Canzano: Mailbag deals with big games, Amazon, and Pac-12 ploys
Your questions... my answers.
I always get great questions for the weekly mailbag. One question this week came from a reader who asked about the Pac-12’s four Pacific Northwest college football teams.
Q: For which team would a win be bigger for this Saturday, Oregon State, Oregon, Washington State, or Washington? — @2022SportsGuy
Oregon and Washington State are playing an important football game, head to head. The winner gets early momentum. Meanwhile, Washington is trying to improve to 4-0 and has looked terrific. The Huskies host Stanford. But let’s be real — the biggest opportunity in the Pac-12 on Saturday belongs to Oregon State.
The Beavers face No. 7-ranked USC for what could be the final time ever in Corvallis. Strange things seem to happen in these games. I would not be one bit shocked if OSU upsets USC, walks off 4-0, and finds itself ranked in the Top 18 or so in next week’s AP Poll.
Bigger than Oregon-WSU.
More significant than Washington starting 4-0.
Oregon State is renovating its home stadium, fighting for national respect, and up against a USC machine that has been hyped-up for a few months now. Winning that game and giving Lincoln Riley his first loss at USC would amount to the biggest win in the region.
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On to this week’s mailbag…
Q: How come the Pac-12 Network hasn’t had the same success as the Big Ten Network and SEC Network? — @TylerHergert
A: ESPN owns the SEC Network. FOX owns 61 percent of the Big Ten Network. As a result, those two entities enjoyed much wider distribution and support. The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors wanted to own the Pac-12 Network, but struggled with finding adequate distribution. They’re now looking to cash out by selling the Pac-12 Networks content to a digital streaming service.
Q: Who has the best uniforms in the Pac-12? — @wochnick
A: They’re all decent in different ways. Not fence sitting here. They just are. It reminds me, though… I got into the press box elevator for the Oregon-BYU game last Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium. As I stepped in, I realized I was wearing a blue sport coat. You know, the Cougars’ primary colors.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe was already on the elevator, glanced at my coat, and nodded with approval. I told him I hadn’t thought about avoiding primary colors. Holmoe shook his head and said, “Brown, blue, green, black, purple… does any school really have a primary color anymore?”
Q: Anything to share about the Pac-12 staying together? — @Duckscribe
A: I don’t blame any of the conference members for exploring options and doing their diligence. I think the early reports about the back-channeling going on with Oregon/Washington was exactly that — consultants talking with consultants. It happens all the time. Also, the early reports about the Big 12 meeting with Utah, Colorado, Arizona and ASU were just flat wrong. None of the parties say any meetings or serious talks happened. As one “Four Corners” AD told me, “I’m so focused on our task, working with incumbent media, and the other nine schools that I don’t have time nor attention for the Big 12 noise.”
Q: Seeing a good amount of Oregon players that left too early after last year (and either got drafted too low or not at all), what would you say was the biggest reason for it? — @jkimball5506
A: I wrote about this in a column shortly after the NFL Draft. I think it was an unfortunate combination — Mario Cristobal left for Miami, agents and sycophants seized the stage. Nobody was there to advocate for a return to the program. Said one UO insider of the undrafted players: “They got horrible advice.”
Q: What should I do to have best game-day experience in Corvallis? — @sweatycole18
A: Wake. Shower. Coffee. Have breakfast or lunch at one of the cozy, cool downtown Corvallis restaurants. Hydrate, walk around, and explore the city known for being one of the best college towns in America. Before kickoff, hit the Beaver Block Party outside the stadium. OSU does a nice job with that pre-game set-up. Here’s your stadium map and your game-day rules. Also, check the comment section below because my readers are going to give you even better suggestions.
Q: What have the Pacific Northwest schools done so much better this season vs. last season to get this much better? At this point if they keep this excellent play up, could Thanksgiving weekend be the deciding factor for who plays in the Pac-12 championship game? — @beckarabecka
A: Yes, on Thanksgiving weekend. Those games feel big. Washington State and Oregon State are enjoying some healthy continuity this season. Both built on the successes of last year and showed up ready to play. Washington is an interesting study. The Huskies were much better talent-wise than last season’s 4-8 record. Also, they made a great hire (Kalen DeBoer) and added a terrific transfer quarterback in Michael Penix Jr. Oregon lost its head coach, too, and I think that hurt. But the Ducks still have a ton of four and five-star players. I took a deeper look at the success of the four Pacific Northwest programs in a column this week.
Q: Are the Amazon Prime numbers for Thursday Night Football good enough to move them into contention for the Pac-12’s Tier 1 rights, if they are interested in that? — @hereforsportUoU
A: Nielsen reported that 13 million people tuned into Thursday Night Football for Week 1. It was a home run. But I’m not 100-percent convinced Amazon is ready to be in first position with the Pac-12 broadcast rights. The challenges of delivering a stream to a large and live audience were evident at times during the initial broadcast. Don’t get me wrong — the Pac-12 would love to have Amazon’s money, but I think the conference also values the larger distribution it would get with ESPN/FOX. I listened closely to the words of conference commissioner George Kliavkoff this week when he called the decision between going with a linear provider vs. a streamer “a balancing act.” It truly feels like one.
