Tag Archives: Larry Scott

EXCLUSIVE: The Ed Rush-Michael Irving Exchange

Video has been released from inside the officials’ meeting prior to the UCLA-Arizona Pac-12 tournament semifinal game. Footage includes intimidation tactics and the controversial comments made by Ed Rush that were later determined to have been made in jest. This footage is exclusive to PacHoops.

The Ed Rush – Michael Irving Exchange
by: pachoopsab

 

The Rush Interview and Independent Review

“I was trying to make a difference. In the long run, it’s going to take too long to get back to where we were.”

That was the reason Rush resigned and I get that. Beyond that he doesn’t say much in his exclusive frump-off with Shelly Smith. Seriously they look like twins.

In the interview, Rush downplays the entire incident, confirming that what he said was in jest. Additionally, he doesn’t once mention the purveyor of jest, Michael Irving, which I found refreshing considering he’d previously been tossing the official under the bus immediately following his resignation.

As expected, there’s really not a ton to see here but you can watch/listen below.

So while Rush’s interview was the sexy news (and yes, I use the word “sexy” in jest, though it was the more intriguing news) the real news came in the conference’s announcement of an “Independent Review” of the officiating program. This is what I’d been calling for and it’s a step in the right direction. Rush nailed it when he said we’re a long way from getting to a good place – we’ll call it trust – but third parties tend to help in that. Ask any couple in counseling.

And I most certainly appreciated this release above all others from Walnut Creek surrounding The Issue. In this one, the Pac-12 PR team used words like “best possible” and “maintain the confidence of our members.” The latter comment might be my favorite. An acknowledgment that Conference brass let its constituents down. That’s leadership.

Of course this is all pretty language of which action speaks far louder than. But it’s the first action in getting the best officiating product for our favorite game. I’ll buy that during this long road back to trust.


 

Ed T. Rush is Out. Now the Answer.

Ed Rush has left his post as the Coordinator of Officials with the Pac-12 Conference. It came via official release from the conference late Thursday afternoon (evening if anyone on the east coast pays attention to this stuff) and informed us that Larry Scott had accepted the controversial and rushed resignation.

And the world rejoiced.

I saw tweets of “bout time” and “good” and “HEGONE” and all sorts of celebratory remarks which I’m just not all that in to. Sure I contributed to the dialogue of his dismissal/resignation/firequitting but calling for heads has never sat well with me. As it were, we got the result we wanted.

So now what?

We don’t have much out of Walnut Creek and we likely won’t for awhile. The replacement hunt will be played close to the chest and will be a hire not made in jest.

What we do have from Scott is the release. The one in which Rush’s resignation was announced, accepted, and never really explained. That’s fine. We are owed no explanation and let’s get serious – we all know why this went down. The imperative thing here is that trust is restored. That all of this speak of “integrity” and “honor” and other things Jack Nicholson spouted off about in A Few Good Men is more than lip service and not used as a punchline.

Which brings me to the most important part of Scott’s release: The end.

Scott said a process to select a new officiating coordinator will be part of the overall program review that had already been scheduled for after the college basketball season.

I have no idea what that means. Neither do you. Hell, for all we know, neither does Scott. But he’s the one who will be hiring for this review and it’s a damn important one. Trust, as I said, will need to be reinstalled. Which is never an easy thing if you’ve ever tried getting back together with a significant other. Actually it painstakingly sucks. Work like hell is involved but it can happen. Change must happen.

But I can’t stress enough that the next move is the most important one. The conference can pull the densest PR veil they’ve got over our eyes, I still believe we’ll see right through this. Some transparency, a declaration of change, ought to be forthcoming. I expect to see a new Coordinator settle things down with a defined plan. A new plan. Because things are pretty shaken up already.

Ed T. Rush resigned amidst the swirling upset stirred by his joke and the subsequent coincidental action taken. He’s out and we got what we think we wanted.

But Rush’s departure is not the answer.

Fixing his wake is.

More on the Pac-12’s Stripes

It quickly became the biggest story in the Pac-12 if not the world of sports. Jeff Goodman hit publish and sent dialogue into a frenzy surrounding what’s already considered a crummy slew of Pac-12 officials. Larry Scott and Ed T. Rush have taken heat and addressed it with little more than a handheld extinguisher.

That’s my f****** problem (A$AP Rocky voice).

As you might expect, I spent a good portion of my day discussing the fact that next year TJ McConnell will have four teammates all over 6’8” to dish to and who are projected to play in the NBA; a glorious image in the wake of Aaron Gordon’s commitment to Arizona this officiating situation. It sparked a long debate with a buddy of mine during which I’m not sure either of us was making a concrete point beyond the fact that we agreed Ed Rush had to go.

