Pac-12: Ryan Miller
- Former Arizona quarterback Nick Foles' dream will shortly come true.
- Not many surprises on Arizona State's depth chart -- no resolution at quarterback. Whatever happened to linebacker Vontaze Burfict? (I'll say this: He's worth a late-round pick. Period).
- For the first time in four years, no California player was a first-round pick. But a Bear likely will be tapped today.
- President Obama makes a positive impression on Colorado coaches. When might guard Ryan Miller go in the draft?
- No first round picks for Oregon? Who cares when you beat everybody's brains out! The Ducks do have one unPleasant question (I did that all by myself).
- Oregon State fans should expect good things from San Mannion 2.0. New defensive backs coach Rod Perry, an NFL lifer, is figuring out college life.
- The funny thing is it's a surprise just two Stanford players were picked in the first round.
- This well-traveled defensive lineman is making an impression for UCLA. Has redshirt freshman Brett Hundley made his move at quarterback?
- USC has two players selected in the first round, guys who know each other well from bumping heads. More on Matt Barkley returning to USC.
- A look at Utah after its second spring practice as a Pac-12 member. Questions remain on the offensive line and at linebacker.
- A cheat sheet for understanding the math of Washington's spring game. (Me: "It was my understanding that there would be no math during the spring game.")
- Washington State: The most Jake Rodgers moment ever. I had a great Jake Rodgers in high school back in the '80s by the way.
- Maybe the BCS died because college football listened to the fans. Not sure this guy doesn't deserve some credit, too. How about a T-shirt, Dan, "I killed the BCS."
- For now, all Nick Foles can do is sit and wait. Juron Criner could be the fourth or fifth receiver taken in the draft.
- Vontaze Burfict and Jamaar Jarrett were two of six players who failed drug tests at the NFL combine.
- Previewing the Bay Area players in the draft, including Cal, Stanford and one for the San Jose State fan who accidentally stumbled on to the Pac-12 blog (hang out for a while, you're welcome anytime).
- Lots of teams showing interest in Ryan Miller. A little love for the guy behind the camera at Colorado.
- Oregon players are fired up for the spring game. Is LaMichael James headed to the (cue the music) San Diego, super Chargers?
- James Rodgers has a pretty good fallback in case the NFL doesn't work out.
- More insight on UCLA's great quarterback debate.
- A USC-centric draft preview.
- Kyle Whittingham was happy with Utah's spring.
- More on new Washington commit Jaimie Bryant.
- The Spokesman-Review gives a really good position-by-position breakdown of WSU.
But the rebuilding project in Boulder is going to require just as much David Bakhtiari as Paul Richardson. Bakhtiari, the Buffs' left offensive tackle, earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2011 as a sophomore, the only Colorado player to get an All-Conference nod.
He's a want-to guy. A guy who talks about chemistry and a sense of urgency. A guy willing to lead. A guy who seems slightly bothered -- politely so, of course -- when a reporter notes the Buffs' significant holes heading into 2012.
Why should folks believe Colorado can improve on a 3-10 finish despite losing its top passer, top rusher and top-two receivers (Richardson missed four games due to injury)?
"There is definitely a sense of urgency that I can see from last year's team to this year's team," Bakhtiari said. "People are moving around with a purpose. They are buying into our common goal, which is a bowl game. We've decided we are tired of going home in December and watching all these games."
Bakhtiari has been impressed with QB Connor Wood, the Texas transfer who has the inside track to replace Tyler Hansen. He raves about RB Tony Jones, who will step in for Rodney Stewart. Stewart only led the Buffs in rushing four consecutive years and now ranks second on the school's all-time rushing list. And a healthy Richardson is the obvious choice to replace the receptions that departed with Stewart (45) and Toney Clemons (43).
But if the Buffs are going to improve, they are going to need to score more than 19.8 points per game, a total that ranked last in the Pac-12 in 2011. That starts with Bakhtiari and the O-line, which is replacing guards Ethan Adkins and Ryan Miller.
Offensive line coach Steve Marshall, speaking to B.G. Brooks, called Bakhtiari "probably was our most productive player (in 2011) game in and game out." He'll be protecting Wood's blindside as well as leading the charge for a rushing offense that needs to do better than 3.5 yards per carry and 109 yards per game.
Like most Colorado players, Bakhtiari was recruited by Dan Hawkins, a far softer touch than the demanding, straight-talking Embree. (Said Bakhtiari, "Embree is a little more, 'I want production and I'm going to get it.'"). Unquestionably, there was an adjustment to the change in styles in 2011. There was a lot less nurturing and a lot more barking at practices. And Embree isn't afraid to publicly question his players commitment to winning.
But there were hints of accord late last season between coaching staff and locker room. After a 1-9 start, the Buffs won two of their final three games, including a shocking and impressive 17-14 win at Utah, which knocked the Utes out of the Pac-12 title game.
"Guys are now understanding what these coaches want and how they want it to be," Bakhtiari said. "Last year, we were kind of chickens with our heads cut off."
That's a start. It's probably going to take a few more Richardsons and Bakhtiaris to get the Buffs into Pac-12 South Division contention. But that's a start.
Feeling good, Louis!
- Not specifically an Arizona story, since Davonte Neal committed to Notre Dame, but still, weird story as he switches high schools.
- Former ASU DB Omar Bolden was tops among his peers in the bench press at the combine.
- A Q&A with former Cal linebacker Zack Follett.
- Former Colorado offensive lineman Ryan Miller knows what's up with the defensive line prospects.
- George Schroeder of The Register-Guard asks how significant are Oregon's proposed violations?
- Some more news on former Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers and the combine.
- Stanford's hunt for a new quarterback is officially underway with spring drills.
- Torii Hunter Jr. taking a long hard look at UCLA football.
- The folks at ESPNLosAngeles continue their position-by-position breakdown of USC. Next up, the offensive line.
