Posted on: February 21, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 12:18 pm

Don't call LaMichael James 'LaMarcus'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

LaMichael James has had quite a bit of success during his first two seasons at Oregon. In two years, James has rushed for 3,277 yards and 35 touchdowns, picking up the Doak Walker Award in 2010, and finishing behind Cam Newton for the Heisman Trophy. Of course, this has left many people in the state of Texas, where James is from, to ponder what life would have been like had James stayed in state to play his college football.

Particularly if he'd stayed home to play at TCU, which was the school that finished second to Oregon during his recruitment. Well, while accepting the Doak Walker Award over the weekend, James finally shared what the deciding factor was that sent him to the Pacific Northwest. Turns out that James felt disrespected by TCU.

Why? Well, you'd feel a bit disrespected yourself if TCU spent an entire weekend calling you "LaMarcus" instead of LaMichael.

During a radio interview in Dallas on Friday, James said that while he was on an official visit to TCU, a coach whom he would not name spent the entire weekend doing just that. Which is when James decided to turn his attention out of state, particularly to Oregon.

So let this be a lesson to coaches throughout the country. When you're spending time with a recruit, try to learn his name.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:30 pm

Oregon RB Dontae Williams transferring out

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner returning, Josh Huff making his late-season surge, Lache Seastrunk coming off of his redshirt season, and mega-recruit De'Anthony Thomas set to arrive soon, the Oregon running back position looks as crowded as any in the country. This is likely why one Duck has decided it might be time to find a backfield that offers a little more breathing space.

Oregon confirmed today that Duck redshirt freshman Dontae Williams has requested and received a release from his scholarship . Like Seastrunk, Williams came to Eugene as a highly-regarded running back prospect out of Texas -- he attended the same Aldine (Tx.) high school as Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas -- but spent 2010 on the bench as James (yet another Texas native) and Barber hogged the carries.

With Williams reportedly behind Seastrunk entering the Ducks' upcoming spring camp, he decided it was time to look elsewhere for playing time. Possible landing spots include his old recruiting suitors much closer to home: Texas A&M, TCU, or Arkansas. The No. 22 "big back" in the class of 2010 according to Maxpreps' Tom Lemming, it seems likely Williams has the talent to make an impact wherever he lands once his transfer year is spent.

As for Oregon, it's one fewer option for Chip Kelly to turn to when it comes to distributing carries this fall ... but even after Williams' departure, no one will have more options to turn to all the same.

Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:39 am

Pac-12 Network on its way?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News has done Pac-12 fans a favor with this exhaustive review of the current state of the conference's television negotiations. Among the details:
  • After paying the league $25 million for the Pac-12 championship game rights, Fox is the "clubhouse leader" to become the league's next television partner; a new deal could move Pac-12 games to Fox proper and off of FoxSports
  • As the league's current television partner, Fox enjoys exclusive negotiation rights until that window closes sometime in "early May"; a new deal could be reached before that window expires
  • After expenses, the championship game deal should net each school somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million
  • ESPN is almost certainly not going to bid for the Pac-12 contract.
But likely the element of most interest for Pac-12 fans -- and arguably the most important one for the conference going forward, judging by the Big Ten's revenue stream -- is the development of the planned Pac-12 Network. Wilner says that the league fully intends to start the network, though not entirely for the reasons you'd think:
I also believe commissioner Larry Scott wants to make the Pac-12 Network happen, and that the only reason it won’t happen is if Fox essentially pays the league to not form a network ...

[T]he Pac-12 Network would do more than provide an increase in football and men’s basketball viewing opportunities for fans inside and outside the league’s footprint.

It would also provide a broadcast outlet for the Pac-12’s Olympic sports, which are not only highly successful – the league is an Olympic medal machine — but also so important to the conference['s] longstanding commitment to providing broad-based athletic opportunities.

Within the league’s inner circles, the importance of providing a broadcast outlet for the Olympic sports cannot be overstated.

There's little doubt this would be the first time major college football would be impacted by Cal and Stanford's bitter water polo rivalry. As for Fox potentially paying the league to keep its games on its FoxSports regional networks, given the success Fox has already enjoyed with the Big Ten Network, this seems unlikely.

But as much desire as Scott and the conference might have for their own network, it doesn't mean it's going to be smooth sailing getting it up and running. Wilner points out that the logistics could be "expensive and complicated," with the biggest obstacle being Time Warner Cable. The cable goliath has balked at hosting new sports networks before -- it still doesn't carry the NFL Network, according to Wilner -- and would be able to all-but singlehandedly keep the "P12N" out of Los Angeles, the league's largest and most critical market by a mile. If Time Warner refuses to play ball, will it even be worth the league's effort to build the network in the first place?

If everything goes according to plan for the Pac-12, by fall 2012 Fox will be paying the league a handsome sum commensurate with the SEC's and Big Ten's deals, airing the league's football games in primetime on broadcast television, and helping the league put together an in-house network that would dramatically increase both revenues and exposure. But whether the last part of that plan comes to fruition, only Time (Warner) can tell.

