Discover more from Bald Faced Truth by John Canzano
Canzano: Mailbag deals with Pac-12 riddles, trophies, coaches and more
Your questions... my answers
I get the best questions from readers. In this week’s mailbag someone submitted a riddle. I’ve included it below, amid another batch of terrific questions.
This week, someone else asked me whether I participate in the annual post-Thanksgiving tradition of waking insanely early to go shopping.
Q: Black Friday shopping. Ya or nah? — @AFoster13
My brother and his wife have traditionally set their alarm clocks for 4 a.m. and participated in the annual early-morning shopping frenzy. One year, I woke the day after Thanksgiving and was working on my first cup of coffee at our kitchen table when I received a text from my brother. He announced that all of his Christmas shopping was done.
I envy the hustle.
I’m far more inclined to be wandering a mall on Christmas Eve than on a Black Friday. I “zig” when the masses “zag” at the holidays. But I don’t judge. This year, in fact, I am participating. I’m offering readers of this publication a chance to “gift” a subscription to JohnCanzano.com to their parents, siblings, boss, neighbor, friend, stranger, or co-worker.
No lines. No crowds. Just a simple, thoughtful and creative sports-themed gift that tells the recipient “I get you.” That’s really what gift-giving is about, isn’t it? I am happy to send a note to those gifted a subscription using the above link, welcoming them on your behalf.
I’m having a blast with this new writing endeavor. I have big plans and some cool stories and columns planned for the coming weeks. The next month is going to be particularly lively and informative.
I’m glad that you’re here for it.
Onto the mailbag…
Q: How come Oregon doesn’t allow sports betting on college sports? Is there a chance that changes to allow it at some point in the future? — @TylerHergert
A: The Oregon Senate holds the keys to that one. Peter Courtney, the outgoing president of the state senate, made an effort to lift the ban on college sports wagering in the last session. Senate Bill 1503 was killed, unfortunately.
I wrote a column on that travesty.
Courtney’s bill would have used revenue from wagering on collegiate sporting events to provide scholarships and grants for low-income university students. The proposed law ran into opposition from anti-gambling lobbyists and the tribal casinos.
Q: Do you think we will see the Platypus Trophy on the sideline as an official trophy within the next 10 years? Long overdue and seems so stupid to not use it in the way it was intended and deserves. — @OS_Beaver
A: That “Civil War” trophy has a wild story. Artist Warren Spady created it in the late 1950s. It was quietly exchanged at the game for a couple of years, then went missing for 40 years. Dan Williams, an administrator at Oregon, tracked it down. The trophy is supposed to be exchanged by the respective alumni associations after the game, but you’re right. The hardware should be passed over at the conclusion of Saturday’s game on the field where everyone can see it.
Q: Was the Oregon Ducks defense that much better or was it more of a poor showing by the Utah offense and Cam Rising? — @bryanmiller513
A: I think Utah presented an ideal matchup for Oregon’s defense. Rising is banged up. He’s not at his best right now as a passer/runner. The Utes receivers don’t scare you and Utah doesn’t have a running back that changes your game plan.
I asked former Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti what he saw. He said there weren’t schematic changes by the Ducks. He thought Oregon played better and enjoyed a favorable matchup.
Q: Any truth to a couple whispers that the defense looked better for the Ducks because Dan Lanning took over play calling duties from Tosh Lupoi like Nick Saban had to with Tosh at Alabama? — @Deafdux
A: It was hard to ignore how much more involved Lanning appeared during the Utah win on the sideline. I wondered myself. Oregon’s head coach waved off that speculation. But I have to think Lanning took the poor defensive showing vs. Washington personally and challenged his defense.
Q: Why not call one of the longest rivalry football classics “The Oregon Civil War?” — @JakeBarge
A: I’d go for it. I wrote about the “Civil War” name game this week. I got a ton of feedback via email. The comment section of the piece is an interesting study, too. Nearly 100 percent of those who responded/commented supported the original “Civil War” nickname for the game and said they continue to call it that. I found that fascinating.
Q: If you served as coach, what's your favorite trick play? — @Duckscribe
A: I like an old-fashioned halfback pass. It’s always fun to find out whether a running back can throw a spiral during a live game.
Q: Favorite Thanksgiving dishes? — @scott52w
A: Clean ones… afterward.
Q: How has covering sports changed since you started your career in journalism? — @2022SportsGuy
A: The sports calendar is all messed up, for one. The Super Bowl is in February now. The World Series gives us “Mr. November.” The off-season news cycle doesn’t stop in any of the sports. The leagues have figured out that being in the news 52 weeks a year is good for business.
As far as the coverage, though, it’s become evident that sourcing, experience and in-depth reporting is now at a premium. Those who do it, stand out. There’s a lot of nonsense out there and a lot of “reporters” guessing and pretending to know what’s going on when they really don’t.
The “PAC-12 IN IMMINENT DANGER!!!” hysteria from some during the late summer was a great example of this. I was talking with the key players (ADs and Presidents) and trusted sources who told me the remaining 10 conference members were galvanized. Nobody was leaving for the Big 12. None of the “four corners” schools had any meetings, despite the reports. Nothing was about to “imminently blow up.” The goom-and-doom act gets clicks, I guess.