- Some more on Utah hiring former graduate assistant Ilaisa Tuiaki to coach the fullbacks and tight ends.
- Bob Condotta continues his position overview -- this time focusing on Washington's linebackers.
- A breakdown of spring priorities for each Pac-12 school, including a look at Washington State's quarterback situation.
"Valentine's Day. Bummer."
- The Pac-12 has officially broken ground on the studios for its new television network. Here are some notes on the event from Jon Wilner.
- Davonte' Neal -- the top unsigned players in the country -- is one week away from his decision. Fingers crossed Arizona fans.
- Arizona State wide receiver Rashad Ross could have a breakout season.
- What can Cal fans expect from the 2012 recruiting class.
- Former Colorado offensive lineman Ryan Miller is the lone Buff headed to the NFL Combine.
- Despite his size, former Oregon running back LaMichael James could be an NFL difference-maker.
- A Stanford recruiting roundup.
- Some UCLA recruiting notes and grades.
- The folks at ESPNLosAngeles looked at the candidates for USC's vacancy at wide receiver coach.
- Utah offensive line coach Tim Davis is headed to Florida. That leaves a lot of youth on the coaching staff.
- Bob Condotta had a Q&A with Washington athletic director Scott Woodward. Some really interesting answers.
- WSU long-snapper Zach Koepp was arrested Sunday morning for obstructing a public servant.
Nine Pac-12 players earned honors on the AP's three All-American teams announced Wednesday -- three each on the first, second and third teams.
Zero made it on defense.
Here are the teams.
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB — Robert Griffin III, junior, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Baylor.
RB — Montee Ball, junior, 5-11, 210, Wisconsin
RB — Trent Richardson, junior, 5-11, 224, Alabama.
OL — Barrett Jones, senior, 6-5, 311, Alabama
OL — Matt Kalil, junior, 6-7, 295, Southern California.
OL — David DeCastro, senior, 6-5, 310, Stanford
OL — Kevin Zeitler, senior, 6-4, 318, Wisconsin.
C — David Molk, senior, 6-2, 286, Michigan.
WR — Justin Blackmon, junior, 6-1, 215, Oklahoma State
WR — Robert Woods, sophomore, 6-1, 180, Southern California.
TE — Dwayne Allen, junior, 6-4, 255, Clemson.
AP — Sammy Watkins, freshman, 6-1, 180, Clemson.
K — Randy Bullock, senior, 5-9, 212, Texas A&M.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DE — Melvin Ingram, senior, 6-2, 276, South Carolina
DE — Whitney Mercilus, junior, 6-4, 265, Illinois.
DT — Devon Still, senior, 6-5, 310, Penn State
DT — Jerel Worthy, junior, 6-3, 310, Michigan State.
LB — Luke Kuechly, junior, 6-3, 237, Boston College
LB — Jarvis Jones, sophomore, 6-3, 241, Georgia
LB — Dont’a Hightower, junior, 6-4, 260, Alabama.
CB — Morris Claiborne, junior, 6-0, 185, LSU
CB — Tyrann Mathieu, sophomore, 5-9, 175, LSU.
S — Mark Barron, senior, 6-2, 218, Alabama
S — Bacarri Rambo, junior, 6-0, 218, Georgia.
P — Brad Wing, freshman, 6-3, 184, LSU.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB — Andrew Luck, junior, Stanford.
RB — LaMichael James, junior, Oregon
RB — David Wilson, junior, Virginia Tech.
OL — Jonathan Martin, senior, Stanford
OL — Nate Potter, senior, Boise State.
OL — Will Blackwell, senior, LSU
OL — Austin Pazstor, senior, Virginia.
C — Peter Konz, junior, Wisconsin.
WR — Ryan Broyles, senior, Oklahoma
WR — Kendall Wright, senior, Baylor.
TE — Tyler Eifert, junior, Notre Dame.
AP — Joe Adams, senior, Arkansas.
K — Caleb Sturgis, junior, Florida.
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DE — Frank Alexander, senior, Oklahoma
DE — Vinny Curry, senior, Marshall.
DT — Joe Vellano, junior, Maryland
DT — Derek Wolfe, senior, Cincinnati.
LB — Courtney Upshaw, senior, Alabama
LB — Lavonte David, senior, Nebraska
LB — Manti Teo, junior, Notre Dame.
CB — David Amerson, sophomore, North Carolina State
CB — Dre Kirkpatrick, junior, Alabama.
S — Markelle Martin, senior, Oklahoma State
S — Antonio Allen, senior, South Carolina.
P — Ryan Allen, junior, Louisiana Tech.
THIRD TEAM OFFENSE
QB — Matt Barkley, junior, Southern California.
RB — Ronnie Hillman, sophomore, San Diego State
RB — Bobby Rainey, senior, Western Kentucky.
OL — Levy Adcock, senior, Oklahoma State
OL — Cordy Glenn, senior, Georgia.
OL — Ryan Miller, senior, Colorado
OL — Gabe Ikard, sophomore, Oklahoma.
C — Grant Garner, senior, Oklahoma State.
WR — Jordan White, senior, Western Michigan
WR — Patrick Edwards, senior, Houston.
TE — Coby Fleener, senior, Stanford.
AP — Tavon Austin, junior, West Virginia.
K — Quinn Sharp, junior, Oklahoma State.
THIRD TEAM DEFENSE
DE — Sam Montgomery, sophomore, LSU
DE — Andre Branch, senior, Clemson.
DT — John Simon, junior, Ohio State
DT — Fletcher Cox, junior, Mississippi State.
LB — Tank Carder, senior, TCU
LB — Sammy Brown, senior, Houston
LB — Emmanuel Acho, senior, Texas.
CB — Nigel Malone, junior, Kansas State
CB — Brodrick Brown, junior, Oklahoma State.
S — Josh Bush, senior, Wake Forest
S — George Iloka, senior, Boise State.
P — Shawn Powell, senior, Florida State.