I was arguing that it just needs to happen. I don’t care the logistics, the buyout, the fallout, the wrongful termination suits, whatever, HEGONE. The more I thought on this and the more I read opinion on the matter, it became increasingly clear to me that Rush’s actions – no matter their intent – we inexcusable and put too many people in compromising positions with regards to their job. Andy Glockner alluded to it, basically saying every call one way or another could and would be rightfully questioned.

The other side of my discussion didn’t disagree with these points. Brad agreed that Rush needed to go but he was diving into the logistics of it; after all, Brad is a lawyer. He was mentioning possible contract buy outs or the review period Larry Scott had referenced in an ESPN interview. Rush most certainly was on his way out, Brad just understood that the PR nightmare this had become was not about to be assuaged by firing the guy 24-hours after the whistle was blown. What’s more, the message had already been sent in support of Rush, citing “jest” and that it “won’t happen again.”

We ultimately never really went anywhere with the conversation because neither of us would really listen to the other.

Adam: HEGONEHEGONEHEGONEHEGONE. Don’t care how.

Brad: NOTYETNOTYETNOTYETNOTYET. Review period/PR Nightmare/Legal jargon

But it did propagate the discourse and the conclusion I’ve come to is that indeed Ed T. Rush needs to be fired.

But it’s not imperative.

Dismissing Rush solves nothing. It’s change for the sake of change and as we’re learning in the wake of Ben Howland’s departure and the subsequent hiring of Steve Alford, such action doesn’t always garner the desired or expected reaction.

Because everything surrounding Rush right now is reactionary. It’s all perception and it’s all message. I whole heartedly believe that there is no corruption in the Pac-12 Officials office but that is today’s perception. The removal of Rush won’t change that and Scott’s comments have done little to assuage these beliefs. As is always the case, action speaks louder than words and measures need to be put into place to ensure players, coaches, managers, athletic directors, PA announcers, popcorn vendors, media, directors of basketball operations, fans, SIDs, grandmothers, second cousins, one-night-stands, and everyone else can rest assured that games are being called fairly and by the best possible and prepared persons.

I do not believe this is resolved via firing alone. Hell, keep him around, it doesn’t really matter that much if there isn’t a significant investment made to ensure the improvement of this program. If Scott is sincere in stating, “I consider the integrity of our officiating program to be of the highest importance…” then he’ll take action.

Firing Ed Rush might make us feel better – a strange acceptance within the worlds of sports and public figures in which the calling of heads is celebrated – but it doesn’t solve anything.

You won’t quite find the direct resolution on these pages. Officiating development is not my area of expertise – come to think of it, I’m not sure what my area of expertise is. But I do know that money, time, and focus speak loudly. That with their powers combined improvement will be made and confidence instilled. Officiating is a tough job and will forever be criticized and chastised. But as Ben Burrows points out in his reaction to this news (and then outlines his actions on this situation) these guys are overworked and overscheduled and are held to little accountability. They’re also, evidently, bullied by their boss. It’s an imperfect craft, officiating a sporting event, but let’s start cutting out variables.

Creating a program that you’re proud of, an officiating corps worthy of upholding the moniker “Conference of Champions,” doesn’t begin with an axe, it starts an action.

Larry Scott, I implore you to take it.

Larry Scott, two Ed Rush’s, Cancun, and 191-Words

A simple google search of Ed Rush’s name will result in nothing helpful with regards to basketball officiating. As it were, Ed Rush is also the name of a “jungle/techstep/neurofunk” DJ. His top song on Spotify is “Chubhub.”

This is likely not the man to have offered $5k cash or a trip to Cancun for actions against Sean Miller as reported by Jeff Goodman of CBS.

No, the man recently investigated by the Pac-12, Ed T. Rush, is the Head of Officiating for the conference. Per Goodman’s source, he offered these rewards to any official who “rang him up” or “ran him” during the Pac-12 tournament. Him referring to Sean Miller.

Now as this news hit the interwebs, I experience four stages of reaction in coming to my conclusions and feelings on the matter. I’ll walk you through my Monday afternoon:

Stage 1: Knee-jerk

Oh my. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. Wow. Whoa. Highlight-Control-C-Control-V-Gchat. Control-V-Tweet. Control-V-Personal-Book. Control-V-PacHoops-Book. Text. Text. Text. Text. Zero logical thought. OMGOMGOMGOMG. HEDIDTOUCHTHEBALL.

I assume my actions generated less than 1% of the post’s total view.

Stage 2: What’s this thing say exactly?

