently with one of the Hotline’s most trusted sources in the sports-media industry, and it’s a fascinating concept with supply-and-demand at the core.

Media rights to the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 are locked up into the 2030s.

The Pac-12 is the only Power Five conference with inventory available for any media company (legacy or new, linear or digital) that wants a piece of college football — or wants to increase its existing stockpile — at the highest tier of the sport.

Also, the value of live sports will only increase over time.

Supply is limited; demand is rising.

That dynamic suggests the value of Pac-12 football in the sports-media ecosystem will be greater in six months than it is today — and even greater a year from now.

So wouldn’t the Pac-12 benefit from not signing a media rights contract now and, instead, waiting until the second half of 2023 or early 2024?

In theory, a delay of that nature makes sense, especially with increasing interest from the non-traditional players such as  Amazon and Apple. (The former is reportedly considering a sports streaming app, which suggests a bullish outlook for sports on Prime Video.)

And the strategy might make practical sense as well if the future version of the Pac-12 included the L.A. media market.

But with USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten, the terrain is simply too unstable — the risk of waiting is simply too great — for the conference to slow-play its media negotiations.

In fact, one could make a solid case that the sooner commissioner George Kliavkoff locks up a deal, the better for the conference.

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January 2nd

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Pac-12 “South” goes 0-3 in bowls after No. 8 Utah falls, 35-21, to No. 11 Penn State in Rose Bowl

From CBS Sports … No. 11 Penn State used a strong second half and took advantage of a key Utah injury to power past the eighth-ranked Utes 35-21 to win just the second Rose Bowl in program history and first since 1995. That push was led by Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford, who capped off a lengthy and successful career with one of his best games. The senior went 16 of 22 for 279 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns while firing off accurate throws all evening.

While Clifford was the highlight of the evening, Utah’s quarterback situation also marked a key storyline in the game. Utes quarterback Cameron Rising exited in the third quarter with a left knee injury with his team trailing 21-14. Backup quarterback Bryson Barnes struggled in relief, throwing an interception on his first drive and failing to get Utah on the scoreboard until garbage time. Running backs Ja’Quinden Jackson and Micah Bernard combined for 140 yards and a touchdown, but it was not enough.

After Rising went out, Penn State scored a pair of touchdowns to put the game away, including an 88-yard touchdown pass from Clifford to KeAndre Lambert-Smith. The Penn State ground game was effective, too. Running back Nicholas Singleton broke the game open with an 87-yard touchdown scamper, one of two on the day, as he cleared the 100-yard rushing plateau for the fourth time this season.

Continue reading story here

No. 10 USC gives up 16 points in final four minutes to fall to No. 16 Tulane, 46-45

From CBS Sports … No. 16 Tulane stormed back to knock off No. 10 USC in an all-time bowl game performance, overcoming multiple double-digit deficits and scoring in the final seconds for the thrilling 46-45 win in the Cotton Bowl.

Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt, going head-to-head against newly minted Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, hung in to make several key plays in the final minutes of a sequence that saw the Green Wave score the final 16 points of the game in the last four and a half minutes of regulation. Trailing 45-30, Pratt guided the offense down the field in 23 seconds to score a touchdown which cut the lead to eight points. After a miscue on the ensuing kickoff, the Green Wave defense stuffed USC in its own end zone for a safety.

Pratt then helped lead a game-winning drive that included multiple third and fourth-down conversions before delivering the touchdown strike with just eight seconds remaining.

Tulane’s ability to win stems from the resiliency it showed all afternoon. The Green Wave fell behind 14-0 early, came back to tie and then trailed 28-14 at halftime before bringing it back to 28-24 late in the third quarter. Those efforts foretold the final push, which was powered in part by running back Tyjae Spears. Spears was the best player on the field at times, and he showcased playmaking that rivaled that of Williams with his eight straight games of rushing for at least 100 yards. He totaled 205 yards and four touchdowns on 17 attempts in the win.

The win cements arguably the greatest one-season turnaround in modern college football history. Tulane was 2-10 a year ago, and now finishes 12-2 with an American Athletic Conference championship and Cotton Bowl win against a top-10 USC. This was already the program’s biggest bowl appearance since 1939, and to mount this kind of comeback on this stage solidifies a true storybook moment for coach Willie Fritz and the Green Wave.

The loss was an incredibly disappointing finish to what was otherwise a great showing from the 2022 Heisman winner. Williams threw for 462 yards and five touchdowns on 37-of-52 passing (71%), and flashed all the reasons why Heisman voters were drawn to his electric playmaking ability, often extending plays with his legs while keeping his focus down the field. Though Tulane had one of the better defenses in the AAC this year and often beat blocks to apply pressure to Williams, the one thing the Green Wave struggled to do was bring Williams to the ground. It was also a stellar performance for wide receiver Brenden Rice, who broke out with a career day (six catches, 174 yards, two touchdowns) as the offense was absent of Jordan Addison.

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December 28th 

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Pac-12 considering releasing injury reports (which could enhance value of data rights)

From CBS Sports … The Pac-12 plans to consider releasing weekly injury reports amid the proliferation of state-sponsored sports betting, conference commissioner George Kliavkoff told CBS Sports. The initiative comes as the Pac-12 is also considering selling its data rights to capitalize on the betting wave that is sweeping through college athletics.

Injury reports could conceivably enhance the value of that data. Kliavkoff plans to discuss the concept with Pac-12 coaches and athletic directors in 2023.

“The concept is, if we’re going to collectively be selling our data and that data is going to be used for sports betting, we have to figure out a way to be consistent — not just across my conference but across conferences with respect to how we share injury data,” Kliavkoff said.

