Tag Archives: Pac-12 Network

The Oversaturation Killing the NFL is Good for College Football

All this time, the NFL has seemed so bullet-proof, but we’re seeing vulnerability in the armor. People aren’t watching as much, and they don’t like the way the product is being dispersed.

What plagues the professional game actually seems to aid college football. While we understand Saturday remains the best day to see the best games, we don’t feel like the occasional Thursday or Friday games are scheduled to do us dirty.

You want to play one of these games on the moon at 4 o’clock on a Tuesday, College Football fans will adjust. Just tell them when/where the tailgate is, and they’re cool.

Tell an NFL fan that Sunday Ticket is only offering a game that his antenna won’t in the late spot on Sunday, and they’re livid with London and Thursday Night Football. The presentation of the NFL game is too clean for fans to adapt to these random game-time windows.

College Football fans see Thursday, and now also Tuesday and Wednesday, as an opportunity to showcase a game that might be buried on ESPNU or some dreaded streaming option at noon on Saturday.

Western Michigan is the “Other” Team

Last Tuesday, the nation’s “other” unbeaten team had the undivided attention of the College Football diehards in Muncie. Maybe a 32-point win over Ball State isn’t that sexy on paper, but did you see what Corey Davis did?

Do you feel anything was flukey about Western Michigan’s 9-0 start? Maybe you understand the pecking order, and where the Mid-American Conference gets pecked. Maybe there’s an obligation to qualify the two road wins over the Big Ten by reminding everyone that Illinois was one of those wins. Maybe you wonder if the MAC juggernaut deserves to be on the field with a mid-major darling like Boise State.

Friday night, by the way, a nationwide audience was given a chance to watch the other Broncos bounce back from their first loss of the season, which happened on October 29.

Remember the 80s?

Just for kicks, you could have watched games involving Oklahoma and Colorado last Thursday. Maybe something like that would have excited you more 25-30 years ago, but those games affect the outcome of the Big 12 and Pac-12, because the present is weird.

You love it, and it takes nothing away from Saturday afternoon or evening.

Election Threads and Football on the Diamond

This coming Tuesday, Eastern Michigan will continue a semi-annual MAC tradition of paying homage to democracy with Election Day uniforms, back in Muncie–for #MACtion. Speaking of everyone’s favorite non-defense-playing conference, you’ll be sure to see Cubs fans from DeKalb to Northern Ohio trolling Guaranteed Rate Field on Chicago’s south side this Wednesday.

It’s football at a baseball stadium. Yeah, Northwestern and Illinois got Wrigley on a Saturday, and GameDay went to Wrigleyville. This next chapter in the great Toledo-Northern Illinois saga might get Roy Philbott, Rocky Boiman, and an ESPN2 production crew to urban Illinois on a school night.

Does Anyone Get Pac-12 Network?

Thursday, we get Utah in the Valley of the Sun, for the FS1 weekend preview. It’s up to the Utes to prove that anyone other than Washington is worth a damn in that conference. This game isn’t being stolen from ABC at 3:30, but more likely from a channel you don’t get, even if you live in Phoenix or Salt Lake City.

NBC is Glad It’s You, Not Them

CBS gave you three games on Saturday, just as they would when they have London and the 1 PM/4 PM doubleheader on Sunday. They got Notre Dame because they have Navy rights. Notre Dame lost again; great moment for Navy. Is College Football worse off for the Irish’s 3-6 campaign?

I doubt CBS or Navy care. They’re going to care about records a lot more in December when they’re selling some lousy SEC East team’s upset potential against Alabama in Atlanta.

Hurts Donut?

Speaking of the Tide, Jalen Hurts may have provided the only offensive spark for Alabama in a 10-0 win in Death Valley at night. There’s a joke to be told including Alabama’s quarterback’s last name and a breakfast food that looks like a zero, but I’m striking out.

The networks are hitting it out of the park though and in doing so, they’ve won us over with quantity over quality. More may mean too much on Sunday, but we love it on Saturday, Thursday, and sometimes Tuesday.

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The Pac-12 Conference – Do You Want to be the Cousin Eddie of College Football?

