Pac-12 Football Media Day: Andrew Luck Believes 2011 Will Be Final College Season

The Pac-12 is wide open in the 2011 college football season. Can anyone supplant Oregon and Stanford as the cream of the crop? Can Cal recover from its first losing season in nearly a decade?

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Andrew Luck Confirms 2011 Likely His Final Season At Pac-12 Media Day

NFL Draft nuts can start getting giddy over April 2012, because it looks like Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck will be there at number one. Luck confirmed to the media at Pac-12 Media Day that 2011 will likely be his final season in Palo Alto, and he'll probably be taking his talents to the next level.

Luck had stated that the reason he came back to Stanford is because he wanted to complete his degree in Architectural Design. Luck is on track to finish his degree this season since this is his fourth year on the Farm (he redshirted in 2008), so everything looks good to go.  Luck could have a monstrous season, and certainly as the weeks past and the hopes of certain NFL teams begin to fade, you'd have to wonder if tanking will start occurring.

For more on the NFL Draft, head to Mocking the Draft. For more on Stanford football, head to Rule of Tree.


Oregon Ducks Cornerback Cliff Harris Suspended Indefinitely, Will Not Play Against LSU

Oregon punt returner Cliff Harris has had a pretty rough weekend, and it just got rougher. Matt Prehm of Duck Territory reports that Harris will be suspended indefinitely, which means he will miss the much-anticipated season opener against the LSU Tigers

Harris might have gotten off a little easier if this was his first offense. But Harris is a repeat traffic offender, was driving with a suspended license in a rented vehicle purchased by an Oregon employee, skipped a court hearing today, and has over $8500 in traffic fines piled up. The whole situation reeked, and it was inevitable the Ducks would have to come down and punish him.

That doesn't mean Harris won't play next season. LeGarrette Blount was also suspended indefinitely in 2009 after the famous Falcon Punch in Boise, but he was allowed to return at the end of the season and played a critical role in Oregon's victory over Oregon State in the Civil War. Chip Kelly has proven to be a rather forceful arbiter, but he has shown he can be merciful too. If the Ducks need him, expect the gifted corner/returner to be back for the big games in November.

Is Harris's punishment appropriate? How badly would you have punished Cliff Harris if you were in charge in Oregon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

For reaction from Oregon fans, Addicted to Quack is the place to go.


Cliff Harris Debate: Should He Be Suspended Or Kicked Off Oregon Ducks Football Team?

Another day, another arrest at Chip Kelly's peaceful Eugene abode. The Oregon Ducks are constantly trying to battle a perception problem that they are a team of character and commitment, yet every month of every offseason it feels like another Oregon player seems to find himself in some sort of trouble with the law.  

The issue with Oregon cornerback/punt returner Cliff Harris is pretty much a confluence of nightmares for Kelly. All the red flags are up on this one, as John Taylor of College Football Talk reports.

  • Driving at 118 mph, nearly double the speed limit.
  • Driving with two Oregon Duck football teammates in the car.
  • Driving with a suspended driver's license. 
  • Driving a rental car paid for by an Oregon employee (WARNING. WARNING. WARNING.)

However, while Kelly has been fairly consistent in punishing those who've misbehaved at Oregon, at some point it has to be an institutional issue that the Oregon football program has been hemorrhaging misdemeanors of all sorts the past few years. Kelly might be showing no mercy to players who have run afoul of the law, but it's an eyebrow-raiser that he manages to attract so many players who provide negative offseason fodder in the national headlines. 

If these reports are true, what should Harris's punishment be: Suspension, dismissal or probation? What will be the fate of Oregon football?

For more discussion of the Ducks, check out Addicted to Quack.


Pac-12 Bowl Lineup: New Mexico Bowl Seventh In Line vs. MWC Team

The New Mexico Bowl has long been considered the most glamorous of all the non-BCS bowl games. With a spirited game of Family Feud, a trip to the prized city casino, and a much anticipated chili contest at stake, it's the place where all college football players aspire to be in late December. 

And now, Larry Scott has received the prize of a lifetime--Albuquerque! Forget the new TV contract with ESPN and Fox, this could be the biggest news to date for the Pac-12, which will have their seventh bowl tie-in. It will follow the Rose, Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowls in relative importance. The New Mexico Bowl will definitely ensure that at least seven Pac-12 bowl eligible teams will be playing in the postseason in 2011.

Currently, the New Mexico Bowl will pit a Pac-12 team against a Mountain West squad, which will make it similar in structure to what the Pointsettia Bowl has been in previous seasons. It'll be the first bowl of the 2011-12 college football season, contested on December 17th at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT on ESPN, a pretty early time for a Pac-12 contest. But hey, that's the price you pay for coveting the fabled lands of Albuquerque. 

Is the New Mexico Bowl the right tie-in for the Pac-12? Let us know in the comments.


Pac-12 TV Schedule 2011: Stanford Cardinal Four ESPN/ABC Games, California Golden Bears Three

Although the defending Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks are likely to be the main attraction of the conference next year, Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal are ready to make their bid for the top as well. Luck will have plenty of chances to showcase it on national TV, with at least four games on the Worldwide Leader. Here's the info courtesy of Ted Miller, and you can view all the games so far released by clicking on the link.