Luck was joined on the first team by Oregon running back LaMichael James, Stanford guard David DeCastro, USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil and Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin.
USC receiver Robert Woods and Colorado guard Ryan Miller were named to the second team.
An offensive league? That's seven offensive players honored and none from defense.
Here's are the Walter Camp All-American teams.
First Team Offense
Pos. Name, School Class Hometown Height Weight
QB Andrew Luck, Stanford # Sr. Houston, TX 6-4 235
RB LaMichael James, Oregon * Jr. Texarkana, TX 5-9 195
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama Jr. Pensacola, FL 5-11 224
WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State * Jr. Ardmore , OK 6-1 215
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma * Sr. Norman, OK 5-10 188
TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame Jr. Fort Wayne, IN 6-6 249
OL David DeCastro, Stanford Sr. Bellevue , WA 6-5 310
OL Barrett Jones, Alabama Jr. Memphis, TN 6-5 311
OL Matt Kalil, USC Jr. Corona, CA 6-7 295
OL Jonathan Martin, Stanford Sr. Los Angeles , CA 6-6 304
C David Molk, Michigan Sr. Lemont, IL 6-2 286
PK Randy Bullock, Texas A&M Sr. Klein , TX 5-9 212
First Team Defense
DL Whitney Mercilus, Illinois Jr. Akron, OH 6-4 265
DL Devon Still, Penn State Sr. Wilmington, DE 6-5 310
DL Melvin Ingram, South Carolina Sr. Hamlet, NC 6-2 276
DL Jerel Worthy, Michigan State Jr. Huber Heights, OH 6-3 310
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College * Jr. Cincinnati, OH 6-3 237
LB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama Jr. Lewisburg, TN 6-4 260
LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia Soph. Columbus, GA 6-3 241
DB Morris Claiborne, LSU Jr. Shreveport, LA 6-0 185
DB Mark Barron, Alabama Sr. Mobile, AL 6-2 218
DB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU Soph. New Orleans , LA 5-9 175
DB David Amerson, North Carolina State Soph. Greensboro, NC 6-3 194
P Shawn Powell, Florida State Sr. Rome, GA 6-4 235
KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State Fr. Tulsa, OK 5-11 170
Second Team Offense
Pos. Name, School Class Hometown Height Weight
QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor Jr. Copperas Cove , TX 6-2 220
RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin Jr. Wentzville, MO 5-11 210
RB Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky Sr. Griffin, GA 5-8 205
WR Robert Woods, USC Soph. Carson , CA 6-1 180
WR Jordan White, Western Michigan Sr. Cleveland, OH 6-0 215
TE Orson Charles, Georgia Jr. Tampa, FL 6-3 241
OL Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State Sr. Claremore, OK 6-6 322
OL Nate Potter, Boise State Sr. Boise, ID 6-6 295
OL Ryan Miller, Colorado Sr. Littleton, CO 6-8 295
OL Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin Sr. Waukesha, WI 6-4 315
C William Vlachos, Alabama Sr. Birmingham, AL 6-1 294
PK Caleb Sturgis, Florida Jr. St. Augustine, FL 5-11 183
Second Team Defense
DL Frank Alexander, Oklahoma Sr. Baton Rouge, LA 6-4 255
DL Vinny Curry, Marshall Sr. Neptune, NJ 6-4 263
DL Andre Branch, Clemson Sr. Richmond , VA 6-5 260
DL Joe Vellano, Maryland Jr. Rexford, NY 6-2 285
LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame Jr. Laie , HI 6-2 255
LB Lavonte David, Nebraska Sr. Miami, FL 6-1 225
LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama Sr. Eufaula, AL 6-2 265
DB Bacarri Rambo, Georgia Jr. Donalsonville , GA 6-0 218
DB Matt Daniels, Duke Sr. Fayetteville, GA 6-1 210
DB Nigel Malone, Kansas State Jr. Manteca, CA 5-10 176
DB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt Sr. Elko, GA 6-0 188
P Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech Jr. Salem , OR 6-2 215
KR Joe Adams, Arkansas Sr. Little Rock, AR 5-11 190
* - 2010 Walter Camp First Team All-America
# - 2010 Walter Camp Second Team All-America
Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction. You can read last year's versions here.
We're going in reverse order of my post-spring power rankings (which might not be identical to my preseason power rankings).
Up next: Utah
When 94,000 people gasp at the same time, it creates something even more dramatic than the bedlam that inevitably follows.
Everyone in the Coliseum saw USC cornerback Nickell Robey fall down. They saw Utah receiver DeVonte Christopher turn and sprint alone up the visitor's sideline. And they saw Utes quarterback Jordan Wynn recognize the situation, and, with a notably relaxed setup and sendoff, launch what became an 85-yard touchdown pass for a 35-28 victory over the Trojans.
The Utes all-time Pac-12 record becomes 1-0.
"I think the Utes proved they belong," says ESPN GameDay's Kirk Herbstreit. "They will be a factor in the Pac-12 South."
Utes coach Kyle Whittingham seems amused with fans and reporters immediately building monuments to commemorate the moment. "It's one football game," he said. "You know, we've beaten some pretty good teams before."
The Utes don't have too much time to celebrate, considering their turnaround game is a visit to BYU for "Holy War."
A secret meeting of the MUSS executive counsel is set for Monday to plan a variety of "classless" strategies. The 12 members properly devise all sorts of horrible things to do to BYU fans, particularly Cougars players' families.
The Utes stomp the Cougars 33-10. Utah fans remains classy throughout. Smug, but classy.
The Utes move up to 10th in the nation with a win over Washington, which sets up a critical showdown with unbeaten South rival Arizona State.
Linebacker Brian Blechen grabs a late interception to preserve a 24-21 victory.
"Are the Utes going to go to the Rose Bowl their first year in the Pac-12?" ESPN's Chris Fowler asks. "What does that say about the old members of the Pac-10?"
