Canzano: 12 wild, hysterical, fun thoughts for the weekend
Football, betting, and speed strippers
Twelve things to think about this weekend…
• 1 - GAME ON: I don’t typically love college football played on a Thursday or Friday night. I’m a purist. College football is for Saturdays. But I’m delighted with the Friday game the Pac-12 Conference gifted us with this week.
UCLA (4-0) is hosting Washington (4-0) at the Rose Bowl. Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. (ESPN). I’m all in. I took the Huskies to win 35-27 in my weekly picks.
• 2 - TECH GUY: UCLA coach Chip Kelly usually gives his players Sunday off, but he altered the schedule. The Bruins practiced on Sunday because of the short week. Also, Kelly moved the practice to the early evening. He’s a body-clock guy.
Kelly loves to follow the data. In fact, Kelly is the first person I ever saw wear something resembling a FitBit. It was 2010 and Kelly was still at Oregon. He had the Ducks dialed in. I remember the UO coach showing up to a press conference wearing a device on his wrist. Then-Oregon assistant Scott Frost had one, too.
Except, the device on Kelly’s wrist wasn’t a FitBit. It was some kind of Nike prototype. Kelly seemed delighted with it and told me all about it. FitBit didn’t come out with a tracker worn on the wrist until May 2013.
• 3 - WANNA BET?: Max Meyer of Caesar’s reports that there’s a ton of action on the UCLA-Washington game in the sports book. The Huskies are a 3-point favorite. Meyer said there’s been more than “twice as much money wagered on its spread than any other Week 5 college football game.”
Last week, the most money wagered in college football was on the USC-Oregon State game. What’s your theory on why there’s so much betting interest on the Pac-12 this season?
• 4 - FINALE?: I’ve talked with Karl Dorrell a few times in the last couple of years. He’s a nice guy and really smart, but he’s struggling as the head coach at Colorado. I wonder if this weekend is his final one on the job.
Dorrell is 4-12 in his last 16 games at Colorado. The Buffaloes (0-4 this season) haven’t been competitive and there’s growing frustration amid fans and boosters. CU’s student section went after him during the program’s 45-17 loss to UCLA last Saturday.
I feel for Dorrell. He took over a program that was left in a bind when Mel Tucker bolted for Michigan State. But Colorado remains a sleeping giant and Dorrell hasn’t done enough. Especially on offense, where the Buffaloes have scored only 13, 10, 7 and 17 points in four games this season.
The university has resources, rich history and solid support. It shouldn’t be a doormat. Colorado plays at Arizona on Saturday (6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). If the Buffaloes get blown off the field again, I suspect athletic director Rick George may decide he’s had enough.
• 5 - DROPPED: Oregon State defensive back Jaydon Grant is a seventh-year senior. He’s received a medical redshirt, a regular redshirt, and got an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA due to the pandemic. Grant has multiple degrees and told me last week that his only in-person class this term is yoga.
I took delight in that. Good for him. But on Thursday, Grant updated me in a 1-on-1 interview and said he dropped the yoga class. He traded it for an online yoga course at OSU. I don’t know about you, but I feel like that kid is living his best life.
Here’s the interview with Grant:
• 6 - CARDINAL RULE: Stanford coach David Shaw is struggling on the field. I don’t think his job is at all in jeopardy, however. Shaw took the Cardinal to three Rose Bowls during his tenure. Also, he’s brilliant at the front-facing stuff that boosters and campus administrators love. Still, Stanford is 4-11 in the last 15 games and fans are frustrated.
Shaw is in no danger of being fired. His overall record in 12 seasons at Stanford: 94-47. But he’s got to figure out the transfer portal if Stanford wants to compete at the top of the conference again.
I spoke with John Platz, Stanford football radio broadcaster, about Cardinal football and Shaw this week. It was a great talk and worth your time.
• 7 - TRANSFER BONANZA: Nine of the 12 starting quarterbacks this week in the Pac-12 are transfers. Only Colorado, UCLA and Stanford will start a QB on Saturday who arrived on campus as a freshman. This summer, USC landed transfer Caleb Williams and Washington brought in Michael Penix Jr. Those kinds of moves aren’t currently available at Stanford, where the academic requirements are a hurdle.
