Pac-12 could have a couple morning kickoffs this season
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Pac-12 has heard plenty of criticism from fans and coaches about a third of games being played at night last year.
That has led Commissioner Larry Scott to possibly try a new scheduling approach this season.
Instead of “Pac-12 After Dark”, welcome to “Breakfast with the Pac-12”.
Scott said Fox and conference athletic directors are in preliminary talks about morning kickoffs for some games, which would put them in the network’s key noon Eastern time slot. Any morning kickoffs, which would be at 9 a.m. Pacific and 10 a.m. Mountain, would be voluntary and not dictated by Fox.
“That would be new and somewhat out of the box, but I’ve tried to put everything on the table,” Scott said. “I think there are some schools and markets that might respond positively.”
Coaches are split about the possibility of a morning kickoff. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the sooner they can start, the better.
“We’d adjust. We’ve played those games before. It’s been few and far between, but we’ve had those 10 a.m. kickoffs in the past. We’d jump at the chance for that,” he said.
Stanford’s David Shaw said he would be somewhat resistant.
“All the studies we’ve all read and conducted ourselves on our campus, our sleep studies, it is better for young people to perform athletically if they get a full night’s sleep,” Shaw said. “And I don’t know that you can find any group of 18- to 22-year-old young people that are going to go to bed at 10 o’clock at night to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to make sure they can perform athletically.”
SOMETHING TO PROVE
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert remembers watching as a boy as Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota led the Ducks to conference titles.
After deciding to return to school instead of declaring for the NFL draft, Herbert hopes to join that fraternity of quarterbacks as a senior.
Herbert threw for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior last season but Oregon still finished fourth in the Pac-12 North.
“We’ve been through the highest of highs and lowest of lows and we’ve seen all the success that’s been at Oregon so we’re capable of looking at it and realizing this isn’t where we wanted to be,” Herbert said. “There’s a direction that we’re heading and I think we need to keep going that way.”
Oregon was a narrow pick to win the Pac-12 North in the annual media poll released Wednesday after finishing one point ahead of rival Washington. The Ducks also received 11 votes to win the Pac-12 title game.
Herbert was pleased to receive the nod. However, he recognizes it means nothing if Oregon can’t back it up on the field.
Utah placed five on the preseason all-conference team.
Four of the players are on defense — linemen Bradlee Anae and Leki Fotu along with defensive backs Julian Blackmon and Jaylon Johnson. Running back Zack Moss was the lone pick on offense.
Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr was the only player to be listed on all 33 ballots.
Oregon and Stanford had four players apiece. Ducks quarterback Justin Hebert was first team on all but two ballots and Cardinal defensive back Paulson Adebo was listed on 32 of 33.
LEACH THE TEACH
If Washington State coach Mike Leach found the latest offensive innovation during his foray into academia this past spring, he doesn’t seem to be tipping his hand.
Leach taught a five-part seminar called “Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies,” and students had to design plays as part of the final project. Having overseen an offense that has averaged at least 320 yards passing per game in each of his first seven seasons with the Cougars, Leach was certainly qualified to grade their work.
Whether any of those plays will be added to the playbook of Leach’s “Air Raid” spread offense is another matter. Offensive lineman Liam Ryan did not notice anything out of the ordinary during spring practice in March and April.
However, given Leach’s penchant for surprise, Ryan won’t rule out seeing one of those plays show up in the fall.”
“We did not practice anything different in spring ball so I have no idea what goes on in his mind,” Ryan said. “He’ll pull out something, I know that for sure.”
The Pac-12 will be adding the Los Angeles Bowl to its postseason lineup when it begins in 2020.
The Los Angeles Bowl will feature a matchup between teams from the Pac-12 and Mountain West in the NFL stadium under construction. The Pac-12’s commitment to the game runs through 2025.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Los Angeles Bowl and bring a Pac-12 presence to the new state-of-the-art facility at LA Stadium, in one of the biggest markets right in our footprint,” Scott said.