Tag:Utah
Posted on: February 11, 2011 1:00 pm
 

Pac-12's hands-on Scott leads officiating changes

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When Larry Scott was named commissioner of the then-Pac-10 in summer 2009, more than one observer wondered how involved in football an East Coast-bred administrator whose only previous sports experience came in women's tennis would really be.

It didn't take long for him to give us an answer, aggressively reshaping the league into the Pac-12 and by many accounts nearly convincing Texas to become the tentpole for a 16-team superconference. Scott has already taken one step to extricate the league from its less-than-optimal television contracts, signing a lucrative deal with Fox for the new conference title game. And now two stories out of the West Coast show that Scott's not slowing down his proactive ways anytime soon.

The first: under the direction of former NFL official (and Fox replay-challenge expert) Mike Pereira, the Pac-12 is overhauling its football officiating programs , starting with the departure of longtime Coordinator of Football Officiating Dave Cutaia and continuing with ... well, we're not sure, but it sounds great:
"Like in other high priority areas, we have taken a fresh look at our program, and will be implementing a series of changes that are forward-looking, innovative and take our program to the next level," Scott said. "The game and level of play is always improving, so it's essential that in the critical area of officiating, the program continue to evolve and improve as well."

The adjustments to the Pac-12 football officiating program came after a season-long review of the entire program by Mike Pereira ... The implementation of the officiating program coincides with the beginning of the new Pac-12 Conference, which features the addition of the University of
Colorado and the University of Utah .
Again, what this "series of changes" entails specifically -- what "adjustments" will be "implemented" when the season begins -- are still a question mark. But given the occasionally laughable errors made by Pac-12 officials the past few years and certain ethically dubious officiating policies , it's clear there's plenty of areas that need the improvement.

But it's the other story that really illustrates how involved with his conference's member schools Scott wants to be. Remember when Washington's athletic director called Oregon's academics "an embarrassment"? Per the Seattle Times, Scott tried to arrange for U-Dub to issue an apology by writing their apology for them :
On the Monday following the Nov. 6 game, Scott sent to UW interim president Phyllis Wise what was referred to as "our suggestion" of a one-paragraph statement UW could release, apologizing for the incident ...

Wise, on Tuesday afternoon following the game, released a letter she had sent to Woodward admonishing him for an "uncharacteristic lack of judgment" and asking that he personally apologize to Oregon President Richard Lariviere . Scott's letter to Wise had not sought a personal Woodward apology.

One sentence in Scott's letter is almost identical to what Wise released, stating that Wise had called Lariviere and "reinforced that these comments do not reflect the views of our administration."

When discussing the most powerful commissioners in college football, the first two names that come to mind are Mike Slive and Jim Delany. But if Scott remains this insistent on managing his league's affairs in this kind of detail as well as leading the charge on issues like TV contracts and expansion, he might find himself in Slive's and Delany's company before too much longer.


Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Norm Chow taking a pay cut at Utah

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Have you ever been to both Utah and Los Angeles? Even if you haven't, you probably don't need to be told that there's a slight difference in the culture and speed of both places. There's also a difference in the cost of living, which would seem to be good news for new Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Chow recently left the same position at UCLA to return to Utah, and it seems he took a healthy pay cut to do so.
Even though he is still making more than the next highest paid assistant, Norm Chow still took a big cut in salary when he joined Utah's staff.
Chow will receive $275,000, annually, according to his contract which was finalized Wednesday. The contract runs from Jan. 25, 2011 to June 30, 2013.
Chow's salary is far from the $640,000 package he was earning at UCLA, but still way above Utah's next highest paid assistant, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake who receives a base salary of $170,000.
That's a 58% pay cut that Chow has taken, though there are some bonuses worked in to his deal. He'd get a $20,000 bonus should Utah make a BCS game, and also gets a "company" car and tickets to home and road games. Though unless that company car is worth $400,000, or the prices of Utah tickets have skyrocketed, it's still a drastic change.

