Scott to announce TV deal Wednesday

May, 3, 2011
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Larry Scott will make the Pac-12's new mega-TV deal official Wednesday morning at a news conference in Phoenix.

Scott will appear with Randy Freer, president of Fox Sports Net Regional Networks and Burke Magnus, ESPN vice president of College Sports, representatives of the two networks that will partner with the conference on a deal reportedly worth $3 billion over 12 years starting in 2012.

Scott, Pac-12 hit the jackpot?

May, 3, 2011
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Recall back in October 2010 when Pac-12 expansion was announced. On that day, which was greeted with equal-parts excitement and trepidation, it was revealed that the conference would be on the hook for a $2 million payout to USC and UCLA if in any year TV revenue turned out to be less than $170 million. That conditional payoff was necessary to get the L.A. schools to sign off on equal revenue sharing, thereby ending the Pac-10's former appearance-based model.

Some wondered: How could the conference get a network to pay in this down economy?

One word: Ha!

The Pac-12 has agreed to a 12-year television contract with ESPN and Fox that reportedly will more than quadruple its media rights fees and be the most valuable for any conference in college sports.

The contract, which will begin with the 2012-13 season, was initially reported at more than $225 million per year -- or $2.7 billion over the life of the deal, according to the Sports Business Daily and The Associated Press. The New York Times later Tuesday reported the deal at $3 billion over 12 years, more than quadrupling what the two companies have been paying.

The Pac-10's old TV contracts paid about $45 million annually from ABC/ESPN and Fox. So that roughly $4.5 million per team -- recall, again, that there wasn't equal revenue sharing -- will become roughly $20.83 million per team starting in 2012 (Utah gets 50 percent in 2012, 75 percent in 2013 and a full share in 2014).

Image: Twelve athletic directors leaping into the air and clicking their heels together, particularly at small-stadium schools such as Oregon State and Washington State.

A formal announcement of the contract is expected shortly, perhaps even while commissioner Larry Scott and other conference officials are toasting their deal-making at the Pac-12 meetings in Phoenix this week.

The deal includes football, basketball and Olympic sports rights, but the Pac-12 is free and clear to establish its own network and digital channel, which means more potential revenue streams.

Some details from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News:
  • Games will be shown on Fox, ABC, FX, Fox Sports Net, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
  • The Pac-12 football championship game is part of the contract and will be shown alternately on Fox and ABC.
  • The conference will be the sole owner of its own network, unlike the Big Ten. Fox owns 49 percent of the Big Ten Network.

Scott told the New York Times the conference was the beneficiary of the Big Ten creating its network first.

“They did a lot of things wonderfully and successfully,” Scott told the Times. “They were pioneers. But when you’re the second to do it, you get to draft behind the first one.”

Conclusion: A big win for Scott and a big win for the conference, with perhaps even more revenue to come.

Tuel, Cougs want wins, payback

May, 3, 2011
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Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel was chilling last week with his roommates -- receiver Gino Simone and cornerback Nolan Washington -- when three other Cougars came over to hang out. At first they just sat on the sofa and watched TV, tossing a football between them in order to ensure proper modern multi-tasking.

It was raining, but the six soon decided to go outside to toss the rock around. Shortly thereafter, what had once been lazy chilling transformed into what it typically does around Tuel: earnest football.

"Nolan is telling me about playing corner and what he does with his feet," Tuel said. "Gino is showing me releases. I'm showing him quarterback stuff. It's goofing around but it gets serious. It's non-stop with us, whether we're talking serious game planning or chucking it around in the street, it's non-stop with us."

Because football matters to Tuel.

The problem for Tuel -- as well as Washington State and its fans -- is Cougars football has been irrelevant for a while now. Washington State hasn't enjoyed a winning record since posting three consecutive 10-win seasons from 2001-2003. In three seasons under coach Paul Wulff, the Cougars are 5-32 with just two Pac-10 victories.

[+] EnlargeJeff Tuel
Craig Mitchelldyer/US Presswire Jeff Tuel hopes to get Washington State on the winning track this season.
What that means for a guy who cares about football is a lot of frustration, not to mention a fairly sizable amount of resentment for opponents who don't appear to respect you.

