* The Pac-12 Hotline newsletter is published each Monday-Wednesday-Friday during the college sports season (and twice-a-week in the summer). This edition, from May 15, has been made available in archived form.
College football’s major TV networks are beginning to unveil their broadcast schedules for 2019, and the early developments are mixed for the Pac-12.
Fox Sports announced that the marquee game of the week on FOX (over the air) will start at 9 a.m. PDT, which automatically eliminates the Pac-12 from the pool of potential games.
The decision wasn’t meant as a slap at the conference. Rather, it’s seen as a tactical move designed to promote Fox’s new pregame show — a rival to College GameDay that will feature Reggie Bush and Urban Meyer as analysts.
What we don’t know yet is how FOX plans to fill the early- and late-afternoon windows and how often Pac-12 teams will receive one of those coveted assignments.
The news from ESPN on Wednesday morning was more encouraging for the Pac-12, on two fronts:
1. The Oregon-Auburn neutral-site showdown in Week One is slotted for primetime, with a 4:30 p.m. kickoff on ABC — a huge opportunity for the Ducks, for Justin Herbert and for the Pac-12.
2. The Pac-12 title game is moving to ABC this year.
While remaining on a Friday at 5 p.m. (in Levi’s Stadium), the game will have access to a larger audience than if it had remained on ESPN.
(ABC reaches 110+ million homes, while ESPN is in about 85 million.)
In order for the conference to maximize the exposure opportunity, however, the game has to mean something for the playoff race.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the Pac-12’s early-season games:
Kickoff times and TV assignments are expected to be released late this month. — Jon Wilner
*** Sign-up here for a free subscription to the Hotline newsletter. Thanks for your support.
• We took a detailed look Tuesday morning at UCLA’s precarious academic situation: The Bruins are far closer than you might think to being ineligible for the NCAA Tournament because of poor Academic Progress Rate scores. Yep, that’s about the last thing the conference needs. (And yep, the L.A. schools need to get their act together.)
• The Pac-12 is loading up on Power Five opponents over the next decade, with 112 games scheduled (and more likely to be added). Visitors to the west coast over that timeframe include LSU, Ohio State and Michigan. The Hotline published all the games currently under contract in one-stop shopping form.
• ICYMI: The Monday newsletter paid tribute to the life and legacy of former Arizona coach Dick Tomey, who made a deep and lasting contribution to the Pac-12 recruiting pipeline. (He’s the ‘Godfather’ for a reason.) Previous editions of the newsletter are available in archived using this link.
Why we need your support: Like so many other providers of local journalism across the country, the Hotline’s parent website, mercurynews.com, recently moved to a subscription model. A few Hotline stories will remain free each month (as will this newsletter), but for access to all content, you’ll need to subscribe at a rate of just 12 cents per day for 12 months. And thanks for your loyalty.
• The NCAA stunned the college sports world Tuesday with the news that it has formed a working group to study the issue of athletes being compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). As CBS Sports columnist Dennis Dodd wrote: “The nation’s most influential amateur organization threw open a door to altering the foundational amateur status that has propped it up for more than a century.” (The group includes Colorado athletic director Rick George, by the way.) And if you’re looking for more commentary on this vital issue, here’s Yahoo’s Pat Forde: “But the fact that the NCAA has let down its drawbridge, crossed the moat and dared to formally consider name, image and likeness is a dramatic shift.”
• Utah continues to fortify its roster with graduate transfers. The latest pledges are offensive lineman Noah Myers from Washington State and linebacker Mique Juarez, a former 5-star recruit who played sparingly for UCLA.
• The Oregonian’s 25-part series breaking down the Ducks’ depth chart in position-by-position format has made the turn for home with installment No. 13: a look at defensive tackle.
• Athlon’s ranked the Pac-12 quarterbacks, although the publication assumes Gabe Gubrud will start for Washington State. (We’re not so sure; Anthony Gordon played well during the spring.)
• USC is a sleeper in the Pac-12 South, according to 247sports. Ponder that for a moment.
• Oregon’s stellar class of 2019 got better Tuesday: Chris Steele, a 5-star cornerback, announced he’s transferring from Florida to Oregon. Extenuating circumstances prompted him to leave the UF program before playing a down, but the NCAA must grant a waiver for Steele to be eligible in the fall. He’s from Southern California and passed on USC at least once … and maybe twice.
• Running back Christian Grubb was headed to Arizona State as a walk-on, until a South division rival offered the Sherman Oaks burner a scholarship.
• UCLA’s student newspaper published a sizzling editorial earlier this week on the state of the Bruins’ athletic department — and took direct aim at AD Dan Guerrero in the process: “The institution that once boasted one of the best college athletics teams in the country, now sees its big-name teams falling from the rankings, its athletics administrators permitting bribery via donations and its coaches illegally being bribed. Reform is a gargantuan effort at this point – one that might entail heads rolling.” FYI: Guerrero is reportedly under contract through the calendar year. (Thanks D1 for the alert.)
• Not sure anyone considered Luguentz Dort a candidate to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to Arizona State, but Dort confirmed that he’s staying in the draft.
• Meanwhile, Bobby Hurley to Michigan? Hmmmm.
• An updated (post-Lottery) mock draft from CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish has Dort headed to the Celtics as one of four Pac-12 players in the first round.
• Arizona has added perimeter depth for its 2020-21 lineup, with Kentucky transfer Jemarl Baker committing to the Wildcats. (He’ll sit out next season.)
• Cal big man Connor Vanover is headed to Arkansas.
• Washington wing Jaylen Nowell aims to improve his draft position this week at the NBA Combine. The Pac-12 Player of the Year is currently projected for the second round.
• Also from Seattle: UW coach Mike Hopkins will serve on the staff of USA Basketball’s U19 team at the World Cup. The head coach: Kansas State’s Bruce Weber.
Content on Pac-12 Olympic sports …
• Oregon picked up a major commitment Monday from wing Maddie Scherr, one of the top prospects in the country.
• In the storied history of Stanford baseball, no one had hit four home runs in one game … until first baseman Andrew Daschbach did it Tuesday night.
• UCLA swimming and diving coach Cyndi Gallagher is retiring after 30+ years on the job.
• The Cardinal has a new men’s swimming coach: Dan Schemmel.
What’s coming on the Pac-12 Hotline:
• Thursday is all about the QBs: We’ve got a lengthy, deep-dive podcast into all 12 depth charts with Pac-12 Networks analyst Yogi Roth and the post-spring installment of the Hotline’s QBCQ (Quarterback Comfort Quotient), which takes into account the quality of the starter and the reserves.
*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline
*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.