Any estimates on the timeline when fans of Pac-12 schools will be able to notice any benefits from what commissioner George Kliavkoff is doing differently than Larry Scott did? — @LurkReadRepeat
A worthy question that requires a layered response.
* Much of his work since July has focused on positioning the Pac-12 for two momentous outcomes in the next 12-18 months, the media rights negotiations and CFP expansion.
* There have been some public developments, from the creation of the alliance (with the ACC and Big Ten) to the formation of the Football Alumni Council, that have more immediate strategic benefits.
* Only one decision thus far carries significant short-term economic implications for the schools: Shuttering the conference office, moving to a fully remote-work environment and finding a cheap location for content production — all of which could add at least $500,000 in revenue for each campus annually. Because of the lease in San Francisco, the windfall won’t come until the 2024 fiscal year.
I’d argue that Kliavkoff assuming command of the Pac-12 is comparable to a coach taking over a struggling football program, where the players weren’t buying in and a poor locker room environment stifled progress.
In that case, the new coach’s first task is always to fix the internal culture: Build trust and accountability, improve collaboration and communication, make the players feel valued.
Those moves aren’t visible to the fans or tracked with a scoreboard, but they mean everything to success.
Love the leadership from Kliavkoff, especially moving the conference office to remote and getting more money back on campus. Is there a way he and the athletic directors can work to lessen the influence of school leaders who have been detrimental to the conference (UCLA’s Gene Block, ASU’s Michael Crow, etc.)? — @ChipsBurner2009
Block and Crow have undermined the conference in equal amounts but by very different means — the former with his indifference, the latter with his meddling. (Crow was Larry Scott’s staunchest supporter and enabled the leadership style that marginalized the athletic directors for years.)
But the presidents and chancellors run the show — that hasn’t changed with Kliavkoff’s appointment.
In fact, the only way for him to steer the ship into prosperous waters is to work with the presidents, build their trust and convince them of the proper course.
Block and Crow are the only presidents/chancellors remaining from the board that hired and initially supported Scott. Most members of the current group arrived once things had taken a turn for the worse and have good relations with their athletic directors, who are working closely with Kliavkoff on the path forward.
If the presidents trust their internal (ADs) and external (commissioner) advisors, and those advisors are of like minds, it’s possible the Pac-12 will take the necessary steps to strengthen the conference.
That said, your skepticism is understandable.
Are there currently any ideas being floated on how to solve the transfer portal problem? Why not pay each player and lock them into a contract? Is that a viable solution? — @TerryTerry79
Turning players into contract employees might be the future of college sports, but the NCAA won’t do it until the court system, state legislatures or Congress leaves no choice.
The transfer portal is fundamentally a good thing, but it needs guardrails — specifically with the timing. Making it available 24/7/365 doesn’t serve anyone’s best interest.
Just as the NFL, NBA and MLB have periods of free agency, so should the portal be open during predetermined windows.
Our vote would be a six-week stretch in December-January and then another in April-May.
Does the last guy out at Arizona State turn off the lights or leave them on? Serious question, though: How soon does coach Herm Edwards retire/get fired, and does athletic director Ray Anderson hire the next guy? — @DSvelund
Why are Ray Anderson and Herm Edwards still employed? — @CoachEvanB
Because university president Michael Crow wants them employed.
He’s the boss and apparently believes the best course for the Sun Devils is to allow Anderson and Edwards to remain in their posts.
And at this point, it makes sense: The school would have a difficult time finding a capable replacement for Edwards given the calendar (four months until kickoff) and the uncertainty caused by the NCAA investigation.
The same goes for Anderson. Many qualified athletic directors would want to know the severity of the sanctions before setting foot in Tempe. And they would want a free hand to dismiss Edwards.
From an administrative standpoint, the Sun Devils arguably are best off hunkering down with Anderson and Edwards — at least until they see the Notice of Allegations from the NCAA. If the NOA includes Level I charges, the university couldn’t justify keeping Edwards (try as it might).
And if Edwards goes, it makes sense that Anderson would leave, too. This whole mess is his doing, after all. Allowing him to hire Edwards’ replacement seems like a stretch, even for Crow.
Which school in the Pac-12 has had the best offseason? It doesn’t have to be Oregon and their staff/recruiting or USC landing Lincoln Riley. Which school has put themselves in the best situation to improve from years past? — @321tb123
It doesn’t have to be USC, but it is.
