Tuesday, June 3, 2014
How to make the Pac-12 better
By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com columnists Gene Wojciechowski, Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach provided you guys with 30 things -- 10 apiece -- that they'd like to change about college football.
They had some good ideas. They also gave us an idea: What are some things we'd like to change about the Pac-12?
Chantel Jennings, Kyle Bonagura and Ted Miller chime in with their thoughts.
Alabama meets Oregon … finally: For the last few years everyone has wanted to see the Tide and the Ducks clash. The BCS era never brought it, so how fitting would it be to see a national title game (or at least a semifinal) featuring these two teams? C’mon, let’s settle a few scores in the inaugural College Football Playoff -- SEC vs. Pac-12, Nick Saban vs. Mark Helfrich. There are going to be complaints about the new system, but if it matches up Alabama and Oregon, it’ll have already done something the BCS was never able to do.
A Mike Leach weekly column: He’s certainly one of the most interesting quotes in all of college sports. He’ll give dating advice (someplace casual for dinner to begin, then maybe a drive-in movie theater) or discuss the difference between jeans and slacks at the drop of a hat. But, personally, I’d like to see more Leach-isms. I want a Dear Abby-esque Leach column: Dear Leach, I’m trying to decorate my house and can’t decide the best feng shui. … Dear Leach, I want to propose to my girlfriend but can’t decide how. … Dear Leach, What should I name my child? The possibilities here are endless. It’s not necessarily college-football specific, but I can’t be the only one who thinks this would make the season even more enjoyable.
No more lame nonconference games: I’m new to the Pac-12 and I deeply respect its ability to create tough conference schedules -- nine league games, I see you. But, what I don’t want to see is South Dakota-Oregon, Memphis-UCLA, Weber State-Arizona State or Portland State-Oregon State. Yes, I understand why these games exist, and trust me, it’s a big upgrade from the Big Ten (I’ve already recounted my first college football game as a student, Appalachian State-Michigan). But the football season only gives us 12 regular-season games. Is it too much to ask for all 12 to be great? Is it too much to ask for all of these games to be ones that we want to breakdown and analyze 10 months in advance? We talk about this sport year-round -- give us 12 games worth discussing.
Revamp the postseason awards: As things sit, the Pac-12 officially gives out the following postseason accolades: Offensive Player of the Year, Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, the Morris Trophy (voted on by offensive and defensive linemen) and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. That’s fine and good, but it’s straightforward and kind of boring. I’d favor an add-on by adopting the Big Ten’s model which names 10 players of the year at different positions -- all of whom are named after two former conference greats. Does this affect anything? Not even a little. But it’s a nice way to honor players of the past and present at the same time.
Address the officiating: One of the most common hashtags on Twitter during Saturdays in the fall is #Pac12refs. And it’s not for complimentary reasons. At its worst, it can imply complete ineptitude. More commonly, it’s the result of a blown call. Missed an obvious face mask penalty? #Pac12refs. Play clock didn’t reset? #Pac12refs. I haven't seen anything tangible that backs up the perception that the conference is officiated worse than the others, but if there is a way the conference can restore faith in its officials, that needs to happen.
Allow alcohol sales in stadiums: I understand the premise of promoting a better atmosphere by keeping alcohol out of games, but is it really going to cause an unmanageable wave of problems if $9 beers are sold inside the gates? If someone of age wants to have a couple beers during a football game, they should have that choice to make. As it is, some fans choose to drink heavier before the game -- knowing they can’t once they’re inside. Others plan accordingly -- stay after a game to see all the empty, smuggled-in bottles of alcohol that are left behind. This will happen eventually. It makes too much sense.
Standardize media access: There needs to be a standardized way programs and professional media come together, and we're not talking about giving special access to reporters on the athletic department payroll. This actually is a not all that difficult to solve in a way that still allows coaches their coveted game-week secrecy. Spring and preseason practices should be opened to credentialed reporters. If a team wants to close access to fans, that's its call. When the season begins, game-week practices are closed after the first 20 minutes. As for injury information, the Pac-12 office should publish on Thursday afternoon an official report that conforms to the NFL standard. And if coaches outrageously fudge on it, they should get fined.
Get -- cough, cough -- "expenses" under control: Jon Wilner does a good job of breaking down Pac-12 revenues here. What he also gently touches on is Pac-12 expenses: $106 million. That, folks, is outrageous bloat. I've got a crisp $100 bill (it’s actually a 10-spot, but I'm trying to be in Pac-12 character) that says an itemized list of expenses would be embarrassing to the conference, particularly in this age of "student-athletes" wondering about their meager slice of the money pie. While the Larry Scott administration has done a great job making money, it has done a questionable job spending it. Pac-12 administration isn't supposed to be ritzy. It's supposed to be entirely about making and then funneling money back to the institutions it represents.