Of course, so is no longer having to work under Rick Neuheisel.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 12:56 pm
 

Tupac stopping the Pac-12 from the grave

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Pac-12 has a lot of changes to make this football offseason as it prepares to add Colorado and Utah to the fold. It's not just the football issues, either, as the conference had to come up with new divisions, find a place for a conference championship game and redo some schedules. No, there's also the more menial tasks like ordering new polos with the new -- and awesome -- Pac-12 logo on them.

The conference also has to buy a new domain name for its website, and it would like to buy Pac12.com. There's just one problem, the domain is already owned and the owner isn't interested in selling
A dedicated fan of the deceased rapper Tupac Shakur currently owns the domain. Shakur was shot four times and killed in a Las Vegas incident in 1996. The shooting was one of the key events that ended a coastal feud between rappers, but some fans still refuse to believe he was killed and await his return.
The conference is taking steps to gain ownership of the domain, which offers no content other than a widget to MP3 downloads of full albums by Shakur or single-song downloads on Amazon. Last week the conference filed a claim against the domain owner with the World Intellectual Property Forum, which prompted the domain owner to throw up the Amazon widget after reportedly sitting on the domain name with no Web page set up.
So it seems that it's all eyes on the domain owner. It won't be easy for the Pac-12 to pry the domain name from his hands, as he got his mind made up, and wants to know how do they want it. Do not get angry at him, Pac-12, because only god can judge him and he ain't mad at cha. So holla at him if you want, he ain't hard to find, so hit him up.*

*Who knew you could write an entire paragraph based on song titles off of one Tupac album. He really was a genius!
Posted on: February 4, 2011 11:32 am
 

SDSU's Long isn't playing nice with BYU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Hey, remember when a botched replay call seemed to bring San Diego State and BYU within one sternly worded press release of meeting in an abandoned warehouse somewhere for an Anchorman- style rumble that would settle things once and for all? (Or, at the least, a really intense water balloon battle?) The Mountain West's ruling on the matter seemed to quiet things down for a while, but new Aztecs head coach Rocky Long made it clear yesterday that he's not interested in calling a truce anytime soon between his team and the newly-independent Cougars:
“They’re saying they don’t need us, and they’re saying they can do a whole lot better without us, so you don’t make their scheduling easy,” Long said ...

“After five or six years or something, I think they’ll be in a conference,” Long said. “But after five or six years, if they’re still independent, I wouldn’t mind playing them at all. But I don’t want to play them (until then) because I think they treated the league the wrong way.

“There has to be a period of time when we don’t play them, because I don’t like the way they treated the league.”

Why Long is holding this kind of grudge against BYU but not fellow MWC ship-jumpers Utah and TCU isn't entirely clear ... well, not until Long does make it clear that he doesn't think much of BYU's reliance on players who have spent two years away on Mormon missions (emphasis added):

“I’ve had several players who have played in our program who have gone off on missions,” Long said. “The positives really outweigh any negatives from their going on missions. We can talk about a certain school -- but I’m not going to talk about any other school but ours -- how the maturity factor and age factor gives you a huge advantage . When [new Aztec signee Sam Meredith ] comes back, he’ll potentially be a much, much better football player than we leaves on his mission.”
Hearing that, it's hard to think that Long's anti-Cougar scheduling slant actually stems from BYU's treatment of the MWC or Replaygate or anything else specific; it's just good ol' run-of-the-mill hate forged from Long's (long) years of battling BYU as the head coach at New Mexico and an assistant at SDSU.

Which, as a follower of college football, is the kind of hate we can totally support. Here's to hoping BYU and SDSU decide to tangle a lot sooner than Long would like.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Heater officially named Temple D-coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Good news for Temple fans settling in for this week's nationwide blizzard: Steve Addazio has officially installed a new Heater.

That's Chuck Heater, specifically, the new Owl defensive coordinator announced by the school Monday afternoon . Though the move has been expected for a few weeks now, having Heater officially signed, sealed, and delivered is a nice feather in Addazio's cap.

