“I know [Brown] probably regrets saying what he said,” Cravens said of the running back, who quit the team Aug. 21 and later called coach Steve Sarkisian "racist" in social-media posts since deleted. “It’s unfortunate. I know Sark personally and Sark is a great coach, and there’s no way shape or form it's true what [Brown] said. I think he was just upset with the situation. If he could re-think that whole thing, he wouldn’t have said it. It’s the frustration of being in your senior year and really not playing. A.B. is my friend and it’s unfortunate what he said.”
“[Shaw] apologized publicly to the coaching staff and to the entire football team and administration," Cravens added. "We all know what kind of guy Josh is and he doesn't need to apologize to us for us to know that he’s sorry for what he did.”
What exactly happened with Shaw continues to be a mystery to most outside of the team -- the cornerback has been suspended after he admitted to lying about how he suffered a pair of ankle sprains -- and as much as Cravens would like to see the one-time defensive captain return, he understands that’s out of his hands.
“We got to see what happens legally and if Coach Sark lets him back onto the team,” Cravens said. “We don’t know what happened. I’m sure if some guys did know what happened, they wouldn’t say because they might have to be witnesses in a courtroom. I don’t know. As far as I see it, he fabricated his story and that’s all I know.”
LOS ANGELES -- Cody Kessler threw for 394 yards and four touchdowns and No. 15 Southern California ended a trying week with a 52-13 win over Fresno State in Steve Sarkisian's debut as the Trojans' head coach.
The Trojans ran a school- and Pac-12 record 105 plays while racking up 37 first downs and 702 yards of total offense to Fresno State's 16 first downs and 315 yards.
In all, 10 different Trojans caught passes in Sarkisian's up-tempo offense.
For USC, the victory comes at the end of a distracting week for Sarkisian, punctuated by a tale of heroism by suspended defensive captain Josh Shaw that turned out to be a lie. Backup running back Anthony Brown also quit the team and called Sarkisian a racist, an allegation the coach and other players vehemently denied.
For the Bulldogs, the loss was their third straight in the series to USC.
No. 7 UCLA at Virginia
Time: 12 p.m. ET
California at Northwestern
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
A year ago, Cal was a few tipped passes from opening the Sonny Dykes era with a win against what was then a ranked Northwestern team. It was all downhill from there, but now that Cal is healthy, has a new defensive coordinator (Art Kaufman) and has another offseason to adjust to the new coaching staff, there is a renewed sense of cautious optimism in Berkeley.
Portland State at Oregon State
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: Pac-12 Network
Oregon State against an FCS team … what could possibly go wrong? After losses to FCS teams in season openers two of the past three seasons, there is no chance the Beavers aren’t up for this one. Also, quarterback Sean Mannion renews his quest to eclipse Matt Barkley’s Pac-12 career passing record (12,327 yards) -- he needs just 1,892 yards to take sole possession.
UC Davis at No. 11 Stanford
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: Pac-12 Network
Stanford’s rematch from a 2005 loss to Davis serves as just the fourth meeting between the Cardinal and an FCS team since the Division I-AA subdivision was created in 1978. Stanford will need its highly touted offensive line to gel quickly before next week, when it hosts USC and the Trojans’ formidable front seven.
Fresno State at No. 15 USC
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Kickoff can’t come soon enough for the Trojans after one of the more bizarre weeks for a team … ever? Turmoil, of course, isn’t new to this group of players, which was able to band together for a strong close to 2013, despite changing head coaches twice during the season. An impressive showing for USC would go a long way toward changing the story back to football in coach Steve Sarkisian’s debut.
No. 25 Washington at Hawaii
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Coach Chris Petersen has a favorable early schedule to ease into his new job, starting with this trip to the Islands. Considering how much the Warriors struggled a year ago -- they started 0-11 before winning the finale -- this one doesn’t figure to be much of a contest. Quarterback Jeff Lindquist will start for the Huskies as Cyler Miles serves a one-game suspension.
South Dakota at No. 3 Oregon
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: Pac-12 Network
Oregon’s starters face more difficult challenges every day against their scout-team counterparts. It would be a surprise if the Ducks don’t score 35 first-half points and quarterback Marcus Mariota plays deep into the third quarter with No. 8 Michigan State looming next week.
Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Nuria Vanegas told ESPN's Shelley Smith on Friday that as part of an investigation into a possible burglary at the Orsini apartment complex, the LAPD continues to look into whether USC cornerback Josh Shaw and his girlfriend were involved in a domestic dispute last Saturday night.
"Nothing has changed," Vanegas said.
According to Vanegas, it is not a domestic violence investigation.
"That is a crime," she said. "A domestic dispute is not."
Shaw is not a suspect or considered a person of interest in the burglary investigation.
Earlier this week Shaw said he suffered two high ankle ankles jumping to rescue a nephew who was drowning in a pool at the complex. He admitted to team officials Wednesday that the story was a complete fabrication.
USC has suspended Shaw indefinitely.
Well, mostly. Hey, next round's on Gemmell? That help? Thought so.
Follow me on Twitter, where I wax and wane between sympathetic, antagonistic and sarcastic.
To the notes!
Devon from Mesa, Arizona, writes: When Todd Graham was hired at ASU, the national media focused only on his nomadic past and the admittedly less-than-ideal way he left Pitt. But since then, he's been nothing but extremely loyal and impressive as the Sun Devils' coach, improving the play on the field, the quality of recruiting, the discipline in the program, and the morale of the fan base. But even after winning the South and the conference coach of the year honors last year, most media picks ASU as no better than fifth in the Pac-12 this season. What more does he need to do to convince the national media to get past the one-year stint at Pitt and to start giving Graham some respect for the outstanding program he's building in Tempe?
Ted Miller: Well, fifth in the Pac-12 is good enough to be 19th in the preseason AP poll and 18th with the coaches, slightly ahead of their 2013 finish, so it's not exactly like the national media is hatin' them some Sun Devils. Further, fifth is only down two spots in the conference from last year, when ASU finished third in the Pac-12 behind Stanford and Oregon.
Why down two spots? Quick: Name four defensive starters. Ah ha! Yes, pretty much completely rebuilding your defense with unknown quantities is something the national media picked up on. It's not personal. It's business. The media goes all Missouri on you: You've got to show us. While Graham has recruited well, he's not in Alabama or Florida State territory, where he gets the benefit of the doubt with his true and redshirt freshmen and JC transfers.
How's that working out? Not to be snide about academic non-qualifiers but we've written over and over again about the love affair folks seem to have with the idea of touted players who have yet to play a game or even practice. Previously we termed it, "Incoming Dude Is Obviously Transcendent." Or IDIOT. Yes, we just tittered at our own snarky joke. So sorry for that.
So the reason the Sun Devils slipped in the preseason projections is the defense looks suspect. It's nothing more complicated than that.
Did we learn anything about the Sun Devils -- defense or otherwise -- during their 45-14 stomping of Weber State on Thursday? Nope.
How can Arizona State improve its place in the national pecking order? Beat UCLA at home on Sept. 25, a Thursday night game that should have a significant national audience. A 4-0 start for Graham and the Sun Devils would earn them a top-10 ranking.
Ah, did you notice something about this answer, though? I didn't bring up Pittsburgh and all that muckety-muck. Know why? I've moved on and I think most writers have, too. Graham was the Pac-12 Coach of the Year last year and has shown no interest in moving out of Tempe. I think that narrative has seen its last whimper, at least until he seems to again show a wandering eye
Ted Miller: Oregon's schedule is undoubtedly favorable. It starts with missing USC and Arizona State, a pair of top-25 teams from the South Division, and it includes having Michigan State, Washington and Stanford all come to Autzen Stadium.
And your point about extra days of preparation is entirely valid. I'm imagining UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone reading this and going, "Well that stinks," then telling Jim Mora and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, and that troika proceeding to trash the coaches' offices, throwing chairs out the window and kicking walls before they throw themselves on their knees and bellow in unison, "Why! WHY?! Oh, why doth thou forsake us, oh great scheduling gods?!"
It might not happen exactly like that, but it would be cool if it did.
