Canzano: Spider senses tingling on Pac-12 front
What I learned this weekend...
My spider senses are tingling. The Pac-12 Conference has been quiet behind the scenes in the last couple of weeks and a few of my sources are acting like they’re knee-deep in serious deliberations.
I have a hunch this week could bring some news — or at least some direction — when it comes the Pac-12’s media-rights negotiations and/or expansion.
Last week’s debut of NFL Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime got a lot of us buzzing about the possibilities. Would the Pac-12 really go all-in with a streaming service? Is the money there? If so, it would explain the “hundreds of millions apart” leak on the Pac-12 and ESPN front.
Further, the Pac-12 expansion question is looming. I’ve written about San Diego State, SMU, UNLV, Boise State and Fresno State at length. A few have speculated that the conference might be more aggressive, moving to add a soon-to-be Big 12 member or potentially targeting some Conference USA programs.
I reached out to several high-level sources inside the Pac-12 in the last week, asking about media rights and expansion. Nobody wanted to go on the record. One source told me he couldn’t be quoted “…until we get to the other side.”
It makes me think the “other side” is in sight.
Keep your ear to the ground this week. The Pac-12 members likely have numbers from the bidders on the media rights front. The conference may be weighing a three-pronged dilemma: A) Take a pile of money from a streaming service knowing that you sacrifice distribution; or B) Sign on full-boat with ESPN for less money, but bask in the glow of the worldwide leader’s propaganda machine; or C) Some blend of both.
I’ll have more on this as it develops.
Ugly chant steals the show at Autzen Stadium
Oregon’s terrific win over BYU on Saturday was overshadowed by a disappointing and disgraceful development. Some fans in the student section at Autzen Stadium broke into a “F—k the Mormons” chant during the game.
I didn’t hear it from the press box. But the student section is located completely across the stadium from where media sit. As much as I’d like to be writing more today about a sterling defensive effort from UO, great play calling, and a terrific performance from quarterback Bo Nix, that ugly chant has now stolen the show.
It’s an example of how a thin stripe of fans can turn what should have been a wonderful day into something disappointing and offensive. It’s become a national news story.
The university apologized to BYU, calling the chants “offensive and disgraceful.” Oregon said it is investigating. I’m left wondering when we lost our civility.
Washington wins battle of Pacific Northwest schedules
Washington, Oregon, Washington State and Oregon State are a combined 11-1 this season. The Pacific Northwest pod is undefeated against everyone except the Georgia Bulldogs.
It’s not just that the PNW teams are winning. It’s how they’re doing it. I wrote a column about it on Sunday. But the impressive collective start got me thinking about how the regular-season schedule will play out.
The Pac-12 decided under commissioner George Kliavkoff that it would find peace with an unbalanced schedule. That’s coming soon enough. The prevailing thought was that the conference needed to “game” the conference schedule and help position its best teams for the College Football Playoff.
The current rotation has some funky nuances though. Some of them create obvious advantages. I studied the Pac-12 schedules for the Pacific Northwest teams this season and ranked them 1-4 (easiest to most difficult):
WASHINGTON doesn’t have to face either Utah or USC during the regular season. It’s a huge scheduling advantage for UW. The Huskies get to host Oregon State (Nov. 4), but play both Oregon (Nov. 12) and WSU (Nov. 26) on the road. Still, this is easily the most advantageous schedule in the Pacific Northwest pod.
OREGON goes on the road this week to play Washington State. The Ducks skip USC and ASU in the regular season — not half bad. But Oregon hosts Washington (Nov. 12) and Utah (Nov. 19) in successive weeks. Then, in the season finale, UO travels to Oregon State (Nov. 25). That three-week stretch in November is a gauntlet, but this is the No. 2-easiest schedule.
OREGON STATE hosts USC this week, then turns around and travels to Utah (Oct. 1). That’s a rough back-to-back stretch. The Beavers get to host WSU (Oct. 15) and Oregon (Nov. 25), but have to play at Washington (Nov. 4). OSU also skips UCLA and Arizona in the regular season. Not ideal. I put the Beavers’ schedule at No. 3, a whisker in front of WSU.
WASHINGTON STATE skips UCLA and Colorado in the regular season. The schedule-makers didn’t help the mission there. WSU plays at USC (Oct. 8) but gets Utah (Oct. 27) at home. The Cougars host Oregon this Saturday and also get the Huskies at home (Nov. 26). I ranked WSU’s schedule No. 4 because skipping Colorado is essentially giving up an easy win. Plus, the Cougars have to play at OSU (Oct. 15).
Arizona State moves on from coach Herm Edwards
Herman Edwards was fired on Sunday by Arizona State. The heat from an ongoing NCAA probe and a 1-2 start was enough for ASU president Michael Crow and athletic director Ray Anderson.
I talked 1-on-1 with Edwards before the season. He sounded hopeful, energized and said his players were ready to be more accountable this season.
“It’s always coach-fed, player led,” Edwards said. “The coach is only as good as the players in the locker room.”
Then came Saturday night and an inexplicable and unforgivable loss to Eastern Michigan. Here’s a video of Crow and Anderson intercepting Edwards on the field after the loss:
I don’t think Edwards was fired on the field, as some have speculated. But it sure looked like all three parties knew it was pretty much done, didn’t it?
Said a source with knowledge of the situation at ASU: “They met after the game and in the morning… being fired on the field didn’t happen.”
Edwards, 68, has been around long enough to know what that means. He made three bowl games at ASU. His record: 26-20. But he was 9-7 in his last 16 games and ASU needed to make a change. I’ve long believed Arizona State could be every bit as solid as USC, Utah, Oregon and Washington. But one thing or another just chronically drags the Sun Devils down.
Is ASU really a sleeping giant, as we all love to say?
Or just asleep?
Arizona State went to the 1997 Rose Bowl. That was 25 seasons ago and should have sparked a mini-dynasty. However, in that span, the program finished .500 or under a whopping 11 times. It had only three 10-win seasons in the same span.
It’s a good job, with good weather and fertile recruiting geography. ASU plays in a conference that gives you some mulligans, too. The administration needs to invest in football, make a good hire, and let the inherent advantages help the program rise.
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