Injury reports have long been a sticking point with college coaches and administrators. But now, more than 4 ½ years after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to sponsor sports betting, the subject has become the differentiator between professional and college sports in the gambling community.

Pro sports are considered to have more integrity, in a gambling sense, because sportsbooks and their oddsmakers know who is playing. For example, the NFL mandates injury reports three times per week along with in-game updates. Major game-fixing scandals in college sports have averaged one a decade since the 1940s.

“If you have a [college] coach who says it’s a competitive disadvantage to participate in an injury report, his equipment managers, his trainers, his assistant coaches and his coaches are at a heightened risk [of being influenced to share such information],” said Matt Holt, founder and CEO of U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas-based firm that studies corruption in the gaming industry.

“If you know Coach A never releases information, that also means the oddsmakers and sportsbooks also won’t get that info. That makes it more valuable,” he added. “[Nefarious figures are] going to spend time and resources to try to send bribes to those players, those coaches, those equipment mangers because that information has more value.”

Continue reading story here

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December 27th 

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The 2023 Season could be “The Year of the Quarterback” in the Pac-12

From the San Jose Mercury News …. With a week remaining in 2022, the storylines are already set for the Pac-12 in 2023.

The last season with USC and UCLA shapes up as the Year of the Quarterback — the uncertain future serving as a backdrop to what could be a riveting present jammed with talent at the glamour position.

Yet another tantalizing piece fell into place Saturday when Oregon State secured a commitment from coveted transfer DJ Uiagalelei, the former five-star prospect whose career flatlined at Clemson.

He joins what might be the most talented top-to-bottom lineup of quarterbacks in conference history:

— USC’s Caleb Williams is the star among stars, fresh off his Heisman Trophy-winning season and destined for the first round of the NFL Draft in the spring of 2024.

— Two elite veterans who eschewed the NFL Draft are listed just below Williams on the Pac-12 marquee: Washington’s Michael Penix, who finished eighth in the Heisman voting; and Oregon’s Bo Nix, who was a candidate until the stretch run.

— The next tier is stocked with gifted, albeit unproven newcomers: Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders, the dynamic transfer from Jackson State who followed his father, Deion, to Boulder; freshman Dante Moore, the five-star UCLA signee; and Uiagalelei, a huge talent in need of a reset in Corvallis.

— The supporting cast includes two incumbents in Washington State’s Cam Ward and Arizona’s Jayden de Laura, along with two transfers who started elsewhere: UCLA’s Collin Schlee (from Kent State) and Arizona State’s Drew Pyne (from Notre Dame).

At this point, only Stanford and Cal lack quality options, although Utah’s outlook hinges on Cam Rising’s decision. (The two-time conference champion has not revealed whether he will return in ’23.)

The coalescence of quarterback talent on the West Coast sets up colliding narratives. With so much attention on the pending departure of the L.A. schools and the Pac-12’s murky future, the conference just might produce its most entertaining, successful season of the College Football Playoff era.

Continue reading story here

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December 23rd 

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Pac-12 scheduling or 2023: “They want schedule parity”

From the San Jose Mercury News … Unless the process gets derailed by a once-in-a-century global pandemic, the Pac-12 typically releases its football schedule by December of the previous year.

This season’s lineup, for example, was unveiled on Dec. 16, 2021.

Don’t expect the 2023 edition before the turn of the calendar, however.

“We hope to get it out relatively quickly,’’ Merton Hanks, the Pac-12’s senior associate commissioner for football operations, told the Hotline on Wednesday.

“There are some things we’re taking another look at, so we’ve asked the athletic directors for more time.”

Hanks declined to reveal specifics of the snags, but he offered a clue.

“It’s difficult because there are so many good teams,” he said.

Half the conference was represented in the final College Football Playoff rankings of the 2022 season — the highest percentage in the Power Five — and there’s no sign of momentum abating.

If anything, the Pac-12 could be stronger next fall with the return of several marquee quarterbacks (USC’s Caleb Williams, Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix, to name three) and the arrival of a certain high-profile head coach (Deion Sanders) in Boulder.

“The situation there speaks for itself,” Hanks said.

The conference office is paying close attention to personnel developments as it pieces together the master schedule for 2023 — the final year in which the rotation of games will reflect the old North/South divisional format.

Hanks and his team aren’t interested in creating a schedule that favors one team, or group of teams. Rather, the goal is to craft a lineup that best suits the collective.

“The athletic directors have been clear with us,’’ he said. “They want schedule parity, not us putting our finger on the scale, so to speak.”

That’s not an easy task given the other priority: Don’t place teams at a competitive disadvantage.

Hanks offered two examples:

— USC is scheduled to visit Notre Dame next October, as it always does in odd years.

While the Pac-12 office avoids placing its “finger on the scale” with regard to intra-conference results, it has a clear rooting interest in out-of-league games.

Sending the Trojans on the road the previous Saturday would not set them up for success in South Bend. Nor would matching them against Utah, for instance.

— Preparation time must be similar in advance of rivalry games.

“I can’t send one of the Washington schools to play in Arizona the week before the Apple Cup,” Hanks said, “and have the other one playing at home.

“It’s not our job to pick winners. It’s our job to make the best schedule for the collective and mitigate obvious negatives.”

For years, the conference office seemingly ignored the “obvious negatives.”

It created schedules that forced teams to play Saturday road games in advance of Friday road games.

It asked teams to play back-to-back road games, with the second game against a home team coming off a bye.

Once, it asked Cal to play USC in the Coliseum on short rest while the Trojans were given two weeks to prepare.