"I don't know if it says anything other than it confirms what we suspected: The Utes are good," Herbstreit replies.
After whipping Pittsburgh 31-10, however, the wheels come off at California. The Utes yield four sacks and commit four turnovers in a 21-17 defeat.
They bounce back at home with a win over Oregon State, but the Utes secondary gets picked apart in Tucson by Arizona quarterback Nick Foles in a 38-24 defeat. That creates a three-way tie with the Utes, Wildcats and Sun Devils atop the South Division.
"Do I think the grind of the Pac-12 schedule is finally getting to us?" Whittingham says, repeating a reporter's question. "If you mean does playing a tougher schedule make it tougher to win every week, I'd say yes. That's not exactly quantum mechanics, is it?"
The Utes bounce back with a win over UCLA and a double-overtime victory at Washington State. After Arizona State beat Arizona, the Utes only need to beat Colorado to win the inaugural South Division championship.
But there is intrigue.
"Coach Embree's daughter's bike was painted red?" a befuddled Whittingham asks. "Is the Pac-12 going to be weird like this all the time?"
Despite the Buffaloes using the "Red Bike Incident" for motivation, Wynn tosses three touchdown passes in a 31-24 win.
The Utes finish the regular season 10-2 and ranked ninth. They also win the South Division and earn a berth opposite top-ranked Stanford in the first Pac-12 championship game.
Stanford prevails 38-24 as Andrew Luck passes for 305 yards and two TDs and rushes for another.
"The story here is Luck surely sewing up the Heisman and the Cardinal playing Alabama for the national title," Fowler says. "But what a first season in the Pac-12 for Utah."
The Utes whip Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl 33-17 and finish ranked eighth.
They then sign their first top-25 recruiting class. "Coach," a reporter asks, "how's it feel to be ranked 21st in the ESPN.com recruiting rankings?"
"Oh, I don't care about recruiting rankings -- we just sign guys who want to come here and we think can help us," Whittingham says. "But it was 20th. Get it right."
USC quarterback Matt Barkley throws for 380 yards and three touchdowns against a rebuilt Utah secondary as the Trojans roll over the Utes 42-20.
"No, that's a good team; we respect them," Barkley says afterwards. "But we wanted them to get a proper welcome to the Pac-12. This ain't the Mountain West."
The Utes still seem shell-shocked a week later, and rival BYU takes advantage. Jake Heaps throws a pair of fourth-quarter TD passes as the Cougars win the "Holy War" 28-17.
"They think they're all that because they're in the Pac-12," Heaps says. "But they're still just the second-best program in Utah."
After the game, it's revealed that Utes quarterback Jordan Wynn "tweaked" his shoulder and that Jon Hays will start against Washington after the bye week.
"We hope to get Jordan back for the Arizona State game," coach Kyle Whittingham says.
The Huskies roll over the Utes 31-17.
Wynn comes back against Arizona State, but struggles early and gets up slowly after a sack from Sun Devils linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Hays starts the third quarter, and Burfict and the Sun Devils defense dominate, holding the Utes to 28 yards in the second half.
"Lots of talk in the preseason about Utah being immediately competitive in the Pac-12," remarks ESPN's Chris Fowler. "I know Wynn's been hurt, but so far the old Pac-10 is being fairly rude to its new member."
It's announced that Wynn is done for the season.
Hays and the Utes win at Pittsburgh to improve to 2-4, but they get dominated at California, 41-10. They slip Oregon State at home, but Arizona QB Nick Foles throws for 405 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-20 Wildcats win in Tucson.
UCLA doesn't have a quarterback who can exploit the struggling Utes secondary, but Washington State does. The Cougars win 33-30 in overtime, and the Utes fall to 4-7. The season finale is at home against Colorado.
"I've got a lot more things to worry about other than a vandalized bike, of which I know nothing about," Whittingham says.
Denver Post headline: "Whittingham doesn't care about Embree's daughter's bike. Or her feelings!"
Colorado picks up its seventh win with a 30-21 victory. Buffaloes 6-foot-8 guard Ryan Miller walks out of Rice-Eccles Stadium among his celebrating teammates holding a gold and black bike above his head, one that appears to have been vandalized with cheap, red spray paint.
BYU, now an Independent, signs a broadcast deal with ESPN that will pay it an average of $25 million a year over the next 12 years.
"We are classy," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe says. "And rich!"
The Pie closes.
Anyone else eager to end the worst offseason in the history of college football and start talking about games again?
Follow me on Twitter.
To the notes.
Roger from Oregon writes: I am a high school student in Oregon. It has really been bothering me how many columnists are calling out Darron Thomas and his leadership. I know that he has been in the car on three separate occasions were citations, as well as marijuana were involved. How does this make him a bad leader? At my school, a high school not a university, smoking weed is commonplace. While I don't smoke, most of my friends and about 75% of male athletes do, yet they are still able to be leaders on the football field, basketball court, etc. Maybe weed is taboo for all these old journalists, but in my opinion Darron Thomas is a leader (have you seen him stay in the pocket and take a big hit). His toughness and incredible play make him a leader on the field, I honestly don't care how he spends his time off the field (as long as nobody gets hurt).
Ted Miller: Here's the chief problem with marijuana and high-profile people smoking it: It's against the law, so getting caught with it brings bad publicity.
For a sports team, that could mean said team loses a player to suspension, which would make the team worse than before the player passed the dutchie on the left hand side. So players on a team that smoke the wacky weed, put their team at risk of being less good. Some, including me, would call that selfish.
Does it makes sense that one can legally purchase grain alcohol but not marijuana? Do people lose arguments when they are asked to explain why marijuana is illegal? These are questions the Pac-12 blog will not answer because they lead us on tangents away from the football field.
But I will write on leadership. It's more than taking charge of the huddle. It's more than showing infectious poise when the pressure is on. Or popping up with a confident smirk after a hard hit. We've seen all that from Thomas and we surely will see more of it.