When you have your family Christmas dinner, do you ask your family members to bring something with them for everyone to share? Most Christmas dinners are like this. Someone brings a summer sausage, someone else brings a veggie tray…Aunt Bethany brings a jello mold with cat food stuck to it. The point being is that most family members will bring something. But not all play along. And when that rogue family member comes empty handed, they still expect to partake in what everyone else has contributed. They still expect the full monty of Christmas cheer.

This rogue family member is Larry Scott and the Pac-12.

Here’s what the Pac-12 needs for Christmas: A CLUE.

If it weren’t for Bob Bowlsby, Larry Scott would be the needy conference commissioner. Larry Scott must wake up each morning giving thanks for Bowlsby. Coincidentally, Bowlsby did spend time in the Pac-12 as the athletic director at Stanford. What do they say about “birds of a feather?”

Year in and year out, the Pac-12 feels slighted. The Pac-12 does not get the respect that it believes is rightfully theirs. This applies to their teams and to their individual football players. Just look at the Heisman voting this year. How many people believe that Christian McCaffrey should have won the trophy?

You know who is to blame? That’s right: The Pac-12 After Dark and Larry Scott.

Nobody sees the games being played in the Pac-12 and this slogan is proof of that. Larry Scott is essentially hiding his own product. Dude, get a clue.

It is true that the Pac-12 has their own network, but even with being available in 12 million homes, it is still behind the SEC Network and the Big Ten Network.

Larry Scott has to bring more to the table than this.

AT&T was asking for more than Scott was willing to give up, but he would have expanded the footprint of the conference with the proposed partnership with AT&T. There are times when a sketchy deal is better than no deal at all and this may have been one of those times.

The Pac-12 After Dark slogan is catchy, but it suggests that the conference caters to a niche market with that niche market being the west coast. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with the west coast. It’s a cool place, but it doesn’t drive television markets and it doesn’t drive the attention of voters to your schools or players when it’s time for awards to be handed out. Time zones are a bitch, but they are a thing. Sure, Mariotta won the Heisman last year, but he was also playing on a playoff team.

It’s time for Larry Scott to bring a major television deal to the Pac-12. The conference has marketable teams, coaches and players, but it’s all meaningless unless the entire country knows about these commodities. As time ticks by, the Pac-12 risks falling even further behind the SEC Network and Big Ten Network in terms of exposure.

With each passing year, the Pac-12 gets closer and closer to Big 12 status. You do know that the Big 12 is the Cousin Eddie of college football. And when “the shitter’s full,” you don’t want to light that match.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

Five You Must See: Week Four West Coast Edition

Week four brings with it the official start of conference play.  The Pac-12 takes center stage on Saturday night with multiple games with championship implications in the spotlight.  Since it’s such a big weekend in the west, I thought I’d show some love to the “Best Coast” in this week’s Five You Must See:

Tennessee at Florida 3:30 P.M. on CBS

Before we head out west, let’s get one thing clear.  I’m a sucker for Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson on an autumn afternoon.  Those two are a large part of why I’m such an SEC fan.  It’s hard for an SEC on CBS game not to be one of the five you must see on any given weekend.  The network gets to take their pick and they normally choose wisely.  This game is another example.  Tennessee has one loss already and can’t afford to take another in their conference opener.  Florida is 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 2012.  The Gators are coming off a quality road win over Kentucky that should get their ball rolling as they get set to defend The Swamp.  The Vols have no choice but to be motivated for a game against a team they haven’t beaten since 2004.  If you’re looking for an authentic taste of the South this weekend then watch this game.

California at Washington 5:00 P.M. on Pac-12 Network

Photo: Kelley L Cox-USA Today Sports
Photo: Kelley L Cox-USA Today Sports

According to the Pac-12 Network this week, many won’t be able to watch any of the games featured on the channel at all this season.  It’s sad that big business is not allowing the fans to watch the games they want to see, but I guess that’s just the way it is now.  Anyway, the matchup is interesting because you’ve got two mid-tier teams with a chance to fill some open space toward the top of the Pac-12 North.  Cal hung on for dear life in Austin last week and came away with a 45-44 win over Texas.  You’ll want to watch quarterback Jared Goff who continues to impress NFL scouts with his throwing ability.  Washington intrigued me in the second half of their opening game at Boise State.  I want to see how they handle their first big home game of the year.  Tune in for this one if you can.

