Pac-12 links: Former Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour heads to Penn State

» Just a month after stepping down (or being forced out) as Cal’s athletic director, Sandy Barbour parlayed an uneven tenure in the Bay Area into a bigger job at Penn State — one that will pay her $700,000 per year.

» Stanford’s Josh Huestis went to the Oklahoma City Thunder as the 29th overall pick in the NBA draft, but will head to the D-League rather than sign his guaranteed rookie contract. Grantland’s Zach Lowe explains why.

» Gary Payton II has arrived on the Oregon State campus, where his famous father’s enormous shadow still looms. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Which players have the best names in the Pac-12?

By now, you’ve read many of the lists that have proliferated in college football’s dry summer months. The best 100 players. The freakiest players. The best coaches, best offseasons, best uniforms.

But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.

Without further ado …

Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil

Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.

Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Philip “Scooby” Wright III

Would be better if Scooby’s real first name weren’t Phillip, but otherwise still a solid quintet that lacks a superstar.

Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia

A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Report: Ben Howland a serious candidate for Oregon State head coach opening

After being fired by UCLA a year ago, Ben Howland may be employed again soon.

Multiple reports indicate that the architect of the Bruins’ three straight Final Fours is Oregon State’s top target after firing Craig Robinson.

Should Howland become the replacement, he would inherit arguably the toughest job in the Pac-12. A spot that was already unattractive when Robinson arrived in 2008 has not gotten any prettier. In the last six years, the Beavers never finished above .500 overall and only once placed higher than eighth in the conference. The program has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1990.

Athletic director Bob De Carolis said at a press conference this week that despite affirming Robinson’s status in March, he changed his mind after taking off “orange-colored glasses.” That may not have been the only impetus. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

What to watch: Oregon State at UCLA

Oregon State (15-12, 7-8) at UCLA (21-7, 10-5)
When:
Sunday, 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: FOX Sports 1 (Rob Stone, Jarron Collins)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: Will Zach LaVine handle the ball more? Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are returning after their one-game suspensions on Thursday, so LaVine won’t get anywhere close to the 17 shots he took in the double-overtime loss to Oregon.

But it’s about more than just his point total. His father, Paul, has been long insistent that the 6-foot-4 freshman is a point guard. LaVine’s brief stint there against the Ducks didn’t disprove that argument. Late in regulation, Bryce Alford and LaVine swapped roles in the backcourt, with the latter taking the reins of the offense.

Alford has been serviceable as a backup point, but he could be even more effective as a two guard — where he can move off the ball and get better looks. The two 3-pointers he hit during the last 33 seconds of the second half were both assisted by LaVine. More importantly, though, is that giving the ball makes LaVine much more comfortable and better utilize his athleticism. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Bruins falter in 71-67 road loss to Oregon State

Another trip, another split. For the second time in conference play, UCLA squandered a chance to claw up the standings by dropping the tail end of a road series.

The Bruins fell 71-67 at Oregon State, and t here were few excuses available this time. The loss at Utah last month — one that followed a win at then-No. 21 Colorado — came with an additional flight from Denver to Salt Lake City; Corvallis is less than an hour’s drive from Eugene. The Utes’ Huntsman Center is among the rowdiest venues in the conference; Gill Coliseum draws an average of 3,897, the second-worst showing in the Pac-12.

And to top it all off, coach Steve Alford had an extra day to prepare heading into an 11:30 a.m. Sunday tipoff.

Just about everything that could have gone wrong did. After holding the Beavers to 35.3 percent shooting through the bulk of the first half, UCLA’s zone defense began to crack. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Pac-12 links: Former Ute succumbing to cancer

– Bronzell Miller might be dead by the time you read this. The former Utah linebacker is battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, and may only have a week left to live.

– Bellevue standout and UCLA recruiting target Budda Baker is still waiting for the release of his brother Robert, imprisoned for first-degree robbery and possession of a firearm.

– How did Tad Boyle turn Colorado into a contender?

– “But the difference between being a head football coach in college and the NFL is like the difference between Wal-Mart and Wall Street.” Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Pac-12 links: No bowl tickets for rude Washington State fans

– If you sent Washington State athletic director Bill Moos a particularly nasty email last year, you might not be able to buy bowl tickets.

– Trying to earn home field advantage for the Pac-12 title game, Arizona State and Todd Graham are learning to deal with the limelight.

– Still undecided about his NFL draft plans, Washington tailback Bishop Sankey is on the brink of the school’s single-season rushing record. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Pac-12 links: Should USC hire Ed Orgeron?

– After an upset of Stanford, many USC players called for the school to retain Ed Orgeron as head coach. NBC Sports’ Chris Huston, also known as the Heisman Pundit, argues against removing the “interim” tag.

– Utah quarterback Travis Wilson’s career might be over after a post-concussion exam revealed a pre-existing neurological condition.

– Washington State has extended Mike Leach through the 2018 season.

– Arizona State’s secondary has a club called the, uh, “Bird Gang.” Members must abide by three rules. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Pac-12 links: Utah quarterback Travis Wilson struggling

– Once a rising star, Utah’s sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson doesn’t look the same these days.

– A strong column from the Arizona Daily Star’s Greg Hansen, on the Wildcats’ loss to UCLA.

– After a stint at Louisiana-Monroe, Arizona State defensive back Robert Nelson is living the dream in Tempe.

– Does the Pac-12 need an injury report? Seattle Times columnist Bud Withers says yes, citing the status of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email