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Canzano: Mailbag deals with Oregon uniforms, Pac-12, and Russell Wilson
Your questions, my answers...
This week’s mailbag was filled with all sorts of great reader questions I’ve never had before. One of them came from a curious reader who wanted to know what to make of the football uniforms Oregon will wear Saturday night at Arizona.
Q: What are Oregon’s spotted uniforms supposed to convey? Duck doo? — @Duckscribe
Oregon’s “egg-shell” uniforms were first released last season when the Ducks suited up at UCLA with College Football Gameday there. UO is bringing them back for this week’s road game in Tucson.
What are the uniforms supposed to convey? Duck eggshells. Cue the omelet jokes and Humpty-Dumpty references. Some have suggested the uniforms look more “Cookies and Cream” than anything. Go with what you like there. But while you do, know that Oregon and Nike long ago cornered the market on football uniforms.
Also, know the wide array of uniforms aren’t really made for you and me. I came to that realization in 2003 when Oregon suited up in “highlighter-yellow” uniforms for a game played at Mississippi State.
The uniforms looked ridiculous, I thought.
Then, I walked around the stadium before the game and the teenagers I spoke with buzzed about them and asked where they could buy them. The players loved them. I hated them. I realized on the spot that Oregon wasn’t interested in what I thought. It was chasing the approval of a much younger, cooler audience and the marketing buzz that comes with being confident in your own shell.
On that note…
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Your questions and my answers…
Q: Why isn’t UNLV seen as a legitimate Pac-12 expansion school? It’s a R1 research institution, a top-40 media market, and it’s Vegas. — @sfmilstead
A: Being a top-40 TV market isn’t enough to make UNLV a no-brainer for the Pac-12, but I think it will get some consideration. I handicapped the mid-major candidates in print. I think UNLV’s strongest selling points are the growth of Vegas, the NFL stadium, and potential gambling sponsorships.
The downside for UNLV, Boise State, Fresno State and some others in the Mountain West Conference is that the Pac-12 won’t want to dilute itself. I think San Diego State has a good chance of being invited. Would the Pac-12 take more than one school from the MWC?
Q: How good does the haul that the Seahawks got in the Russell Wilson trade look now? — @devonhaskins
A: Denver got Wilson and Seattle’s 2022 fourth-round pick in the trade. The Broncos used the pick on defensive end, Eyioma Uwazurike. He had three tackles against the Colts on Thursday. Wilson (four TD passes and three interceptions) has been shaky this season.
The Seahawks received Drew Lock, Shelby Harris, Noah Fant and Denver’s first and second rounders in 2022 (offensive tackle Charles Cross and rusher Boye Mafe). Seattle also got Denver’s 2022 fifth-round pick, which it traded to Kansas City for two other picks (edge Tyreke Smith and receiver Dareke Young). Also, Seattle gets Denver’s first and second round picks in 2023.
Cross looks like a star. Mafe already has 13 tackles and a sack. Smith and Young have been hindered by injuries. It’s a solid haul for the Seahawks, but we need a larger sample size. I need to see what happens with Wilson in the next couple of seasons before we judge.
Q: We just felt a 4.4-magnitude earthquake and it got me thinking. What would be the one sports memorabilia item you own that you needed to save if the “big one” hit? Why? What's the story behind it? — @WebFootChicano
A: My dad was a professional baseball player. I’ve written a few times about my father and my mother, too. Their amazing travels in the minor leagues are often on my mind. I’d probably grab dad’s old Durham Bulls jersey that hangs on the wall in one room of our home. Also, I have one of his game-used Louisville Slugger bats that I found on eBay. I’m nostalgic. In the end, though, it’s all just… stuff. I’m certain I wouldn’t be thinking about a jersey and a bat if the world was shaking and crumbling around my family.
Q: With the depth of the Pac-12 noticeably improved, who are the most likely late season spoilers to mess with the top dogs? I say Arizona. — @gdorius
A: The Wildcats have a nice offense, a fun quarterback, and play a bunch of contenders down the stretch. It’s a good pick by you. I’d also throw Oregon State and Washington State in there. Those two won’t win the conference title, but will go to bowl games and can beat anyone on a given day. Also, Cal will beat a team it shouldn’t beat this season. Justin Wilcox always does.
Q: In the unlikely event the Ducks stay undefeated and win Pac-12 title is there any scenario they get a CFP bid? — @KdickeyKeith
A: One-loss Power Five champions typically either get in the playoff or finish in the top six. Right now, undefeated USC and Utah (4-1) are in a more advantageous position vs. Oregon. But the Ducks get to play Utah on Nov. 19 and could encounter USC in the conference title game.
The current prediction models give Oregon less-than 4 percent chance of making the playoff. USC is currently at 18 percent and Utah at 12 percent. But there’s a lot of ball left to play.