Posted on: February 17, 2011 11:35 am

Tom Savage lands at Arizona

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As with fellow quarterbacking transferee Tate Forcier, what was reportedly set to become a whirlwind recruitment tour for departed Rutgers QB Tom Savage has ended nearly before it begun. Per Arizona Rivals affiliate goazcats.com , Savage has pledged to play for Mike Stoops' Wildcats.

The news comes as a particular suprise since Savage had specifically requested the privilege of talking with Miami and other Florida schools, a request Greg Schiano had initially denied on publicly spurious reasons before relenting (but not before some interesting comments from Savage's father). Arizona was only the first stop of what had originally been intended to be a series of them.

But with Forcier landing at Miami, Savage elected to cut his re-recruitment short. A major part of Savage's reasoning is likely the friendly-looking Wildcat depth chart; with both starter Nick Foles and backup Matt Scott seniors in 2011, after sitting out his transfer year this fall Savage could very well be the heavy favorite to become Arizona's full-time 2012 starter. And in the Wildcats' Mike Leach- influenced, pass-first offense, Savage could find himself putting up big numbers.

It's not the move everyone was expecting for Savage. But it might be the move that makes the most sense for him all the same.

Posted on: February 15, 2011 10:18 am
Edited on: February 15, 2011 10:29 am

Washington State RB cited for pot possession

Posted by Chip Patterson

Washington State made their way into the race for the coveted Fulmer Cup over the weekend.  James Montgomery, the Cougars' leading rusher in 2010, was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pullman, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Montgomery was the featured back in one of the less impressive rushing attacks in the Pac-10, totaling up 483 yards and 5 touchdowns in 11 games of action.  The fifth-year senior is currently petitioning the NCAA for medical hardship waiver that would grant Montgomery a sixth year of eligibility.  He suffered a brutal leg-injury in 2009 that made him miss most of the season, and almost ended his football career.  

If Montgomery is trying to win over anyone in the NCAA, he is not doing himself any favors by ending up in the newspapers for the wrong reasons.  However, his decision making could be doubted just for wanting a sixth year running behind the Cougars offensive line.  That's the football equivalent of doing a cannonball into quicksand.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 2:21 pm

Wazzu corner arrested for laptop theft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I suppose college football players have received some mixed messages about stealing laptops over the last couple of years. In one case you had Jeremiah Masoli, who was then kicked out of Oregon and missed out on a national title shot while toiling at Ole Miss last season. Then there was Cam Newton, who had to leave Florida, but wound up winning a title at Auburn.

So I can see why there would be some confusion. Still, at the end of the day, stealing is wrong and the only thing we know for sure about pilfering somebody else's laptop is that it's going to get you booted from your team. The latest to possibly suffer such a fate is Washington State cornerback Tracy Clark.
A freshman Washington State University football player has been arrested and suspended from the Cougar football team for allegedly stealing a laptop on campus.
19-year-old Tracy Clark, originally of Pittsburg, California was arrested by WSU police this week. Officers say Clark stole an $1,100 laptop from an open dorm room in Streit Hall on January 29.
They were able to identify Clark as the suspect by tracking his internet use on the computer.
Clark redshirted in 2010, and depending on how this legal matter goes, he may not play a down of football for Washington State in 2011 either.
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:29 pm

Arizona State RB shot in buttocks

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I imagine that it's never a good thing to be shot, but that if you had to choose an area of your body to take a bullet, I'm guessing your rear end would probably be the best place to do so. There are no vital organs, and there's plenty of fatty tissue to absorb the blow. So, I guess in that sense, Arizona State running back Deantre Lewis is lucky.

Lewis was shot in the buttocks on Saturday.
Arizona State running back Deantre Lewis was injured in a random shooting Saturday in his hometown of Norco, Calif.
According to Facebook posts from teammates, Lewis was shot in the buttocks. His injuries are not considered life threatening, and Lewis is recovering in a local hospital.
Arizona State confirmed the shooting, and while the school wouldn't give any details behind the shooting, they did say that Lewis was home visiting his family when it occurred. Lewis is coming off an impressive freshman season, in which he finished second on the team in rushing with 539 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for another 370 yards and 2 touchdowns.

There's no word on whether or not this injury will affect Lewis' availability for spring practice.
Posted on: February 12, 2011 1:11 pm

USC's Kyle Prater has a foot fracture

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Kyle Prater came to USC from suburban Chicago last year as one of the top wide receivers in the class of 2010. Unfortunately for Prater, after enrolling last spring, he suffered through a myriad of leg injuries and spend the 2010 season as a redshirt. Now, to make matters worse for Prater, 2011 is off to a very similar start.

Prater suffered a foot fracture during offseason workouts, and he's going to be out for 6 to 8 weeks. Which means that he's going to miss most of spring practice, if not all of it. The injury may also require surgery.

The good news for Prater is that once his foot does heal, he'll still be expected to compete for a starting job with the Trojans this fall. Which won't be easy considering he'll be competing with Robert Woods, Brandon Carswell, Markeith Ambles and incoming freshman George Farmer. The question is whether or not he's going to be able to stay healthy enough to do it. It's a bit early to call the kid "injury-prone," but considering the amount of leg injuries he's had during his first 12 months at the school, things aren't off to an encouraging start. Hopefully time will prove that these injuries have been nothing but a fluke, and he'll soon be able to live up to the hype he receieved out of high school.
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