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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

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July 24, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Media-days event a hit, and more from the Pac-12 commish . . .

Pac-12 football media days ground to a close Thursday, and in my mind, the new two-day format was a big success. I heard some reservations from colleagues about how it worked, but if the overriding goal of the league is increased visibility – duh – this seemed the way to go.

Essentially, there were two fundamental changes: The league expanded the event from one to two days. And instead of a dopey half-day spent with, in order, 12 coaches each toting a couple of players onto a stage and answering questions in a general session that seemed to grow increasingly inane in recent years, now the format calls for 40 minutes per school, in which the coach sits at a table surrounded by media and takes questions. Two players are at tables in the back of the room doing the same thing, with a smaller audience.

There was plenty of time, even too much in a few cases.  Have to think it’s of benefit to the league to have media getting to know some of the less-prominent programs, not just engulfing USC and UCLA.

Larry Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner, had his 34-minute address Wednesday, and also held court more informally later.

It’s been five years since we were introduced to Scott as the new commissioner. He’s essentially turned the conference upside down in that span, expanding to Utah and Colorado, overseeing an explosion in TV revenue, and implementing Pac-12 Networks.

The moving target of starting times in football and basketball has been a bugaboo, but realistically, they’re the tradeoff to TV riches, for better or worse.

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July 21, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Look for all this to happen at Pac-12 media days . . .

Saw a headline the other day on a website, something like “Advancing ACC media days.” It’s come to this. We “advance” conference football media days, which, of course, advance the college season, which we’re still, oh, about 5 1/2 weeks in advance of. That said, I guess we need to advance Pac-12 media days, which are Wednesday…

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July 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Preseason magazines, Groundhog Day, and my Pac-12 picks . . .

Friday’s the deadline for official media picks for the Pac-12 football race, and at the end of this epistle, you’ll get mine, free of charge.

But first, a word on the selections of the preseason magazines.

Awhile back, I bought Lindy’s, one of the most respected of the college magazines. Here’s how they forecast the Pac-12 race:

North

1, Oregon. 2, Stanford. 3, Washington. 4, Oregon State. 5, Washington State. 6, Cal.

South

1, UCLA. 2, USC. 3, Arizona State. 4, Arizona. 5, Utah. 6, Colorado.

On I trudged to pick up USA Today’s magazine. It has it:

North

1, Oregon. 2, Stanford. 3, Washington. 4, Oregon State. 5, Washington State. 6, Cal.

South

1, UCLA. 2, USC. 3, Arizona State. 4, Arizona. 5, Utah. 6, Colorado.

Then it was on to Athlon. That magazine had it:

North

1, Oregon. 2, Stanford. 3, Washington. 4, Oregon State. 5, Washington State. 6, Cal.

South

1, UCLA. 2, USC. 3, Arizona State. 4, Arizona. 5, Utah. 6, Colorado.

Anybody beginning to sense a pattern here?

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July 15, 2014 at 3:15 PM

SEC football media days: Will they finish before the season starts?

Of course they will. If you begin something early enough, it’s got a chance to end on time.

We jest, of course. But, if memory serves, the SEC is setting two records this week: Earliest start time in history for a college-football media day, and longest-running one.

Vacations will start and end before SEC media days will run their course. Fine chardonnay will come of age. People will meet, romance and break up.

SEC media days now consumes four days, or almost as much time as it took them to hammer out the Geneva Accords.

But where else are you going to get information as was spilled out in this breathless tweet from the event at Hoover, Ala.? “The win over South Carolina was a critical win.” This just in from Butch Jones, the Tennessee coach.

That’s the kind of news that’s typically broken at these things. But no matter. It’s all about thumping the tub for the conference, and nobody orchestrates his better than Mike Slive, the veteran SEC commissioner. There are people in Alabama consumed with whether Nick Saban prefers jelly beans or Reese’s Pieces, and by God, Slive’s going to help them find out.

Slive’s SEC Network debuts Aug. 14, and according to Sports Business Daily, ESPN (which owns the network) hopes to charge $1.30 per subscriber per month in the states of the SEC footprint, far more than the Pac-12 Network commands.

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July 14, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Tyler Bruggman’s transfer, and what it means for WSU

I had a chance to spend some time with Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday in Pullman early last month, and with the tape recorder off, we talked about the race for backup QB between Tyler Bruggman and Luke Falk. Halliday was highly complimentary of Falk. Maybe he knew something. Bruggman, a high school four-star recruit who was going…

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June 26, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Pac-12′s NBA draftees should exceed recent history

Thursday night is the 2014 NBA draft, and it figures to have a greater presence of Pac-12 talent than in perhaps five years, when the 2009 version produced six first-round prospects. The year before that, marking the era of unprecedented strength of the conference, the Pac-12 had seven first-rounders and another five players taken in…

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June 25, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Inside a sordid mess in Eugene, there’s a teaching moment

You might have heard about it only peripherally, but a firestorm continues to burn around the Oregon men’s basketball program, as as a result of a rape investigation that encircled three Duck players — Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin. Charges weren’t brought in the case, which stemmed from an early-March night gone wrong. But…

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June 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM

The move of the UW from KJR to KOMO: What it means . . .

I can remember, dating back decades, how the radio rights for the University of Washington were considered a golden property – No. 1 in the country. That accrued from the fact that unlike most metro areas that had been given over to professional sports, the Huskies still had a strong emotional pull for the populace of Seattle.

It may not be hyperbole, then, how KOMO Newsradio program director Paul Duckworth refers to the acquisition of the radio rights to University of Washington football and basketball in a six-year deal starting in August.

“We think that as much as sports, this is a community kind of thing,” Duckworth told me the other day. “Maybe even more than the pro sports, with college sports and the Huskies, it’s about community and culture and tradition.”

Even when Seattle had the Sonics, I think Washington was viewed as generally more popular in town than the NBA franchise – behind the Mariners and Seahawks, whichever was riding herd at the time (and often the Huskies weren’t a bad third, if that).

Long story short, it’s a big deal when Washington changes radio locations, which it will do in a little more than two months, even as the broadcasts retain longtime voice  Bob Rondeau and analyst Damon Huard.

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June 20, 2014 at 10:47 AM

The flip side of that unprecedented Pac-12 income . . .

CBSSports.com has an interesting look at how the Pac-12 is far behind other like conferences in distribution of its bullish revenues to member schools. The league kicked back only 68 percent of its income to member schools in the fiscal year 2012-13, considerably behind the other conferences. There’s an easy way for the…

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