Discover more from Bald Faced Truth by John Canzano
Canzano: Mailbag hits Pac-12, Trail Blazers sale, baldness and Pop Tarts
Your questions, my answers...
My mom never bought Pop Tarts. I was jealous of kids at my school that boarded the bus with those iced breakfast treats that were billed on television commercials as a nutritious way to start the day.
My mom bought Grape Nuts cereal instead. It was essentially a box of gravel. She’d often come home from the grocery store with Kix. The crispy, corn-puff cereal was invented in 1937. It had no artificial colors or flavors.
In 1937, Charlie Gehringer won the American League MVP, edging Joe DiMaggio. FDR was president. If the year 1937 had an official taste, it would be Kix.
I had a mailbag reader stir up all sorts of sour feelings when he asked me on Facebook: “What is your favorite Pop Tart flavor?”
I’m sure Donald Gray meant well. He seems nice enough on social media. But I’m now suddenly craving a high-sugar, low-protein breakfast snack that I know isn’t good for me. I may try one this weekend and give him an answer. Or maybe I’ll just call my mother and thank her for looking out for me.
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It sure beats a box of 1937.
Onto the mail bag…
Q: Can Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons be more consistent or is this his ceiling? — Matt Freeman
A: The average age of an NBA All-Star is 26.5 years old. The average age of a peak MVP is 27.9. Simons is only 23. I think he’s probably 1-2 more seasons away from showing us his consistency ceiling.
Q: Will UCLA and USC eventually come back to the Pac-12? — Dave Vesci
A: Ex-Stanford coach David Shaw told me before the season that he believed geography would eventually win out. I agree with him. I think the Bruins and Trojans are going to grow weary with the travel demands of the Big Ten.
Q: Do you think the portal in college sports will only make the popular colleges better? — Douglas Mitchell
A: I think the combination of the transfer portal and NIL collectives is problematic for the “have nots.” It amounts to unrestricted free agency.
Q: Does Autzen Stadium have the ability to be expanded and if so how big? — Rich Gunderson
A: Oregon had trouble selling out its home stadium this season. I don’t think stadium expansion is on the horizon for the Ducks. There was some momentum for expansion during the Chip Kelly era at Oregon. But athletic director Rob Mullens told me a couple of seasons ago that Autzen expansion talk had officially stalled.
Q: Al Bundy or Forrest Gump? — Jeffrey Hochhalter
A: Al Bundy liked to say he specialized in “bowling, barbecue and winning fistfights.” I’ll go with Al.
Q: With Reser Stadium reducing capacity to 36,000 and the trajectory of the Beaver football team on the rise, I’m concerned that the little guy is going to be priced out of a chance to see a game live. Fans like me carried ticket sales through 1980’s, 90’s and 2000’s. But now big corporate donors and upper-middle class will be the only ones that can afford to go see a game. Do you see the new focus of luxury suites and high ticket prices backfiring in the future? — Greg Bolton
A: I don’t blame you for being concerned. The stadium felt tight this season amid the renovation. Demand for tickets was high and I’m told Oregon State already sold 99 percent of the new premium seating on the renovated side. Do what’s right for your family. But I also hope that Oregon State remembers the long-time season ticket holders and finds a happy medium on pricing for loyal stakeholders.
Q: How much would you have won this season if you put some cash on your Pac-12 football picks? — Paul Roth
A: My regular season record vs. the spread this season was 49-38. That’s a win percentage of .563. My analytics friends tell me I would need to win 52.4 percent of the wagers to break even. So I’m ahead — for now. My bowl picks will make or break me. I bet with my reputation, not my dollars. The stakes are higher.
Q: What did you get your two youngest daughters for Christmas? — Eric Baker
A: I am strongly considering a box of Grape Nuts.
Q: You’re the coach of the 49ers… Joe Montana and Steve Young are both your QB’s in their prime. Who ya going with? — Brian Almquist
A: Joe Montana. Not close.
