The Sporting News released its ranking of all 125 college football coaches today, and UCLA’s Jim Mora came in at No. 28 — one spot ahead of Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez. In the Pac-12, only Stanford’s David Shaw (seventh) and Oregon State’s Mike Riley (14th) are higher.
I agree with this list more than the one Athlon Sports released earlier this month, which docked Mora heavily for inexperience. That ranking placed him at 54th in the country and — inexplicably — eighth among Pac-12 coaches behind Mike MacIntyre and Steve Sarkisian.
UCLA has won the Pac-12 regular season championship for the first time since 2008.
The Bruins clinched a share of the title with a 61-54 win over turnover-prone Washington, their first road victory over the Huskies since 2004. A few minutes later, Utah finished off Oregon with a 10-point win in Salt Lake City, leaving UCLA alone at the top of the conference. Continue reading →
A little convoluted, but here are the best and worst case Pac-12 tourney seeding scenarios for the top four teams. Each has one game left on Saturday except Cal, which can only sit and wait. Scroll all the way down for the tiebreaker rules.
Oregon (23-7, 12-5)
Best case: No. 1 seed and an outright Pac-12 title. The Ducks beat Utah while UCLA loses to Washington, dropping the Bruins to a three-seed. Cal would be a No. 2 seed because it has a season sweep of Oregon (see second tiebreaker).
Worst case: No. 3 seed. Oregon loses at Utah, while UCLA clinches an outright Pac-12 title with a win at Washington. Cal would get the No. 2 seed. Continue reading →
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? Continue reading →
UCLA controlled the entire game, never trailing after three minutes in a 74-69 win that keeps the team in control of its own destiny. Arizona closed to within three points in the final minute, but a clutch rebound by freshman Shabazz Muhammad all but sealed the victory. Muhammad went to the line and sank two free throws to cap the final score, serenaded by “One more year!” cheers as he did.
Muhammad scored a game-high 18 after being limited by foul trouble early, followed closely behind by Kyle Anderson’s 17. Four Bruins scored in double figures.
This is UCLA’s first season sweep over Arizona since 2008. The attendance of 13,727 is a stadium record.
Wasn’t the Pac-12 supposed to be better this year?
After Arizona’s loss at Colorado, Oregon is alone in the lead again at 9-3. If the Ducks don’t sweep their final six games, the conference champion will have at least four losses for the fifth straight year. Yes, the conference could get four teams in the NCAA tournament, but year-to-year improvement is still coming at snail’s pace.
Meanwhile, UCLA is slipping close to another embarrassing milestone: finishing with a worse conference record than USC for the first time since Ben Howland’s first season in Los Angeles.
Here are the current standings, clipped from Pac-12.com.
The Bruins last finished below the Trojans in 2003-04, when they had seven Pac-10 wins to USC’s eight. (Both had 8-10 records in 2009-10, but USC took the tiebreaker with two head-to-head victories.) Only one game separates the two teams now; if the Trojans beat Cal and UCLA loses at Stanford, they’ll be tied heading into a Feb. 24 rematch at the Galen Center. In 10 days, UCLA could very well be looking up at its crosstown rival.
Will that happen? For what it’s worth, Ken Pomeroy currently has UCLA losing three more games — Stanford, USC, Arizona — finishing at 11-7 for the second straight year. However, the latter two games are almost statistical coin-flips: the Bruins have a 48 percent chance of beating the Trojans and 44 percent of beating the Wildcats. (He has the Trojans finishing 10-8 after losing to both Washington schools.)
Pomeroy’s numbers-crunching only gives UCLA more than a 57 percent chance at winning one game — ASU, pegged right now at 75 percent. Basically, the rest of the season is a toss-up.
Per the Press-Register, national officiating Rogers Redding said today that Pac-12 officials will call the national title game. Conferences aren’t allowed to officiate bowls that involve their teams, and the BCS bowl rotation gave the Pac-12 those duties this year. (Notre Dame might not be in the title game had it not been for Pac-12 officials, but oh well.)
Five of the eight most penalized teams in the country come from the Pac-12: UCLA, Washington, Cal, Oregon and USC. Alabama — sixth-best in the country at 3.85 flags per game — is averaging less than half the penalties of any of those five teams. We’ll see if that ticks up on Jan. 7.
Conference USA will officiate the Holiday Bowl, as well as the Vegas Bowl. Teams from that conference averaged 5.53 penalties per game this season. Pac-12 squads averaged 7.24.