Canzano: Mailbag deals with Ducks, Beavers, new Pac-12 faces and hot sauces
Your questions... my answers.
I launched this new writing endeavor in March. One of the first priorities was about the user experience. I wanted a more direct connection with readers and a more pleasant experience. No pop-up advertisements. No cumbersome navigating. I wanted nothing between my in-depth, sourced reporting and commentary and the reader.
I also thought about this day — Sept. 3 — specifically.
The college football season was five months away when I went independent. I wanted to arrive at Week 1 of the football season ready to give you coverage you couldn’t possibly get anywhere else. I’m in Atlanta for the Oregon-Georgia game but I’m going to pop up places this college football season that I normally don’t go. I’ll be all over the Pac-12 footprint on game days.
I will go where the good stories take us.
I write “us” because you’re here with me. I’m grateful that you’re reading. I appreciate those who have subscribed or given others a gift subscription. Your support makes this endeavor possible.
Onto the mailbag…
Q: So much talk about San Diego State as a candidate to join the Pac-12. All the talk is coming from this side of the fence. I assume SDSU would love to jump to the Pac-12 but I’ve heard nothing from anyone at San Diego State about making the jump. What does SDSU have to say about it? — @blederjr
A: On the record? Nothing. None of the schools are going to comment publicly. But be sure there’s lots of back-channeling going on between consultants of the universities and the conferences. San Diego State would love to be in the Pac-12 and it has the TV market and geography to be attractive enough. But let’s see if the numbers pencil out in this media-rights negotiation.
Q: John, does baseball have any value in the current Pac-12 TV negotiations and why doesn’t it get marketed outside of a handful of games on the Pac-12 network. Pac-12 baseball is some of the best in the country. — @Ralong27
A: The baseball in the conference is terrific. Trouble is, there just isn’t a demand for college baseball inventory from the linear networks. The sport doesn’t command large audiences and sponsors. I expect the Pac-12 baseball will end up packaged alongside the Pac-12’s other non-revenue generating sports. It will likely land wherever the Pac-12 Network content ends up. Maybe a streaming service like ESPN+.
Q: Why is Oregon State’s game vs. Boise State flying under the radar? — Ernie
A: I keep coming back to one thought about this game — it matters. This game matters to Oregon State, the Pac-12 and lots of Beavers’ fans. It wasn’t that long ago that OSU was playing games that didn’t matter much. Jonathan Smith has never been 1-0. Oregon State has a tough 1-2 punch to open the season vs. Boise State and at Fresno State. Getting the first one would be huge for Smith’s program and the conference.
Q: Do you think the new portal rules, leading to significant roster turn over from season to season, will decrease fan investment in their teams as they no longer get to watch players evolve over four years? Or is it just enough to slap a logo on random kids and say that’s your team? — @RoaringForkDvl
A: Arizona State has 51 new players, tops in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Arizona has added 21 new players alone via the transfer portal in the last two seasons. Everyone is doing it, but you make a fair point. Fans didn’t always need a game program to know the players. Now they do. I’ve wondered for a while how the lack of distribution of the Pac-12 Networks might affect the rooting interest and passion of younger fans who aren’t able to regularly see their team play. But you make a great larger point.
Q: A game is coming on TV, is your favorite time to eat pregame, during game, postgame, or all of the above? — @2022SportsGuy
A: Grazing during a big game is tough to beat. But only if there’s a good spread. There’s also nothing like being at a college football stadium on game day, when it’s done right.
Q: Prediction for the Oregon vs. Georgia game? — @DaNickyV15
A: I think the Ducks cover the 17.5-point spread. But I have Georgia winning 27-20. See my picks for all the Pac-12 games here.
Q: With Dan Lanning, can Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell be the best linebackers not only in Oregon history, but in the country this year? — Tyler Luster
A: That duo is going to get some major attention, especially on the broadcast today vs. Georgia. Lanning’s arrival in Eugene probably benefitted those two the most. Biggest factor now is keeping them both healthy. If Sewell and Flowe can stay on the field, they’ll be right up there with Dave Wilcox, Ernest Jones, Wesley Mallard, Tom Graham, Kevin Mitchell, Casey Matthews, Kiko Alonso and some others.
Q: With the Pac-12, Big 12 and potentially the ACC expanding, are there really that many quality schools/teams out there? Is SDSU, UNLV, and Boise State the answer? Or are we just diluting college football? — @BarkerMeowski
A: I think there’s a good chance the Pac-12 takes only one or maybe no additional members. The conference will only add members that pencil out and add media-rights value. The landscape as a whole doesn’t have great options, particularly in the Pacific and Mountain Time zones. And San Diego State is only in this conversation because it happens to be sitting in Southern California.
Q: With the CFP expansion now likely guaranteeing the Pac-12 at least one berth each year, does that reduce the need for the remaining Pac-12 to expand after USC/UCLA depart? — @JimGoos25553544
A: I think the bigger immediate takeaway with the expanded playoff is how Oregon and Washington view their chances to win the Pac-12 and get a playoff berth. If I’m either of those schools, I’m no longer as eager to get to the Big Ten. It’s a much tougher conference. In fact, if you ran the model during the last eight years, Oregon would have participated in the playoff twice (2014 and 2019). Washington would have made it three times (2016-2017-2018). That would be much more difficult to accomplish while playing Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and company.
Q: Boise State fan here, on a plane en route to Corvallis… with the expanded CFP bombshell out today, how do you 6-to-1 odds for BSU joining that Pac-12 change, if at all? — @DamonDennett
A: Boise State has a strong brand and ESPN likes it. But it’s in a media market that has only 517,000 TV households. If I’m one of the remaining Pac-12 members, I might pump the brakes on the expansion talk and consider the advantages of remaining a 10-team conference. Adding teams doesn’t make the path to the playoff easier and you’d face sharing revenue from the playoff with additional members. I think the only way the Pac-12 adds teams is if ESPN covets having exclusivity in the prime time windows in the Pacific Time Zone and throws a pile of cash at the conference.
Q: Not sure what's more important... Football or the BBQ. I guess the two go together. How would you rate each defense (Oregon and Georgia) on a BBQ-sauce scale? — Rick Olson
A: You got me thinking about Wilbur Lincoln Scoville. He was a pharmacologist and a huge football fan. In 1912, Scoville developed a 1-10 ranking system to measure the strength of peppers. It’s called the “Scoville scale.” I’m going to give Oregon’s defense a “7” which is “burning” on scale. The linebackers make it spicy. Georgia has a more size on the defensive line, though. The Bulldogs are a “9” which is “volcanic.” Both defenses (and sauces) get the job done and leave you thinking about them afterward.
Thanks for being here… have a great day…
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all who have supported, subscribed and shared my new independent endeavor with friends and family in recent months. If you haven’t already — please consider subscribing.
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Oh, and in conclusion: Go Ducks! Go Beavers! (yes we are one of those families.)