So then I read the whole thing. I learned that the Pac-12 “investigated” Head of Officiating, Ed T. Rush, and that an official anonymously made public comments made during this referees’ meeting. What was said was damning of an already poorly regarded officiating base, irresponsible for a man charged with upholding the integrity of sport, and threatened the sanctity of holding competitive athletics in Las Vegas (damn you!). “This,” I thought, “Is remarkably inappropriate and an obviously fireable offense. Ed T. Rush – because I have no beef with the neurofunk DJ – has no business in his current function. He clearly has a vendetta or grudge and an official’s office is no such place for those emotions to fester. What’s worse, what if there was a conspiracy to keep UCLA in the tournament? Emotion is one thing and excusable as human…but a SCANDAL! ARE WE LOOKING AT A SCANDAL?” Those were some of my thoughts.

And I have to imagine many of you shared these feelings and still do. Emotions ran high on the night of that technical – it’s even more well documented than the two points – and officiating has long been a point of contention in the Pac-12. Firing Ed T. Rush was a very rationale first thought. But…

Stage 3: What was this thing really saying?

So hold on, I think I needed to pause. Firing someone is a big deal and while I support just punishment, I’ve also come to learn that reactionary decisions are bad. Without this perspective I might have: No job, a child, debt, a graduate degree, things I can’t talk about because my mom might figure out how to use a computer this week, a piercing, more furniture off the street, JNCOs, an adult goatee, or an ASU fan.

Stepping back I noticed that this was a bullied subordinate attacking a man who “we’re all afraid of” under the conditions of anonymity. Suddenly this screamed of tattle tale and finger pointing. What’s more, who hasn’t suggested something astronomically preposterous in a work meeting? I once listed – from my first kill to the last – who I’d take out should the office ever enter a Hunger Games situation. That, in retrospect, was not my best work. This, in retrospect, is not Ed T. Rush’s best work.

If we’re to take the conference at it’s word, Rush’s comments were “in jest” and that everyone involved understood that these were “not serious offers.” No one wound up $5k richer. Michael Irving – the official who controversially T’d up Miller following this meeting – did not go to Cancun. An off the cuff remark that likely received chuckles was turned into a likely lucrative whistle blowing affair for one disgruntled man in stripes and jumped on by the media (understandably so).

During this stage of reaction I wasn’t excusing Rush’s comments but rather settling into the notion that these were words surrounding an official and an easy story to blow up. This angle also does not point fingers at Jeff Goodman for running with this story. It’s good stuff. But my grain of salt was growing…

Stage 4: My Take

In what was either a small windowless room in the bowels of the MGM Grand Garden Event center or a glorious conference room in the same venue, Ed T. Rush made a remark about one of the coaches that had rode his officials season long. An under-appreciated and intimidated official went to the media with it under the protection of anonymity following what would no doubt appear action stemming from that off-handed remark. The conference called it a joke and had addressed its inappropriate nature with Rush.

That’s the story we know.

The fall out, of course, is where the intrigue lies. Who’s getting fired? What’s the conspiracy? How much money was really exchanged? Did he touch the ball? Can I party with Irving at Señor Frogs?

Again, what we know is that Rush said something he undoubtedly should not have. We also have anecdotal evidence that Rush is a powerful man with capability of bullying people. Mark Cuban once said,

“Ed Rush might have been a great ref, but I wouldn’t hire him to manage a Dairy Queen. His interest is not in the integrity of the game or improving the officiating, he #1 priority of Ed Rush is maintaining power.”

Officiating is both thankless and a grind. These officials are pining for games, overworked, and maybe not always assigned games based on skill but rather preference. The sarcastic commentary of a tyrannical boss, regardless his or her intent, can be interpreted in many ways. As a manager, Rush should have known better than to make such a comment. Stepping out of our basketball bubble – or even our sports bubble – a manager’s role, particularly on the eve of performance, is to coach, empower, and educate. Doubt should not be instilled in the minds of the team, no matter whether it’s sales, dance, bartending, or computer programming. You’re a leader, be better than the surface pettiness.

Back into our hoops bubble, these comments were made in the face of officials tasked with championing the law of sport. Now we do plenty of bitching at these men but we ultimately entrust them with the rules of the game. For the most part, they do a good job and are best appreciated when they are not seen.

Well, Ed T. Rush and Larry Scott, you’ve got the spotlight on them. All eyes.

And you dropped the ball. To dismiss this as a joke and that a couple conversations were had is unfathomably weak. I may be stepping into hyperbole but this is the very sanctity of sport. Rules – as we learned in kindergarten – are to be followed. If doubt creeps into the most basic and truest tenants of the game – that the rules must be followed – how do we trust any results?