Why? Because on paper, Heater is vastly overqualified to be coordinating a MAC defense, or recruiting to a school with as little tradition as the Owls. Heater has been an assistant coach on the Division I level for more than 30 years, the last seven of them on Urban Meyer's staffs at Utah and Florida. In Gainesville he rose from being the Gators' cornerbacks coach to Meyer's recruiting coordinator and, eventually, co-defensive coordinator for one of the strongest defenses in the nation.

It's a measure of the respect Heater's career has accumulated that fans of Heater's alma mater at Michigan had him atop their favored list of candidates for Greg Robinson's replacement before Greg Mattison was hired. If Heater was good enough for Michigan, good enough to remain on a defensive staff with both Mattison and Charlie Strong in Gainesville, and good enough a recruiter to serve as the recruiting-obsessed Meyer's recruiting coordinator, there seems little doubt he'd going to be good enough for Temple.

When Addazio was hired, many wondered why the Owls would gamble on such a failure of an offensive coordinator, ignoring the fact that for all his weaknesses as a play-caller Addazio offered many strengths that allowed him to rise to that position in the first place. One of them was his keen rapport with his fellow coaches--one that, in the hire of Heater, has already paid off for Temple in a big way.

Posted on: January 31, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Big 12, non-AQs lead the way in JUCO signees

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Certainly no team got more attention for going to the junior college well this year than Auburn, who rode their famous pair of JUCO transfers -- Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, arguably the best offensive and defensive players in the country, respectively -- to a perfect record and national title. The Tigers started former JUCOs at linebacker (Eltoro Freeman), cornerback (Demond Washington) and right tackle (Brandon Mosley) as well, as clear an example as you could get as to why major programs aren't going to stop looking at immediate JUCO help anytime soon.

But if a program like Auburn might sign the most influential JUCOs, which ones sign the most, period? That's the question asked and answered by this study by Jon Solomon at the Birmingham News , which tallied up every community college transfer signed in FBS football over the past four recruiting classes (give or take one or two here or there). Solomon found that the three conferences collectively bringing in the most JUCOs were all non-AQ leagues: the WAC at 17.2 signees per team per four years, the Sun Belt at 15.0 per team per four years, and Conference USA at 14.8.

At the BCS level, the Big 12 (13.8 per team per four years) is far and away the leader in JUCO signees, with the Pac-10 coming in runners-up (despite the SEC's JUCO-friendly reputation) at 11.6. (The addition of Utah won't help the future Pac-12's numbers, either; the Utes led the Mountain West in JUCOs with 22 over the four-year period studied.)

Why the Big 12? Though eight of the conference's teams finished in double digits, the runaway leader was -- you guessed it -- Kansas State, the notoriously JUCO-dependent program that lived up to every inch of its reputation by signing an FBS-most 39 junior college players from 2007-2010. Non-AQ teams took the next five slots as Memphis (35), UAB (34), Hawaii (31), Troy (29), and New Mexico State (28) were the only other schoosl to top 28 or more. The closest BCS conference team was Iowa State, with 26.

So does JUCO signing work? On the one hand, the success of teams like Hawaii and Troy -- not to mention Auburn and Oregon, who with 17 JUCOs in the four-year period actually took on seven more than their national title game opponent -- would suggest that taking on the right kind of two-year players can pay handsome dividends. The ongoing struggles of Memphis, UAB, and Bill Snyder's Wildcats -- who have gone just 12-20 in the Big 12 in this span -- would suggest, though, that it's not at all a sure quick-fix.


Posted on: January 28, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 2:49 pm
 

Thompson tells bottom of MWC to shape up

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was just yesterday that UNLV's reported upcoming stadium announcement gave us an excuse to look at the Runnin' Rebels' sorry 2010 season, one that finished at 2-11 with zero victories that didn't come at home against Wyoming or New Mexico, Vegas's partners in mediocrity at the bottom of the Mountain West standings. Between the three of them, the Rebels, Cowboys, and Lobos combined to win just one game against the rest of the conference, Wyoming's season-ending blowout of Colorado State, a team that itself won just one game against teams that weren't MWC bottom-feeders.

