I’m interested to see what happens with the sea of Pac-12 transfer quarterbacks this season. What will USC’s Caleb Williams and Oregon’s Bo Nix look like with their new college teams? Will Jayden de Laura be as effective at Arizona as he was at Washington State? And speaking of the Cougars, everyone is raving about the play of transfer QB Cameron Ward. He’ll lead the charge with WSU’s return to the Air Raid next season.
Florida transfer quarterback Emory Jones is at Arizona State with Herm Edwards now. Washington got Michael Penix Jr. from Indiana. And Cal has Purdue-transfer Jack Plummer in its quarterback room.
That’s seven — 7!! — new transfer quarterbacks who could step in and start next season in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Utah returns starter Cam Rising (a transfer from Texas two seasons ago), UCLA brings back Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Stanford has Tanner McKee. The prevailing thought is that Oregon State will start Chance Nolan (a JC transfer in 2019) again this season and Colorado will bring back starter Brendon Lewis. But the rest of the conference has likely turned to new transfer starters.
My way-too-early ranking of the Pac-12’s new transfer QBs:
1. Caleb Williams, USC
2. Bo Nix, Oregon
3. Cameron Ward, WSU
4. Michael Penix Jr., UW
5. Jayden de Laura, Arizona
6. Jack Plummer, Cal
7. Emory Jones, ASU
Williams is reunited with coach Lincoln Riley at USC and they’ve surrounded him with gifted skill-position players. He’s easily the top transfer QB. After that, it’s a bottle neck of talent. Nix has big-game experience and he’ll need it in Week 1 when the Ducks go to Atlanta to play defending national-champion Georgia. I went to Oregon’s spring game wondering who would start the season opener — but left it 100-percent certain that Nix is the guy for first-year coach Dan Lanning.
I may be over-valuing Ward by putting him in the top three, but I think WSU’s return to the Air Raid is going to make him shine in 2022. And Penix Jr. should see a nice resurgence under coach Kalen DeBoer at Washington.
Arizona’s de Laura feels like the biggest wildcard. He was sensational at times in Pullman, but I’m wrestling with how much of that was due to Nick Rolovich’s offensive scheme and presence. Coach Jedd Fisch at Arizona could end up looking smarter than anyone if he can take de Laura to the next level.
Plummer, now at Cal, played really well for Purdue in the opener against Oregon State last season, but lost the starting job four games later. He’s tall and mature. I rated him No. 6, but Bears coach Justin Wilcox will know just what to do with Plummer. ASU’s Jones was alternately dangerous/erratic at Florida. He’s a gifted runner (750+ yards last season), but threw 13 interceptions vs. 19 TDs.
FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND: Worlds of Sport is happening next weekend (June 18-19) at the Oregon Convention Center. It’s a 90,000 square-foot celebration of sport. All the teams you root for, all the brands you love, combined with an astounding series of sports-themed activations under one roof.
Kick a field goal? Make a putt? Run the kids through a cool obstacle course? Throw a fastball with a radar gun tracking it? Play pickleball? Shoot a basket on the Blazers’ court?
There will be lots of giveaways, prizes, VIP meet-and-greets and a DJ. The main stage will include industry-themed panel discussions with experts, insiders, and ex-NFL athletes and current Pac-12 college athletes. Also, there will be blue-chip sports-memorabilia dealers, vendors, a beer garden and a hands-on E-sports gaming center.
I talked with Dr. James Beckett of the Beckett trading card empire about Worlds of Sport and he told me, “It’s like Disneyland for a sports fan. The biggest challenge is going to be explaining it to people because it’s a first-year event.”
The good doctor is correct.
How would you explain the Disney Tea Cups and It’s a Small World and Space Mountain to someone who had never seen it before. I guess you’d just tell them to go check it out and thank you later. It would be an excellent activity for the family on Father’s Day weekend. I’ll be there. If you see me, say hello.
Among the sports entities participating: Trail Blazers, Thorns, Timbers, Winterhawks, Hops, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Kabuki Powerlifting, Hood to Coast and more.
There’s been tremendous buy-in from a variety of parties who all want to see a large-scale, positive, fan-facing event at the Oregon Convention Center. The event benefits local charities, including the 501c3 Bald Faced Truth Foundation.
Hours: Saturday (10a-7p) and Sunday (10a-5p).
Where: Oregon Convention Center.
Tickets: WorldsofSport.com (promo code: “PDX22” for a discount).
RESER STADIUM: Oregon State’s $153 million rebuild of the West side of Reser Stadium appears to be progressing well. I visited the stadium on Saturday and snapped a few photographs.
The project won’t be completed in time for the 2022 football season. The Beavers will use the North, South and East sections of the stadium with a temporary capacity of 26,407. The squeeze is bound to create demand for tickets if OSU plays well this season. I’m told there is already high demand for games vs. Boise State (Sept. 3), USC (Sept. 24) and Oregon (Nov. 25). Also, “Parent’s Weekend” is Nov. 12 vs. Cal.
Right now, the stadium is very much an active construction site, but you can see the pillars and “Beaver Street” concourse beginning to take form on the West side. I was at Reser Stadium for the spring game in mid-April. The West side was completely blown out at that point. I watched and wondered if playing in a half-finished stadium would make the atmosphere feel odd. But now that I see pillars and beams rising and the shape of the bowl beginning to form, I think it’s going to look fine.
OSU’s team bench is located on the East sideline of the stadium. I weighed whether coach Jonathan Smith ought to flip sidelines and force the opposing team to have a sea of hostility behind its bench. Apparently, conference rules prohibit placing a student-section directly behind the opposing team’s bench. So Oregon State would have to relocate students, who currently occupy the front-row seats on the East side.
Early in the project, Smith told me he mulled flipping sidelines for 2022, but decided to stay where he currently is. I’m interested to see if there’s any psychological impact on the visiting teams. Their players will walk into Reser Stadium and have concrete and silence behind them. They’ll stare across the field at OSU’s team and entire fan base looking back.
The actual football played by OSU will have a far larger impact on the games. Still, it’s something I’m thinking about as we push into summer.
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Can’t help but wonder what all this transferring is doing to the teams. Doesn’t seem to allow for any continuity…I guess time will tell. I’m just hoping for OSU to have a breakout season. It seems the school, the fans and the coach deserves it.
We in uncharted waters now, what with the transfer portal and NIL. Players not getting playing time or who feel they aren't getting their share of financial rewards will be gone. How long you figure it will take Ty Thompson to bolt after Bix is named the starter @ Oregon?