Canzano: Mailbag deals with hats/sunglasses, Pac-12, Pac-2, Blazers and fox holes
Your questions, my answers.
My mother had no stance on sunglasses or hats. I spoke to adults wearing both when I was a kid. I didn’t view it as a measure of disrespect. But our family did require me to remove that baseball cap — which I wore most days — when I was at the dinner table.
We ate as a family.
When I think about those dinners, I smile. Because while the food was often spaghetti with red sauce and meatballs, the discussion always varied. And those dinners often became a sports-themed round-table talk. One that I apparently never stopped having.
Jay Norvell poked the bear this week. We’ll soon know how all that “I take my hat and my glasses off. That’ what my mother taught me,” works out for Colorado State and its coach. Colorado coach Deion Sanders appeared delighted that he would not have to work hard this week to manufacture a perceived slight.
Coach Prime and his marketing team also seized the moment and quickly handed out pairs of Blender’s brand ‘Prime 21’ sunglasses (Retail: $67) to the Colorado players and some hand-picked national media members.
“You know me, you know how I get down,” he said during an interview on ESPN. “If we really want to talk, I can do this. I'm pretty good at this, but I don’t need to, because the kids, they’re ready.”
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On to the mailbag…
Q: I’ve heard plenty of former players say that bulletin-board material only matters for the first couple plays. After that the adrenalin wears off. Why do people talk about it so much? — @bjonz0
A: It provides great theater. Also, it helps promote and market. The media partners who carry the events feast on it. There’s a reason those UFC pre-fight news conferences turn into roasts and scuffles. They’re trying to recruit pay-per-view customers and so the fighters spend the event insulting each other’s families.
ESPN will carry the Colorado vs. Colorado State game at 7 p.m. on Saturday. It did not surprise me that the network spent a lot of time on Thursday and Friday focused on the Jay Norvell vs. Coach Prime spectacle. It stands to gain a lot from the rest of us tuning into to see those teams play.
Lots of athletes manufacture false enemies and walk around hunting for reasons to feel offended and disrespected. Michael Jordan did it maybe better than anyone. Remember when Jordan got ticked off in front of the 1991-92 NBA Finals? Not because Clyde Drexler said anything, but because some media compared Drexler with Jordan in front of the series.
Said Jordan: “Me being compared to him, I took offense to that.”
Q: Why does Deion Sanders pretend to be offended by everything? Can’t he motivate his team without a pretended slight? — @littlejohn9217
A: Deion didn’t invent this game. He’s just playing it. But I do wonder how many weeks in a row a team can act as if things are personal before it stops feeling personal.
Q: Is Colorado REALLY Deion Sanders “Dream Job”? Or is he just playing the game to get to Jerry Jones and the NFL Market? — @JoeyAMancuso
A: When his son, Shedeur, is ready to go to the NFL, I suspect dad may be, too. Colorado knew when it hired Coach Prime that it was either going to be a wild success (followed by his departure in a year or three) or a flame-out (followed by his departure in a year or three). The Buffaloes have already won.
Q: What are some of the challenges of being a sports journalist in today’s era vs. maybe 20 years ago? — @cool_brezze
A: Social media can be tremendously effective and informative, but it has some awful byproducts. It doesn’t fact check itself. It also fuels a “gotta-be-first” rush to beat the competition that comes with little accountability. That combination and the noise muddies the waters. Further, the sports entities themselves are spending more time limiting access and trying to control the narrative. It’s why deep sourcing is so important. My goal here is to provide sourced, in-depth reporting and commentary that you can’t get elsewhere.
Q: Do you think any of the nine schools (not counting Colorado) are having second thoughts about leaving? — @realSWB
A: It’s too soon for that and everyone is currently immersed in the college football season. Check back in 24-36 months when the travel grind and reality sets in. Also, let’s wait until the schools have a clearer feel for the financial gains.
Realignment is driven by television and football. I’ve talked with several Olympic-sport coaches in the Pac-12 who told me their schools never bothered to talk with them before making the decision to bolt to another conference. Their input was not wanted or valued. It’s just the reality.
Q: Apologies if you’ve already answered this, but how was it so easy for the 10 schools, specifically the last eight, to leave the Pac-12 with little to no issues? When the Pac-12 was trying to get SMU and SDSU, they had deadlines, exit fees and huge penalties. — @danie1_e1der
A: The Pac-12’s grant of rights expires on July 1, 2024 and there are no exit fees needed at that point. The schools are free to leave with no penalty.
