Discover more from Bald Faced Truth by John Canzano
Canzano: Mailbag addresses work-life balance, Pac-12, UCLA, Elon Musk and Gonzaga
Your questions, my answers...
I get the best mailbag questions. This week’s most unique question comes from a reader who wants to know how I manage the work-family balance.
Q: Your life must be very busy and sometimes hectic with your new venture in reporting going strong. How do you balance your home and work life? — @2022SportsGuy
I’m blessed. I have an amazing wife and three daughters. It helps that Anna is a two-time Emmy winner as an investigative reporter and news anchor. She knows and understands the demands of the news business.
I’ll give you a great example.
I’m in Seattle to cover the Oregon State vs. Washington football game. Anna and the two youngest daughters made the trip with me. We spent Friday morning at the Space Needle and toured the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. We had a great time. But my phone rang when we were hanging out on the rotating observation deck of the Space Needle.
It was a Pac-12 athletic director.
I held up the phone. Anna nodded, and waved for me to take the call. Without a word, we transitioned from man-to-man coverage into a one-parent zone defense. It’s high-level stuff. She entertained the girls and spun in a circle, 600 feet above Seattle, while I stood nearby and talked with the AD.
Later, I left for the football game at Husky Stadium. The girls went to Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. I texted my wife just after kickoff, telling her I was bummed to miss out on the third tourist activity of the day.
Her answer: “Don’t worry… you’re just missing them fighting and arguing.”
Did I mention, I have an amazing wife?
I’m having a lot of fun with this new endeavor. I couldn’t have made the leap without Anna. She’s the most talented journalist I’ve ever worked with. Her fingerprints are all over this project. (Also, I happen to be putting the finishing touches on this mailbag while at breakfast with the two girls. Anna is sleeping in. She earned it.)
The work-life balance is important to us all. I think it’s one of the most difficult things to manage, especially in a post-pandemic world where a lot of people worked remotely. I fail at it all the time. The trick is to draw clear boundaries. And then, respect them.
Nobody on their death bed ever whispered: “You know, I wish I’d have worked one more day.”
Keep that in mind. After I’m done posting this mailbag, we’re going to the Woodland Park Zoo for a spell. I won’t be answering calls. My hands will be busy holding the tiny palms of the 6-year old and 8-year old while looking at giraffes, hippos and zebras. I’ll catch up on college football, mid-day.
I’m having a lot of fun with this project. You’re getting sourced, in-depth reporting and commentary here. Stuff you can’t get anywhere else. I am grateful for those who have subscribed or given others a gift subscription. Your support makes this endeavor possible.
Now… onto the mailbag…
Q: With Jonathan Smith building a program at Oregon State, has he got offers at larger schools? Would he consider leaving? — @jayjjjjay1
A: Jonathan Smith feels like a forever guy in Corvallis. I’d be surprised to see him leave for another job, unless OSU bumbles a contract negotiation at some point.
Q: When are we going to get a new name for the “Civil War”?? The history of this Oregon-Oregon State competition deserves a special reference. — @Games4Golf
A: The sides don’t seem interested in re-naming the game. I suggested “Platypus Bowl.” Until they decide to use my idea, I’m calling the Oregon State vs. Oregon matchup “The game formerly known as the Civil War.”
Q: How much more time is David Shaw getting at Stanford? — @benwilkinson
A: Stanford is at a huge disadvantage with the transfer portal. Washington got Michael Penix Jr., USC brought in Caleb Williams and Oregon nabbed Bo Nix via transfer. Those moves aren’t available to the Cardinal right now. Arizona took 21 players via the transfer portal in the offseason. Shaw had the No. 114 ranked transfer class.
Stanford won’t relax the academic standards. He’ll have to figure out another way. Shaw has taken the Cardinal to three Rose Bowls in his tenure. In the pre-Shaw period between 1973-2011, Stanford made the Rose Bowl once. He’s also very good handling the public-facing parts of the job. As a result, he’ll get time to figure it out.
Q: We’ve heard about how the Pac-12’s nine-game conference schedule is a disadvantage. With UCLA and USC leaving, any talk of reducing this down to eight games at the same time? — @colbyreade
A: Merton Hanks, the Pac-12’s supervisor of football, told me that the conference has “never wavered” in its desire to reduce to eight conference games. I think the Pac-12 will do it before the 2024 season. I also think there’s a strong possibility the Pac-12 and ACC will partner on crossover games to fill that one-game void and generate additional TV revenue.
One of the biggest concerns about dropping from nine games to eight games is the cost of “buying” those non-conference home games. The smaller college programs are currently charging between $500,000 and $1 million to play Pac-12 teams. That number will rise with more demand.
Q: I live in Kansas City, and all the sports radio talk here right now is about how Gonzaga is joining the Big 12 and how Kansas will crush them. What’s more likely, Gonzaga joining the Pac-12 or the Big 12? — @RecklessRodian
A: I suspect Gonzaga knows — down deep — that it has a very good life in the West Coast Conference. It doesn’t have to deal with Kansas, Arizona and/or Oregon in the regular season. The WCC regular-season champion gets a double-bye in the conference tournament, too. I wrote a column on this recently. I think Gonzaga is testing the market, but that’s all. At some point, maybe they jump. But I think it’s very early in the game.