The competitive disadvantages undermine success and, in several cases, have contributed to the Pac-12 falling out of the playoff race at an embarrassingly early date.

Continue reading story here

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December 19th

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Pac-12 teams picking up QB’s: ASU gets Notre Dame starter; UCLA steals top ’23 QB from Oregon

From CBS Sports … Former Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne is transferring to Arizona State, the third-year player announced on his Twitter account. Pyne visited the Sun Devils over the weekend, a few weeks after announcing his intent to transfer, and it seems the visit went well.

Pyne’s addition to the Arizona State roster continues a trend in Tempe since new coach Kenny Dillingham accepted the head coaching job. Pyne is the 15th transfer to commit to the Sun Devils since Dillingham’s arrival. Considering Pyne’s position, you could argue none of the commitments are more significant than his.

Pyne began the 2022 season as Notre Dame’s backup quarterback behind Tyler Buchner but inherited the starting job after Buchner suffered a shoulder injury during Notre Dame’s 26-21 upset loss to Marshall in Week 2. Pyne came on in relief and started the final 10 games of the season. Pyne threw for 2,021 yards and 22 touchdowns with the Irish, finishing the season ranked 21st in passing efficiency.

He entered the transfer portal in early December despite going 8-2 as the starter in South Bend with losses to Stanford and USC. It was a move that surprised some, but with Buchner likely returning next season and the transfer portal always an option for the Irish, Pyne clearly felt leaving was what’s best for his future.

Read full story here

From ESPN Dante Moore, the No. 3 player in the Class of 2023, told ESPN that he’s flipped his college commitment to UCLA from Oregon.

Moore is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback from Detroit powerhouse Martin Luther King High School. He led King to a state title earlier this month, and in a four-year high school career as a starter threw for 135 total touchdowns and nearly 10,000 yards.

Moore visited UCLA earlier this month and said he picked the Bruins because he felt like it would be best for his development.

“I went on a visit to UCLA,” Moore told ESPN. “I talked to God and my people and really within myself. I knew that UCLA was the right move for me.”

Moore indicated the biggest factor in his flip from Oregon was former Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham taking the head-coaching job at Arizona State. He said that he’d built a relationship with Dillingham that dated back at least three years. He said that he’s happy for Dillingham — “I’m proud of him, no hate at all” — and appreciated everything that Oregon’s staff did during his recruitment.

Moore had been committed there since July. He said that quarterback Bo Nix’s decision to return next year, which was announced last night, did not factor into his decision.

Continue reading story here

CBS Sports: CU No. 1 National Storyline to follow on Signing Day

From CBS Sports …With the early signing period for the 2023 college football recruiting cycle set to capture everyone’s attention on Wednesday, major storylines are abound as the top programs across the country look to load up their classes. A few of these storylines are the same on a yearly basis.

Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State consistently recruit a level above many others. A plucky upstart program outkicks its coverage a bit and puts everyone on notice — such as Texas A&M last year and Miami this year. Then we have the player who decides to set signing day on fire by side-stepping the pundits and committing to a surprise school (look at what you’ve started, Travis Hunter!).

There may be 90% of the top 100 recruits off the board as we enter the early signing period, but there is still some drama left that fans should monitor. Can anyone catch Alabama for the top spot? Will Miami cement itself as this year’s Texas A&M? Will there be a Travis Hunter-like seismic shift? Stay tuned, because there is plenty to watch.

Storylines to follow on National Signing Day

1. Is Colorado … Primed to make a big splash?

Deion Sanders and Travis Hunter shocked the world a year ago when the No. 1 recruit in the class announced he would flip his commitment from Sanders’ alma mater, Florida State, to sign with Jackson State. Coach Prime coached his final game at Jackson State in the Celebration Bowl as he prepares to take over at Colorado, so now all of the attention will be focused on the Buffs program.

Sanders is already making a splash. He’s flipped former Notre Dame running back commit Dylan Edwards, and this weekend he had elite edge rusher Tausili Akana, the No. 1 prospect in Utah, in for a surprise unofficial visit. Also visiting was the No. 1 prospect in Nebraska, Malachi Coleman, who was a one-time Cornhuskers commit but has now drawn interest from the Buffs. Vicari Swain, a Top247 athlete from Georgia, was also in town.

In fact, the Buffs had nearly 20 visitors this past weekend, several of them portal players (not counting Jackson State players expected to follow Sanders). There were a slew of top 2024 and 2025 prospects visiting, too. Colorado is once again cool, and with the way Coach Prime recruited at Jackson State, we should not count out a Hunter-like surprise this week.

Continue reading story here

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December 17th

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Pac-12 Bowls: No. 14 Oregon State routs Florida; Washington State routed by Fresno State

From ESPN

No. 14 Oregon State 30, Florida 3

Deshaun Fenwick came off the bench to rush for 107 yards, and No. 17 Oregon State nearly dealt Florida a rare shutout, winning the Las Vegas Bowl 30-3 on Saturday.

The Beavers (10-3) reached 10 victories for the third time program history and the first time in 16 years. They first accomplished the feat in 2000, when coach Jonathan Smith was the team’s quarterback.

Oregon State won seven of its final eight games.

After the Beavers took control early in the third quarter by going up 17-0, the only real question was whether Florida would keep its NCAA-record scoring streak intact. The Gators last were shut out in 1988, a span of 436 games and 57 games longer than any other team.

The streak remained alive when Adam Mihalek made a 40-yard field goal with 37 seconds left.

It was the first start for Florida redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Miller, and it showed. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 180 yards. Miller, an Ohio State transfer, was elevated to the starting lineup when Anthony Richardson declared for the NFL draft and backup Jalen Kitna was arrested on child pornography charges.

