Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Pac-10 Conference Realignment: What Utah and Colorado Mean for Arizona State

June 17th, 2010

If the past is any indication of the future, the Arizona State Sun Devils will welcome Utah and Colorado to the Pac-10 with open arms.

In its history, ASU is 2-0 against Colorado and 16-6 against Utah. 

The two schools are set to begin Pac-10 play in 2012, but the date could possibly be pushed forward to 2011.

According to a Denver Post report, the Utes and Buffaloes will join the Arizona and Los Angeles schools in a south division, while the remaining universities will make up a north division. 

Besides perennial powerhouse USC (which might be on the decline because of recent NCAA sanctions), no other school in the Sun Devils' new division should intimidate ASU very much. 

UCLA is on the rise, but hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1998. 

Arizona has had two winning seasons in a row (including back-to-back Territorial Cup victories over ASU), but doesn't field the same long-term football pedigree as the Sun Devils.

If ASU should find a way to win its division, the team would play in a conference championship game against the winner of the north division with a bid to the Rose Bowl at stake. 

It is still unclear where the title game will take place, but it has been speculated that it might rotate between NFL stadiums in Pac-10 cities.


Other Notes

The Sun Devils' scheduled 2018 and 2019 home-and-home football series with Colorado will need to be replaced. 

ASU will likely continue play nine conference games, meaning the Sun Devils will play four teams from the north division (Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, California, and Stanford) per year. 

The Pac-12?: The Utah Utes Are Invited To Join The Pac-10

June 17th, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY— Utah is poised to become the 12th member of the Pac-10, as the conference quickly pivoted Wednesday to invite the Utes after being turned down by Texas and four other members of the Big 12 two days ago.

Utah officials did not immediately say whether the invitation would be accepted. However, a source tells ESPN that Utah will join the Pac-10.

Utah associate athletic director Liz Abel said the athletics department would not comment until Thursday, after the school's board of trustees meeting to discuss the school's conference affiliation. A news conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET at the football stadium following the meeting.

Pac-10 officials are expected to attend Thursday's news conference in Utah.

Utah has been a member of the Mountain West Conference since the league began in 1999—and one of its most successful in football and basketball.

There had been speculation on Tuesday that Utah would be the next school to be approached by the Pac-10. When asked about the possibility, school president Michael Young told The Associated Press, "we wouldn't anticipate making a move of this magnitude without the concurrence of our board of trustees."

Utah would not have to pay a penalty to depart the MWC, per conference rules.

A message left with Randy Dryer, chairman of the board of trustees, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

If Utah bolts the Mountain West, it would be the latest in a string of conference affiliation changes.

Last week, Colorado decided to leave the Big 12 and accept an invitation to join the Pac-10. Nebraska also has said it will leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten, while Boise State is fleeing the Western Athletic Conference to join the Mountain West.

Earlier in the week, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State recommitted to the Big 12 instead of hopping to the Pac-10.

That left the Pac-10 in need of another member to reach the 12 required to hold a football championship game. Pac-10 spokeswoman Danette Leighton declined to say when Utah would begin competing in the Pac-10 if it accepts the conference's invitation.

The addition of Utah now gives Colorado a geographical rival and travel partner. The league is likely to divide into two six-team divisions, and how that will shake out is unclear.

The other members of the Pac-10 are USC, UCLA, Stanford, California, Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Oregon State.

Utah had already previously scheduled games with Oregon in 2011. Games with Washington State and Colorado are scheduled in 2012 and 2013.

Utah officials have long been frustrated about their inability to play for a football national championship while in the Mountain West. Utah had an undefeated season in 2008, but was not invited to the national title game; the Utes defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Utah went undefeated in 2004 and, again, did not play for the national championship.

Under the Bowl Championship Series, the champions of six conferences have automatic bids to play in top-tier bowl games, while the other conferences, such as the Mountain West, don't. Those six conferences also receive more money than the other conferences.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, angered that the Utes were denied an opportunity to play for a national title, has said he's investigating the BCS for possible antitrust violations.

He said, although Utah is Exhibit A as to why the BCS is unfair, the investigation would continue if Utah changed conferences. He plans to meet with the U.S. Department of Justice in July to discuss the matter.

"We're convinced the system as set up is anti-competitive," Schurtleff said. "It goes way beyond the University of Utah."

Utah lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, also have expressed their frustrations with the BCS.

Last year, the state legislature adopted a resolution calling for a playoff system to determine college football's national champion, after an undefeated Utah was shut out of the national title game for the second time in four years.