Q: Can you put the crying Trojans fans to rest once and for all that the conference and refs aren’t out to get them in their final two seasons?! Right? — @saint4patriots
A: It feels like the conference officials are out to get us all.
Q: Does San Diego State get an invitation to Pac-12 regardless of if UCLA stays or departs to Big Ten? — @SDSU_Alum2003
A: I think San Diego State likely gets an invitation, regardless. Even if UCLA is forced to stay, San Diego State probably replaces the divot left by USC. And I don’t think SDSU turns down the Pac-12 if a reasonable offer is made.
Q: You have reported that San Diego State and Boise State have hired consultants to help them in realignment. How much can they actually help them? — @hmckee53
A: The high-end consulting firms charge up to $30,000 a month. They help position the universities for inclusion, back-channel, and explore options. Others charge far less. One of the consultants told me that part of the job is studying the client and giving realistic, objective feedback. San Diego State is working with Huron Consulting, and a team that includes former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.
Q: Better odds on who is part of the Ducks football team next year. Bo Nix? Kenny Dillingham? Neither? — @KdickeyKeith
A: Nix feels like a one-year rental. I think his plan is to be on an NFL roster next season. So I’ll go with Dillingham as the more likely holdover, even though I expect he will interview and get serious consideration from Arizona State.
Q: How good of a coach do you think Dan Lanning is? — @Tony19614
A: I need a larger sample size. But I love his energy and his recent win over UCLA was the most complete big-game performance by an Oregon team since Mario Cristobal beat Utah in the 2019 conference title game.
Lanning appears to know what he’s doing, but I want to see him close out November (vs. Washington, vs. Utah, at OSU) before I give a grade for season No. 1.
Q: What will it take for College Football Playoff voters to get past the Week 1 beat down at the hands of Georgia? If Georgia wins big this weekend vs. Tennessee that has to help. I’m not so concerned about the schedule scenarios — TCU losing, SEC getting sorted — as I am about the collective national mindtrash — @SpatzSteven
A: A blowout Georgia win vs. Tennessee would definitely help the narrative. But Oregon needs to win big itself in the next month. Also, I think the Ducks would be wise to talk often about how much they’ve evolved. I’ve heard a little of that, but they need to change the conversation.
That said, would ending up in the Rose Bowl vs. Michigan in Dan Lanning’s first season be all that bad?
Q: Have you considered returning to TV? Loved you on KGW. You’d be a great color guy on any football game. — @BarkerMeowski
A: I miss hanging out with Art Edwards and Orlando Sanchez on Sunday nights. They’re really good people and talented broadcasters. But doing the “Sports Sunday” show involved me being downtown at midnight on Sunday (See: above work/life balance). In the last year, I’ve appeared on a variety of television stations across the Pac-12 footprint. I’m asked to provide commentary regularly and enjoy doing it. Maybe someday, I’ll land at a station in a more formal role, but it would have to be the right fit.
Q: Rank your top-five football environments in the Pac-12 — @SaltLakeJake
A: I love seeing the glow of a night game at Folsom Field in Colorado. It’s special, and Buffaloes fans keep showing up despite dismal results on the field. The view of the sunset off the back of the press box at Arizona Stadium is often spectacular.
But you’re asking me about “football environments” in 2022 so I’m starting with Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. It’s a special environment and Utes fans make the stadium come alive. After that, I’d go with Autzen Stadium (Oregon). Beyond that, Reser Stadium (Oregon State) has suddenly morphed into a top-three home-field advantage in the conference.
I’ll round out the top-five Pac-12 game-day environments with the Los Angeles Coliseum (USC) and Husky Stadium (UW). But if I were you, I’d see them all for myself.
Q: What are the odds the Pac-12 championship “rotates” between Vegas and Los Angeles (SoFi) in future years? I still think about the conference’s efforts to maintain visibility in the post-USC/UCLA(?) world. — @jedavidson90
A: Now, you’re thinking like a conference commissioner. I suspect the Pac-12 will keep the championship football game in Las Vegas. It works there. Huge hit. But I think the Pac-12 will try to schedule some non-conference “neutral site” games at SoFi Stadium in the coming years. Think: Miami vs. Oregon… Clemson vs. Utah… Washington vs. Florida State. I think ESPN will be eager to sprinkle some additional revenue on the ACC and the Pac-12 would love to plant a flag in Los Angeles.
Q: Why no stories/perspective on that UCLA moving to the Big Ten is a good move? — @KosherBruin
A: I covered that in a variety of columns in July. UCLA is chasing revenue, like a lot of others in college athletics. I think every Pac-12 member would have strongly considered the move the Bruins and Trojans are making.
That said, I wonder if UCLA/USC might have accomplished an acceptable split of media-rights revenue and fostered a win-win situation by simply negotiating with the Pac-12 vs. plotting secretly and leaving for a new planet in a secret escape hatch.
There’s some things the conference did wrong, too. That played a role. I have plans to visit this topic in the coming days.
Q: What will be the first sports franchise that Elon Musk purchases? And who will be the first to get fired? — @pbj1027
A: He will buy Major League Baseball. The entire league. Then, he’ll speed up games by changing the rules of baseball. One pitch per hitter. A strike is an out. A ball is a walk. A foul ball results in another pitch. Anything else is what it is. Game times would be reduced to ~32 minutes. Rosters and payrolls would be reduced because there wouldn’t be a need for deep pitching staffs. Every concession item costs $8.
Have a great weekend…
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