"Without a doubt," Tuel said. "Any true competitor does not like to lose. It pisses you off. And when you don't get the respect you feel like you deserve, it will start a fire underneath you as well. It's definitely a humbling feeling a times, but you put somethings in the back of your mind, for sure."

That was in the back of Tuel's mind last season as the Cougars lined up in victory formation in November against a quality foe -- Oregon State -- for the first time since 2007. Tuel took a knee and was thrilled. But he was also, well, still upset.

"It was kind of like, 'Holy crap,'" Tuel said. "But for me personally, I was kind of like ... I don't know how to describe it. Almost angry in a sense because it's like, 'Dang, we could have been doing this the whole year.'"

Angry is good. That tells you there's fire and belief inside Tuel, a junior who heads into his third season as the Cougars' starter and the biggest reason some expect the program to line up in at least a few more victory formations in 2011.

That would be good for Wulff, who's on the hot seat this fall after receiving only a luke-warm endorsement from athletic director Bill Moos. One school of thinking asserts that Wulff needs a bowl game to survive into 2012, though that might be a bit ambitious for the Cougars, who are still young.

Tuel, the best quarterback most of the nation has never heard of, is the Point A for hope. He completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns last year and welcomes back his top two receivers in freshman All-American Marquess Wilson and Jared Karstetter, who combined for 117 receptions. The Cougars could pass on anybody last year, and the conventional thinking is they'll be even more potent in 2011, particularly with the rise of talented youngsters Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff.

"We're a lot sharper [during spring practices]," Tuel said. "It was sloppy my previous years, but this was for sure our best spring. We looked really sharp. We had a lot of fun this year. It's hard for us not to be confident and excited when spring ball went the way it did."

The Cougars were far more competitive in 2010 than the previous two years under Wulff, but it was a humiliating 42-zip loss at Arizona State that seemed to transform the season. At that point, more than a few folks thought the Cougs might pack it in and bail on Wulff. They clearly weren't ready to play in Tempe and they didn't put up much of a fight.

Yet the loss seemed to trigger an immediate, positive response.

"We all were just fed up. We heard what people were saying. It's embarrassing to throw up a donut against a team like that. It was kind of a thing of, 'That's enough,'" Tuel said. "There was not really one moment or a speech by an individual. The team came out hungry and ready to practice Monday and it carried throughout the whole week. That was something we hadn't had, but it seemed to come together. It sort of jumped-started a lot of guys."

The Cougars nearly beat California before yielding 20-13. Then they won at Oregon State and lost a barnburner to rival Washington, 35-28, after overcoming a 21-7 second-quarter deficit. In that game, Tuel outplayed Huskies quarterback Jake Locker, the No. 8 pick in last week's NFL draft, passing for 298 yards and three touchdowns, while Locker had 226 yards and two touchdowns (both tossed an interception).

"Once we got rolling, we were going. They didn't have an answer for us. We just kind of ran out of time," Tuel said. "Guys went into the offseason with a lot of confidence and belief in each other and where this is going."

If that confidence helps create wins, then Wulff's job will be safe. But Tuel said the focus isn't on saving Wulff or just preventing a negative result. It's about football -- winning football.

"We want to win for everybody, for the fans, for the coaching staff, for ourselves, for the Cougar Nation," he said. "I don't think as a team we are dedicating our wins to an individual. We just want to win, man. We know that winning cures everything. When you win, everyone is happy."

Which programs, conferences best develop talent?

May, 3, 2011
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Who are the the best (and worst) college programs and conferences at developing recruits into NFL players?

That's an interesting question, and the Iowa football blog "Black Hearts, Gold Pants" decided to try and figure out some answers.
Good recruiting data across college football goes back to 2002. And we have draft information for every year. So, by matching between those two data sets, we can answer the questions above. We can identify the programs that do the best (and worst) job developing their players (at least over the past decade). Better yet, we can use this data to tell a prospective recruit exactly how much their NFL chances are affected by their choice of school. Whether this information is on the top of the recruiting packets or hidden from sight will depend on the school, but these are numbers every recruit should know before signing on that dotted line.

Enter the "Developmental Ratio."
The Development Ratio is a simple way to measure the effect of a program on player development: take the number of recruits a program turned into draft picks and divide that by the number that an average BCS program would have produced from the same recruiting classes.