But let's imagine a couple of scenarios.
We are in a car with Thomas and safety Eddie Pleasant in 2008. Pleasant decides to race his car with someone. Instead of what actually happened, this happens.
Thomas: Slow down. This is stupid.
Pleasant: Don't be lame!
Thomas: Being lame is us getting arrested and letting our teammates, coaches and fans down. And racing a car on public roads is a stupid thing immature people do. It's low-rent. So cut the crap before I whup you.
Now we are watching Thomas as he's about to get into a car with cornerback Cliff Harris in June.
Thomas: Cliff. Cliff, look at me.
Thomas: Cliff, you do a lot of stupid things. When I am with you, you will not do stupid things. I am not demented enough to think of all the potential stupid things you might do on our drive back to Eugene. But my singular task at this moment in time is to make sure you don't get us in trouble. That means: No speeding. That means: No substances that could get us in trouble will pass within 25 feet of this car.
Thomas: Cliff. Cliff, look at me. I am not asking you. I am not presenting an opinion. I am telling you how this ride will be. Nothing means more to me than beating LSU and making Coach Kelly and the Duck nation proud. I particularly want to do more interviews with the Pac-12 blog.
Harris: Yeah, he's cool!
Thomas: Yes, he is. But focus Cliff. Focus. Do you hear me? Speed limit, no illicit substances. Right?
Harris: Gosh, good idea. I can't wait to pick off Jordan Jefferson.
Thomas: Yes, I can't believe Les Miles thought he would be a great quarterback but saw me as just an athlete. Going make that fool eat grass.
Harris: Yeah! By the way, I just finished "Gravity's Rainbow." You were right. It was Pynchon's densest novel, but very rewarding to a patient read.
Now, if Thomas, however he might have accomplished it, had convinced Harris not to drive 118 mph nor allowed anyone to smoke weed in that car, would Ducks fans be celebrating his leadership?
No, because they wouldn't know about it. This embarrassing story wouldn't exist.
And Oregon's chances of beating LSU and winning a national title would be better.
Nick from San Luis Obispo, Calif., writes: Whats your take on the whole players being paid idea? All the ex coaches were on today saying how its a wonderful idea to give players a cost of living expense of $3,000 to $4,000 depending on the school. They also said that this should only be for sports that bring in the money. (men's football and basketball)My reaction is how is this far? Not all schools can afford to give scholarship athletes extra $ giving the ones who can an unfair advantage in recruiting. Also what about all the other sports? Isn't the whole idea of giving extra money to a athlete is so they can live comfortably? (extra spending money for clothes and other food then the cafe) Why is it that only football and basketball players need extra money?
Ted Miller: I agree with a lot of athletic directors: Scholarships should cover full cost of attendance. And I also believe they should be given to every scholarship athlete. Why? Because you can't do it any other way and still be in compliance with Title IX.
You are correct, though. Most schools outside of AQ conferences would be hard-pressed to pay that added expense. That's an issue.
As for why football and men's basketball players believe they should be paid and other college athletes should not? Well, that reasoning is simple. Football and men's basketball make millions every year. And every other sport runs a deficit, many substantial deficits.
Pat from So. Cal writes: In my effort to get any type of response Teddy I've decided to ask you one question everyday until I make the mailbag. For my SECOND question, on this inaugural day of questioning: do you think the university presidents at the largest, most influential schools, across conferences, will get together at some point and begin the process of detaching themselves from the NCAA??? The system doesn't work and we can all yell until we're red in the face but the simple fact remains, there needs to be some sort of governance going on in college REVENUE PRODUCING SPORTS, and it's clear the NCAA has failed its member institutions and that they aren't the right organization.
Ted Miller: There is an undercurrent of feeling that the big football conferences might break away from the NCAA, particularly when we get further consolidation in "super-conferences," which seems inevitable.
That's one reason the NCAA is talking massive reform. We shall see.
What should the NCAA do? Here are a few ideas:
- Full cost of attendance scholarships.
- Assigning an NCAA staffer -- not a university employee -- to each school to act as a head of compliance. If something happens that doesn't cross his desk, it's a major violation.
- A rule that the NCAA's marketing budget shall not exceed what it spends on enforcement. More investigators with good salaries, fewer "We're the NCAA and we're awesome!" commercials.
- An outside team of legal experts -- unaffiliated with universities -- to man an Infractions Committee.
- A streamlining of rules, eliminating many of the piddly, secondary violations.
- An outline of specific consequences for breaking specific rules.
- An understanding that relying on precedent is critical to fairness (that you can't just randomly, say, hammer USC because you're tired of reading about how dominant it is).
Ben from Salt Lake City writes: Can we think about a possible future for a minute? Let's pretend that Utah somehow goes undefeated this year and wins the BCS National Championship game. Then let's assume that next year, both Utah and TCU go undefeated and play each other in the BCS National Championship game. If that ridiculously crazy scenario were to happen, do you think that the media that clings to the idea that the "week in and week out of Non-AQ's is too weak to get them to the NC Game" would go out the window? Do you think it would validate other top Non-AQ teams that have proven themselves like Boise State or BYU? Or do you think that the 100+ year old bias of college football is protected no matter what happens?
Ted Miller: Are you asking if a pattern is established of non-AQ teams going undefeated and winning national championships, will that win over the media?
That said: This is Boise State's schedule. This is LSU's schedule.
Anyone saying that an unbeaten Boise State team in 2011 should play for the national championship over a once-beaten LSU team would -- and should -- get laughed out of the room.
Let's not give Boise State or TCU a free pass, either. Both programs are outstanding and worthy of elite rankings, but they also both work the angles to manufacture great records. Neither has adopted the old Bobby Bowden at Florida State "anywhere, anytime" scheduling philosophy.