Q: What’s with the love affair with the Oregon Ducks? One loss, not close, wasn’t even in the ball park. They didn’t even score a touchdown, allowed 49 points (to Georgia), we are treating them (rankings and coverage) as if they barely lost and could compete for a National Championship. Help us non-Ducks understand. — @RIP_CITY4LIFE
A: Oregon’s Week 1 opponent — Georgia — might just be that good. The Bulldogs have outscored their first three opponents by a combined score of 130-10. Oregon got KO’ed in Week 1, sure, but looked very respectable last week in knocking off a ranked BYU team. Are the Ducks overrated? We’ll find out today when they play at WSU. (My Week 4 picks here.)
Q: If George Kliavkoff’s argument is true (UCLA shouldn’t join Big Ten due to travel costs and mental-health considerations), why wouldn’t the same travel costs and mental health logic apply to USC? Where is the consistency of the logic? — @BruinSharman
A: Keep in mind, Kliavkoff was basically speaking to the University of California Board of Regents when he went in on UCLA. He made those comments a couple of days in front of a meeting between the regents. Why didn’t the commissioner mention USC? Because it’s a private university and can mostly do what it pleases. Kliavkoff’s focus appears to be on what he can control.
Q: Am always curious your thoughts. If you were a betting man would you put the over or under on Dan Lanning matching Mario Cristobal’s tenure at Oregon? If you were the sports book in Las Vegas where would you set the over/under line? — @ShelbySRice
A: Cristobal took over as Oregon’s head coach for the Las Vegas Bowl at the end of the 2017 season. He was really only in Eugene for four seasons (48 games as the head coach). Lanning’s three sons have moved around a ton in their early years. Also, Lanning’s alma mater (William Jewell College) is not a threat to poach him unlike Cristobal (Miami).
I raised this longevity question a couple of months ago with someone in Lanning’s inner circle, who told me, “I’d bet he fulfills his five-year contract and then some — if they’ll have him.” For that reason, let’s set the over/under at five full seasons. And I’ll take the “over.”
Q: Do you see streaming outlets eventually ending cable TV as we know it much like social media and internet news services have wiped out the newspaper industry? — @bkbeban
A: The streamers are real. But industry insiders tell me there will need to be some consolidation in that space first. There’s too many streaming services and the market place needs to be sorted out. I think we’re witnessing some ambitious and fun moves into new areas by digital players (Amazon + NFL, Apple + MLS, Peacock + MLB, etc.), but its not a free-for-all into the unknown yet.
Q: How do you feel the Utes are going to stack up against the Trojans in three weeks? — @Utahinjurylaw
A: I like Utah in this game. Especially in the lair called Rice-Eccles Stadium, where we all saw Oregon get ambushed last season.
Q: Thoughts on Kenny Dillingham as ASU’s next head coach? — @Upper_Deckers
A: Whenever a program fires a coach, I always expect a 180-degree course correction. Replacing the 68-year old Herm Edwards with a 32-year old Kenny Dillingham fits that formula. I expect Dillingham will be a finalist, especially if Oregon continues to look good on offense.
Q: Saw some tweets about George Kliavkoff spoiling any future goodwill from UCLA by urging Cal legislators to block the Big Ten move. Are Pac-12 schools really walking on eggshells trying to play nice with USC and UCLA? — @gdorius
A: The directive that Kliavkoff has given his members and staff is to treat USC and UCLA like regular, old, loyal conference members. Be sure, there are some bad feelings around the decisions by those two schools to leave for the Big Ten. Particularly USC, given that president Carol Folt served on the Pac-12’s media rights committee and expansion committees. Folt gave every indication that USC was all-in and even led the effort to kill Pac-12 expansion a year ago. But I think the Pac-12 knows there’s no upside in being openly snarky about any of this.
Q: I’m assuming UCLA signed a Grant of Rights with Big Ten, which creates legal issues if Regents overturn the move. Do you think it’s feasible UCLA is allowed to fulfill its contract term but be instructed to return to Pac-12 in 2030? This preserves Pac-12 now but could position Cal to Big Ten by 2030. — @RoaringForkDvl
A: I think it’s more likely that the UC Regents simply penalize UCLA by forcing it to subsidize Cal. Under that scenario, George Kliavkoff’s math makes a little more sense, doesn’t it?
Q: What are the chances Portland lands an MLB team in the next five years? — @Kevin10TV
A: I am told Portland Diamond Project continues to explore securing options on suburban stadium sites. I am closely watching the stadium momentum in Oakland deteriorate, too. It’s become evident that the A’s are borrowing a page from Clay Bennett’s playbook (See: Sonics to Oklahoma City), but that MLB franchise feels bound for Las Vegas. I hate to put odds on it, because the biggest factor is MLB’s desire to expand. If the league wants to add teams, Portland is in the mix.
Q: I saw a report about a massive amount of money being bet on Oregon State against USC this weekend. The line has already moved dramatically. What do the Las Vegas sharps know that we don’t? — @SpatzSteven
A: Caesar’s Sportsbook opened this line all kinds of wrong. The book wanted to get some money on Oregon State and installed USC as a 13.5-point favorite. The bettors jumped on it. That included a $110,000 wager on the Beavers + the points. The spread is now down to 6.5 points and 88 percent of the money wagered is on Oregon State. The house stands to take a bath if OSU wins this game outright or even plays close.
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