SMU had to negotiate an exit fee to leave the American Athletic Conference. Previous members of that conference paid roughly $19 million each to get out of the grant of rights early. The Mountain West Conference, where San Diego State plays, has an exit fee that is NOT tied to the grant of rights or the media-rights deal. It’s an unusual distinction that makes it harder to leave that conference without writing a check.
Hypothetically, if San Diego State wanted to join the Pac-2 in time for the 2025 football season it would have to provide notice to the MWC between now and June 30, 2024 and pay $17 million. On July 1, that fee would double to $34 million.
Q: OSU/WSU are on a crusade this final Pac-12 football season but will success further their demise? Won’t both coaching staffs and rosters be prime poaching targets when the coaching carousel and transfer portal open? — @KdickeyKeith
A: There’s always risk when teams win and players have success. Remember when San Diego State’s Lamont Butler hit that game-winning shot in the Final Four that put the Aztecs in the national-title game? By the time he went to bed that night, I’m told Butler had three NIL deals in front of him. He decided to stay at SDSU for another season. Success is good. Winning is great. But I get your point.
Oregon State and Washington State programs are motivated to demonstrate to the world that they not only belong in major college football but can compete with the best teams. They say they’re committed to continuing to fund their programs at the highest levels. It’s why finding the left-behind revenue buried in the Pac-12 is critical to their mission.
Q: A lot of talk about the Pac-12 record thus far vs the SEC’s and how the SEC could be having a down year. What is your take on comparing the two conferences? — @tyty_2011
A: I think the Pac-12 would win a crossover series vs. the SEC if it were played this weekend. That might pit USC vs. Georgia, Washington vs. Alabama, Utah vs. Tennessee, Oregon vs. LSU, Oregon State vs. Mississippi, Colorado vs. Arkansas, WSU vs. Kentucky, UCLA vs. Mississippi State, Arizona vs. Texas A&M, Cal vs. Missouri, Stanford vs. Auburn, ASU vs. Vanderbilt … or whatever.
I have the Pac-12 going 7-5 or 8-4 in a crossover tournament. The middle of the Pac-12 is stronger than the middle of the SEC. That said, nobody beats Georgia. The Bulldogs are still the best team in the field. We saw how that worked out for Oregon in the 2022 opener.
Q: Is a hot dog a sandwich? If not, what is it? Favorite toppings? — @radesjardins
A: I’ve never heard “sandwich” and thought to myself “hot dog.” So no. And I’ll take it with mustard and onions. It might be the best that Costco offers.
Q: If WSU/OSU reverse merges with the Mountain West Conference do you think they take all of the schools or just some of them? — @c_rog6
A: I don’t think the Pac-2 would want all the MWC schools. I’d take San Diego State, Boise State, Fresno State, Colorado State, Air Force and UNLV in time for the 2025 season. That gets the Pac-12 to the NCAA-mandated minimum of eight teams. The NCAA provides a two-year grace period to reach that threshold.
I might also look at the American Athletic Conference and see if there’s anything I liked there. Would you take the University of Texas-San Antonio and Memphis or Tulane? Or maybe you’d stand at eight? You tell me in the comment section. The goal should be to position the Pac-12 as the clear No. 5 football conference. So tell me how you do that.
Q: With Mayor Ted Wheeler not looking to run again for Mayor of Portland, will he get a MLB ballpark built at the Lloyd Center and finally leave a positive lasting legacy from his term in office? — @2023SportsGuy
A: I can’t tell if Mayor Wheeler wants to leave a legacy… or just leave. The city badly needs a win. The mayor needs one, too. The Portland Diamond Project has a goal of having a property under contract by the end of this year. Nobody should be rooting against that.
Q: How will the liability of ~$70 million owed to Comcast be dispensed in the dissolution of the Pac-12? — @pdxtrojan
A: The conference told me weeks ago that the Comcast debt would be divided equally among the 12 schools. It works out to ~$5.83 million per school. I’m told the expense will be deducted from the revenues earned in this fiscal year and paid back to Comcast. Nobody is leaving without paying it off.
However, if the 10 departing members get control of the board seats through litigation they could vote to use the conference’s emergency fund (~$40 million) to offset that debt. It’s why the tug-of-war over the assets is so interesting.
