Anu Solomon (Arizona), Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA), Juju Smith-Schuster (USC)
The optics surrounding programs in the South are much different than those in the North. USC – the Pac-12’s most historically successful program, one that should theoretically be a playoff contender – has been a dysfunctional mess in the post-Pete Carroll era: sanctions and the hilariously ill-fated Lane Kiffin hire set the Trojans back and their former AD Pat Haden handled the Steve Sarkisian situation very badly. Now Clay Helton, a pretty uninspiring promotion from within the Carroll tree, is the head coach, handpicked by Haden. Their crosstown rivals have things better, as Jim Mora has gone 37-16 in four years at UCLA, but an 8-5 result last season is cause for some concern (though there were plenty of injuries, to be fair), as is the Bruins’ slide down the division standings year-over-year. Those two programs are the most well-equipped for success in the Pac-12 South due to natural advantages, but the odds of playoff contention seem remote.
Each of the other four programs in the division have their own questions – though Utah is definitely in a better place than the other three. Both Arizona schools regressed mightily last season: U of A followed up a New Year’s Six appearance with a 3-6 conference record in 2015 (and Rich Rodriguez had to fire DC Jeff Casteel after the season), ASU had two ten-win seasons in ‘13 and ‘14 before winning six games last season – and Todd Graham’s synonymous for fleeing programs for better jobs at the earliest available opportunity, though he’s now entering his fifth year at Arizona State. Colorado has been wandering in the wilderness since joining the Pac-12 and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Kyle Wittingham has been at Utah for over a decade and once went undefeated in the Mountain West – two consecutive losing seasons put him on the hot seat, but 9-4 in ‘14 and a 10-3 showing in ‘15 (including a bowl win over much-hated BYU) has him safe again.
Of the six teams in the Pac-12 South, Utah’s the only one who’s on an upward trajectory entering 2016 and they have to replace very productive starting quarterbacks and running backs. UCLA’s a strong candidate for a rebound and USC always has plenty of talent. Still, the South looks to be the worse of the two divisions in the Pac-12, one without an obvious frontrunner or a team that stacks up well for a playoff run.
[After the JUMP, team previews]
Great article from ElevenWarriors about the long-term powerhouses Delany and Scott are creating while we mere mortals get all whiney about the playoff scenarios...
Thx to user mgm 05 who doesn't have the points but posted this in another thread.
So prepare for a Michigan vs. Oregon weekend festival in Ann Arbor or Eugene with their field hockey, soccer and women's volleyball teams playing each other, culminating on Saturday at the Big House or Autzen Stadium when the helmets meet in the main event. Similar festivities will also happen in Columbus, Los Angeles, Bloomington, Tempe, Minneapolis and the Bay Area.
Football is and was the breadwinner for athletic departments; it's the black line on the balance sheet that cancels out the slew of red lines beneath it. Under this agreement it becomes the yeoman for larger attractions and more consumers while creating efficiencies in everything from transportation costs to promotional activities.
And it will happen with everyone watching on the two most profitable and extensive college networks in the country.
EDIT: Just saw that Brian linked to this article at the bottom of today's UV. His comment:
Can we stop giving credit to Jim Delany's amazing foresight when the conference he's piloting has won two national titles in fifty years?
My feeling is that this article puts some perspective on what the reasoning might be for both Delany's recent comments and how the B1G/Pac12 alliance ultimately benefits. Whether you agree with Delany or not, there's a lot of substance here. Also, yes, our conference should be winning more than 2 national titles in 50 years...
BREAKING: Pac-12 and Big Ten enter scheduling agreement. All 12 teams playing an inter-league football game starting 2017.
More information sure to be forthcoming but this has been picked up by a lot of people and could very well be the big news expected today.
Personally I think this is a great move for both conferences to get some high-profile home/away games going in a B1G-ACC Challenge type format.
Edit: Link for more info. Big items:
- Cross-Promoting each other's stuff on the conference tv networks
- Football not the only sport to be involved
- May keep B1G at 8-game conference schedule, per Delany
As was posted on the board below, the Big Ten removed Joe Paterno's name from the Big Ten championship trophy today.
In other league championship trophy news, the Pac-12 continued to be the Pac-12 and got all abstract and futuristic with their new trophy. Fortunately for fans of yonic symbols and sculpture, the artist took inspiration from the object that inspires men to race cars, build bridges, fight wars:
I wish I were an artist so I could make profound and deep statements about my sculpture when inside I know I just made the same thing a 15-year old boy would make if commissioned to design the trophy.
Tell me that football isn't suspiciously placed. Larry Scott even took marketing to the next level by branding the bean. Have you no shame, Larry?