The Gators closed their first season under coach Billy Napier with three consecutive losses. This also was their second 6-7 record in a row.

Continue reading story here

Fresno State 29, Washington State 6

From ESPN … Jordan Mims rushed for a career-high 205 yards and two scores, Jake Haener threw two TD passes and Fresno State completed the biggest in-season turnaround in Football Bowl Subdivision history with a 29-6 victory over Washington State in the LA Bowl on Saturday.

Fresno State — which won the Mountain West Conference title — is the first team to get to 10 wins after dropping four of the first five. The Bulldogs (10-4) were 1-4 in early October before winning their final nine games.

Mims accounted for 232 all-purpose yards and outgained Washington State, which had 182 offensive yards. Both of Mims’ touchdowns were on direct snaps out of the Wildcat formation.

Early in the second quarter, the senior went 4 yards around left end to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 advantage. In the fourth quarter, he carried it 2 yards up the middle to make it 29-6.

Haener completed 24 of 36 passes for 284 yards in his final game for Fresno State. The senior connected with Zane Pope on a 22-yard touchdown to complete the Bulldogs’ opening possession. He added an 11-yard score to Nikko Remigio late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 22-6.

Cameron Ward was 22 of 32 for 137 yards for Washington State (7-6).

Nakia Watson rushed for 33 yards and had the Cougars only touchdown in the third quarter, when he scored from 1 yard to bring Washington State within 16-6.

Continue reading story here

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December 16th

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With UCLA’s move approved, where does the Pac-12 stand on expansion?

From the San Jose Mercury News

Can you explain why expansion candidates like San Diego State need to wait until after the Pac-12 media deal is signed? Isn’t a prospective media package stronger if it’s known that SDSU and, say, SMU will be in the fold? — @Cargoman0363

A rich topic, for sure. And I’ll attempt to address the most relevant facets here.

First, and for those unaware, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff was asked recently which piece comes first (the media rights deal or a decision on expansion) during a college athletics forum last week in Las Vegas.

“You can do it either way,” he said. “We’ve decided to sequence it as follows: media deal first, grant of rights next, expansion third.”

Understandably, Kliavkoff has been wary of sharing too many details of the Pac-12’s negotiating strategy, so we’re left to make our best guess.

And our guess is the conference has determined no expansion candidates are obviously revenue accretive, minimizing the need to expand before hammering out the media rights deal.

If the 10 remaining schools stand to receive $ 30 million annually in media revenue (to use an easy, round number), none of the expansion options (San Diego State, SMU, Gonzaga, Fresno State, UNLV) would increase that figure materially.

As a result, the conference is focused on finding the right network partners and the right packages of games on those network partners — in other words, the exposure piece.

But that approach comes with some risk: The expansion candidates grow impatient and accept offers from other conferences. (Hello, Big 12.)

We suspect that risk is low, especially with the football expansion options.

The Big 12 has already passed on SMU, and San Diego State has strategic aims beyond football that make the Pac-12 its strongly preferred destination:

The campus specifically and the California State University system generally would leap at the chance to align with a conference that includes Stanford and Cal.

For that reason, SDSU won’t make a move until it hears from the Pac-12.

(Gonzaga’s situation is different, but our hunch is the Zags much prefer membership in the Pac-12 to life in the Big 12.)

So while there is risk in the Pac-12’s approach, it seems somewhat mitigated in each case.

That said, the Hotline has spoken to numerous sources in the sports media world over the past few months who believe the strategy is backward — that the Pac-12 should solve the expansion piece first, then formulate a media rights deal.


Why do you favor SMU over San Diego State? — @SkipLongbottoms

To be clear: The Hotline doesn’t “favor” one over the other as Pac-12 expansion options. We are simply attempting to guess along with the university presidents.

The Mustangs have the right institutional profile, particularly on the academic side, and would allow the conference to both carve out a new media market and gain a foothold in key recruiting territory.

San Diego State makes sense on multiple levels. But in our view, the Aztecs are, first and foremost, a defensive play for the Pac-12:

Pass on SDSU, and the Big 12 will surely swoop in.

The conference will be challenged enough with two Big Ten campuses in Los Angeles. Imagine having a Big 12 school in San Diego, as well.

Continue reading story here

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December 14th

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UC Regents vote 11-5 to let UCLA leave for Big Ten – but will tax the move

From CBS Sports … There is no longer anything standing in the way of UCLA joining the Big Ten. University of California regents voted 11-5 Wednesday approving UCLA’s long-anticipated conference switch. The move may not come without a price, however, with several recommendations targeting to, among other things, “mitigate travel and address other athlete well-being issues.”

Most notably, however, UCLA is being asked to pay a tax to Cal in the range of $2 to $10 million, likely depending on the worth of the Pac-12’s new television once it hits the market. It’s not immediately clear from the language of the agreement if the payment is one time or annually. Other recommendations center on the school limiting the impact of travel on student-athletes, as well as providing them with extra benefits, such as nutritional support (including guaranteed breakfast and lunch), mental health services and academic support.

“We’re excited to join the Big Ten Conference in 2024 and are grateful to the Board of Regents’ thoughtful engagement in this decision,” said UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond in a statement following the vote. “We’ve always been guided by what is best for our 25 teams and more than 700 student-athletes, and the Big Ten offers exciting new competitive opportunities on a bigger national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talent.”

UCLA has faced a lot of pushback since it announced, along with USC, its intention to move to the Big Ten since last summer. Even California governor Gavin Newsom publicly criticized the move. Despite the protestations, however, it was always a long shot that UCLA would be forced to remain in the Pac-12 against its will.