Utah's lawmakers contend the BCS formula is flawed and gives schools from the major conferences an unfair advantage that would make it impossible for a school, such as the Mountain West's Brigham Young University, to win the national title, as the Cougars did in 1984, when they were a member of the WAC.


Utah to PAC is TCU, BYU, and the Rest of Mountain West’s Worst Nightmare

June 17th, 2010

Remember the movie Little Big Man?  Where the U.S. Government promised the Cheyenne their land as long as the wind blew, the sun shined, and the rain fell?

By the end of the movie, Little Big Man said, “Well, sometimes the wind don’t blow, the sun don’t shine, and the rain don’t fall…”

Out in the Mountain West, they’re starting to get the same feeling.

Only a week after capturing Boise State, and with heady visions of pillaging the crumbling BCS Big 12 dancing in their head, the Mountain West’s worst nightmare seems to be on the horizon.

The PAC-10’s raid on the Big 12 has been stymied, with only Colorado defecting. And unlike with the guitarist in Spinal Tap, 11 ain’t a good number for the PAC. 

Twelve, on the other hand, is just dandy…since it gives them enough teams for a playoff.

And it looks like they have come a courtin’ for the Utes of Utah.

Now, if you’re TCU, BYU, or any other Mountain West fan, this truly stinks. 

Big time. 

Because instead of looking at grabbing a coveted BCS berth, you are once again put in the position of being on the outside looking in.

If the league loses Utah, it loses a premiere program in both football and basketball, and a team that has BCS busted and won not once but twice. Thus, the metrics for automatic conversion to BCS status, which were looking so good when Boise joined, will promptly plummet like BP’s stock after the Gulf oil rig blow out.

In addition, the TV contract for the league is heavily dependent on the Salt Lake City market. The defection of the Utes will obviously split that market, and result in a restructuring and loss of television revenue. That hurts.

BYU will also lose its in-league rivalry, which was a big draw for the league in terms of national interest.

Even if BYU continues to play the Utes, which they most likely will, they’ll be playing second fiddle to them. 

Let’s face it; Utah will be hosting league games against the likes of USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, and California. BYU will, other than TCU and Boise, be playing decidedly lesser draws such as UNLV and San Diego State.

The Mountain West is looking at a situation where it is again a nine-team league, and one that has probably seen its chance to get a BCS affiliation go by the boards.

This has to be an especially bitter pill for TCU to swallow.

After all, four of their former SWC rivals are in the Big 12 minus two, which has BCS status. And they are better than three of them; Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor. The last one rankles the most.

Then, after a sojourn in the WAC, TCU joined Conference USA. 

A few years later, TCU went to the Mountain West, while three of their former rivals in Conference USA (Louisville, South Florida, and Cincinnati) got to join the Big East. With the coveted BCS status. And TCU is better than all of them.

Now, with the Mountain West on the verge of BCS “big time”…poof, it may all disappear once again.

The Frogs must be wondering when their Prince Charming is going to come along and give them a kiss, since they certainly have been the bridesmaid on plenty of occasions over the last 15 years.

So what to do?

As I have written before, I think it is time for the Mountain West to get very aggressive. Sitting back and waiting for things to happen is not a strategy for success in most endeavors in life, and this case is no different.

The remainder of the Big 12 made it very clear last week that they were more than willing to give the shaft to Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, and Missouri. 

So the Mountain West should approach those teams. 

Those teams might be amenable to a league that actually wants them, and hopefully the Mountain would be able to grab at least a couple…Iowa State, Kansas State, and Baylor would seem to be ripe for the pickin'.

Additionally, the Mountain West should cherry pick the better schools in the WAC and Conference USA…now. That means extend an invite to Nevada and Fresno State out West, and to Houston of Conference USA.

Add these six teams, and the league has a legitimate claim for BCS status in terms of both footprint and on-field performance.

If the Mountain West does not act and act now, they will be marginalized as a “so what” conference once again.

In that case, TCU should take care of its own business and approach the Big 12, or whatever they are calling themselves right now, and petition to be admitted as team number 11. Then the league can add another team (BYU or Houston being the best bets), and the Frogs can play in a conference which is a match for the talent that their team possesses.

It's a brave new world in college football. And everyone has to look out for number one. TCU has come too far over the last two decades not to be recognized. 

It's time to act.

Why The Failure Of The Pac-10 Raid Was Actually A Good Thing

June 16th, 2010

Pac-10 fans are understandably upset and embarrassed at the public rejection of their courtship of Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The sting is made even worse because the Pac-10 is now stuck with Colorado and their one conference title since Bill McCartney left and also the ego sting of being rejected by what the Pac-10 perceives as a group of academically and culturally inferior universities that would have benefited greatly by the Pac-10's association with them.