I asked Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith if the days of recruiting and developing a quarterback are over. He pushed back and said he still ideally wants to recruit and develop a QB, but he acknowledged it’s difficult to ignore the trend.
“This day and age, at that position, you can find a really good player to come in (via transfer),” Smith said. “Both Washington schools got a transfer, the Ducks got a transfer going, Cal’s got a transfer going, obviously ‘SC has one, Arizona’s got one, Arizona State’s got one… the majority of this league (is doing it.)”
• 8 - RUSHING ON: I talked with former Heisman winner and NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams this week. He’s touring the state of Oregon, making appearances at cannabis dispensaries.
Williams rushed for more than 10,000 yards as a professional football player. I asked Williams what the average fan doesn’t understand about the NFL.
“I think the main thing that people don’t realize is the expertise they’re watching on the field,” Williams said. “The assumption is that these guys are natural athletes. It’s true, we are natural athletes, but the attention to detail, every step we take, every move with our heads, the timing on every play, requires a lot, a lot of training. It’s a real job. It’s 9 to 5, then we go home and do it again.”
• 9 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Reader Aaron Kendall did a cool thing to celebrate his birthday this week. He donated three subscriptions to JohnCanzano.com to readers who might not be able to afford it. I keep a list of seniors and others on fixed budgets who have reached out to say they’d love to sign up for a paid subscription but it just isn’t in the budget.
We launched a donation program earlier this month. A big thanks to all who have been generous and kind.
Wrote Kendall: “This was my birthday gift to myself so spread the joy. Congratulations on absolutely nailing your bid for independence!”
If you’d like to donate:
• 10 - GLOOM AND DOOM: Jon Wilner and I posted a fresh episode of our “Canzano & Wilner” podcast this week. We talked a little about the hysteria and anxiety out there, specifically this week’s “gloom and doom” report from CBS Sports.
Ruminating on the “imminent” demise of the Pac-12 has broad appeal, I guess. Big 12 fans are into it. Big Ten fans are interested, too. That kind of piece will get lots of page views and prey on the anxiety of fans. But there wasn’t much in the way of new information in the report. Like, almost nothing new. It was also interesting that none of the other major media outlets picked up on it.
I don’t think Oregon-Washington or the “Four Corners” schools from the Pac-12 are going anywhere in this cycle. I am not predicting an implosion.
In fact, I believe the Pac-12 will sign a media rights deal before the end of the year, possibly add 1-4 schools via expansion, and play on. I took this position in early July, not because I want or need it to be true, but because more than half of the conference’s ADs and a trio of university presidents have backed that up.
My mantra here will always be: sourced, in-depth, reporting and commentary.
I suspect the entire “eventual collapse of the Pac-12” narrative is being pushed by consultants and public-relations teams, who love nothing more than drama. It results in billing, but it’s disingenuous, isn’t it? Everything, as the Romans will tell you, eventually collapses.
• 11 - COACHING: My third-grade daughter is playing CYO volleyball. It’s been fun to see her learn the game. I got a chance to jump into a practice this week, working with the kids on drills, and encouraging them, shagging balls. One of the coaches couldn’t make practice and I happened to show up early to watch.
I was delighted to be part of the experience and my kid kept looking over at me and smiling. I loved it. I suspect she did, too. I can’t be THE coach, because of my travel and too many Saturdays on the road, but it has me thinking about volunteering next season to be part of the staff. My dad coached a few of my youth sports teams. I don’t remember a lot about those early years, but I remember him being there.
• 12 - TWEET OF THE WEEK: My favorite Tweet this week comes from my buddy Steven, who claims that nobody in the world is faster than he is at removing a shirt. I am certain that Guiness World Records needs to know about this.
The “speed stripper” even posted a tweet to prove it:
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I think the P12 betting interest is because we have some legit changes from the norms of the past few years. (who's good and how good, etc)
Sports books sometimes only catch up to that sort of stuff later (as the year goes on) and thus there is opportunity for bettors in the mean time.