There's no question extra preparation time, as well as extra rest/recovery time, is an advantage. While there's no obvious proof of a pro-Ducks scheduling conspiracy, you never know.
Ted Miller: Jim... last name... Mora?
I think that's UCLA's plan, particularly with Jordan James back from injury. Recall that the reason Jack saw action at RB last year was because of injuries in the backfield, most notably to James, who ranked among the national rushing leaders early in the season.
But Jack also might offer a good change of pace to a more physical runner, particularly near the goal line. I expect him to get touches on offense in specific packages but I also don't think anyone has illusions about where his primary position is -- on defense, where he's got an NFL future.
Ted Miller: Yes.
They are different, but they both will be early draft picks -- perhaps both going in the first round this spring -- and I suspect both will have good NFL careers.
Both have NFL arms. Both are tall, which the NFL values. Both are smart enough to learn an NFL playbook. Mariota brings a run/scramble element, while Mannion is a traditional guy who stands tall in the pocket.
I've learned through the years that my skills predicting NFL careers are limited, not unlike NFL GMs. But I'd be surprised if both don't end up as NFL starters.
Ted Miller: While all forms of journalism should adhere to basic 101 standards, these are complicated times for the profession. Things move faster than they once did. As in immediate fast. You get information you believe is from a good source and you tend to go with it ASAP. It used to be you could double- and triple-source and provide depth and perspective on breaking news because your only time constraint was the deadline for the AM edition. Now, for better or worse, there's a battle for Twitter turf.
That's a different bird than what you did for the NY Times Sunday Review, which I'm guessing was a non-deadline feature or long-form story that can be thoroughly fact-checked because there's time to do so.
In this case, team captain Josh Shaw, a senior with a good reputation, told coaches and administrators at USC that he jumped off of a second-story balcony and hurt his ankles because he was trying to save his drowning 7-year-old nephew. There was no reason, at that point, to view Shaw with suspicion, to see him as someone who would manufacture an outrageous lie. He had no history of deceit or questionable conduct within the program, at least as far as we know.
How did USC get fooled? Read this. It does a good job of explaining.
Then USC, using its official website, published a story with quotes from Shaw and coach Steve Sarkisian. That put the seemingly legitimate information out there, and beat writers felt they needed to react for their publications as soon as possible, probably knowing it would be of national interest. At that point, just about everyone was planning a follow-up. That would be the deeper and more detailed -- and more sourced -- picture of an act of heroism and the young man who performed it. .
Things moved pretty quickly thereafter, though not before many of us were captivated -- hook, line and sinker. As it was, the feel-good story became a stinking pile of manure.
Ted Miller: After watching Washington State lose Thursday to a Rutgers team that I thought it would roll over, I think all the favorites have plenty of room to self-destruct. Heck, many Pac-12 teams are just a few injuries away from massively reduced capabilities -- see Oregon with QB Marcus Mariota last year.
What could go wrong? How about this.
- Arizona: What if QB play is poor and the defense gets exposed?
- Arizona State: What if the rebuilt defense is lousy?
- California: What if the team starts slowly and quits on Sonny Dykes?
- Colorado: What if the voids left behind by WR Paul Richardson and DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe prove too much?
- Oregon: What if the receivers and secondary underwhelm?
- Oregon State: That O-line is questionable, and Brandin Cooks is in the NFL.
- Stanford: Losing four starting O-linemen and the biggest producers on defense could actually be a problem.
- UCLA: Sophomore slumps on both lines, a loss to Texas and a team unprepared for disappointment.
- USC: New systems and a lack of depth, as well as swirling preseason controversies.
- Utah: Still not ready for prime time Pac-12 play.
- Washington: New systems, new QB, new RB and a young secondary.
- Washington State: No run defense; no running game.
The teams set up for the biggest falls are everyone's favorites: Oregon and UCLA. While I don't see either faltering in a massive way, it wouldn't shock me if one or the other ended up outside the top 10. Because both have such high expectations, that first defeat might include a hangover that causes loss No. 2. Or even No. 3.
Ted Miller: Yes, Gary, I now feel great. Thanks.