The results? USC finished No. 1, Ohio State No. 2, Iowa No. 3 and California No. 4.
Ohio State and USC are huge names, attract great recruits, and turn out even better NFL prospects. These statistics come almost entirely from the Pete Carrol and Jim Tressel eras and they show that both coaches deserve the credit they get - they didn't just skate by on the higher talent level those programs attract on name, they got the best out of that talent.

Which conferences best develop talent? It must be the SEC, as that conference produces so many NFL players, right?

Nope. The best two is a Rose Bowl: The Big Ten was No. 1 and the Pac-12 was No. 2. Recruits that go to the Big Ten add 15 percent to their NFL chances, while Pac-12 recruits add 10 percent.

On the low end is the Big 12: "recruits to the Big 12 take almost a 20% hit to their NFL chances when they pick the conference."

So congrats Colorado.

Another surprising finding: The Pac-12 does a better job developing defensive players than offensive players, though it does well at the skill positions. The conference ranks fourth in terms of developing offensive players, second for defensive players and second for skill players.

There's a lot of interesting data in this article, and I'm sure some of you might poke a few holes in its methods. Definitely worth a look, though.

USC-Colorado moved to Friday night

May, 2, 2011
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The date of USC’s visit to Colorado has been moved a day earlier to Friday, Nov. 4.

The Trojans’ visit to Boulder will kick off at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PDT) and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

USC previously announced times for two other games in 2011. The California game will be on Thursday, Oct. 13, in San Francisco’s AT&T Park and will kick at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PDT) on ESPN. The Saturday, Oct. 22 game at Notre Dame will start at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PDT) and will air live nationally on NBC-TV.

Pac-12 NFL prospects in 2012?

May, 2, 2011
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The 2011 NFL draft is over, which means it's time to look at who the Pac-12's top senior prospects in 2012 likely will be.

First of all, plenty of top non-seniors from the conference might -- or are likely to -- enter the draft, including Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Oregon RB LaMichael James, Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict and USC QB Matt Barkley. Those four range from sure to likely first-round draft picks.

But this list includes only players in their final year of eligibility. And some might rate a bit of a reach as NFL prospects.

Arizona: QB Nick Foles, WR Juron Criner, CB Trevin Wade

Arizona State: CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, C Garth Gerhart

California: S Sean Cattouse, TE Anthony Miller, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB D.J. Holt, OT Mitchell Schwartz, P Bryan Anger

Colorado: OG Ryan Miller, RB Rodney Stewart, DT Conrad Obi, TE Ryan Deehan

Oregon: TE David Paulson, SS Eddie Pleasant, OT Mark Asper, LB Josh Kaddu

Oregon State: S Lance Mitchell, WR James Rodgers, FB-TE Joe Halahuni

Stanford: WR Chris Owusu, TE Coby Fleenor, S Delano Howell

UCLA: S Tony Dye, FB Derrick Coleman, TE Cory Harkey

USC: LB Chris Galippo, DE Armond Armstead, TE Rhett Ellison, RB Marc Tyler

Utah: OT Tony Bergstrom, LB Chaz Walker, OT John Cullen

Washington: DT Alameda Ta'amu, WR Jermaine Kearse, OT Senio Kelemete, K Erik Folk

Washington State: DT Brandon Rankin, OG B.J. Guerra, WR Jared Karstetter

James becoming Oregon leader

May, 2, 2011
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Ivan Maisel's tour of the Northwest continues with a look at Oregon running back LaMichael James, who will be asked to become a leader on a team with just 11 seniors.

Here's Chip Kelly on that:
"LaMichael's not a real vocal kid," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "He doesn't have to talk every day, but when he says something, people are going to listen to him. That's new for him. He's no longer the young guy. All of a sudden, he's the wily veteran."

The article also touches on how Kelly selects and organizes captains, which is different than most schools. And here's Kelly on "leading by example" sometimes not being enough for "quiet" guys.
"If you're not going to say it, who is going to say it?" Kelly asked. "Sometimes, that excuse of 'Well, I'm not a vocal guy' is your excuse of being selfish. To be a leader, you have to serve. You have to be able to get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you don't like talking in front of a group. But that's what this team needs. Are you willing to do that to get us to compete at the level we have to?"