#9 UCLA at #16 Arizona 8:00 P.M. on ABC

The winner of this game seizes early control of the loaded Pac-12 South.  Both teams are dealing with injuries to their best defensive player.  Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright will likely be a game-time-decision as he nurses a torn meniscus from week one.  UCLA got tragic news on Wednesday when linebacker/ running back Myles Jack went down for the season with what is apparently a much more serious meniscus tear.  Jack is the third defensive starter the Bruins have lost for the season in three weeks.  The Wildcats will certainly be attempting to take advantage of the inexperienced substitutes.  UCLA put an end to the BYU Cougars’ Hail Mary magic last week.  A win here would mean at a top five spot for the Bruins in next week’s AP Poll.  An Arizona victory could vault the Wildcats into the top 10.  Also, College GameDay is in Tucson for just the third time ever so that makes it even more fun.

#18 Utah at #13 Oregon 8:30 P.M. on Fox

Nowadays, everybody wants to talk about the Pac-12, but they act like they forgot about Utah.  The Utes are a good team with a unique style that often gives more talented teams trouble.  Devontae Booker runs the ball as well as anyone in the Pac-12 and the Utes’ front seven stops their opponents from running well at all.  Neither team has officially announced who will start at quarterback on Saturday night, and probably won’t until game time.  Utah’s Travis Wilson injured his shoulder two weeks ago and sat out last week.  The oft-injured Kendal Thompson got the start against Fresno State and might get the ball again this week.  Oregon’s Vernon Adams also did not play last week.  Jeff Lockie filled in adequately against Georgia State.  I’m expecting both original starters to go, but if it comes down to it Oregon would lose more with their backup in than Utah would with theirs.  Hearing Gus Johnson on the call can only make this exciting game more thrilling.  Flip back and forth between this and UCLA-Arizona.

#19 USC at Arizona State 10:30 P.M. on ESPN

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The night cap is too close to call.  So, just like on election night, you’ll have to stay up in order to get your satisfaction.  USC is a five and a half point favorite, but ask yourself, “Do you truly trust the Trojans on the road in a game they’re favored to win?”  After last week’s debacle against Stanford maybe people will finally pump the brakes on the Trojan train.  Not to mention how good Arizona State can still be.  Sure, the Sun Devils got off to a lousy start by losing to Texas A&M and didn’t do much beyond what was necessary against Cal Poly and New Mexico.  However, it would be foolish to discount the ability of Arizona State’s playmakers.  Speaking of offensive prowess, boy do the Trojans have a matchup nightmare in JuJu Smith-Schuster, whose 434 receiving yards are good for third in the nation.  USC head coach Steve Sarkisian showed us earlier this year that he, like California, knows how to party.  Now let’s see if he knows how to coach in weighty road games.

The “Better as a Basketball Game” of the Week

Photo: Joe Maiorana - USA Today Sports
Photo: Joe Maiorana – USA Today Sports

West Virginia hosts Maryland this Saturday at 3:00 on Fox Sports 1.  That’ll be a decent watch, I guess, but imagine if it were a basketball game.  Now, all of a sudden you have #18 West Virginia hosting #16 Maryland (according to last year’s final rankings) in a rematch of last year’s third round NCAA Tournament game.  That’s a matchup worthy of primetime.  Unfortunately the football version is nowhere near as big.  In the winter these two are must-see, but in the fall they’re easily skippable.

The Pipeline – August 29, 2015: A Firing, some Fines, and a new Television Deal

1. Illinois Fires Tim Beckman Seven Days before Season Opener

Our top news story in this week’s Pipeline comes from the University of Illinois.  (Never thought you’d read that, did you?)  Yes, the Illini have attracted national attention, at least for a couple days.

Head coach Tim Beckman was fired Friday afternoon just seven days before Illinois opens its season against Kent State.  Director of Athletics Mike Thomas dismissed Beckman due to the findings of an external investigation into the mistreatment of players.

Beckman is alleged to have deterred the reporting of player injuries, and pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and play through injuries.  There are also some questions as to whether or not seniors were treated fairly with respect to their scholarship status during the spring semester once they were done playing.  He has, of course, denied that the allegations are accurate, setting the stage for a future lawsuit.

These are very serious accusations.  And there must have been quite a lot of damning evidence to substantiate these claims for Thomas to can Beckman so close to the season opener.