Now both UCLA and USC can proceed as planned, with the schools set to officially become Big Ten members in summer 2024.

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December 13th 

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UCLA Decision: Wednesday is D-Day for UC Board of Regents

From the San Jose Mercury News … After months of discussions and debate, surveys and presentations, the University of California Board of Regents will meet Wednesday to determine the fate of UCLA’s planned move to the Big Ten in the summer of 2024.

One way or another, the saga will reach its conclusion following open and closed sessions that are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Luskin Conference Center at UCLA.

The chance of the governing board overturning the Bruins’ move is “extremely unlikely,” according to a source familiar with the process.

Rescinding any decision made by a campus chancellor — UCLA’s Gene Block formalized the Big Ten entry on June 30 — could create a dangerous precedent within the UC system.

But it’s not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition for the regents. There’s another option, one that could satisfy numerous factions: a UCLA “tax.”

Our apologies if you thought there would be no math …

The loss of UCLA and USC — and the massive Southern California media market — will reduce annual revenue for the remaining Pac-12 members, including Cal. Projections range from as low as $30 million (per school per year) to as high as $35 million or $38 million.

(If the Bruins were to remain in the Pac-12 and provide an anchor in L.A., the annual revenue likely would increase by at least 10 percent for the conference.)

Meanwhile, UCLA is projected to receive at least $62.5 million annually — and perhaps as much as $70 million — from the Big Ten’s media agreement, which was signed seven weeks after the Bruins and Trojans were officially accepted.

The regents are ultimately responsible for both the Berkeley and Westwood campuses.

By imposing a tax on UCLA that would essentially serve as a subsidy for Cal, the regents would help the Bears offset the expected reduction in revenue.

It would also serve as a political victory for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who blasted UCLA for its lack of transparency in the Big Ten move.

“No big deal, I’m the governor of the state of California,” Newsom told Fox 11 Los Angeles in July. “Maybe a bigger deal is I’m the chair of the UC regents. I read about it.

“Is it a good idea? Did we discuss the merits or demerits? I’m not aware that anyone did. So it was done in isolation. It was done without any regental oversight or support.”

Continue reading story here

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Mike Leach passes away at the age of 61

… In memoriam: Video of Mike Leach’s best quotes … 

From ESPN … Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach died Monday night after complications related to a heart condition, the school announced. He was 61.

Leach’s family said, in a statement released Tuesday by the school, that Leach participated in organ donation at the University of Mississippi Medical Center as “a final act of charity.”

“We are supported and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, the hospital staff, and football fans around the world,” Leach’s family said. “Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life.”

Leach suffered what the university initially described in a news release as a “personal health issue” at his home in Starkville on Sunday, which required him to be airlifted to the UMMC in Jackson, about 125 miles from Mississippi State.

Leach, in his third season as Mississippi State’s coach, had told ESPN after the regular season concluded that he struggled with pneumonia during the season but was feeling better. He was at practice Saturday before suffering his health issue on Sunday.

“Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape,” university president Mark E. Keenum said in a statement. “His innovative ‘Air Raid’ offense changed the game. Mike’s keen intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the nation’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university, to the Southeastern Conference, and to all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things.

“Mike’s death also underscores the fragility and uncertainty of our lives. Three weeks ago, Mike and I were together in the locker room celebrating a hard-fought victory in Oxford. Mike Leach truly embraced life and lived in such a manner as to leave no regrets. That’s a worthy legacy. May God bless the Leach family during these days and hours. The prayers of the Bulldog family go with them.”

Leach was in his third head-coaching stint, with a 19-17 record for the Bulldogs, 8-4 this season. He was at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009 and Washington State from 2012 to 2019. He was the AFCA national coach of the year in 2018 at Washington State.

“We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach,” Mississippi State interim athletic director Bracky Brett said in a statement. “College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever. Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades.

“Mike was an innovator, pioneer and visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend but an even better person. We are all better for having known Mike Leach. The thoughts and prayers of Mississippi State University and the entire Bulldog family are with his wife Sharon, his children and the entire Leach family.

Continue reading story here

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December 10th

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Stanford is hiring Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor

Official Press Release from Stanford

From ESPN … Stanford is hiring Sacramento State’s Troy Taylor as the program’s next head football coach, sources confirmed to ESPN on Saturday.

Taylor, who graduated from Cal, has been the coach at Sacramento State since 2019. The Hornets were upset by Incarnate Word in the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs on Friday night, paving the way for Taylor’s move to Stanford.

The Sacramento Bee was first to report Taylor’s hiring.

The 54-year old Taylor is a two-time Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year (2019, ’21) won the 2019 Eddie Robinson Award as FCS coach of the year and is a finalist again this year after leading his team to a 12-0 record before Friday’s loss.

The Stanford job opened when David Shaw resigned in November after 12 seasons. He was the winningest coach in Stanford history with a 96-54 record. His resignation came after back-to-back 3-9 seasons and a 14-28 stretch since the start of 2019.

Former Dallas Cowboys coach, Jason Garrett, was reportedly interested in the job, but removed himself from consideration on Thursday.

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December 4th

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College Football Playoffs set; Pac-12 bowl lineup announced

From CBS Sports … Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State will play for the national championship after being chosen for the College Football Playoff on Sunday.

After not playing in a conference championship game, the Buckeyes (11-1) moved up one spot following USC’s loss in the Pac-12 title game Friday to give the Big Ten two playoff teams for the first time in the format’s nine-year history.

“How we got here, at this point, I guess doesn’t really matter now that we’re here,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.