However, the truth is that it would have never worked. The idea that the Pac-16 could operate as two separate 8 team football conferences that would each get an automatic BCS bid was crazy. The Pac-16 would have been ONE conference. Not two. Plus it would have required the TV networks, the other conferences (both BCS and non-BCS) and possibly even the NCAA and Congress (meaning the anti-trust types who are already investigating the BCS) to sign off it. This would have never happened.

Ultimately, this would have been a minor issue, as this league would have been practically guaranteed an at-large BCS bid anyway. The fact that this was even floated by Larry Scott's office as a possibility (when it had no chance whatsoever of happening) was evidence that the effort being led by someone brought in from outside the world of college athletics was a wild pitch from the beginning. The Pac-16 was something that looked good on paper but would have been an absolute nightmare to operate.

This Pac-16 would have been made up of two separate groups of schools that are literally half a continent apart physically and even further apart culturally. Even though the Pac-16 tried to minimize these issues by dumping the Arizona schools in with the 6 schools from the Big 12, the geographic problems would have been crazy. Remember, Colorado's being in the Big 12 was (barely) viable because they were in the Big 12 NORTH. The Pac-East (or whatever it would have been called) would have skipped from Arizona north to Colorado and back southeast to Texas-Oklahoma with nothing in between (Well, nothing except for the Mountain West Conference I guess!). That would have been difficult even if you desperately wanted to make it work, as Colorado, Texas Tech and Texas did (Or I should say as the president of the University of Texas did.). But the people that this would have been imposed upon, which definitely included Texas A&M and to a degree everybody else (including, let's not forget, the Arizona schools)? It would have caused nothing but hurt feelings and frayed nerves.

And those hurt feelings and frayed nerves would have spilled over into the conference political battles. Look, these Big 12 schools don't like each other or get along despite having so much in common (geography, culture, rivalries, tradition) and needing to coexist because of a shared destiny. What on earth makes anyone think that they would have gotten along with schools halfway across the country?  If you think that Texas was going to stop being UT-Austin just because it joined the Pac-10, that is simply unrealistic. If you believed that the Texas-Oklahoma 5 were going to just have USC, UCLA, Cal, Washington and the other Pac-10 powerhouses dictate things to them because "you guys joined our conference, and you are lucky for the privileges gained by affiliating with us ", then you are mistaken. And if the Texas-Oklahoma 5 were expecting to come in with the attitude "hey, we are giving you guys out west - other than USC of course - a real football conference for a change!" ... well, that wouldn't have gone over well either.

And disappointment would have been inevitable. How much would Washington State, Oregon State, Colorado and Arizona State athletics really benefit? About as much as Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M academics would have. That's the problem with these 16 team " super-conferences": they're too big. The universities and athletics programs who were at the middle of the pecking order before have to deal with superior ones being added to the top, and they have to compete with more teams added to the middle and bottom. Oregon State fans might protest "we were one victory away from the Rose Bowl two years in a row!"

I know Beavers, and that's why I picked you. Had Oklahoma and Texas been in your conference in 2008 and 2009, you wouldn't have been anywhere near the Rose Bowl, and those huge back—to—back Civil War showdowns between you and Oregon would have been meaningless outside your state. Conferences work best when, in theory, nearly everyone has a shot. In a 16 team conference with 3 superpowers, (one of whom rules California and the other Texas) eight to ten of the teams are going to be irrelevant. Pac-10 fans have always prided themselves on the top-to-bottom competitiveness of the conference. There was no surer way to kill that off in favor of a conference with a few powerhouse programs and a lot of also-rans than this expansion deal.

Now sure, this sounds like it is coming from an SEC fan who didn't want the Pac-10 to surpass his own conference. Well, the Pac-10 is already far better than the SEC where it counts: academically. Second, being number two to a 16 team colossus that spans half the Continental US and includes mega-states California and Texas isn't a bad position to be in, no? Third, the SEC hasn't always been number 1 (it certainly wasn't in the 70s, 80s or most of the 90s) and won't always be. Also, many SEC fans have been bemused by the idea that the Pac-10 was going to surpass the SEC by adding a bunch of teams that have a losing record to the SEC in bowl games, including going 0-3 in BCS title games and 0-2 in recent Cotton Bowls. Instead, I honestly believe that this Pac-16 was going to be a bigger mess than was the Big 12 and is now the ACC (whose expansion to 12 teams has been a giant fiasco that no one will admit to or talk about).