Bill Cubit will take over for the 2015 as interim head coach.  He joined the Illini coaching staff in 2013 as offensive coordinator.

The issue of player safety became real for us last fall when Brady Hoke and the Michigan training staff failed miserably in protecting quarterback Shane Morris.  Excuse the video quality, but you should hear how Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham brought this to a live audience.  Now that a coach has been fired for mismanaging his players, it’s officially a hot button issue.

2. Fining College Football Players?

On Wednesday, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said some things he shouldn’t have about the possibility of fining players.  Athletic director Whit Babcock was quick to shut the idea down, saying Tech would be doing no such thing.

On Thursday a list of all finable offenses is spotted outside the Tech locker room.  A picture is taken.  The picture makes its way around the internet.  And Foster’s words are legitimized, proving that there was a plan in place to fine Hokie players for misbehavior.

Then, Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville seconds Foster’s motion.  The AD in this case, UC’s Mike Bohn does not squash his coach’s idea, but instead agrees with him.

There’s some confusion about whether this is legal.  NCAA rules state that taking money from a student’s scholarship is impermissible.  However, there is supposedly some language in these financial aid contracts which states the school may subtract aid if the violations go against department policy or the student code of conduct.

I’m no legal eagle.  I’ll let the lawyers decide what exactly the contracts allow schools to do with players’ financial aid.  I can say that this will undoubtedly add another convoluted layer to the already complicated cake that is the controversy over compensating college athletes.

3. Pac-12 Network on DirecTV

As our own Mike Wilson wrote last week, west coast football fans might be able to relax soon.  After years of not carrying the Pac-12 Network on their cable package, DirecTV will finally give fans out west what they want.

DirecTV, which was recently bought by AT&T, began testing on Friday that appears to be the first step towards bringing the Pac-12 Network to their customers’ television sets.

Imagine the frustration of paying for sports packages you’re not interested in while your favorite conference’s network is unavailable to you.  This is what some fans have been dealing with since the Pac-12 Network’s inception in 2012.

Luckily for them it seems to be coming to an end just in time for the 2015 season.

4. Sarkisian Apologizes for “Inappropriate” Behavior

Steve Sarkisian addressed the media on Tuesday concerning his “inappropriate” behavior at a USC donor event last Saturday.  Apparently, he had too much to drink and had taken some pills he was prescribed.

The press conference was short, but notably odd.

There were unnecessarily personal questions about specifically what medication Sarkisian was referring to in his statement.  Rightfully, he declined to disclose that information.

When asked if he had a drinking problem, Sarkisian said, “No, I don’t believe so, but through Pat [Haden] and the University, I’m going to find that out.”

“I don’t know if I even need rehab,” Sarkisian said.  “That’s part of the process, and I credit Pat Haden for this, that he has put things in place for me to have meetings to figure that out.”

He was quick to ‘swear off’ drinking for the rest of the season, and clarified that while there was never any alcohol in the players’ locker room, it will now be completely banned from all USC football facilities.

The USC players had their coach do a set of down-ups, just as they would have had to do for breaking team rules.

The team has moved on and so should the media.  This was a big mistake, but it was not an accurate reflection of Sarkisian’s character.

5. Vernon Adams Wins Oregon’s Starting QB Job

Anyone who was following the quarterback battle at Oregon knew there was a good chance Vernon Adams would end up winning the job.  The Ducks’ week one depth chart was released on Friday, and sure enough Adams was at the top.

This is news mostly because it wasn’t news to those of us who were paying attention.

Adams is a graduate transfer student who played three seasons at Eastern Washington.  He put up the type of numbers you see from Oregon quarterbacks, throwing for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns while with the Eagles.  With Marcus Mariota gone to the NFL and the rest of the team in place, the Ducks needed a new quarterback who could step in and preform immediately.  In Adams, they’ve got just that.

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Interestingly, Adams will make his first start against his alma mater next weekend when the Ducks host the Eagles.  That’s right, just three weeks after graduating from Eastern Washington he will take the field against his former team.

Ahh, what a glorious loophole in the NCAA’s transfer rules.