No. 4 Ohio State will face No. 1 Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and No. 2 Michigan will face No. 3 TCU in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31st.

The CFP National Championship presented by AT&T will be played Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

TCU (12-1) held on to its No. 3 ranking after losing in overtime in the Big 12 championship game to Kansas State. The Horned Frogs and Buckeyes are the fifth and sixth teams to make the College Football Playoff without winning a conference title.

Pac-12 bowl games …

Dec. 17th … 1:30 p.m., MT … Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl … Washington State v. Fresno State … ABC

Dec. 17th … 5:30 p.m., MT … Las Vegas Bowl … No. 14 Oregon State v. Florida ,,, ABC

Dec. 19th … 6:00 p.m., MT … Holiday Bowl … No. 15 Oregon v. North Carolina … FOX

Dec. 29th … 7:00 p.m., MT … Alamo Bowl … No. 12 Washington v. No. 20 Texas … ESPN

Dec. 30th … 12:00 p.m., MT … Sun Bowl … No. 18 UCLA v. Pittsburgh … CBS

Jan. 2nd … 11:00 a.m., MT … Cotton Bowl … No. 10 USC v. No. 16 Tulane … ESPN

Jan. 2nd … 3:00 p.m., MT … Rose Bowl … No. 8 Utah v. No. 11 Penn State … ESPN

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December 2nd

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Utah ends USC’s Playoff Hopes with 47-24 win in Pac-12 Title Game

From CBS Sports … No. 11 Utah played the role of spoiler Friday night in a dominant 47-24 win over No. 4 USC in the 2022 Pac-12 Championship Game. The evisceration of the Trojans, which saw the Utes take advantage of multiple injuries to USC quarterback Caleb Williams, not only sends Utah into the Rose Bowl for the second straight season but also likely knocks USC out of the College Football Playoff.

While that will not be determined for sure until Sunday, the two-loss Trojans are highly unlikely to see the four-team field with two losses to the Utes this season. Expected to replace USC is No. 5 Ohio State, which has only suffered a loss to No. 2 Michigan.

USC jumped out to a 17-3 first-half lead behind some incredible plays from Williams. However, the Heisman Trophy favorite was slowed under the weight of two injuries, including a hamstring injury that opened a door for Utah to rally from a 14-point deficit before halftime and outscore USC 30-7 in the second half.

When the Utes knocked off the Trojans 43-42 on Oct. 15, tight end Dalton Kincaid was one of Utah’s heroes. With Kincaid slowed Friday night by a lower-back injury, however, a variety of characters emerged as threats in the passing game for quarterback Cam Rising. After scoring five touchdowns against the Trojans in the first meeting, Rising turned in another huge performance on Saturday, which included touchdown passes of 57 yards to Money Parks and 60 yards to Thomas Yassmin in the second half. Neither player was among the Utes’ top targets in the regular season, but both came up with huge plays amid a reduced role for Kincaid. With 5:29 remaining, Ja’Quinden Jackson sealed the outcome with a 53-yard touchdown run.

Continue reading story here

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December 1st 

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With Rose Bowl in the fold, College Football Playoff can expand to 12 teams in 2024

From ESPN … The last remaining obstacle to expanding the College Football Playoff to 12 teams in the 2024 and 2025 seasons has been cleared.

The Rose Bowl reached an agreement that officially paves the way for the College Football Playoff to expand in the final two seasons of the current contract — 2024 and 2025.

“We’re delighted to be moving forward,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a prepared statement released Thursday. “When the board expanded the playoff beginning in 2026 and asked the CFP Management Committee to examine the feasibility of starting the new format earlier, the Management Committee went right to work. More teams and more access mean more excitement for fans, alumni, students and student-athletes.

“We appreciate the leaders of the six bowl games and the two future championship-game host cities for their cooperation. Everyone realized that this change is in the best interest of college football and pulled together to make it happen.”

The first round of the playoff in 2024 will take place the week ending Sat., Dec. 21, at either the home field of the higher-seeded team or at another site designated by the higher-seeded school. (No. 12 at No. 5, No. 11 at No. 6, No. 10 at No. 7, and No. 9 at No. 8.) The specific game dates, likely late in that week, will be announced later.

For the 2024 and 2025 seasons, the four quarterfinal games and two semifinal games will be played in bowls on a rotating basis. The 2024 quarterfinals will take place in the Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, while the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl will host the semifinals. The 2025 quarterfinals will take place in the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, while the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl will host the semifinals. Specific dates for all quarterfinal and semifinal games will be announced at a later time.

The national championship games will be played Jan. 20, 2025, in Atlanta, and Jan. 19, 2026, in Miami.

Continue reading story here

Pac-12 Media rights deal won’t be completed before the New Year: “no rush” for a resolution

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12’s media rights negotiations won’t be completed before the New Year, commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday while indicating there is “no rush” for a resolution.

The future of the conference depends on the outcome of the negotiations, which began in July after USC and UCLA announced their departures for the Big Ten.

Since then:

— The Big Ten has agreed to a seven-year deal, beginning in 2023, that’s estimated to carry a minimum valuation of $62.5 million per school per year.

— The Big 12 has renewed its media contracts with longtime partners ESPN and Fox for a reported $31.7 million per school starting in 2025.

— The University of California Board of Regents is reviewing UCLA’s entry into the Big Ten. A final decision from the governing board, which has the authority to rescind the move, is expected Dec. 14.

If the Bruins are forced to remain in the Pac-12, which is unlikely, the dynamics of the media negotiations could change drastically.

Asked about the timing of a media deal, Kliavkoff said: “I would not expect an announcement in the balance of this calendar year.”