If either said "we'll go anywhere to play and won't insist on a home-and-home series," we'd see them be able to schedule two or three high-quality games with AQ conferences foes every year.
And, I suspect, we'd see fewer undefeated seasons.
By the way, Utah is now a member of the Pac-12 family. It's in the club, drinking single malt in the beach-front penthouse with UCLA Oregon, Stanford and the rest of the gang.
Rob from San Jose writes: I am wondering how I missed your Post-spring Power Rankings. I thought for sure Cal would be ahead of UCLA; Cal beat UCLA in 2010 and it was not close. Cal has a proven defense (even with three good starters gone), but you think UCLA's defense "will arrive". Could you do a pre-season opener power rankings to see what has changed. ASU has had some bad luck with injuries and some schools have had academic ineligibility concerns. Since Cal's Maynard is QB, Sofele and Deboskie-Johnson have established 1-2 at RB; I am wondering where Cal would rank now?
Ted Miller: And UCLA beat Oregon State, which beat Cal 35-7. Those same Beavers also beat USC 36-7 and USC beat Cal 48-14.
So Cal gets crushed by UCLA if you selectively use the transitive property.
I got to watch UCLA practice this spring and came away impressed, at least with the defense. Cal had closed practices, so I didn't get to see the Bears. Further, most of what I read wasn't terribly good about the Bears in the spring -- injuries and poor execution.
You do make a good point: Cal fans should feel better today about quarterback and running back.
Still, I sort of have a hunch about the Bruins -- one that, if they lose at Houston to open the season, I will quickly disavow.
Peter from Salt Lake City writes: A little disappointed in your all pro pac-12 team to see an exclusion of Utes other than Jordan Gross. Steve Smith, Paul Soliai(franchise tag), Sean Smith, Eric Weddle(highest paid safety in the league), and Sione Pouha certainly could have been considered. However, Weddle and Soliai definitely should have been on the list.
Ted Miller: Peter, my honest answer is that I am not as familiar with Utah's past players as I am with the old Pac-10 guys.
Further, as I wrote: "... I racked my brain for exactly 17 minutes and came up with an All-Pac-12 NFL team (Pac-12 fans, I did this quickly, so feel free to chime in your opinions)."
I was being slack and didn't want to spend hours researching the "perfect" guy at every position. But you are correct: Weddle and Soliai would have been good names on the list.
Ben from Centerville, Utah writes: As a lifelong fan of the Utes, I have greatly enjoyed your blog and anticipate reading it from here on out. Question for you: I can't take the suspense. I anticipate that no Utes will make the top 25 list. Is that right? Are there REALLY no Utes in the top 25? I find it difficult to believe.
Ted Miller: No, no player from Utah nor Oregon State made the top-25. From Utah, I considered offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom, quarterback Jordan Wynn and linebacker Chaz Walker.
With 12 teams, a 25-player list is pretty select. My typical reply to a query like this -- and there are lots of them -- is not to ask who from Utah you believe should be on the list but who you would knock off.
And, yes, there probably is some bias against Utah due to playing a Mountain West schedule last season. Wynn's numbers are comparable to Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel, but Tuel put up his numbers against a far tougher schedule (nonconference game with Oklahoma State, too). And the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Tuel is probably a better NFL prospect due to superior arm strength.
Put it this way: Pac-10 defensive freshman of the year Junior Onyeali is not on the list. Two players who had five interceptions last season, safeties Nate Fellner of Washington and John Boyett of Oregon, are not on the list. Colorado guard Ryan Miller, a potential first-round NFL draft pick, is not on the list.
A lot of really good players are not on the list. Just the way one person's opinion worked out.
And, by the way, the list almost certainly will be much different when we re-do it after the season.
Huy Tran from Eugene writes: If you ever compile a list of your favorite "pump-up" videos throughout the Pac-12 this season, please consider ours. I know there's a million out there, but we've worked long and tirelessly and thought you'd might enjoy it (from an unbiased view, of course).
Ted Miller: Does anyone at Oregon not make football videos?
Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction. You can read last year's versions here.
We're going in reverse order of my post-spring power rankings (which might not be identical to my preseason power rankings).
Up next: Colorado
Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz shook his head.
"If Colorado is the worst team in the Pac-12 South, I'd hate to play in the Pac-12 South," said the touted Warriors QB after the Buffaloes sacked him five times and intercepted him twice in a 42-20 victory that ended a 17-game road losing streak.
Says new Buffs coach Jon Embree, "We don't have too much time to feel good about this. We have to go back home and watch film of last year's game with California. That should make us sick."
That 52-7 defeat to the Bears is a major reason many old school Pac-10 fans don't think too much of the Buffs. But after Colorado prevails 24-21 in a highly physical contest, it becomes clear the Buffs have been underestimated.
"Colorado has been underestimated," the Pac-12 Blog insightfully observes.
After whipping Colorado State, the 3-0 Buffs head to Ohio State brimming with confidence, though pundits believe the Buckeyes -- even down a few players -- have too much talent to lose, particularly inside the Horseshoe.
Down 21-17, with two minutes left, QB Tyler Hansen drives the Buffs to the Buckeyes 17-yard line. On third-and-10, he connects in the corner of the endzone with Paul Richardson.
But the officials rule Richardson didn't have possession when his landed. The play is reviewed but not overturned. Ohio State survives.
"What did I think of that call?" Embree asks. The term "pregnant pause" is used in 17 of 23 game stories the following day.
After whipping Washington State to improve to 4-1, the schedule gets tougher. Andrew Luck picks apart the Buffs secondary in a 41-20 loss at Stanford. An overtime win at Washington is followed by consecutive defeats to Oregon and Arizona State.
The Buffs could use a bye, but the schedule says 13 consecutive weeks, none off. Most of the whining, nonetheless, comes from the beat writers, who start to wish hotel room keys still had numbers on them.
The Buffs bounce back and upset USC, which guarantees them bowl eligibility, but lose to Arizona when QB Nick Foles lines up with five receivers and throws for 425 yards and four TDs against a game but overmatched secondary.