Q: Should Oregon coach Dan Lanning let his players do their thing during “Shout” or pull in the reins and use it as a teachable moment on the need to keep focus? — @phneville1
A: I know some fans love the “Shout” tradition at the end of the third quarter, but I’ve always found it distracting when players get involved. They should probably be thinking about the first play of the fourth quarter. I took a deep dive in a column about Lanning’s rural Missouri upbringing before the season. He’s a substance guy. I’m not surprised he wants his players to focus.
Q: Why do schools hate the late kicks? It’s becoming very clear it’s a great TV slot with limited competition, and can produce great viewership/exposure. Should the Pac-12 accept this and do Thursday, Friday, Saturday night kicks for top 3 games? Could average 1.5-2.5m viewers per game! — @hereforsportUoU
A: The late kickoffs hurt season-ticket sales in most corners of the Pac-12. But you’re right, in this media-rights negotiation, owning the Pacific Time Zone is a huge advantage for the Pac-12. I think attitudes toward the late kickoffs have shifted in the last few months. They’re a strong selling point for a conference that needed one.
Q: DirectTV & Pac-12 Networks, thoughts of being resolved with the new broadcast package? — @swtdees015
A: I expect the Pac-12 Networks will end up on a streaming service and get wide distribution. The lack of a deal with DirecTV has been a killer. Apple and Amazon appear to be the most likely bidders for the Pac-12 Networks content because they don’t have in-house production capability. I wrote in more depth about that recently. Not getting a deal with DirecTV done goes down as one of ex-commissioner Larry Scott’s biggest failures.
Q: If Bo Nix stays on pace and has a 3,000 yard 30TD/10INT is that enough to rid him of his “Bo Pix” moniker? — @HollywoodCarey
A: The numbers help, but Nix needs to play well in big games to win over the public and NFL scouts. He’ll get the chance later this season. Nix has been very, very good for Oregon in the last month.
Q: Does UCLA’s recent success in football make you more optimistic about their transition to the Big Ten? I had assumed they would be a bottom feeder when they moved over. — @Levi_Bergthold
A: The Bruins have been better on the field this season than I expected. That said, in the new-world Big Ten, UCLA might encounter Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Minnesota, USC, Wisconsin, etc. on a given Saturday. That sounds a lot less fun than the Pac-12 to me. Especially given that the conference champion in the Pac-12 would almost always receive an automatic College Football Playoff bid after the coming playoff expansion.
Q: True or False, Oregon State is really a baseball school that offers other sports like football, basketball, gymnastics....... — @2022SportsGuy
A: False. Football drives the bus at every major university. They’re all football schools that offer other sports. OSU baseball is terrific on the field, though. While we’re on the subject, I’d like to see the Oregon State men’s basketball program take a big step forward next season. It was a no-show last season.
Q: So many serious injuries is making it harder to watch the NFL. Any ideas? (And not just head injuries) — @lesjoel123
A: My dad and I had this exact conversation the other night on the phone. Football is a violent game. The players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever. The field has never felt smaller and the injuries, week to week, have a major impact on the outcomes. This season, college football cracked down on blind-side bocks and outlawed blocking below the waist outside the tackle box. I expect we’ll see more of this trend in college and the NFL.
Q: Can you talk about the importance of academics in expansion? It seems like the Pac-12 is better positioned than the Big 12 in this regard. Colleges get a lot more money from academics/research than from college athletics. How important should academics be in expansion? — @BrettHolubeck
A: The presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12 universities aren’t former football players. They’re academics. They’ve always been tuned into the “research institution” model when it comes to conference membership. I don’t expect they’ll easily abandon that mindset.
Q: What’s the deal with Pac-12 scheduling? It seems like the whole process is distorted in some ways and feels extremely unequal. I know the California schools all play one another every year, but it seems that the conference catered to that, and honestly maybe it shouldn’t have done so. Any insight for it or additional knowledge? — @JoeInOregon87
A: The schedule will always be imbalanced when you have 12 members and only nine regular-season games. That won’t get better when/if the Pac-12 eventually drops to eight regular-season conference games.
Since expansion to the current membership, Oregon State has faced Utah 10 times in 12 seasons. The Utes, however, have only played Cal five times in that same span. The Pac-12 has now dropped the North/South divisions. Because of your question, I reached out to some well-placed conference sources to figure out what they’ll do in the near future.
I’m told by multiple sources that the Pac-12 plans to stay on the current regular-season schedule rotation for the 2023 season. They’ll rank the teams 1-12 to determine the conference’s championship game participants for the title games played in 2022 and 2023.
Beginning in 2024, we’ll see changes. The conference is going to assess how many regular-season games it will play, account for potential expansion, and come up with a brand-new scheduling format for the 2024 season.
Any thoughts on what they should be thinking about? Share them in the comment section.
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