He added that the 10 schools “remain committed to each other.”

The conference is negotiating with its current partners, Fox and ESPN, and with a group of newcomers to the college football media space, including Amazon.

Because rights to the Big Ten and Big 12 have been locked up into the 2030s, the Pac-12 stands as the only Power Five conference with football inventory available on the market through the remainder of the decade.

Once a media deal is reached, Kliavkoff said, he will take the proposal to the university presidents and ask them to sign a grant-of-rights agreement binding their media revenue to the conference.

“I don’t anticipate any issues,” he said.

Continue reading story here

Arizona coach Jedd Fisch gets contract extension

From ESPN … The University of Arizona and football coach Jedd Fisch reached an agreement on an extension that will keep Fisch under contract through 2027, the school announced Thursday.

“Coach Fisch has brought a new level of energy and excitement to Arizona Football, for our student-athletes and for our fans,” school president Dr. Robert C. Robbins said in a news release. “With a top-20 recruiting class this past year, an outstanding season, and the kind of integrity and dedication we value at the University of Arizona, he has earned this vote of confidence and I am excited for the bright future he is building for this program.”

Fisch was hired as Arizona’s head coach in December of 2020, and though the program has gone 6-18 during his tenure (5-7 this season after a 1-11 campaign last year), Fisch’s rebuild is showing promise mainly through the school’s success on the recruiting trail. The Wildcats put together the second-best recruiting class in the Pac-12 last year, second only to Oregon. So far, they’re in line for a top-50 class in 2023 as well.

This season, Arizona showed flashes of progress under Fisch by beating no. 9 UCLA at the Rose Bowl — their first top-10 road win since 2015 — and taking care of rival Arizona State in the Territorial Cup.

“This new contract will allow us to continue to build and improve in all areas,” Fisch said in a statement. “This would not be possible without the incredible efforts of our players and coaches, to whom I am incredibly grateful.”

Continue reading story here

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33 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. open letter to Mr. Mandel.
    Glamorous is a strange word for a football game but If I have to use it glamorous is in the eye of the beholder. I dont get paid to fatten up watching football games all day so pardon me if dont watch SEC, ACC or few big 12 games. The last time I can remember ever watching LSU was when Joe Burrow was the QB, and only because. Virginia? pfftt. Tennessee? pfft, Definitely never Alabama or Tex A&M
    The way things are going these days in college football I may get cut off watching any of it because I dont watch enough…and when I do watch the max 2 a week I record them first so I dont have to get nauseous watching the same lawyer, pharma and insurance commercials 16 to 20 times.
    Gosh there must be millions of folks out there without any other spare time interests.

  2. Rumor mill is spinning harder that CU won’t have to play against rashada next year. He will be a Buff.

    As the rumor mill turns.

    Go Buffs

        1. Yo how is he rumor mill treating ya. You were pretty firm on the gerbil spinner eh?

          Keep the wax out the ear aches less.

          Go Buffs

    1. I was thinking about Rashada this morning. 2 Blue-chips are in Phoenix this weekend. Rashada is visiting ASU and presumably Duce Robinson is 5* TE (#1 TE) is in Phoenix where he lives. Robinson is crystal-ed to GA for quite a while. His warm teams are: GA, TX, SC, BAMA and Ore. His four visits were before Nov 12th. He has not visited ORE, so that could be this weekend or he is just a silent commit…

      CU is not even listed as an offer, which I find a bit odd. IMO, Duce Robinson would be an instant great get for Prime and the final “Shock the World” signing day NLI out of nowhere. At 6-6 he is big enough to start in a 2 TE and move to the slot. He would see playing time right away. He could beat out our transfer, or just be #2 with some specific packages. He’s listed at 230 and could put on 10-15 pounds upon hitting campus if he came for just the summer, so he could block some and have enough durability to hopefully not get hurt. I know some of the returning TE’s are well liked, but none are close to 6’6″ 230+ come game-day A total nightmare match-up guy.

      https://247sports.com/Player/Duce-Robinson-46086662/

      The question is, does Duce have any interest in CU? Does he want to play right away? Does he want to stay somewhat closer to home? At Bama and GA he probably red-shirts–they have so many great developed TEs. Perhaps, the same at TX, depending on how developed they are at the position. SC he may play, but does he want to go to the PAC for 1 season then the B1G.

      Phoenix to me is interesting, since it is drive-able and there are a ton of flights to/from DIA, which are generally pretty cheap. If his Parents want to see their kid play, Colorado is easier than all of the teams he lists as Warm. At SC, he loses playing in his home state after 1 season. At CU, he always has one game his parents can easily drive to.

      IMO, if Prime were to pull a Feb 3 rabbit out of his hat, it would be signing 1 if not both of these guys. I just can see it. Some would depend on the dead period, and when Rashada ends his ASU visit. I could see a quick Sun-Mon or just Sun trip to Boulder. Commercial it is an hour fifteen min to Denver, less if they went private and landed at Rcy. Signing Robinson would be the most insane Signing Day coup possible.

  3. A massive – allegedly – nil deal gone wrong? Who saw that coming? And massive is of course relative. A million dollar nil deal sounds massive to me, for a high school kid. $90k seems about right. Or cars, housing and pocket cash, like the good ol days.

