Canzano: Latest Big 12 jab falls flat in Pac-12 footprint
Plus, a retired jersey... and my Week 2 picks.
Brett Yormark, the former co-chief operating officer at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, has emerged as a polarizing figure in the college football realignment discussions. The Big 12 commissioner has been on a “listening tour” but this week he decided to do some talking.
Yormark was visiting the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday. Yormark told reporters that when it came to potential expansion targets, his conference wants to go “out west” in the fourth time zone.
“A program that has national recognition,” Yormark said. “One that competes at the highest level in basketball and football, stands for the right things, is a good cultural fit.”
The Big 12’s commissioner declined to get more specific. When he says “out west” is he talking about San Diego State? How about Fresno State? Or maybe Utah, Colorado, Arizona or Arizona State?
Said one “four corners” Pac-12 AD: “I have no idea what he’s talking about. He just continues to throw stuff out to disrupt. Seems like some level of desperation.”
I’m fascinated by the 180-degree difference in strategy between Yormark and Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff. Outside of Kliavkoff’s spicy Media Day appearance in July, he’s remained silent.
In fact, the Pac-12 commissioner was in Atlanta for the Oregon-Georgia game and didn’t do interviews. Presumably because the Pac-12 is amid a media-rights negotiation. On the same day, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey conducted a lengthy impromptu news conference in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium press box.
The Big 12’s Yormark was also asked on Wednesday about his conference’s media rights negotiations. There’s some confusion about whether the Big 12 is — or isn’t — in the exclusive negotiating window.
“That process has started,” Yormark told reporters. “I met with ESPN last week... I’ll be meeting with FOX in the next week... My gut tells me that both FOX and ESPN would like to (negotiate early) but I’ll know for sure... in the next week.”
Some interesting semantics at play here. I bounced Yormark’s quote off two TV-industry insiders. They agreed that it sounds like all Yormark has is an indication from ESPN that they’d like to talk outside the exclusive-negotiating window. Per the contract, the Big 12 can only talk with ESPN and FOX at this point. The networks like it that way, too. If they’re not in an exclusive, 30-day negotiating window, there’s no ticking clock.
RING OF HONOR: Scappoose High School legend Derek Anderson is getting some big-time recognition from his small-town alma mater on Friday night.
The former Oregon State star quarterback and NFL Pro Bowl player is having his No. 14 jersey retired by his old high school. He’ll also become the first inductee into the school’s athletic “Ring of Honor.” Scappoose High hosts Estacada High on Friday. It will be the first game on the school’s new turf field, which Anderson helped install with a donation.
Anderson will join me on Friday at 4 p.m. on the statewide radio show. In high school, he led Scappoose High to three consecutive state football championships. The 6-foot-6 quarterback was state “Player of the Year” in both football and basketball his senior year.
Said Anderson, of the jersey retirement: “It’s pretty cool… something that you dream of as a kid.”
I’ve got the Week 2 Pac-12 games handicapped for you. Bookmark this entry if you want to avoid hunting down the kickoff times and networks. I have you covered. If you’re up for it, comment below with your own picks.
Away we go…
Southern Utah at Utah (10:30 a.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Networks):
Utah is coming off a disappointing three-point loss at Florida. Coach Kyle Whittingham called out his front seven players on defense this week in practice. As a result, I wonder if Southern Utah will gain any yards or score any points.
Said Whittingham of the Florida game: “It was ‘sloppy,’ is the word I keep going back to, because that’s what it was. Sloppy technique-wise, sloppy fundamentally, sloppy tackling, sloppy fits.”
The pick: Utah 42, Southern Utah 3
Colorado at Air Force (12:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS):
The Buffaloes are a 17.5-point underdog in this game. I think they’ll show up to play, but I’m having a difficult time seeing a win. Biggest question: What’s the plan at quarterback for Colorado? Brendon Lewis (13 of 18, 78 yards) struggled last week in a loss vs. TCU. J.T. Shrout (13 of 23, 157 yards) came on in relief.
Said coach Karl Dorrell: “We have a plan.”
