Coming soon: The Pac-16?
Monday meetings could quickly kick into motion a sequence of events that would find the Pac-12 annexing the Oklahoma schools, Texas and Texas Tech, or just the Oklahomas — or perhaps none of the above.
Times college football reporter
Monday's the day that should clarify the immediate future of the Pac-12, as regents governing Oklahoma and Texas will meet to review options regarding conference membership.
It could quickly kick into motion a sequence of events that would find the Pac-12 annexing the Oklahoma schools, Texas and Texas Tech, or just the Oklahomas — or perhaps none of the above.
Hookem.com and the Austin American-Statesman on Sunday reported that the Pac-12 is working out final details that would bring all four schools to the conference.
The sticking point has been the Longhorn Network. Financial considerations and network programing between the Longhorn Network and the Pac-12 Network need to be worked out before a deal can go through.
The Austin newspaper said the newly formed Pac-16 would be split into four-team pods. The teams would play nine conference games — three games against the teams in their pod and two teams from each of the other three pods.
The four Pacific Northwest schools — Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State — are expected to be in one of the pods.
The decision of the Atlantic Coast Conference to take on Pittsburgh and Syracuse helped crystallize the rush toward expansion, as it becomes patently clear this is all about a move toward superconferences and TV dollars.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming — a review of the weekend.
What we learned
Washington's road ahead has gotten more arduous. Not only have the Huskies surrendered a conference-high 110 points, the immediate schedule has turned more gristly than it appeared a month ago. California has played like an upper Pac-12 North team, and Utah's (the UW opponent in 12 days) 54-10 win at Brigham Young was stunning.
Keenan Allen, Cal wide receiver, referencing the Huskies' last-play victory in 2010, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "We definitely have some get-back with them."
Washington State's quest for a bowl game is iffy. Certainly, the Cougars (2-1) can get there. But they have a ton of things to clean up after a 42-24 loss at San Diego State. Their running game was spotty, grossing just 82 yards without sack totals. There was little pass rush. And the special-teams coverage was lacking, as SDSU's average starting position was its own 36-yard line.
Stanford is just flat good. OK, no revelation there. But for the second straight year, the Cardinal turned what could have been a threatening outing against Arizona into a rout. Last year, it was 42-17 in Stanford; this time 37-10 in Tucson as Stanford pulled away in the second half.
The Cardinal plays the most disciplined defense in the league — ominous note: It lost linebacker Shayne Skov to a knee injury of undetermined severity against the Wildcats — and when you have Andrew Luck on the other side of the ball, you get the nation's No. 5 team. It now has a nation-leading 11-game winning streak.
UCLA is ... well, UCLA. The Bruins' myriad issues continued in a rout by Texas. Remember Washington's 2002 game at Michigan, in which a UW penalty for 12 men on the field following a timeout cost the Huskies a victory? Saturday, Rick Neuheisel's Bruins, on a third-and-one play, called timeout to reset a formation and came out with 12 men.
"It's not the end, but it sure feels like it," wrote Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times. "The coach can still save his job, but the conditions appear unlikely and the rescue would be miraculous."
Arizona State isn't there yet. Coming off the victory against Missouri, the Sun Devils were outfought by Illinois, 17-14, allowing six sacks. They're now 3-11 in the past three seasons in games decided by a touchdown or less. "Very disappointing," said coach Dennis Erickson. "Two steps forward, one step back."
Like the Pac-12, some of the issues at Oregon are off the field. A few hours before kickoff against Missouri State, the Ducks announced the NCAA's notice of inquiry had arrived. That's a procedural step that signifies that the strange relationship between the Ducks and Texas scout Willie Lyles is going to merit heavy scrutiny.
As for coach Chip Kelly, school president Richard Lariviere assured the Eugene Register-Guard, "Chip's job is quite safe."
Conference play begins in earnest, with USC's game at Arizona State headlining the weekend. There's also the Cal-UW game, Oregon at Arizona and, in a loser-is-toast matchup, UCLA is at Oregon State.