Q: Larry Scott has been very active since becoming commissioner, expanding the conference from ten to twelve, creating the Pac-12 Networks, and bringing a tremendous amount of new revenue to each member school. Any idea that the next big thing from Scott will be?
A: Most pressing is getting a DirecTV deal nailed down, but that’s not exactly a “big thing” so much as a necessary one. Scott has said consistently over the past few months that the conference isn’t looking to expand, so the Pac-12 probably won’t be leading the country into an era of 16-team superconferences. What he might look to do next is push for some significant reform in the NCAA, especially as the institution’s enforcement policies look more and more like a joke. Scott has been candid about the need for change in the past, something he reaffirmed again on Saturday.
Q: What is the latest news on RB Craig Lee commitment status? Also, we heard of the great recruiting class UCLA had this year but did not hear of any high school seniors that flipped their commitment. Were there any?
A: As far as I know, Craig Lee is still working on trying to get a qualifying SAT score before he signs. I’ll post any news on that as soon as I find anything. There weren’t any last-minute shockers, either good or bad, for UCLA’s recruiting class this year. Flipping a commitment doesn’t stand out these days as kids do it more and more throughout the process. A number of future Bruins had verballed to other schools at one point or another, if that’s what you’re asking.
Q: How do the celebrities — i.e. Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan — get last minute seats in the front row? Do they bump other people from their seats or are those left open for celebrities far ahead of time? Are these free?
A: I’m not sure, but I’ll find out and roll this over to next week. I doubt people get bumped from seats, at least not without compensation. I’d guess it varies a bit depending on the stature of the celebrity.
Q: Howland’s press conference felt different. He seemed loose and resigned to the fact that it was HIS last game in Pauley. Did you get that feeling too? I keep hearing the athletic dept already has three top candidates. If you can’t confirm this, would you say if you would want a young coach that can build for a long time or a proven commodity that has been a long-time coach?
A: I wouldn’t read that much into his demeanor, though I was a bit surprised he was so candid about Shabazz’s impending departure for the pros. I would’ve expected Howland to say something like he’s focused on the season at hand, or that it’s a question posed for Shabazz.
Can’t confirm on the top three. Not sure what you consider young but — as an example — I would take 35-year-old Shaka Smart (fifth year as VCU’s head coach) over, say, 48-year-old Steve Alford (Div. I head coach since 1995).
Q: It’s a foregone conclusion that Shabazz is leaving for the NBA after the current season. What’s your personal opinion about the three other freshmen. Will they be Bruins to start the 2013-14 season?
A: I don’t think all three will be back. If Kyle Anderson keeps playing like he has been lately, he might be able to sneak into the first round. He isn’t universally regarded as a one-and-done, especially after a terrible offensive start to the season, but has a unique skill set certain teams will take a chance on. I don’t think he should leave, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he does. Jordan Adams and Tony Parker aren’t going pro. The latter was homesick and non-committal about staying in UCLA a few months ago, but said he’s happy now.
Q: Quite a few empty seats seen in prime seat locations during the telecast of the UCLA vs U of A basketball game. Disgruntled season ticket holders expressing dissatisfaction?
A: Perhaps. Three lanes of the 405 were shut down too, so that might have kept some folks at home. It definitely affected arrival times, as Pauley was far from full even 10 minutes before tipoff. Edit: As Sam Strong noted in the comments, the Arizona game was still a record 13,727 attendance, which I mentioned in the game notes but neglected to put in this answer. Didn’t mean to imply that the atmosphere was lackluster.