Time to knock out a few more. …
Q: I know you hate the expansion deal, but for some of us, this is the only hope that UW could ever play for a national championship ever again. Winning the Pac-10 wasn’t enough for UCLA in 1998, UW in 2000, Oregon in 2001, or USC in 2003, 2006, or 2007. And it probably won’t ever be enough now that Colorado/Utah are the only new members. But my question is this: If the Big 12 TV rights are going to be so lucrative and renegotiated behind closed doors with all the other people who are out to screw the Pac-10, then what is the new Pac-10 deal going to be worth? If Iowa State and Missouri and them stand to make $14-17M/team, why is the new Pac-10 deal only going to be worth $10M/team? Per conference, the Big 12 is still worth more? How is this possible? Why doesn’t anyone want the Pac-10 on its network?
A: First off, a lot of assumptions there. For starters, I don’t really “hate” expansion. I just always felt that for the average fan — which is all I consider myself — I’m not sure there’s all that much great about it. I understand completely why the ADs want to do it — all that money. But as a fan, I think I’d rather they just stayed put (though I also think the expansion issue is far from done and the Pac-12 may be a pretty temporary way station en route to the mega conference idea that was at the heart of much of this to begin with, so if you hate this new alignment, just wait a few years.)
As for Pac-10 teams not having a chance to win a national title, not sure having to now play a conference title game improves the odds any. USC was a play away from winning at least a share of three straight national titles just a few years ago. It can obviously be done.
As for the money, I think Pac-10 schools will get in the $15-17 million range — those are the numbers I consistely hear — so I think the Pac-10 deal will be competitive with the others. There are plenty of networks that want the Pac-10 — right now it’s all over FSN, ABC, ESPN and Versus, Just about every single Pac-10 football game has been on TV the last few years as it is —- UW hasn’t been off live TV since 2006. I don’t think being on TV is the issue but maximizing the dollars from those appearances. That’s what expansion is supposed to rectify. If it does that, those who made the decisions will consider it a success regardless of anything else that happens.
Q: Given the sanctions on USC, would they still be Pac-10 champions if they go undefeated next year? Or would the Pac-10 champion be whoever has the best record, not named USC (assuming they don’t appeal the sanctions). Second, if USC has the best record, does the second-place team automatically go to the Rose Bowl, or would the Rose Bowl have their choice (like if the PAC10 champion is playing in a national title
A: My understanding is USC would basically be declared ineligible to win the title from the outset, so it would be as if the Trojans don’t even exist — for the purposes of the “official” standings there would be just nine teams that count. Whoever is at the top of those standings would go to the Rose Bowl (or BCS title game, depending on how it works out). Obviously, everyone would keep standings that would also include USC to keep track of how everything goes. And I guess the Trojans could print up T-shirts that say Pac-10 champs and all that if they were to go undefeated or something. But the official champ would be the non-USC team that finishes with the best record.
Q: Goal-line offense last year cost UW some games. What was the Huskies’ conversion ratio in the red zone for 2009 season? I mean, for the total number of times the offense moved the ball into the red zone, and benefited from a turnover in the red zone, how many percent of times did they score. Of the scores, what percent were touchdowns vs. field goals?
A: This is one of those things that I think when you follow just one team with all your heart, and agonize over every failure, that you can think certain things are worse than they really are.
The reality is that UW was actually pretty good in the red zone last season, scoring on 36-42 drives inside the 20 overall (86 percent) and scoring touchdowns 22 times (52 percent). The former number was tied for 29th in the country and third in the Pac-10, so the Huskies did a pretty good job of at least getting something when they got into the red zone last season.
The problem was having to settle for a few too many field goals. UW’s 22 red-zone TDs was tied for seventh in the Pac-10, ahead of only Washington State and UCLA. And obviously there were a few real notable failures, seemingly all coming against Notre Dame (actually, there was officially just one red-zone failure against the Irish).
The coaches are obviously as aware of some of these issues as are the fans, and as I wrote last week, one way they are addressing the problem is by tweaking the off-season conditioning program to emphasize adding lower-body strength to become more explosive off the ball.
All for now.