I will always give you sourced, in-depth, authentic reporting and commentary here. I have the trusted contacts. I’m not here to give you spoon-fed coverage, teed up by some media consultant with an agenda. I’ll tell you what’s really going on.
Q: Why is BYU not in consideration for the Pac-12. Its rivalry with Utah seems to make BYU a great fit. And how many members in the Mormon church outside of SLC might tune in? — @stephenpgrant
A: We have to think like a TV executive. Adding BYU would create a great conference rivalry, but the Pac-12 already captures Salt Lake City’s 916,960 television households with the University of Utah. There’s some value in adding interest from members of the church who reside outside Salt Lake City. BYU is a brand. But it’s not Notre Dame. I think the Pac-12 is looking for more strategic TV markets and bigger opportunity.
Q: It seems incredible that the Pac-12 has six ranked teams but will only get one NY6 bid while the SEC with five ranked teams is set for four NY6 bids. What can the Pac-12 do to create better bowl opportunities? — @bkbeban
A: The Pac-12 needs No. 6-ranked USC to make the College Football Playoff. In that scenario the conference would then land teams in two major bowl games (including a Rose Bowl berth, likely for the title-game runner-up).
The “New Year’s Six” bowl games are slotted by playoff ranking. The SEC currently has three of the top-seven teams in those rankings and four of the top-10.
After No. 9-ranked Oregon, the Pac-12 has Washington at No. 13 and Utah (No. 14). Basically, if the Pac-12 wants USC in the playoff plus an additional two teams in New Year’s Six bowl games, it needs some help.
Oregon, Washington and Utah must win this weekend while a bunch of upsets and chaos happens in front of them in the rankings.
Q: What are your thoughts about young Kenny Dillingham being potential head coach? — @cfalcs3
A: Dillingham was born in Phoenix, went to high school in the area, and feels like a solid candidate. It would be his dream job, I’m sure. I’m not concerned about his age (32). Recruiting is a young-man’s game and he’s been great calling plays at Oregon. That said, ASU is going to want to know who he’d hire as coordinators and whether he could lead a program. I think they’re looking not just for a coach, but a program. Dillingham would be wise to include some experienced assistants in his pitch.
Q: Kenny Dillingham is on a lot of ASU websites as the next coach... (if that happens) any idea who will be the next Duck offensive coordinator? — @BobLMiddleton
A: If it happens, Oregon will not be caught off guard. There’s going to be some big movement with coordinators and some experienced play callers on the open market. The Ducks also have a deep salary pool for assistants. Dan Lanning has $6,685,000 to use on his 10 assistants.
Q: Any chance Bo Nix comes back to Oregon next year? — @kforeman11
A: Nix ran on the field during “Senior Night” last week. Weeks ago, in an interview I did with him, he also spoke about this college season as if it were his last. He’s married. He’s played at multiple colleges. I don’t think another year of college helps Nix improve his NFL prospects.
Q: Ducks quarterback next year…..Ty Thompson? Dante Moore? Transfer portal? — @CashMoney503
A: I expect Thompson and fellow back-up Jay Butterfield to jump in the transfer portal in December. Five-star recruit Dante Moore is expected to enroll early in Eugene. The coaching staff will get a good look at him. But I expect Oregon to look into the portal for its starting QB next season.
Q: Will the Pac-12 Network ever figure out how create shows to promote the conference like the SEC, Big Ten and ACC have? — @Raimond80780510
A: One of the biggest gripes from Pac-12 coaches is that the conference doesn’t have visible “shoulder programming” that helps showcase the product. Having your own network is cool, but the glow of ESPN’s platform has helped boost the SEC, in particular.
I think this topic is on the minds of conference executives, but you need buy-in from the media partners, too. Pay attention to who ends up with the Pac-12 Network content in the ongoing negotiation. Will they invest in boosting the conference’s brand? Or just carry the games?
Q: Does Washington have the inside track to the Rose Bowl if USC wins out? It is currently ranked above Utah and would have one less loss if Oregon loses in the Pac-12 championship. — @Seaballpuck
A: The Rose Bowl gets to choose if there’s a “cluster” situation like the one you’ve presented. It doesn’t have to pick the runner-up in the title game, you’re right. But keep an eye on the College Football Playoff rankings and where Washington (No. 13) and Oregon (No. 9) land after this weekend. The prevailing thought is that the Rose Bowl would almost certainly invite the highest-ranked available team in the final rankings on Dec. 4.
Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that Oregon loses at Oregon State on Saturday, but advances to the Pac-12 title game anyway. It could happen. Once there, let’s suppose the Ducks lose to USC in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, Washington wins the Apple Cup and waits. In that scenario, either the Huskies and/or Utah could end up higher than Oregon in the final CFP rankings. It will be interesting to watch play out.
Q: A cowboy rode into town on Friday. He stayed for three nights and rode out on Friday. How is this possible? — @Tc_In_The_541
A: Clever riddle. I know this one. Keep them coming, though. If you also know the answer, put it in the “comment section” below.
Q: Will Mario Cristobal keep his job now that he has proved he can recruit but can’t coach? — @flyinginkmedia
A: I’ve always believed that recruiting was a huge part of coaching. I think Cristobal will be fine at Miami after he gets better players on his roster. I never thought Cristobal out-coached other head coaches during games at Oregon. He beat them on signing day.
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