Q: How soon will Jody Allen be ready to sell the Trail Blazers? I would really like to see a team that could win an NBA championship before I die. — @ConnallKyle
A: Paul Allen’s estate is being liquidated. The luxury yachts, real estate, and art collection are already gone. The sports franchises will be sold, too. I think part of the hold up on the Trail Blazers sale has to do with the NBA’s looming television deal. It’s going to be a windfall for the league. The sellers will want that baked into the deal. Also, everyone wants to see what the Phoenix Suns sell for. I’m told that franchise vice chair Bert Kolde — Paul’s long-time sidekick — also still wants to be front and center. That could cause a delay. It’s time for them to let go of the NBA franchise.
Q: Which stadium is better for a college football game, SoFi or Allegiant? — @OOOSSSUUU
A: Not even close — Allegiant wins. It’s stunning, with great sight lines and is super easy to navigate. SoFi looks super cool from the exterior, but I found it cumbersome to walk around in.
Q: How much longer does Cal keep Justin Wilcox as their head coach? — Joe Clark
A: Wilcox’s contract runs through 2027 and pays him $28.5 million. Cal is in no position to buy him out. I think he’ll get two more seasons, at least. I also think he’s a good football coach, working at a university that isn’t able to participate in the transfer portal like some others due to academic standards. If Cal really wants to matter, it needs to help him on that front.
Q: Are smaller schools going to have a tough time keeping talent they develop, only to be poached by the more traditional power schools? And will there be any teeth to schools not being able to contact athletes until they put their name in the portal? — Shawn Waldo Wallace
A: It’s a real problem. The NCAA will need political intervention. I suspect this is why it chose Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as the next NCAA president. He has no background in sports, but knows how to navigate political backchannels.
Q: Thoughts on Washington State coach Jake Dickert accusing other coaches of directly offering NIL deals to current WSU players to entice them to transfer? — Kit Louis
A: I don’t think WSU is alone in being poached. I’d like to see the NCAA grow some teeth and enforce the NIL rules, but I’m doubtful the entity can do that without intervention from lawmakers.
Q: If you could give one Pac-12 football player to another Pac-12 coach/program for next season, who would it be? Why? — @AndrewNemec
A: I’d be super tempted to take Michael Penix Jr. from Washington and give him to Oregon State. The Beavers feel like they are just a quarterback away from being a contender. But I wouldn't want to do that to the Huskies, who are ready to win-now themselves. It would be far more interesting to take QB Caleb Williams from USC and give him to Deion Sanders at Colorado. I would tune in and would not blink.
Q: When is the 2023 Pac-12 football schedule being released? Was out this time last year but can’t find anything on a release date — @ajim503
A: The Pac-12 athletic directors still have to approve the schedule. I’m told to expect it anytime now.
Q: What is the over under win total for OSU next year if all things stay on track? — Maarcc Devogg
A: I think the early over/under win total number for 2023 will be right around 8.5 regular-season victories. That could go higher if Oregon State lands a veteran QB in the transfer portal. Jonathan Smith has raised expectations.
Q: Do you think the Pac-12 has less of an appetite for expansion because of the expanded CFP? Fewer mouths to feed = more $$ for campuses. — @3CitiesGuy
A: I think San Diego State is going to get an invitation. The question then becomes… does the Pac-12 add another member? SMU and/or UNLV? Fresno State and/or Boise State? How about Gonzaga? I also think the Pac-12 may stipulate that programs that earn playoff berths and NCAA Tournament units get to keep a larger share of the payout. Keep an eye on that.
Q: Is Boise State a stretch for the Pac-12… and do they have a high enough profile to pair with San Diego State? — Matthew Cyphert
A: I think Boise State will get some consideration because of football success and how much ESPN loves the Broncos. The big issue is that there are only 517,000 television households in all of Idaho. Expansion is mostly about television revenue and adding media value. That’s a problem for Boise State. I wonder if the Pac-12 would pair Bronco football with Gonzaga basketball? Something there?
Q: You have to serve 20 years in Alcatraz in a 6-by-6 cell, who would you rather share a cell with: Bob Whitsitt or Neil Olshey — Mitchell Lambert
A: Whitsitt is far more interesting. He has great stories. The time would fly. But having Olshey around would motivate me to dig through the cell wall with a spoon and swim miles in shark-invested waters to escape. So either one works.
