Discover more from Bald Faced Truth by John Canzano
Canzano: Checking up on the Pac-12 Conference
12 schools... 12 thoughts.
A dozen Pac-12 thoughts for you…
Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura settled a civil lawsuit last week stemming from a sex-assault case that was handled in juvenile court. de Laura and high school teammate Kamo’i Latu were “charged and eventually pled guilty” to second-degree sex assault. Neither served jail time.
Financial terms of the settlement weren’t released. But I was left wondering how de Laura’s current NIL partners might feel. Also, how students and faculty on campus at UA would view the news. The Arizona athletic department stood by de Laura in a statement on Friday:
“In the fall of 2022 after a civil complaint was filed against football student-athlete Jayden de Laura, the University of Arizona first became aware of a 2018 incident involving de Laura which occurred while he was in high school in Hawaii. After reviewing the matter, the determination was made to allow de Laura to continue as a student-athlete and his status remains unchanged.”
In other news, the Wildcats football season-ticket renewal rate is currently at 85 percent, per athletic director Dave Heeke. Arizona has sold 2,000 new season tickets to date.
First-year coach Kenny Dillingham was disappointed with the turnout for his spring football game last month. I wouldn’t look too hard into it, though. Earlier the same day, 30,000 people participated in “Pat’s Run” — a community run that benefitted the Pat Tillman Foundation. The race ended by around 10 a.m. for most of the participants. The spring game didn’t kick off until noon. That’s too much sitting around for most families.
Since Dillingham’s hire, the Sun Devils have added 3,000 new season tickets. Also, per a university source, more than 90 percent of season-ticket holders from last season have renewed their seats. Those are encouraging numbers.
Coach Justin Wilcox is shoring up his offensive line in the transfer portal. The latest addition, Trevonte Sylvester, played at Houston last season. Sylvester is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds and has three seasons of eligibility left.
Cal also landed transfer Matthew Wykoff, a 2022 SEC All-Freshman Team offensive lineman who left Texas A&M. Wykoff is listed at 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds. Also, Cal added community-college transfer, Martin Tine, who goes 6-foot-7 and weighs 315 pounds. He played last season at East Los Angeles College.
Cal allowed 31 sacks last season. By comparison, Oregon gave up a league-low five sacks and Washington allowed only seven sacks.
Additionally, newly hired basketball coach Mark Madsen told CBS Sports reporter Jon Rothstein that Cal is planning to break ground on an $80 million to $100 million basketball practice facility. It’s long overdue and signals that boosters in Berkeley are backing Madsen. I outlined the woes at Cal last season as part of a series I did on Pac-12 basketball.
Coach Prime got four more transfers over the weekend. Receiver Jaylen Ellis (Baylor) committed to the Buffaloes along with defensive tackle Bishop Thomas (Florida State), safety Rodrick Ward (Southern Utah) and offensive lineman Reggie Young (Liberty). CU now has 71 players on scholarship for next season.
Colorado beat reporter Brian Howell did a fun interview with Christian Caple, who writes in-depth about the Washington Huskies. Howell said of the recent roster turnover, “It felt like covering an NFL team.”
CU season tickets sold out in April. AD Rick George tells me that Colorado has also seen large increases in merchandise sales and team store sales.
I asked UO for information on football season-ticket renewals. A university source came back with “total sales up 1-2 percent from last year at the same point.”
Except, we don’t know where the Ducks finished last season when it came to renewals. Being up 1-2 percent is great, but we need additional information to actually track what’s happening.
Last season, coach Dan Lanning posted 10 victories and the Ducks won their bowl game. Success fosters ticket-sales momentum. Quarterback Bo Nix also announced he was coming back for another season. That helps a bunch with the season outlook, I’d think.
After some follow-up questions, the UO source told me that the football program currently has an 86.6 percent renewal rate on season tickets. Additionally, there are 3,387 new season ticket sales to this point. Those are good numbers — particularly with new ticket sales.
Former Beavers baseball player Wade Meckler is hitting .531 with the San Francisco-affiliated Eugene Emeralds this season. Meckler hit .367 last season in pro ball and .347 his final college season in Corvallis.