Sept. 17 Stanford at Arizona, 7:45 pm PT/10:45 pm ET, ESPN 

Oct. 22 Washington at Stanford 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET ABC or ESPN or ESPN2 

Oct. 29 Stanford at USC 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET ABC 

Nov. 26 Notre Dame at Stanford 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET ABC or ESPN or ESPN2

The Stanford-Oregon game has yet to be picked up, but it could very well get slotted if the game has significant meaning.

As for the California Golden Bears, they'll get some undesirable slots with ESPN, all of them being weekday games: Thursday Night Football on two consecutive weeks in October, one on the road in Oregon and one at home versus USC. Then they'll play a Black Friday game after Thanksgiving in Tempe against Arizona State. Not the most enviable slots drawn up for the Bears.

For more reaction from Stanford fans, check out Rule of Tree. For more reaction from Cal fans, head to California Golden Blogs.


2011 Pac-12 Football Championship Game Moved To Friday, December 2nd In Primetime

The new and unprecedented Pac-12 football contract stipulates that all conference championship games will be played on Friday nights, either on FOX (in even years) or an ESPN network (odd years). And they're going to get moving with that plan this year as well. Dan Bell, vice president of communications at Fox Sports, tweeted that this year's Pac-12 title game will also be moved to Friday night, December 2.

Originally, only the MAC Championship game by ESPN was broadcast on Friday nights, as the big conferences (SEC, Big 12, ACC) took up all the big games on Saturday. Larry Scott's decision to switch things up to Friday night is an interesting, but sensible move. The Big Ten (on FOX) and ACC (on ESPN) will have the Saturday night market cornered, and the SEC (on CBS) will have the Saturday afternoon market swallowed up. Picking Friday night gives the Pac-12 its own market to dominate.

All in all, it looks like a shrewd move by Commissioner Larry Scott, unless the ratings bottom out. Considering the demand for college football these days though, that's looking unlikely. It's a good time to fight for the Roses.

What are your thoughts of future Pac-12 football title games on Friday nights?


Pac-12 TV Network Will Have Featured College Football Games (Rivalries?), Broadcast Games Not On FOX/ESPN

Despite all the drastic changes in terms of national exposure for the contracts by both ESPN/ABC (click here for details) and FOX/FX (click here for details), the overall number of games that will be distributed on both of these networks didn't change (44 to 44). Considering there are at least 54 conference games and 36 non-conference games, that means we still have 46 games unaccounted for. Where are the rest of the games going?

The Pac-12 television network, silly. It's clear that the creation of any TV network would have necessitated some of the college football games be shown on their channels, because otherwise it would've been difficult for the network to make any sort of sustainable profit.  The network has also stated they will be showing some big-time matchups, meaning that we could see a lot of ranked Pac-12 teams end up here in national telecasts (likely in the 5 PM PT/8 PM ET window). This will ensure higher demand for the conference network and ensure more cable subscribers put the Pac-12 Network into their TV lineups.

Although it's not stated explicitly, it's very likely the Pac-12 network will use that to retain access of some (if not all) of the rivalry games, the conference's mainstay rating draws. While while not every alum will care about college football on a week-by-week basis, Cal-Stanford, USC-UCLA, Arizona-ASU, Oregon-Oregon State and Washington-Washington State are all guaranteed to be huge hits year-in, year-out. So it would make sense if the Pac-12 TV Network put at least a few of those matchups on its network.

So don't be surprised if you see The Big Game, Civil War, Apple Cup, Duel In The Desert, and the Victory Bell all be contested on various weeks in November.


Pac-12 Football On FOX: Even Year Championship Games, Four Primetime Games, More On FX, No More On Fox Sports Net

Although ESPN's new deal with the Pac-12 will draw the lion's share of attention, the restructuring of Fox's deal with the conference is also quite extraordinary. You wouldn't think it'd be much different, right?

Oh, it's different. Much, much different. More details available here. (HT mattsarz)

  • Eight national telecasts on FOX, four on primetime. It remains to be seen where they're located, but these will probably become the showcase games for Pac-12 football, much like the CBS games are for the SEC.
  • No more Pac-12 football games on Fox Sports Net. There have been longstanding gripes with the way FSN covers the conference nationally, and it seems Commissioner Scott recognized the utility of those criticisms. One more year of dealing with 30 percent of conference games mired to regional telecasts, and we can move on.
  • Instead, the bulk of Pac-12 football games on the Fox contract will now end up on FX (14 games in all), likely in afternoon slots, replacing the archaic ABC regional broadcasts. This is a big win for everyone. FX gets a huge sports franchise, meaning they can upgrade their subscriber fees. The Pac-12 gets a well-recognized cable network to pick up their main sport. And Pac-12 games can be viewed on cable for a national audience.
  • ESPN has rights to the odd years of the conference title game, thus FOX gets the even years (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022). FOX already has rights to the original Pac-12 championship game in 2011. All these games will be on Friday night on national television.

Pac-12 football fans, what are your thoughts on the FOX/FX part of the deal? Let us know in the comments!