As for James' controversial arrest last year -- controversial because James was unfairly characterized in many news reports -- James sees that glass as half-full.
"I tell everybody, 'That's the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Ever,'" James said. "I don't think it's a bad thing. I have no regrets about what happened. It just makes you realize a lot of different things. I think it humbles you, makes you more mature, makes you a smarter player in life and in football."

Oh, and some Washington State fans asked: What about us! Fair enough. Tune in tomorrow.

Pac-12 links: Is Foles the No. 2 QB in 2012?

May, 2, 2011
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I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Oregon suspends Alonso

May, 2, 2011
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Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso has been suspended indefinitely by Ducks coach Chip Kelly.

Alonso was arrested Sunday on charges of burglary, criminal mischief and criminal trespassing in Lane County, according to local reports.

The Eugene Register-Guard also published details of Alonso's arrest, which are a bit peculiar.
Alonso, 20, a junior from Los Gatos, Calif., was arrested early Sunday after a Eugene women called 911 to report a strange man pounding on her front door demanding to be let inside.

The women left the house after calling authorities, who arrived to find the door broken open and Alonso inside. Alonso was arrested on charges of first degree burglary, first degree criminal trespassing and second degree criminal mischief and booked into the Lane County Jail.

"It doesn't appear that there was any relationship between the homeowner or Mr. Alonso," Lt. Bryon Trapp of the Lane County Sheriff's office said. "It doesn't appear she had any idea who he was or any indication why he was at that residence."

Alonso, who was a leader to replace departed starter Casey Matthews at middle linebacker, was suspended for the 2010 season after a DUI arrest.

WSU CB Aire Justin ruled ineligible

May, 2, 2011
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Washington State has confirmed previous reports that cornerback Aire Justin has been ruled ineligible for the 2011 season for violating the NCAA’s banned substance policy, which ends the redshirt senior's career.

Though listed at No. 2 on the post-spring depth chart, Justin was a returning starter and perhaps the Cougars' best cornerback. Damante Horton and Daniel Simmons are the top candidates to replace him.

“Aire made a big mistake by not following the guidelines our athletic department has in place,” coach Paul Wulff said in a statement. “This is not the way we want our team to operate. This is an issue I take very seriously and will continue to educate our student-athletes on proper nutrition and strongly reinforce to all our student-athletes the importance of following departmental procedures.”
A lot has been said about Willie Lyles, but Lyles has said little about himself, his high school scouting work and his relationships with college players, including Oregon running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk.

Well, he spoke with Jason Whitlock for an hour, a podcast of which you can listen to here.

Lyles, who runs a Texas-based scouting service, is under NCAA investigation after receiving $25,000 from Oregon for scouting material. He also has been accused of asking Texas A&M to "beat" an $80,000 offer for star recruit Patrick Peterson in 2007.

He called all the allegations against him "unequivocally false."

Still, what's at issue for the NCAA is this equation: New scouting service with no track record + "mentor" relationship with elite prospect + significant payment from institution = player goes to said institution.

It's entirely possible that Lyles runs a legit scouting service that provided valuable materials to Oregon that were worth $25,000 and that his relationship with James, Seastrunk and another running back, Dontae Williams, who also signed with Oregon but has decided to transfer, were straight-up mentorship relationships, intended only to help the young men whom he met through his work scouting them.

Said Lyles: "I don't steer kids to schools." What does he do? He offers "insight, not influence."

Oregon has said it is confident it acted within NCAA rules and that it is cooperating with investigators. On the podcast, Lyles said he has yet to be formally interviewed by the NCAA, though it has contacted him.

"I just haven't set up an interview time as of yet," he said. "So I just haven't decided on when and where that's gonna take place."

Lyles, who appeared with his lawyer, provided this interesting tidbit: He said he made $36,000 last year: $25,000 from Oregon, $6,000 from LSU and $5,000 from California.

Stanford lands A-list D-lineman

May, 2, 2011
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Stanford has landed a big-time commitment on its defensive line.

ESPNU 150 Watch List defensive tackle Aziz Shittu of Buhach HS (Atwater, Calif.), one of the top players on the West Coast, has become the Cardinal's third commitment for the 2012 class.

Shittu (6-foot-2, 275 pounds) picked Stanford over an array of other suitors, including Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Northwestern, Oregon State, Tennessee, UCLA, Southern California, Washington and Washington State.

