Canzano: Mailbag deals with Pac-12 scenarios, Marcus Mariota and Phil Knight vs. Jody Allen
Your questions, my answers...
I love good books. When I was a kid my Dad would take me to the bookstore and I’d sit in the aisle and read sports books or get lost in a collection of short stories.
Jack London was a favorite.
So was Edgar Allan Poe.
We mostly browsed, but every once in a while Dad would say, “Pick one out. We’re buying today.”
One day, I chose a hardcover book titled “The Answer Book of Sports.” It was written by someone named Bill Mazer. On the inside cover, I practiced my signature a couple of times. Also, I wrote the date — “Jan. 26, 1979.”
I was eight.
Mazer was a sportswriter. He also holds the distinction of hosting the first sports talk radio show in history. It launched in March of 1964 on New York’s WNBC. He had a deep knowledge of sports and his book was a bible on baseball, football, basketball, boxing, hockey, track, golf and tennis.
Who invented baseball? How did the dribble in basketball come into being? Who was “Wrong Way Riegals”? What are the 10 events of the decathlon?
Mazer’s book asked an array of questions and provided hundreds of lengthy answers and explanations. It taught me about Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Joe Namath. I learned what “I” formation and “Wing-T” offense was. And I read about the origin of the Harlem Globetrotters between its pages.
I pored over the book, memorizing facts, details and stories that I’d call upon decades later. I still have the book. The cover is worn, a few pages have my doodles in the margins, but “The Answer Book of Sports” is sitting beside me as I write this mailbag today — answering your questions.
I’m having a lot of fun with this new writing endeavor. I am grateful for those who have subscribed or given others a gift subscription. I’m having a blast.
Thanks to all who have read, subscribed and sent words of encouragement. Also, thank you to Bill Mazer, who died in 2013 at the age of 92. The guy had all the answers.
Onto the mailbag… your questions, my answers:
Q: Marcus Mariota as Comeback Player of the Year? — @DaNickyV15
A: He’s been patient and professional. Mariota will get a lot of votes if he produces on the field and stays healthy. I would not bet against him. He’s motivated and looked good in his first preseason game.
Q: Has Bill Walton had any comments about the Pac-12 since the LA schools announced their departure? He’s always so pro-Pac-12 I’m curious where he lies with all this. — @autzen07
A: Great question. I reached out to Walton. I’m eager to hear his response. I’ll circle back with it when he answers. I suspect he’s a little heartbroken like the rest of us.
Q: No matter what happens for the Oregon Ducks, unequal revenue sharing has to be part of the equation for them going forward right? — @Deafdux
A: I think the Pac-12 is exploring an incentivized payout structure for the programs that qualify for the NCAA Tournament and College Football Playoff. Won’t be surprised if the conference stops the practice of splitting those postseason windfalls evenly among members and gives the bulk of the payout to the programs that earn it.
Q: In doomsday scenario where Oregon State and Washington State end up joining Mountain West Conference, how well do they fare? Are they top tier in most sports? — @bbeeman1982
A: They both have good facilities and large donor bases. I’d expect them to win conference championships in your doomsday scenario. I also don’t think it’s going to happen. I think the Pac-12 will be OK when the dust settles.
Q: The year is 2025. It’s a Tuesday evening and Oregon Football kicks off in 3-4 weeks. What conference is Oregon playing in? — @PiersonMcD
A: There is only answer with that timeline — Pac-12. There isn’t anywhere for Oregon to go in this round of expansion. Nobody is offering an invitation and the media rights contracts will soon be signed. A decade from now? Maybe there’s a new Big Ten West Division with a variety of Pac-12 schools (Oregon, Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA, Utah). Or maybe not. But in 2025, the Ducks are playing in the Pac-12 Conference.
Q: On your podcast with Jon Wilner, you both said adding SDSU only is an option (11 teams). Why wouldn’t that Pac-12 want to add four-plus teams as major conferences are going to 16? — @lilcmac5
A: Ideally, you’d love to get to 16 teams and include a pile of major television markets. But let’s face it — there aren’t six great options out there right now. I’m having a difficult time finding four. But if I was forced to expand liberally, I’d do it in this order: San Diego State, SMU, UNLV, Fresno State or Boise State (pick one or both). And maybe I’d try to poach Houston from the Big 12 and get to six teams.
Q: Rumblings that ESPN may be starting a stand alone streaming service, at some point. If this happens and they get media rights, they could potentially have every Pac-12 game on a streaming service that millions will have. Do you think this could sway a schools realignment strategy? — @TySporting
A: I continue to be told by a well-placed conference insider that, “We have good options.” I expect ESPN+ would be interested in the content that is currently on the Pac-12 Networks. I think the conference will go all-in with ESPN if the money is right.
Q: Let’s say San Diego State is added, when would they possibly start playing Pac-12 games? — @kirkkern
A: The conference’s current media deal expires July 1 of 2024. That’s why USC and UCLA have to wait to depart to the Big Ten. San Diego State could join that same summer and play football in the 2024 season as a Pac-12 member.
Q: What happens to Oregon State baseball if the Pac-12 falls apart in the future? — Brandon Chase
A: That baseball program is its own ecosystem. I think you could put it anywhere and it would still frequently get to Omaha and win big. Think: Gonzaga basketball.
Q: What do you make of recent stories about Jody Allen not wanting to sell the Trail Blazers to Phil Knight? She said she likes being on the NBA’s CBA committee. — Joseph Maguire
A: She’s publicly negotiating. It’s also kind of pathetic that Jody Allen doesn’t seem to recognize the value of taking a holistic approach to the sale. She should be interested in taking a little less money to ensure the NBA franchise her brother loved so much is left in good hands, but I think that kind of thinking escapes her.
Q: Phil Knight isn’t going to live forever… saving the Pac-12 could be his final act. Who will carry the flag for Oregon when Knight is gone? — Kevin Landers
A: Knight has made provisions for his support to continue well beyond his passing. His heirs also recognize how important UO is to him. I understand why people are nervous, but he’s a shrewd thinker.
Q: When it comes to your favorite dish, who makes it better, your wife or your mom? — Rick Olson
A: My Italian grandmother’s spaghetti sauce is unmatched. She taught us all how to make it, using a sprinkle of this and a dash of that. No written instructions. We’re all able to get very close to the flavor of my grandma’s sauce, but it’s never quite exact and perfect. She was one-of-a-kind. My mom and wife both make the sauce really well… and Bill Mazer would have agreed.
Thank you all… have a great weekend.
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.