Colorado outlasts UCLA in the Rose Bowl when linebacker Jon Major blows up Bruins receiver Taylor Embree, who for a moment appeared to catch a game-winning TD pass.
"He's my son and I love him and I wish that it wasn't him on that play," Embree says, "But I really wanted to win this football game."
The 7-5 Buffaloes head to Utah, which is 7-4, with the apparent stakes being a berth in the Sun Bowl. The game is billed as a rivalry game between the Pac-12's two new members.
"Do you guys see this!" an enraged Embree says to his team during a meeting Monday before the game. He holds a bike above his head that it appears someone has vandalized with cheap, red spray paint.
"This is my 15-year-old daughter's bike. Look what they did to it! It used to be black and gold, our beloved colors. And now it is Utah red! Those, those, Utes... they made her cry!"
The meeting room erupts. "They made coach's daughter cry!" rages 6-foot-8 guard Ryan Miller. "We must crush them, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of their women!"
It will become known as the "Red Bike Incident." Utes fans will alternately revel in it or deny involvement. Years hence, college football historians will lean back and sagely say, "Yep, that was when those Buffs and Utes really started to hate each other. Might be the most vicious rivalry in all of college football."
Colorado prevails 28-27 in a game that features 195 yards in penalties. The Buffs then stomp Clemson in the Sun Bowl and finish 9-5.
Embree's recruiting class ranks 15th in the nation. The Big 12 falls apart. Nebraska finishes last in the Legends Division of the Big Ten.
The snow comes early and often and is most righteous.
A team that can't win on the road and has a highly dubious secondary is not a good thing when you're facing a QB like Hawaii's prolific Bryant Moniz, who throws for four TDs against the Buffaloes.
And so Jon Embree's debut as Colorado's coach becomes an 18th consecutive road defeat, 44-35. Embree isn't happy.
"I'm not happy," Embree says.
The Buffaloes try to rally around the embarrassment of their 52-7 defeat at California last year, but they don't have anyone in the secondary who can cover receiver Keenan Allen, who catches three TD passes in a 38-20 Bears victory.
The Buffs beat state rival Colorado State, but the schedule becomes unforgiving thereafter. It doesn't help that injuries start to pile up.
They get rolled at Ohio State, picked apart by Washington State QB Jeff Tuel and blistered by Stanford QB Andrew Luck. An upset win at Washington ends the road losing streak -- the Huskies are struggling to throw the ball with new QB Keith Price -- and briefly stops the bleeding. At least until Oregon hangs 55 on the Buffs in a game that foregrounds Colorado's lack of team speed.
That becomes the first of four consecutive defeats. Though they win a sloppy game at UCLA, they go down hard at Utah, which captures the South Division crown.
A 3-10 finish is blamed on former coach Dan Hawkins, as are poor early snow accumulation and flu symptoms lots of fans seem to be having. Further, fans no longer burst into song each time Jon Embree's name is mentioned.
"I'm not happy," Embree says. "We need to get faster. We need to get tougher."
Nebraska loses the national championship game to Oklahoma, one of two BCS bowl teams from the nation's best football conference, the Big 12.
"Well, at least we signed the top five prospects from the state of Colorado," Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini says after the game.
Feel free to disagree.
QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
RB LaMichael James, Oregon
RB Chris Polk, Washington
TE David Paulson, Oregon
WR Juron Criner, Arizona
WR Jermaine Kearse, Washington
OL Jonathan Martin, Stanford
OL Matt Kalil, USC
OL David DeCastro, Stanford
OL Ryan Miller, Colorado
OL Tony Bergstrom, Utah
K Erik Folk, Washingon
DE Nick Perry, USC
DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington
DE Junior Onyeali, Arizona State
LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
LB Mychal Kendricks, California
LB Chase Thomas, Stanford
CB Cliff Harris, Oregon
CB Nickell Robey, USC
S T.J. McDonald, USC
S Delano Howell, Stanford
P Bryan Anger, California
PR Cliff Harris, Oregon
KR Robert Woods, USC
- Talking about Arizona's special teams -- was that Juron Criner catching punts? Texas transfer WR Dan Buckner keeps things loose.
- Another day, another injury for Arizona State as LB Oliver Aaron sprains his ankle. Another commitment.
- Previewing California's secondary. A look at five important big-picture issues.
- Colorado coach Jon Embree is pleased with the early practice returns. No regrets for O-lineman Ryan Miller. It's fair to say this guy won't be playing for Colorado again.
- Meet the big man in the middle of Oregon's defensive line. What about the linebackers?
- A healthy James Rodgers would be HUGE for Oregon State. Have the Beavers found a defensive end? Some notes.
- A preview of Stanford's receivers, who are a big question.
- A couple of UCLA newcomers to watch.
- The inside story on why Lane Kiffin's son is named "Knox." Kiffin says the Trojans look bigger, faster and stronger. Some potential good news on D-lineman Armond Armstead.
- Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn knows it's his time to step up. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, linebacker Brian Blechen probably doesn't think this is funny.
- Washington's No. 4 most important player.
- Some notes from a Paul Wulff news conference.
- California is going after unscrupulous agents.
You can see the final post-2010 top 25 here. It doesn't, however, include players from Colorado or Utah.
24. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
2010 numbers: DeCastro, a redshirt junior, has made 26 starts over the past two seasons.
2010 ranking: Unranked.