The pick: Air Force 28, Colorado 17
Washington State at Wisconsin (12:30 p.m. Saturday, FOX):
The Cougars are also 17.5-point underdogs this week. WSU didn’t look great in the opener vs. Idaho, but got the win. Going to Camp Randall Stadium is never an easy task. If Jake Dickert’s team doesn’t take a big step forward, this game could get out of hand. Before the season, I wondered if WSU might pull off an upset at Wisconsin, but I didn’t see enough in Week 1 to merit crawling out on that limb.
The pick: Wisconsin 31, WSU 21
Portland State at Washington (1 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Washington):
The Vikings put a scare in their Week 1 opponent, losing 21-17 at San Jose State. Portland State has a really good Big Sky defense, but Washington wins this game and improves to 2-0.
PSU coach Bruce Barnum told me this week that he watched most of the Pac-12 games in Week 1. He’s picking Washington to get to the Pac-12 title game. Wise gamesmanship? Or did Barney see something he liked?
The pick: Washington 27, Portland State 14
UNLV at Cal (1 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Bay Area):
Cal is a 13-point favorite, playing at home. I like the Bears to win the game, but won’t be surprised if this one is closer than most expect. UNLV blasted Idaho State 52-21 in Week 1. Meanwhile, Cal beat UC Davis 34-13.
The pick: Cal 31, UNLV 24
Alabama State at UCLA (2 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Networks):
The Bruins are refusing to tell media in Los Angeles how many season tickets they’ve sold in 2022. They’re citing proprietary reasons, but we all know why they won’t say — it’s not an uplifting story. UCLA wins this game easily, but for the second-straight week, very few are there to see it.
The pick: UCLA 49, Alabama State 3
Arizona State at Oklahoma State (4:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2):
ASU is an 11.5-point road underdog in this game. Oklahoma State gave up 44 points and 546 yards of offense in a Week 1 win vs. Central Michigan. If the Sun Devils had a better passing attack, I might pick them in an upset.
The pick: Oklahoma State 31, ASU 28
USC at Stanford (4:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC):
The first Pac-12 Conference game of the year features a wild matchup in the Bay Area. I’m still not convinced USC is a playoff contender. I need to see it. Stanford provides a wonderful early test. David Shaw’s team is much improved and will score points, but I think USC’s offense wins the game for Lincoln Riley.
The pick: USC 31, Stanford 24
Eastern Washington at Oregon (5:30 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Networks):
The Ducks spent this week focused on getting better after a 49-3 loss in Week 1. Was Georgia that great? Or was Oregon that bad? I’d hate to be Eastern Washington this week, because I suspect UO will take its frustration out on the Eagles.
The pick: Oregon 35, Eastern Washington 14
Oregon State at Fresno State (7:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS Sports Network):
The Beavers whipped Boise State 34-17 in Week 1. Great win for the program, but the Broncos appear to be in a slide. The Central Valley of California is a difficult place to play a game, and it should be in the high 80s at kickoff. OSU coach Jonathan Smith told me this week, “Our own warm weather has helped prepare us.” Jeff Tedford’s pass offense can be lethal, but OSU’s defense is up to the task.
The pick: Oregon State 30, Fresno State 24
Mississippi State at Arizona (8 p.m. Saturday, FS1):
Arizona is an 11.5-point underdog and 74 percent of the bets in Las Vegas are coming in on Mississippi State. I like Arizona to cover in this game. Give some credit to coach Jedd Fisch — Arizona is much better than a year ago and the public hasn’t yet noticed. Jayden de Laura is a capable quarterback and don’t forget, he was recruited out of high school by Bulldogs’ coach Mike Leach. This could be the most entertaining game of the weekend, points-wise.
The pick: Mississippi State 41, Arizona 35
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Beavers game will be a test. Cannot wait. Congrats Derek Anderson.
I see big tests up and down the schedule. Based on what we all saw, the Ducks are going to have their hands full. Fresno State is a big foe and the Beavers will have to be close to flawless to win. I like Arizona at home, but that will be a dogfight.