Pac-12 Notebook: Pac-12 Network, Oregon, USC, and Washington State

Pac-12 Network vs. DIRECTV

When the Pac-12 began their own television network, it was seen as a boost for the conference. It has been a boost to the profile of the conference and everybody connected with the Pac-12, but the one thing that has been hanging over the conference since the inception of the network has been the ongoing dispute with DIRECTV. The dispute has obviously been about how much it will cost the network to be put on the satellite provider. It has frustrated those Pac-12 fans that use DIRECTV as their television provider and has cost millions in lost viewership to the conference. However, things may just be changing for everybody concerned.

AT&T, the communications giant, has bought DIRECTV and with this purchase has put renewed vigor into the thought that the Pac-12 Network can finally be on DIRECTV. AT&T is already a major sponsor/advertiser for the Pac-12. The powers that be in the conference have said that getting a deal done is not a matter of “if”, but “when”. Customers like myself have been frustrated with the satellite provider because we are paying for other sports networks, while my own sports conference is not on DIRECTV. Rumors are saying that a deal will be done before the start of season, but I will only believe it when it is done.

Oregon

What is going on in Eugene? Oh, just a few things. One of them being that they have lost a potential 1,000 yard running back to their offensive attack. Thomas Tyner is gone. He injured his shoulder, had surgery, and his 2015 season is over. Big loss. Massive loss. Attach any adjective you want, but it won’t change anything for Tyner. The Ducks have many weapons with their offense to absorb the blow, however, it’s still a big loss for them. He may not have been the number one running back for the Ducks, but he was certainly a very close second. Is there any chance that Tyner comes back in 2015? No. If he does, he certainly could injure the shoulder again and it could end up being worse. Take 2015 to heal completely and come back at full strength in 2016.

Vernon Adams. How many of you are tired of talking about this guy and whether or not he will be showing up in Eugene? Well, we can finally stop talking about whether or not he’s there. We all know he’s finally showed up on the practice field for the Ducks. Now the questions being asked are about whether he can catch up and learn the high powered Oregon offense and whether or not he will start. I’ll answer those two questions right now.

Yes and yes.

As much as the coaches say that it’s a competition at quarterback with the Ducks. It’s not. You don’t bring in a guy like Vernon Adams and then tell him to sit. Adams may be a little behind due to arriving late to fall camp, but a guy that has thrown for over 10,000 yards in a career is not going to be a bench warmer. He’s going to start for the Ducks. Period. End of story.

USC

Things seem a little quiet in Trojan land the last few weeks. After a few little squabbles between USC and Oregon fans, players, and even coaches things have gone dark for the Trojans. You can assume that they are eagerly anticipating the start of the season and are waiting to throw around that Trojan swagger again after coming off the sanctions of the Reggie Bush era. The Trojans have the talent, experience, and the expectation to go into the college football playoff. Can USC get to the playoff? Yes, but it’s going to be tough. It’s just going to be difficult to get out of the South division of the Pac-12. They have their work cut out for themselves. Cody Kessler is going to be the leader of the group and has to stay healthy for them to have that chance. Having the Trojans relevant again in national college football talk is good for football and the Pac-12. It gives the conference a little higher profile. Let’s hope the Trojans can continue to bring that swag back to their program.

Washington State

Can the Cougars of Washington State get out of the cellar of the Pac-12 North? Good question. Yes, they can, but can they go higher than fifth in the division? Not sure about that. There are many things about this program that people question. Can Coach Leach finally turn it around in Pullman? Is Leach done as a coach? Is his offense going to work in Pullman? Police reports on the team seemingly are a constant occurrence. Are things out of control for the Cougars?

A recent report listed the Cougs at the number one team in arrests over the last 5 years. Many people would consider that fairly disturbing and it would be easy to agree with that, but is this the kind of stat that Coach Leach should be worried about? Yes. According to the report 24 of the 31 arrests were made after Leach was hired. Are they not doing their due diligence with these kids being brought into the Cougar program? It sure sounds like it. Washington State has been a school who has given second chances to many a player who have had checkered pasts. It seems like this kind of practice may be catching up with the program. Let’s hope they can figure this out in Pullman and turn things around and soon! This type of thing causes stress for the coach and distraction for the program. Coaches hate distraction. I’ve said that a few hundred times and will keep saying it. Distraction can kill a season and just might for the Cougars. Let’s wait and see with this program.