Meanwhile, OSU football has sold nearly 2,000 new season tickets for next season, per an athletic department source. It helps that coach Jonathan Smith won 10 games. Also, the completion of the west side of Reser Stadium is eliciting some fan enthusiasm. By comparison, the Beavers added a total of 1,300 new season tickets all of last year, per a source.
The renewal rate: 90.3 percent.
The OSU over/under win total for next season is set at 8. That feels on the low side to me given that Smith has an improved quarterback room.
Former Cardinal tight end Zach Ertz is married to Julie Ertz, a member of the United States Women’s national soccer team. The sports power couple threw out a “dual” first pitch at a recent Philadelphia Phillies game.
Julie’s pitch reached the catcher. Zach, unfortunately, bounced his delivery three feet short of the plate. The errant pitch prompted former NFL teammate JJ Watt to tweet the video and comment: “Have you ever thrown a baseball before?!”
In football, Troy Taylor’s first season arrives with modest expectations. The sports book posted Stanford’s over/under win total at 2.5 games. Am I dumb for thinking “over”? Non-conference games include at Hawaii, vs. Sacramento State and vs. Notre Dame. The Cardinal also get Cal at home.
Will Chip Kelly start true freshman quarterback Dante Moore next season or go with returning back-up Ethan Garbers? It reminds me a little of the decision Kelly had at Oregon before the 2010 season when he had to choose between senior Nate Costa and sophomore Darron Thomas.
Costa had better command of the playbook and was more mature. He didn’t make very many mistakes. Thomas had a much higher ceiling, but was erratic and less seasoned. Kelly went with Thomas, enjoyed the upside and made the national title game.
Kelly was asked late in the spring about his QB room and told reporters: “We have a lot of time before we play our first game. We haven’t had one discussion depth-wise at the quarterback position.”
UCLA often gets a bad rap on game days with the optics of a home football stadium that has a capacity that can reach 92,000. UCLA did not provide football season-ticket sales or renewal rates for this piece.
High school basketball recruit Bronny James committed to the Trojans over the weekend. It’s a good basketball get for coach Andy Enfield. I don’t think anyone was shocked by the development.
In football, class of 2025 safety Anquon Legans committed to USC. He’s the No. 1 safety in his class and the younger brother of defensive back Trequon Fagans, who is transferring from Alabama to USC.
USC’s over/under win total for next season is sitting at 9.5. Over or under that figure? Tell me what you think in the comment section.
The Utes are tracking well on their season-ticket renewals. Athletic director Mark Harlan told me recently that he expects to finish with a 95 percent renewal rate. Utah added 5,000 new seats to Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2021. The wait list is still around 2,000 deep.
“We are blessed,” Harlan told me.
Back-to-back conference titles helps that effort. But Harlan is right. Utah is one of the few schools in the country that added more inventory and expanded its home stadium in the last decade.
Even before the pandemic college football attendance was seeing alarming trends. In 2018, the SEC was down 100,000 fans, the third-straight season of declining attendance. That same season, the Big Ten posted its lowest average attendance in 25 years (65,376) and the Pac-12 had 250,000 fewer fans attend games in 2018 than it did in 2017.
Utah remains an outlier on that front.
It’s amazing what an 11-win football season and some renewed energy can do for season-ticket momentum. Jennifer Cohen, the AD, tells me that the Huskies are sitting on a 93 percent season-ticket renewal rate and that new season-ticket sales are trending “well.”
That 93-percent renewal figure is among the highest rates ever recorded at UW. Big cities bring big competition. That can be challenging for a college athletic department. Washington is up against live-sports competition from the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders and Kraken, among others.
Cohen added, “Kalen and his staff have engaged with the fans and community.”
Athletic Director Pat Chun tells me, “We are in a good place for May,” when it comes to season-ticket renewals. Approximately 84 percent of WSU season tickets are already renewed. Historical trends in Pullman suggest the Cougars will end up in the high 80s or low 90s before the season kicks off.
WSU’s over/under win total is 6.5 for next season.
Coach Jake Dickert has new offensive and defensive coordinators for next season. Those were important hires. I’m very interested in seeing how much better the Cougars can get at quarterback. Cam Ward has room to grow and I’m hearing encouraging things about new offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle.
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