    Go Buffs

    1. somethings are just too good to be true…Santos syndrome. Sure hoping our dynamic duo at corner play out.
      million schmillion…. if his receivers cant get open he might as well be a 2 bit QB

  4. I really woud like to see a 3rd legit conference for the west, Big-Pac.
    Would be a distant 3rd to SEC and Big 10 after recent defections, but there would be enough good teams that could make it viable and who knows what happens over time

  5. I applaud the Washington legislature with their effort that might somehow contribute to keeping the PAC together…..but please dont give the big wigs at fort fun any ideas

  6. Daniels…sheeesh. 4th school. I read somewhere he has helicopter parents. Apparently he doesnt mind the ride. Even if the kid shines at Rice if I was an NFL GM his gypsy factor would weight heavily on his draft potential.

  7. I’m a little indifferent on letting kids transfer multiple times with immediate eligibility, or not. It definitely changes the game to a more mercenary style, vs kids being at a school for most, or all of their careers, but it seems that train already left the station. And I sort of expect with portalling losses – kids transferring to nowhere – that may settle down. My question is, will someone challenge that restriction in court? Probably.

    Go Buffs

  8. “way too early…” is absolutely correct. Why bother? These guys need to find another job in the off season. Something that doesnt require much brains or brawn

  9. Perhaps the demise of pac 12 and particularly pac 12 football has been over stated.

    Pac 12 may have the best qb’s top to bottom they’ve ever had.

    Go George. Grab that bag.

    Go Buffs

  10. 16 team playoff means a 4 game post season to the NC. Strength and conditioning, if it really does help prevent injuries, is more important than ever,

  11. Utah reminds me of the Huskers . Run up scores against weaker teams. If they play a strong team OOC they lose. They lose their bowl game. And they wear red. The fans are also starting to get a little cornholish so the resemblance is more and more apparent.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. Red is bad. Players getting too cocky and not playing with class. While I wanted the Pac to look good there was something gratifying watching the Utes get pounded. It was only a matter of time for Cam to get pummeled too.

    1. How about the Buff offense as good as USC’s? …and it wouldnt take all that much improvement for the Buff’s D to be better than theirs.

  12. There are 4 quality QB transfers with great potential coming west, add them to the 3 big dogs returning and the 2 others for WSU and UofA and why would Cam Rising stay to face many of those guys in next year’s daft?

    So I’m thinking Cam goes this year like he originally said he’d planned and I can see Utah bring in a transfer too. The west has lost a lot of QBs to schools east of the Rockies/Denver and this year looks to be stacked with transfer talent coming west, some came last year. I guess it all depends on the lines, the supporting skilled players and the OCs, but the competition in the Pac12 looks pretty solid for 2023.

  13. Stinkin’ Lincoln Riley can’t coach defense or find an assistant that can, thus the Spoiled Children will never win the Big 10 title and will be an afterthought in basketball. UCLA will go the way of the Cornholers path in the Big 10, never really in contention in football. However, in basketball they will probably be very successful.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Except for basketball I think it will be a negative, not a positive, because 2 games in a week played 1-2 timezones to the East, week after week, is not going to be good. For UCLA football? Bruins will probably get steamrolled except the Big10 west you never know. Although from the looks of it, ChipK really likes to eat, so maybe all the regional meat ‘n potatoes and fried food will make him a happy camper.

  14. Thanks for the Leach collage Stuart.
    There have to be hundreds more funny and off the wall things
    If you didnt know he was a football coach you never would have guessed it let alone one of the most innovative. Death to cookie cutter football…..and sounds like it might die here at CU with Lewis

    1. Agree with you ep. Leach was an entertaining personality and an excellent coach. Few are able to say that. Thanks Stuart for posting this.

  15. Is there an easier team to hate than U$C? Watching them get blown out was cathartic even if slightly self destructive, at least from a money standpoint.

  16. dang
    I have been too busy working . Overlooked this game was last night.
    Gotta love it though
    the bigger they are the harder they fall.
    The best team money can buy went down like a sack of potatoes when their main guy couldnt play. You dont think they have been full of themselves all season do you and thought this one, along with 2 more were already in the books?
    I imagine getting ready for next year the spoiled children will simply buy 2 more of the nation’s best QBs for back ups and a plethora of new D players who wont collapse when the going gets tough. Overrated Mr. rice might then get at least a PAC ring.

    1. It was a good game.

      Chances are, usc still makes the playoff. That is good for the pac and CU for the cash.

      I am sure mekhi and Brenden have zero regrets.

      Let’s hope Deion comes to Boulder so we can get even higher tier players.

      Go Buffs

      1. After that showing on prime time there is no way usc will be in the playoffs. They were an embarrassment, have fun getting your ass kicked in big 10 smashmouth football Trojans

  17. Choosing a college football head coach is a crap shoot. Fisch is a prime example of beating the odds. When he was hired my first thought was another annual precious and rare win for the Buffs. the guy never played the game and never had any experience as even a coordinator.
    And as such when hired he had to be the least paid coach in the PAC.
    I’m certainly not saying he will keep bringing the team on the uphill climb to the conference championship but he did make the team competitive in 2 years.
    I’m also not saying that the Buffs make that big of a reach but they need to look a little deeper than some guy who was a fired former HC at the G5 level. They wont have the fire in their belly that obviously also missing in KD. In one of them you most likely will have someone who is coasting with millions on his last buyout and has a certain degree of arrogance.
    Some folks to will point to Bilema as someone who proves me wrong but his success was more attributed to a Leavitt like performance by Walters. When the big “B” was at Arkansas I heard him whine about making up tempo no huddle football illegal. That was enough for me to decide I didnt want that dinosaur anywhere near CU football.
    I have heard the Admin will be willing to make Prime one of the highest paid coaches in the conference. That is also a crapshoot even though I think he will be a good hire. Speaking of money, Prime should bring enough “jazz” and attention to the team to get more money bags to contribute to the NIL.

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