Q: Thoughts on Colorado as they begin Pac-12 play in Week 4? How do you think they will do especially against the top teams like Oregon, USC, and Utah? — @HarrelSports
A: I predict a 3-6 conference record for Colorado. Wins: at ASU, Stanford and Arizona. Losses: at Oregon, USC, at UCLA, Oregon State, at WSU, at Utah. Three conference victories would likely give Colorado six total wins and bowl eligibility. That would be a nice year-one accomplishment for Coach Prime.
Oregon is going to beat Colorado in Week 4. Bo Nix and the Ducks aren’t just playing at home, they’re simply better and deeper.
Q: I realize college football is underway and lots of questions BUT what in the hell are the Trail Blazers doing? Sitting around and waiting? — @BlazDuck
A: The Blazers are treading water. I don’t blame fans for being frustrated. It’s hard to watch another season approach with no hope of actually mattering in the NBA. But that’s where the franchise will be stuck until Jody Allen sells. Phil Knight would like to own the team. That should have happened a year ago.
Q: This week the NBA Commissioner came out and said that Jody Allen is operating “team in a first-class manner” when questioned about imposing the sale of Portland’s NBA team. Many of us share a definite different opinion on how she is running things. Could you explain why this is the stance of the NBA? — Jennifer Drayton
A: Adam Silver serves the league’s owners, not its fans. The commissioner might feel differently if one of the league’s tentpole organizations was adrift and in the hands of a trustee. There’s nothing first class about Jody Allen’s operating style. Keep in mind, this is an organization that removed its general manager amid allegations that he fostered a toxic and hostile work environment. That happened on Jody’s watch.
Further, in 2012 body guards claimed in sworn depositions that Jody Allen sexually harassed them, purchasing tight, Euro-cut swim trunks and allegedly requesting they perform a “fashion show” for her. The guards also claimed under oath that she directed them to smuggle animal bones out of Africa and Antarctica. USDA records revealed that inspectors destroyed 72 pounds of giraffe bones belonging to Vulcan, Inc. That’s who the NBA commissioner backed this week.
Q: Why does Jody Allen hold on to the Blazers? — @bankermike747
A: It may be that she enjoys being “Queen Bee.” Also, estate attorneys tell me that Allen may be collecting an annual “management fee” as trustee of her brother’s estate. If so, she’s not at all incentivized to sell.
Q: Has the Chip Kelly idea of separating football conferences from all other sports’ conferences gained any momentum? I think it’s a great idea!!! If not, it’s too bad the university leadership (and media?) don’t care more about the students compared to the athletes. It could save the Pac-12. — Arnie Lowder
A: I think it’s a great idea, too. So do lots of people in college athletics. And I’m told the country’s top athletic directors kicked this exact scenario around last year at an annual meeting. The ADs emerged from that talk convinced that separating football came with too many complications (Title IX among them). One AD told me this week: “After a while we realized it caused more problems than it solved.”
I do think it’s worth revisiting. Particularly, if the players unionize or are paid. I think it’s silly to pretend that football is the same as other sports. It’s just not.
Q: Who should the Pac-2 add first in rebuilding the conference? — Luke Weirup
A: San Diego State. But not until the 2025 football season. I’d try to make it as a conference of two in 2024. The Beavers and Cougars already have three non-conference games scheduled. They could add a home-and-home series vs. each other. That’s five total games for each. Then, I’d turn to the scheduling consultants and have them find another five games. As difficult as that sounds, I’m told it’s plausible.
Q: Who would win in a 10 round boxing match. Jonathan Smith or Dan Lanning. — Aaron Olbrantz
A: Kyle Whittingham.
Q: Hi John. You are in a foxhole. The enemy is mounting an attack. You have the Presidents of Washington and Oregon next to you in the foxhole. Which one do you trust more to see the mission thru with you? — Kevin Klustner
A: Neither, I dial up Oliver Luck.
Q: On a scale of poetic justice to divine retribution — how satisfying would it be for OSU or WSU to win the Pac-12 this season? — Matt Thenell
Q: Will any of the presidents of the 10 departing universities show their faces as part of the lawsuit and ‘try’ defending the Pac-12? Or are they too scared to do so because they know the public relations would be terrible? — Joe Clark
A: I don’t think anyone wants discovery. I smell a settlement coming.
Q: Tillamook Cheese or Cougar Gold? — Kit Duplessie
A: I need more research on this topic. Anyone want to help?
Have a great weekend…
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