Making the case for DeCastro: We're going to be honest here, which is sometimes a mistake on the Pac-12 blog: It was DeCastro vs. Colorado guard Ryan Miller for this spot. Miller is rated the No. 2 senior offensive guard in the country by Mel Kiper, while DeCastro is the No. 1 junior. Both are outstanding players, and we tend to be sympathetic to Miller as a senior and the new guy. But DeCastro was the best run blocker on a dominant offensive line last season, and could end up being a first-round NFL draft pick this spring, which is saying something for a guard. DeCastro earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors last season after earning honorable mention as a redshirt freshman. Over those two seasons, DeCastro (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) and the Cardinal line yielded just 13 sacks total, while also leading rushing attacks that averaged 214 and 218 yards per game, respectively. DeCastro has earned preseason All-American notices from a variety of publications and is on the Outland Trophy watch list. If I were making a list, he's the guy you'd least like to have blocking you this fall in that he seems to particularly enjoy finishing his blocks with prejudice.
25. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
As for the Pac-12 prospects on his lists, it appears the conference is stronger among juniors than seniors. Of course, a lot of early-round talents don't last until their senior seasons. And the offensive talent far eclipses the defensive talent.
Here's where Pac-12 seniors rank among his top five seniors by position. (Note the lack of highly rated defensive players.)
No. 3 Nick Foles, Arizona
Kiper comment: "Is Foles more of a physical prototype than a QB?"
No. 4 Juron Criner, Arizona
No. 5 Chris Owusu, Stanford
No. 3 David Paulson, Oregon
No. 4 Coby Fleener, Stanford
No. 2 Ryan Miller, Colorado
Kiper comment: Miller could be the second top-OL guy from Colorado in as many years, following Nate Solder.
No. 4 Garth Gerhart, Arizona State
No. 5 Lance Mitchell, Oregon State
No. 1 Bryan Anger, California
And here's Kiper's take on Pac-12 juniors (and draft eligible sophomores).
No. 1 Andrew Luck, Stanford
No. 2 Matt Barkley, USC
Kiper comment: Amazing that, in terms of eligibility, Luck is still a junior. He'll command the most attention, for sure. Even with a new coach, he will be a front-runner for No. 1 in the 2012 NFL draft from August onward. Barkley has had two solid seasons at USC -- and this while thrown into a pretty tough situation.
No. 3 LaMichael James, Oregon
No. 5 Taimi Tutogi, Arizona
No. 1 Matt Kalil, USC
No. 2 Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Kiper comment: Kalil has been a guy pro scouts have known since he arrived at Southern Cal. He has the bloodlines, the frame and the footwork to be a future left tackle in the NFL. Nobody will be under a bigger spotlight at the position this year than Martin, who protects the blind side of Andrew Luck.
No. 1 David DeCastro, Stanford
Kiper comment: Stanford has a wealth of talent on the offensive line, and the departure of Jim Harbaugh shouldn't diminish what they're able to accomplish. When it comes to the running game, watch DeCastro, who will maul on the interior.
No. 1 Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
Kiper comment: There are some scary hitters on this list, starting with Burfict, who was most productive against ASU's toughest competition last season. The guy was a force, quite literally, the moment he stepped on campus. Imagine if he'd stayed with USC.
No. 2 Chase Thomas, Stanford
No. 2 Cliff Harris, Oregon
No. 4 T.J. McDonald, USC
No. 1 Jeff Locke, UCLA
So there is no Washington in 2000, California in 2004, USC in 2005 or Stanford in 2010. Just about every team has at least some concerns up front.
So how to things stack up? Read on.
Colorado: Sure, tackle Nate Solder is gone, and center Mike Iltis decided to give up football, but three quality starters are back and several others have experience. Ryan Miller and Ethan Adkins might be the best guard tandem in the Pac-12.
Stanford: The Cardinal lost three starters, but the two coming back are first-team All-Pac-10 guys from 2010 and All-American candidates this fall: tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro. The new guys played well this spring. It's possible this line will again be very good, but three new starters is three new starters.
Utah: The Utes welcome back three starters, including both tackles, from a line that was solid in 2010. Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen will be one of the better tackle combinations in the conference, and Tevita Stevens, who played guard last year, provides experience at center.
California: The Bears were uncharacteristically mediocre last year, but they probably weren't as bad as some think, seeing that they didn't have a passing threat to keep defenses honest after QB Kevin Riley got hurt. Three starters are back -- tackle Mitchell Schwartz was second-team All-Pac-10 last year -- and a number of other players have experience.
Oregon: While the Ducks officially lost three starters, tackle Darrion Weems started enough games in 2010 to count as a returning starter. Tackle Mark Asper and guard Carson York are solid, but there are questions after that. The line struggled this spring -- perhaps the D-line is just good? -- and former walkon Ramsen Golpashin was able to hold onto a starting spot. It's nice when a walk-on does well but it does cast the scholarship players in a questionable light.
Washington: Three starters are back and there's optimism the Huskies struggling line is ready to take a step forward. The run blocking was much better over the second half of the season. Still, none of the three returning starters even earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors in 2010.
Oregon State: Four starters are back but that might not be good news considering how mediocre-to-bad the line play was in 2010. Still, the Beavers have, traditionally, found a way to get it done up front. Perhaps 2010 was just a blip.
UCLA: If healthy, the Bruins could be solid on the O-line, but that's a big if. The unit struggled during spring practices due to injuries, which exposed a lack of depth. It's uncertain when tackle Jeff Baca will be back from a broken ankle and he may be the Bruins best lineman. Center Kai Maiava and guard/tackle Sean Sheller are expected to be OK in the fall, but will they stay that way?
Washington State: The Cougars welcome back three starters and should be better in 2011 due to young players getting experience last fall. But you have to wait-and-see with a unit that gave up 51 sacks a year ago.
USC: The Trojans lost three starters from a line that mostly underachieved in 2010. They have two good starters back -- tackle Matt Kalil and guard Khaled Holmes -- but things are wide-open after that. And the struggles this spring, due in large part to injuries, revealed a worrisome lack of depth.
Arizona: There was plenty of optimism in Tucson that the Wildcats will be fine on the O-line, that losing five starters from a unit that underachieved isn't that big of a deal. But replacing five starters means a team has no idea what things will look like when the lights come on for real. So we'll see.