New Pac-12 reforms include guaranteed four-year scholarships

The Pac-12 has adopted “sweeping reforms” geared toward improving the welfare of its athletes, the conference announced Monday.

The biggest news is that the league will now guarantee four-year scholarships for all athletes regardless of sport effective in 2015-16 — a change that will dramatically affect how much room for error teams have in each recruiting class. While many players often have their scholarships renewed year to year as a mere formality, a blanket rule covering everyone on the roster makes it trickier for coaches to push out athletes for one reason or another.

According to a CBS Sports report last month, UCLA only gave out three guaranteed multi-year scholarships across all sports in 2013-14.

See the full set of reforms below, per the Pac-12′s press release: Continue reading

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Eddie Vanderdoes will not be punished by Pac-12 for punch against Oregon

After reviewing a clip of Eddie Vanderdoes’ punch against Oregon last Saturday, the Pac-12 has decided not to hand out additional punishment to UCLA’s sophomore defensive lineman.

Vanderdoes received a personal foul penalty during the second quarter of the Bruins’ 42-30 loss for punching left tackle Jake Fisher. The flag gave the Ducks 15 yards and an automatic first down on what what would have been third-and-3 at the UCLA 47-yard line. Oregon scored a touchdown five plays later on Marcus Mariota’s 21-yard screen pass to Thomas Tyner, taking a 15-3 lead.

“I made a stupid decision,” Vanderdoes said. “I regret it. That’s not me. I’ve never done that before to a player in a game.” Continue reading

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After loss to Utah, UCLA falls to No. 18 in the Associated Press poll

Jim Mora stands on the field before UCLA's eventual 30-28 loss to Utah at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 4, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Jim Mora stands on the field before UCLA’s eventual 30-28 loss to Utah at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 4, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Poised to move up in the rankings after a slew upsets on Saturday, UCLA instead dropped to No. 18 in the Associated Press poll.

The Bruins lost 30-28 to Utah on Saturday night, a game in which the Utes sacked Brett Hundley 10 times and held off a late comeback attempt. Utah debuted in the rankings at No. 24.

Arizona is now the only undefeated Pac-12 team left, a turn of events that would have stunned any college football pundit before the season started. The Wildcats upset No. 2 Oregon on Thursday, dropping the Ducks to 12th.

Stanford fell 11 spots to No. 25 after losing their second game of the season, a 17-14 decision at Notre Dame. The Cardinal also lost to USC last month, which in turn fell out of the polls after losing to Arizona State on a Hail Mary.

The Sun Devils — blown out by UCLA, 62-27, a week ago — are now ranked 20th.

Full poll below: Continue reading

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After Oregon’s loss, is UCLA the new Pac-12 favorite?

Nearly four months ago, UCLA was listed as an early favorite almost through its entire 2014 schedule. The exception? Mighty Oregon, just a year removed from four straight BCS bowls, and an early three-point favorite.

My, how things have changed.

UCLA stumbled out of the gate, collecting three uneven wins before stomping on then-No. 15 Arizona State last Thursday. The Bruins still have question marks, but they’re on the upswing, and back in the hearts and minds of at least a few national pundits. One ESPN analyst has them in the San Francisco Bowl, but another picked the Fiesta Bowl. CBS Sports has slotted UCLA back into the Sugar Bowl, as the No. 4 seed in a national semifinal against Alabama.

The No. 2 Ducks, meanwhile, might have cost themselves national title hopes with their 31-24 loss at home last night to Arizona — the most surprising undefeated team left in the country. (Earlier this week, Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde wrote this of the Wildcats: “Chances of being unbeaten by Halloween: zero.”) Continue reading

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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, Jaelen Strong

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

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The preseason Pac-12 media poll …

UCLA football single-game tickets went on sale today, which makes it just as good as any to fill out the annual Pac-12 Media Poll.

Here it goes …

North Division

1. Oregon — Mark Helfrich hasn’t proven that he can keep the Ducks in perennial title contention, but the return of star quarterback Marcus Mariota

2. Stanford — The Cardinal never seem to drop off, but losing three All-Pac-12 offensive lineman — including consensus All-American David Yankey — and four all-conference first-team defenders might be enough to knock them down a bit.