ESPN's Craig Haubert said of Shittu, "Stanford picked-up a verbal from one of the top defensive line prospects in the state of California. Aziz Shittu is a big man who can be tough against the run, but also can help rush the passer. He is capable of firing out low and knocking blockers back to help collapse the pocket, but the big man can also attack blockers as well and use his weapons to work past them to apply pressure. Shittu looks to give effort and can be a disruptive defender and is a nice in-state pick-up for the Cardinal."

Arrest starts Ducks' offseason badly

May, 2, 2011
5/02/11
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Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso, the favorite to replace the departed Casey Matthews in the middle of the Ducks' defense, was arrested Sunday and charged with burglary, criminal mischief and criminal trespass in Lane County, according to local reports.

Alonso had played well this spring -- the Ducks' spring practices concluded Saturday -- but this doesn't figure to help his standing, particularly considering he was suspended for the 2010 season after a DUI arrest. That arrest, you might recall, came just a day after coach Chip Kelly met with reporters to talk about the run of recent off-field trouble his team was having.

Alonso, a junior from Los Gatos, Calif., ended up blowing out his knee last spring, so he wouldn't have been available in 2010 in any event.

As for the Ducks' options at middle linebacker, here's what Rob Moseley wrote in the Eugene Register-Guard.
Senior Dewitt Stuckey entered the spring atop the depth chart at middle linebacker, but Alonso pushed him early in April and then took over full-time with the first-string after Stuckey suffered a concussion in a scrimmage. They are the only scholarship middle linebackers currently on the roster, though the Ducks signed a talented group of recruits at the position in February, including four-star middle linebacker Anthony Wallace of Dallas, Texas.

Spring game roundup

May, 1, 2011
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Four spring games were played Saturday -- all from the Pac-12 North Division -- including at Oregon, where a conference record 43,468 fans showed up to watch.

Here's a rundown:

Final Pac-12 NFL draft tally

May, 1, 2011
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The Pac-12 provided 37 players to the NFL draft over the weekend, one fewer than the SEC, which led all conferences.

If the six combined picks from Colorado and Utah are taken away from the conference, the old Pac-10 provided NFL teams 3.1 draft picks per team, also just behind the SEC at 3.17.

Here's where the Pac-12 players went:

First round
No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Second round
7. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: Tennessee
10. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Houston
13. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: Denver
21. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Chicago
24. Shane Vereen, RB, California: New England

Third round
13. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC: Tennessee
20. Mason Foster, LB, Washington: Tampa Bay
25. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: San Diego
29. Christopher Conte, S, California: Chicago
33. Sione Fua, DT, Stanford: Carolina

Fourth round
5. Jordan Cameron, TE, USC: Cleveland
19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon: Philadelphia
21. Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado: Kansas City
27. Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford: Cleveland

Fifth round
8. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah: Minnesota
9. Gabe Miller, DE, Oregon State: Kansas City
14. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State: Atlanta
23. Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Seattle

Sixth round
2. Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford: Cincinnati
14. Caleb Schlauderaff, OG, Utah: Green Bay
17. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC: San Francisco
19. David Carter, DT, UCLA: Arizona
22. Allen Bradford, RB, USC: Tampa Bay
24. Mike Mohamed, LB, California: Denver
32. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: Green Bay
38. Zach Williams, C, Washington State: Carolina

Seventh round
12. D'Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona: Minnesota
24. Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado: New York Jets
30. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: Green Bay
37. Stanley Havili, FB, USC: Philadelphia
38. David Ausberry, WR, USC: Oakland
39. Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Seattle

By Pac-12 school:
Arizona (3)
Arizona State (1)
California (4)
Colorado (4)
Oregon (1)
Oregon State (3)
Stanford (4)
UCLA (3)
USC (9)
Utah (2)
Washington (2)
Washington State (1)

The final tally by automatic qualifying conferences:
SEC... 38
Pac-12... 37
Big Ten... 36
ACC... 35
Big East 22
Big 12...19

Nebraska was a big swing to the Big Ten from the Big 12 with seven picks. With Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 provided 30 selections.

This was the tally through three rounds:
SEC: 20
ACC: 19
Pac-12: 15
Big Ten: 13
Big 12: 9
Big East: 4

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