There are other reasons why I am glad that this thing fell apart. Namely, it would have been a horribly unfair deal for the Big 12 teams left behind, especially the ones who have been pouring money into their programs and facilities the last few years in an effort to get better like Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor. Now had this been a merger involving the strongest 12 or 16 teams from both conferences, then fine. Instead, it would have been the Pac-10 grabbing some of the better programs from the Big 12 plus Colorado (not for merit, mind you, but simply because it liked it better). The result would have been some very good Big 12 programs being left out in the cold while all the Pac-10 programs would have had a home and benefited from this $20 million a year no matter how mediocre they were. So, Missouri and Kansas with their good basketball programs and improving football programs would have had to join the Mountain West while all the Pac-10 schools would have sat back and raked in the dough just because they were already in the conference that was killing off the other. It was unfair and wrong when the ACC tried - and incidentally totally failed - to do the same to the Big East, and it would have been the same had the Pac-16 succeeded in their scheme.

Granted, there would have been academic benefits to associating with the 7 AAU institutions that are in the Pac-10. But come on! The state of Texas can achieve that for Texas Tech by simply investing more in it, and it can raise the profile of that institution without doing it at Baylor's expense. Because of their small population, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are more limited, and they are the ones who are probably grousing behind the scenes the most about not getting to be in a conference where 10 of the 16 members would have been AAU institutions. However, the very fact that they were counting on using their football program as their primary vehicle for academic improvement speaks volumes. The simple truth is that if Nebraska is an AAU institution despite being in a state with a population of 1.7 million, then why isn't Oklahoma or Oklahoma state? Oklahoma governors? Board of Regents? T. Boone Pickens? Anyone? Being in a state whose political and business leaders don't value or invest enough in education isn't a problem that jumping into the Pac-10 is going to solve. Instead, Bob Stoops, Mike Gundy, and T. Boone Pickens need to start working the leadership of that state to get them to build OU and OSU into universities that their football teams can be proud of.

As to improving the Pac-10 on the football field, the solution to that is simple: hiring more guys like Don James, John McKay and Pete Carroll. The reason that the Pac-10 wanted Texas and Oklahoma is that they win, and the reasons that they win are  Mack Brown and Bob Stoops. Look at Oklahoma football the ten years before they hired Stoops, or Texas the 20 years before they hired Brown. So, instead of adding Texas and Oklahoma to get Stoops and Brown in your conference, why not just hire guys like Stoops and Brown at the institutions that you already have? Or guys like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. Again, look at what Alabama was before they hired Saban (or for that matter look at what LSU was before they hired Saban) and look at Florida football was before Meyer and Spurrier.

And none of this "we can't afford to hire coaches like that." Let's not forget that it was Barbara Hedges at the University of Washington who started the coaching salary war by paying Rick Neuheisel $1 million a year. Hedges hired Neuheisel in 1998. Well, Mack Brown was making $350,000 a year at North Carolina in 1997. Also, it's only the guys that have already won national titles like Saban and Meyer that are getting those huge salaries. Everyone else is making about the $1.8 million Jeff Tedford is making to deliver zero conference titles or major bowl game berths and one top 10 finish in 8 seasons. And Tedford is probably the most accomplished coach in the Pac-10 right now. Suffice to say that a 16 team mega-conference, revenue of $20 million per year and a TV network doesn't fix problems like that. Instead, having ADs and presidents who will put in the work to identify and hire the best candidates instead of double and triple retreads (Neuheisel at UCLA, Dennis Erickson at Oregon State a few years ago and Arizona State now, John Mackovic at Arizona a few years ago) and whoever was passing game coordinator at some other Pac-10 program (it seems like nearly every Pac-10 school has at some point hired someone who worked under either Terry Donahue at UCLA or John Robinson at USC).

Bottom line, as disappointing as this deal falling through seems now, it wasn't going to work, and all parties involved are better off. Now the challenge for these institutions going forward is to find something that will work. As shaky as things look for these two conferences now, the truth is that both are in far better shape than the SEC was not so long ago. But then the SEC added a conference championship game, brought in Steve Spurrier as a coach, and recruited Peyton Manning as a player, and the rest is history.

James Rodgers continues recent Beaver tradition at “Receiver U”

June 16th, 2010
The modern Beaver era began in the late 1990's, when Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson brought the program back to respectability. Just like Ohio State, USC, Florida State and others, Oregon State has consistently produced elite wide receivers on the national level. As a senior in 2010, James Rodgers looks to build upon his legacy and continue the recent Beaver tradition as "Receiver U."

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