3. Washington — An eight-year run at Boise State ended with an eight-win season, the only time Chris Petersen failed to notch double-digit wins as a head coach. Matching that total in the tougher Pac-12 would be a decent debut for him. Continue reading

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Pac-12 announces 11 a.m. TV window for football to reduce night kickoffs

The Pac-12 announced Sunday that it will introduce an 11 a.m. PT television window to reduce the number of night games that conference teams play this upcoming football season.

The morning kickoffs will replace an evening time slot on Pac-12 Networks, though exactly how many there are will be determined as the season progresses.

“This is a positive step for Pac-12 fans across the Conference,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “There has been an adjustment over the last two years with our new television agreement, and we believe fans — both in our stadiums and in the television audience — will benefit.”

The change is a move away from Scott’s stance last season, when he repeatedly defended the league’s frequent late starts by deferring to TV numbers. Continue reading

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UCLA picked to win Pac-12 South

Here are the full results of the Pac-12 preseason media poll, with first-place votes in parentheses. Few surprises down the line, as Oregon was named both the North Division and conference favorite. UCLA was named the South Division favorite, and also receive three votes as the Pac-12 champion.

South Division
1. UCLA (12) … 130
2. Arizona State (9) … 124
3. USC (4) … 113
4. Arizona … 73
5. Utah … 58
6. Colorado … 27

North Division
1. Oregon (14) … 139
2. Stanford (11) … 134
3. Oregon State … 91
4. Washington … 81
5. Cal … 45
6. Washington State … 32

Pac-12 Champion: Oregon (13 votes)
Others: Stanford (8), UCLA (3)

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Pac-12′s Top 25 Players: Who was left out?

With the week’s countdown over, here is a rundown of the Pac-12′s top 25 players as voted on by 11 different writers. I also included my ballot on the right side.

Totaled votes My votes
1 Marqise Lee, USC Marqise Lee, USC
2 Anthony Barr, UCLA Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3 Will Sutton, Arizona State Anthony Barr, UCLA
4 Marcus Mariota, Oregon Will Sutton, Arizona State
5 De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
6 Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona Brett Hundley, UCLA
7 David Yankey, Stanford Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
8 Brett Hundley, UCLA Morgan Breslin, USC
9 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington David Yankey, Stanford
10 Morgan Breslin, USC Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
11 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon Ed Reynolds, Stanford
12 Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA Trent Murphy, Stanford
13 Ed Reynolds, Stanford Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
14 Scott Crichton, Oregon State Scott Crichton, Oregon State
15 Shayne Skov, Stanford Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
16 Hroniss Grasu, Oregon Hayes Pullard, USC
17 Trent Murphy, Stanford Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
18 Brandin Cooks, Oregon State Shayne Skov, Stanford
19 Leonard Williams, USC Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
20 Bishop Sankey, Washington Shaq Thompson, Washington
21 Hayes Pullard, USC Deone Buccanon, Washington State
22 Taylor Kelly, Arizona State Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
23 Shaq Thompson, Washington Bishop Sankey, Washington
24 Brendan Bigelow, Cal Paul Richardson, Colorado
25 Silas Redd, USC Eric Kendricks, UCLA

For player bios, see Parts I, II, III, IV and V. The voter list is at the end of Part I.

The per-team tally in the final results: USC 5, Oregon 4, Stanford 4, UCLA 3, Washington 3, Arizona State 2, Oregon State 2, Arizona 1, Cal 1. Washington State, Colorado and Utah were shut out.

Also receiving votes, in descending order: Continue reading

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Pac-12′s Top 25 Players, Part IV

Picking up from Parts I, II and III, here are the next five in our Pac-12 top 25 countdown.

10. Morgan Breslin, USC

Originally thought of as a probable reserve, Breslin emerged when defensive end Devon Kennard lost his season to a pec injury. As a first-year starter after transferring from Diablo Valley College, Breslin notched the most tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (13) for any Trojan since 2003. He should be just as effective a pass rusher as he moves to outside linebacker for 2013. Continue reading

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