Canzano: Never too early to talk Pac-12 football
Championship rings and non-conference flings
Oregon State and San Jose State announced a home-and-home football series that will be played in 2029 (Corvallis) and 2030 (San Jose) this week. It got me thinking about the Pac-12’s non-conference games in 2022.
Oregon’s “neutral site” matchup in the season opener will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 3. That’s a big test for the conference and Ducks’ first-year coach Dan Lanning, who will make a poetic debut against his former employer.
BYU feasted on the Pac-12 last season, going 5-0. The Cougars will play at Oregon and at Stanford in 2022. There’s some interesting non-conference scheduling strategy going on in the conference.
Here are the 2022 non-conference games for each Pac-12 program:
Arizona: at San Diego State, Mississippi State, North Dakota State
ASU: Northern Arizona, at Oklahoma State, Eastern Michigan
Cal: UC Davis, UNLV, at Notre Dame
Colorado: TCU, at Air Force, at Minnesota
Oregon: at Georgia, Eastern Washington, BYU
Oregon State: Boise State, at Fresno State, Montana State
Stanford: Colgate, at Notre Dame, BYU
UCLA: Bowling Green, Alabama State, South Alabama
USC: Rice, Fresno State, Notre Dame
Utah: at Florida, Southern Utah, San Diego State.
Washington: Kent State, Portland State, Michigan State
WSU: Idaho, at Wisconsin, Colorado State
A RING TO IT: Utah honored the memory of running back Ty Jordan last season and Kyle Whittingham’s team won the conference title and went to its first Rose Bowl. The Utes’ conference championship rings are in and the program again paid homage to Jordan, who died of an accidental gunshot wound late in 2020.
Whittingham was widely celebrated last season. He’s done a terrific job. But I don’t think it can be overstated — this was a program that endured the tragic deaths of two players in a nine-month span. First Jordan, then teammate Aaron Lowe was shot and killed at a house party two miles from campus.
The team held a meeting after Lowe’s death in Week 2 of the season and discussed whether it should take time off or continue to play. The players decided to unite and rallied all season around their late teammates. Both players were honored with championship rings this week.
Major college football feels like a big deal sometimes. But what Utah pulled off last season felt even bigger.
CARDINAL RULE: Stanford is coming off a disappointing (3-9) season. David Shaw is now just 11-19 in his last three seasons. In 2021, I started to hear more and more from frustrated Cardinal fans who watched Shaw win 9, 9, 10 and 12 games in the prior four seasons.
I am especially curious about Stanford’s spring, which Shaw said has been simplified to help some of the younger players catch up.
“We made it simple,” he said. “Guys are playing faster. We still have a little bit of funk in there to keep it interesting but are playing faster.”
Shaw knows he had some bad recruiting classes that haunted him. The incoming talent and his underclassmen are just plain better than his upperclassmen. Shaw’s 2021 recruiting class was exceptional. Stanford finished December’s signing day with a class ranked No. 12 by ESPN, No. 14 by Rivals and No. 15 by 247Sports. Additionally, last spring Shaw did something Stanford hadn’t ever done before — welcoming two early enrollees. He’s opened the door for early enrollees again this spring.
Stanford will be improved. Also, I like their schedule better in 2022 vs. 2021. They’ll get at least one easy one (Colgate) and there weren’t any easy ones on last season’s schedule.
GREAT CALL: Petros Papadakis is one of my favorite football broadcasters — maybe THE favorite. He’s knowledgable, passionate, informative and most of all — genuine. Papadakis doesn’t get enough run nationally but Pac-12 Conference fans know him well.
I rarely watch a college football game just because of a broadcaster, but if I’m flipping past and Papadakis is on the broadcast I’ll not only tune in but stick with it. He’s often rough around the edges and I like that because it’s a very different experience from the herd of broadcasters there to mechanically promote network properties and manipulate the audience.
His authenticity comes through on FOX broadcasts and during the '“Petros and Money” sports-radio show he hosts in Southern California. He’s also an occasional guest on my statewide radio show in Oregon.
Papadakis attended high school in Southern California and accepted a scholarship to play running back at Cal. Papadakis told me once that he quit during double-day practices and took a taxi home from Berkeley. His parents must have flipped. He eventually ended up at USC, where he followed in his father’s footsteps and became team captain.
I smiled this week when I saw a story announcing that Papadakis had been elected to the Palos Verdes Peninsula High School Hall of Fame. I know why they want to claim him. He’s made them proud.
Papadakis told the local newspaper: “I was somebody who struggled in high school, like a lot of young people do. I was not a good student. I struggled getting along with my parents. I had a lot of issues with self-image and wanting to be accepted.”
It’s exactly the kind of message that makes him great at his job.
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