(Pause again, for laughter)
(Pause, again, still for more laughter)
UCLA head coach Jim Mora had just been asked a purely-for-fun, purely-hypothetical question: What if UCLA and USC had to play in Week 1?
“I don’t think it would be a good deal,” Mora said. “You want the drama to build. I don’t know what it would be like. I never thought of that. [Pause for laughter, again]. It would make for an interesting off season. You’d have a whole lot of time to talk about it rather than just a week. Heck, I don’t know.”
And make no mistake -- this is a rivalry game. This will be the 86th game in the series (the Buffs lead 62-21-2), which has been played off and on since 1893 and annually since 1995 (the longest gap was between ’58 to ’83).
It doesn’t matter that Colorado is in the Pac-12 and Colorado State is in the Mountain West. This game is as heated as it gets.
“We think of this as a traditional rivalry, no doubt about it,” said Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre. “You hear about it every day. Everybody is up and down Interstate 25, and CU fans and CSU fans run into each other. The kids know each other. The coaches know each other because we speak at different clinics and run into each other all of the time.”
Colorado State got win No. 1 for coach Jim McElwain in 2012 with a 22-17 victory. A year later, the MacIntyre era kicked off with a 41-27 victory.
“The pros of it are it’s a big, heightened game,” MacIntyre said. “It keeps your kids on their toes. They hear about it all the time. It makes it a little more special. All opening games are special. But this puts an extra flavor to it, so to speak.”
That got the Pac-12 blog to thinking … simply for extra flavor … what if every rivalry game in the league was played in Week 1. What would the storylines be?
- Territorial Cup: New Arizona QB faces new ASU D as RichRod looks for first win in rivalry.
- The Big Game: Bear Raid looks to get off the mat against two-time conference champs.
- The Civil War: Potential first-round picks Marcus Mariota and Sean Mannion duel in opener.
- UCLA-USC: Oh jeez … can you imagine USC and UCLA squaring off Saturday after the week the Trojans have had? This one writes itself.
- The Apple Cup: Chris Petersen’s Washington debut against the Cougs.
Look, we know this isn’t ever going to happen. But it’s fun to think about the possibilities. Right?
“Oh, we wouldn’t like that. I wouldn’t like that at all,” said Arizona State coach Todd Graham, [OK, guess not]. “I’m a fan. I don’t want to start the season off with a rivalry game. We love that being at the end of the season for our fans.”
The consensus was that if the rivalry game was in Week 1, so be it, the coaches would prepare per usual. But it just wouldn’t feel the same.
“One year we played Hawaii after [we played Oregon] at the end of the year and that felt funny,” said Oregon State coach Mike Riley. “It would definitely make for an interesting start to the season.”
Because the CSU-CU game is an out-of-conference showdown, the thought is that this game is best played before league play cranks up. And that makes sense.
“Late in the conference, you’re worried about conference games and getting to the conference championship game,” MacIntyre said.” I think playing it early in the year is a good thing for both of us.”
So, no. Pac-12 rivalries should not be played in Week 1. But the tradition works for the Colorado folks so don’t mess with it. It will make for a fun debut Friday night and add some sizzle to a Week 1 slate that doesn’t have a ton of gusto.
And we can all get on board with Graham: “That game is the game for us. You can win 11 games and lose that one and have an unsuccessful season. You could lose 11 and win that one and have a successful season. That’s how big that game is for us. I kind of like it where it’s at.”
Garry Paskwietz: I’ll go with tight end Randall Telfer. The Trojans go a long drive led by Buck Allen and when they get inside the red zone Cody Kessler will hit Telfer for the opening score.
Johnny Curren: Nelson Agholor. Kessler finds his favorite target early to get the party started.
Final 7 UCLA 28 Virginia 20 Final California 31 Northwestern 24 Final Portland State 14 Oregon State 29 Final UC Davis 0 11 Stanford 45 Final Fresno State 13 15 USC 52 Final 25 Washington 17 Hawaii 16 Final South Dakota 13 3 Oregon 62
Final Idaho State 14 Utah 56 Final Rutgers 41 Washington State 38 Final Weber State 14 19 Arizona State 45