Q: Does Phil Knight’s $$ and influence play a factor in NIL. We all somewhat know the answer. More curious your take on it. — Kyle Rainey
A: Yes and yes. Division Street, Inc. is essentially Knight and friends. The outfit keeps an intentionally low profile. I think Oregon is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the NIL world because of Knight.
Q: Did Kenny Dillingham get paid extra by ASU to try to throw the last three Oregon games? He failed miserably and still got paid. — Scott Cornthwaite
A: Dillingham may have been a little distracted, particularly in the season finale vs. Oregon State, but no way was he paid to lose the games. I have the new ASU coach booked for an interview in the coming days. I’ll ask about his exit from Oregon. More to come on that front.
Q: How far are we away from a TV/media rights deal? Or are the networks and media reps holding out and thinking the Pac-12 has no real options? — @Utahinjurylaw
A: I believe the Pac-12 delayed the deal because it wanted to see whether UCLA ended up sticking around after the UC Regents ruled. It was a strategy play. The value of live sports programming is increasing, not diminishing. Also, there are some new players (Amazon, Apple, etc.). I think the Pac-12 will get a deal done in January and that it will include some new components.
Q: Do you know the difference between Medford and Central Point? — Robin Warfield
A: Fun fact. I was born in Medford. Only lived there for a few months, though. My dad was in Triple-A with the Mets and taking winter classes at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Mom was a trooper and took the pregnancy on the road.
Q: Are bowl games irrelevant with the transfer portal and opt outs? I see the NCAA granted a waiver that bowl games don’t count towards eligibility. What are your thoughts on how to make them worthwhile? — @sdetroit
A: I think the bowls will become less important for the 12 teams that make the expanded playoff. Beyond that, I think the remaining bowls would be wise to partner with NIL collectives and offer incentives for star players to participate.
Q: When did you start losing your hair? — Asa Collings-Thomas
A: I first shaved my head as a freshman in college while playing baseball. Then, just kept going… and going… and going. I’m not really sure when my hair was gone. I just know I haven’t paid for a haircut since college. I had a good head of hair as a kid. As proof, here’s an Instagram post of 13-year-old me on the sideline of the first NFL game I covered (1984 NFL preseason 49ers-Raiders game):
Q: Is there any chance UCLA realizes the math isn’t nearly as favorable as they thought going to Big Ten, they see the path to the College Football Playoff being easier in the Pac-12 the Bruins change their mind and stay? — Jen Williams
A: I’m told by sources at UCLA: “We’ve moved on.” I’m told by athletic directors sources in the Pac-12: “We’ve moved on.” Time for the rest of us to move on. I do think the expanded playoff field makes it easier to reach the playoff in the Pac-12. I also think the travel for some sports is going to be a big-time drag in the Big Ten.
Q: How does a company like Old Trapper Beef Jerky become the “Official Beef Jerky of the Pac-12”? — @RiverScottLake
A: Sponsorship dollars. Plain and simple. You buy your way in. I wonder if the Pac-12 has an official cereal in mind. Kix may be ready to think outside that cereal box. How about every field goal next season brought to you by… ?
Q: How many non-revenue generating Pac-12 sports will need to be axed to make up for loss of USC/UCLA revenues moving on? — Angela Carmen
A: It’s an interesting question. My quick calculations show that USC/UCLA caused a $7 million to $9 million reduction in annual media rights payout, per university. I don’t think it will result in a bunch of sports being axed, but I think there will be some belt tightening and some added emphasis on finding new revenue streams. More beef jerky sponsorships?
Q: With having children close to my kids ages (6, 8 and 20) how do you feel Covid has affected them socially and academically at these varying ages?? — Jason Christensen
A: I worry about kids in general. They lost 1-2 years of critical development, growth, socialization and school work. Ask your local elementary school teacher how the classroom is doing. I suspect the grades most impacted are K-4. I feel bad for the kids who were in high school when the pandemic hit, too. No way around it. They lost a year or two as well.
There’s definitely some catching up that needs to happen. With that in mind… let’s make sure to take care of each other.
Have a great weekend.
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