All together, the bottom four teams in the Mountain West went a staggering 2-34 against all other FBS competititon, the only victories Wyoming's five-point win at Toledo and Colorado State's two-point escape against Idaho.

So it's no surprise that as his conference scrapes and claws for a BCS automatic bid, with every game its members play either helping or hurting its argument, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson isn't real pleased with how his bottom three teams are performing. He said as much in an interview yesterday with ESPN's Andrea Adelson , where few words were minced (emphasis added):
It’s never been an issue at the top. We’ve been in the Top 10. We’ve played in BCS games, but I read a recent Q&A with John Swofford of the ACC. Their strength is 12. I am not badmouthing any of our teams, but we need to have our six, seventh and eighth finishing teams have better seasons, period.
Well, no offense Commish, but that seems like you kind of are badmouthing those sixth, seventh, and eighth teams (i.e. CSU, UNLV, and Wyoming). (Why the No. 9 Lobos are spared, we're not sure, unless Thompson has joined the rest of the country on simply giving up on the Mike Locksley's train wreck of a program.)

But that's fine; their 2010 efforts deserve some badmouthing, especially when -- as Thompson's Q&A makes clear -- they're such a major stumbling block to a BCS bid that for now looks just slightly out of reach. The MWC needs to come in at sixth or better in the BCS polls and the BCS computer rankings to qualify for the bid, and in the 2008-2011 evaluation period, Thompson says they've hit that bar in the polls but don't have the computer juice (finishing seventh). Where the 2010-2013 period is concerned, they've cleared it in 2010, but just barely--and how much better will things get without Utah, BYU or TCU?

Without the necessary rankings, the MWC would have to apply for a waiver from the current BCS conferences, and though Thompson doesn't dismiss the possibility the guess here is that such a waiver will be granted when pigs rule the skies. The league's best bet is to put together a smashing 2011 that puts them in the top six for 2008-11, and they simply can't do that if the bottom four teams can't pull some tiny measure of their weight.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 6:59 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 7:02 pm
 

No change in Mountain West TV contracts

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's been plenty of news to come out of the Mountain West's presidents meeting this week, most of which are covered here by the Idaho Statesman's Chad Crippe following a discussion with commissioner Craig Thompson. To recap: the TCU-Boise State game will be moved to Boise; the conference won't invite Utah State and San Jose State to join, despite reports to the contrary, and looks set at 10 teams for the foreseeable future; and various scheduling details have been ironed out, like placing the TCU-Boise marquee matchup at season's end and giving each team two rivalry games that won't rotate off the eight-game schedule.

But one detail from Crippe's report shouldn't escape notice, even among the expansion madness and TCU-Boise brouhaha:
[Thompson] did not collect bids from the TV partners based on an expanded league. “Because I didn’t know specifically who we’d be talking about,” he said ... The Mountain West is talking only with its current TV partners. Colorado State president Tony Frank told The Coloradoan that he doesn’t expect the TV money to change significantly from the current $12 million per year.
So no new television partners, and no major changes to a contract that runs through the 2015-2016 season? That's not what fans of the Mountain West want to hear, not when that contract offers the entire conference some $3 million less than ESPN is paying Texas by itself for the forthcoming "Longhorn Network."

The lack of television exposure (despite MWC games airing weekly on the excellent CBS College Sports, now in 94 million homes !) and, more importantly, television money is explicitly what's driven league mainstay BYU into football independence, and severely hampered the conference's efforts to keep other departed members Utah and TCU. While the MWC doesn't appear to be in any further danger of having its current 10 teams poached by larger leagues, that San Diego State and the Big 12 have had some measure of contact shows that that danger isn't entirely passed.

And besides: every year the MWC accepts relative peanuts while the Texases of the world get fatter and fatter on their TV deals, the gap between the conference and the BCS gate they want so desperately to crash will only widen. In short, a new, richer TV contract will be a key part of the MWC's long-term success ... and if it's not on the immediate horizon, it's fair to question how high the ceiling on that success can rise.
 
 
 
 
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