Pac-12 Football On ESPN: Conference Championship On Odd Years, Thursday/Friday Night Games, Late Starts

The big deal regarding the new Pac-12 football deal (running from 2012 to 2023) involves the return of ESPN as a major player in West Coast college sports. Many fans on the West Coast have griped about the lack of good access to their TV networks with Fox Sports as the primary distributor. That'll no longer be a problem with ESPN providing many national telecasts of their conference's games.

Here are the important details, courtesy of ESPN Media Zone.

  • 24 football games will be televised on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, & ESPNU, i.e. the ESPN Family of Networks.
  • The Pac-12 Football Conference Championship Game will be broadcast on an ESPN network channel in odd years (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2023). The game will be on a Friday night.
  • ABC will have two games, most likely on Saturday Night Football. This means the likely death of the Pac-12 afternoon regional game on ABC, which was generally only broadcasted to West Coast audiences.
  • The Pac-12 will have eight Thursday/Friday night games, putting them right with the ACC, Big East and Big 12 for having their own exclusive nationally televised slots on weekday nights.
  • ESPN/ESPN2 will carry additional Pac-12 football games, most likely in the late 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT slot.
  • The rest of the games will be televised on the FOX networks (click here for details) and the Pac-12 TV network (click here for details).

All in all, not a bad haul. Lots of nationally televised games, plus a lot more access to the online ESPN3 service that distributes games digitally (depending on your cable subscriber) and ESPN mobile that should broadcast games to your cell phone. This is quite a forward-thinking TV contract.

Pac-12 fans, what's your reaction to the new TV contract on ESPN. Do you love it? Like it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments!


Stanford Cardinal Football Will Play Northwestern Wildcats Four Games In 2019-2022

Makes sense that the two big private schools with rich academic traditions in the Rose Bowl conferences would team up for a few college football games in the near future. The Stanford Cardinal and the Northwestern Wildcats will be playing each other a few times, starting about eight years from now, John Taylor of College Football Talk reports. Here are the future dates of each game.

Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois: Sept. 14, 2019
Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California: Sept. 19, 2020
Evanston: Sept. 18, 2021
Palo Alto: Sept. 17, 2022

This will not be the first time Northwestern will play games against a Bay Area team in the near future. In fact, the California Golden Bears will be starting a two game series with Northwestern in 2013-2014, playing a home game in Memorial Stadium in 2013 and heading over to Ryan Field the subsequent year.

For more discussion of this series, head over to Sippin on Purple (Northwestern's SB Nation site) and Rule of Tree (Stanford's SB Nation site).


Oregon Ducks Backup Quarterback Dustin Haines Arrested, Suspended From Team

Darron Thomas is the starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks next year, make no mistake about it. But let's face it, no one in Oregon's offense, particularly at the quarterback position, is ever immune from injury. They run the ball a lot, exposing them to low hits from feisty linebackers/defensive linemen and high hits from defensive backs. The possibility of injury is that much greater with so many additional tackles on the quarterback.

Which is why this news of one of Thomas's competitors messing up this past weekend is all the more pertinent. Ken Goe of OregonLive reports.

Haines after he was arrested and charged with resisting arrest early Saturday morning by Eugene police responding to reports of a loud party.

"Yeah, he's suspended until we figure out what's going on,'' coach Chip Kelly said after Monday's practice.

Police say Haines became hostile and scuffled with officers. He was charged with with excessive noise, interfering with a police officer and resisting arrest.

Now, I don't really know how good Haines is (he isn't really ranked that highly by any of the recruiting services), but it's clear he can run the football from this highlight reel, and that's winning half the battle right there for being an Oregon quarterback.

Dustin Haines Highlight QB 09 (via stieg18)

Entering Chip Kelly's doghouse probably means if Thomas ever get injured, the responsibility falls to Bryan Bennett to lead Oregon on the field. Bennett is a highly respected quarterback, but is he ready to handle the high-octane Duck attack in case that moment arrives?

For more fan reaction from Oregon fans on the Haines suspension, head to Addicted to Quack.


ASU Nike Football Jerseys Include Alternate Black Uniforms, Pitchfork Helmets

The Washington St. Cougars had an understated look to their new dubs. The Arizona St. Sun Devils decided to go the other way with their new Nike look. Lots and lots of flash here, which seems like the right way to go for the very flashy environment of Tempe.

Here's what the new black uniforms look like.


That's some desert terror right there. Considering the Sun Devils arguably had the worst uniforms in the Pac-10 before this upgrade, so I'm more inclined to say this is a step in the right direction.

Also, check out the pitchfork helmet. Compared to the Disney devil that danced on the old Sun Devil hat, this is a drastic improvement because of the total sickness. It looks like there's some influence from the San Diego Chargers thunderbolt, which is one of the coolest helmets in football. For those who had affection for Sparky, he's still on the helmet. He's just placed on the back.

And we thought there was no way to make Vontaze Burfict scarier to face on the field. Silly us.

For more reaction from Sun Devil fans, check out our ASU blog, House of Sparky. For more photos, head over to ASU Athletics and their Facebook photo album, which features candid shots of Sun Devil athletes sporting the new apparel.

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