The upgrade from Clay Helton to Riley, which led to USC landing quarterback Caleb Williams, was unquestionably the most significant development of the offseason and arguably the most impactful hire in the Pac-12 in decades.
If we remove USC from the discussion, then our offseason winners would be …
— Utah, because Kyle Whittingham didn’t retire.
— Arizona, because of the addition of Jayden de Laura and the ongoing mess at Arizona State.
— Cal, because Justin Wilcox didn’t leave for Washington or Oregon.
— UCLA, because Dorian Thompson-Robinson decided to return.
— Washington, because 2022 can’t be worse than 2021.
Now, to be clear: I’m not suggesting the six schools not mentioned were offseason losers — in fact, most fall into the neutral category.
The only two teams in markedly worse shape are Arizona State (obviously) and Colorado, because of the personnel losses via the transfer portal.
How much longer do Washington fans have to suffer through the reign of athletic director Jen Cohen? — @zsmitty16
Many UW fans are unhappy with the state of affairs, and understandably so. It wasn’t long ago that Cohen was being hailed as a genius by many of the same folks who are now critical — such is the nature of being a fan, and being an athletic director.
Our view of Cohen’s situation is best broken into three components:
— Mike Hopkins looked like a brilliant hire for two years, a terrible hire for two years and a so-so hire for one year. And that’s hardly unusual for coaches at non-powerhouse programs.
Next season will serve as judge and jury. If the Huskies struggle, Hopkins probably gets fired and criticism of the hire would be justified.
— On the football front, I’ll ask the same question that was posed in this space late last season: What choice did Cohen have when Chris Petersen resigned, other than to promote Jimmy Lake?
Lake was one of the most coveted assistants in the country and the obvious heir. Had UW passed on him, the backlash would have been immense, particularly from those in the Seattle and UW communities who value diversity.
Name me 25 of the best athletic directors in the country, and all 25 would have promoted Lake under the same circumstances. (Their presidents would have demanded it.)
That said, if Kalen DeBoer doesn’t work, that’s entirely on Cohen.
— Lastly, I’d argue that no Power Five athletic director can thrive without strong support from university leadership.
The president/chancellor must understand and appreciate the return-on-investment calculation — the value to the entire campus that flows from successful football.
The Huskies won’t compete for titles on a regular basis without an institutional commitment to winning. And these days, with so many changes to the economic model underpinning college sports, that commitment can be more difficult to justify.
As for Cohen’s future on Montlake, we have no reason to believe she and president Ana Mari Cauce aren’t on the same page.
Our guess: Cohen steps down when she’s ready to step down and not a day before.
I grew up going to Parker Stadium at Oregon State. How much of a disadvantage will it be this season with only half of the seating available (due to the remodel of Reser Stadium)? — @A_C_Taylor
My guess is the construction has a modest, not substantial impact on OSU’s performance — it’s not like the Beavers regularly played in front of a packed house of 60,000.
OSU’s primary advantages come from the comforts of playing at home (true of every team) and the conditions, especially late in the season against warm-weather opponents. Neither of those pieces will change during the remodel.
The Beavers were 6-0 at home last season because they played well in Reser, not because of Reser.
The next step for the program is to carry that focus and execution on the road to avoid repeating the performances we witnessed in Berkeley and Boulder.
What’s the best-case scenario for Colorado football this year? I’m trying to find six wins, and I can’t. Follow-up question: Should I find a new hobby? — @henryhuidekoper
Nah, this one will do. What’s better than gaming out scenarios for your favorite team four months in advance?
But I agree that it’s difficult to locate six wins, and there are two reasons for that:
1. The non-conference schedule has no cupcakes. The Buffaloes play TCU at home and Minnesota and Air Force on the road. Best case, they’re 2-1. More likely, 1-2. And if you’re 1-2 outside of league play, then five conference wins are required to become bowl-eligible.
2. The roster has numerous questions, starting with the quarterback play, of course, and extending to every facet of the offense and most positions on defense.
The Buffaloes were 4-8 last year and lost many of their best players, so the challenge for Karl Dorrell in Year Three — and for his new offensive coordinator, Mike Sanford — is substantial.
We think the Buffs would do well to win four games.
Which teams are benefitting the most from kids picked up in the transfer portal? — @jckevin
Great question. We’re planning a deep dive into the portal comings and goings early next week.
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