It’s now undeniable that the playing field was not level for Arizona (NOTE: THAT GAME WAS NOT LOST ON THAT CALL) regardless of Rush’s intent.

For such, the spirit of competition deserves better than 191 inconsequential words of fluff. No. You nip this thing in the bud and you do not let it grow into the weed it could potentially become. It doesn’t matter what the investigation uncovered, this is bigger than whether Miller deserved a technical or not. This is the accountability of the stripes, the integrity of rules. Whether Irving’s actions were justified or not, Rush had planted this idea in his head. Inception, goes the dynamite. And regardless of Miller’s previous actions, leadership must be above such commentary in professional settings. Miller himself needs to be better than berating a Pac-12 employee in the halls.

So what we have here is a crummy situation. A comment that did not cost Arizona a basketball game (stop Jordan Adams already) but did put an entire conference’s officiating integrity in the limelight. The last thing they possibly needed addressed in the least convincing of manners.

What we needed was to believe that this was not sifting into the outcomes of the games which teams play to win, coaches coach to win, and fans cheer to win. To believe that these efforts are not for naught and that all participants can trust that the outcome was based off of the adherence and upholding of an established set of rules. To believe that when the final horn sounds, one team has prevailed over the other as the better of two competitors. Nothing else.

Following Monday’s Pac-12 statement and inaction, I don’t know if I believe.

I Love Thursdays

I love Thursdays….

photo(20)

Thanks, Larry.

I do. And I don’t care what you think. I love them for the games they want to be and I love them for the games that they almost are. I love them. I love them.

Pac-12 Selling $12 Tournament Session Tickets

PacHoops, from it’s inception, has made no bones about its excitement of the Pac-12’s expansion and subsequent journey into television network-dom. The head quarters themselves are just an Uncle Rico stone’s throw from my apartment and they broadcast any and every game I want to see. Or at least facilitate the broadcast rights in such a manner that ESPN or some other carrier provides.

The Pac-12 Network has changed our lives.

And it continues to do so. Tomorrow is 12/12/12 – that’s a lotta dozens – and to celebrate such, the conference is selling $12 single session passes to the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. Tomorrow, from 10am-to-10pm PST,  the tickets will be available for purchase here (http://pac-12.com/tickets).

But what does it all mean, Basil? As a credit card touting consumer, you are eligible to purchase one ticket to each session for $12 a piece. For you math wizzes, that’s $72 dollars to attend the entire Pac-12 Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament. In layman’s terms: Ganga.

So I’ll be there and I’m prepared to party with you. Hell, I write a column called Marching to Vegas for Rush the Court. We’ve been giddy about this thing since the day it was speculated. The MGM Grand Garden Arena ain’t seen nothin’ yet (OK, so it’s Vegas and that arena has likely seen all sorts of stuff. But I guarantee you it hasn’t seen Tad Boyle kill a bear!). All I know is Larry Scott put this thing in Vegas for us to attend which is more than we can say for Staples.

Be there and let’s watch somebody auto-qualify for The Dance.

 

 

The Weekend Review: Week 1 in the Pac-12

Unblemished. Let’s revel in this first weekend’s perfection because it’s never bad to see an empty L’s column. After what we endured as Conference-o-Champion fans a season ago, we deserve this moment of loss-less glory.

And welcome back. It’s been a second and it sure was nice to gander at my phone Friday night and see this:

Don’t judge the edge network, I was well en route to a seaside cabin built in 1967 by my buddy’s grandparents and where progressive thinking grandparents hand build cabins, the cell towers don’t tend to follow. Happy birthday, Seth.

But how’s about that TV deal, eh? Look, it’s flawed and it’s not going to deliver games to the backs of our retinas a la 007 or Ethan Hunt, but it got me a Colorado-Wofford game and an Oregon-NAU game i otherwise never would’ve seen. I got Arizona without hunting down obscure channels or pirated radio feeds or making backroom deals at bars I don’t want to be in. That network is a glorious work in progress and no matter what it’s better than FSN.

And now, three brief paragraphs into the first Weekend Review, it’s time to get over that unblemished record. It’s not going to stay that way and we need to see some RIP boosters. Just because Charleston Southern and NAU can keep games against Arizona and Oregon tight into the final minutes doesn’t mean anyone’s accomplished anything. This is the time of year where teams cut their teeth against opponents with numbers next to their name and in hostile environments. This is when you begin earning your cupcakes because you’ve garnered a four-seed and they’re a thirteen. But fear not, that will get going shortly as a handful of squads tip off in tournaments this week.

The season has begun!

Leader in the Clubhouse: I’m not going to spend much time on this section early in the year as it’s all speculation. If indeed this conference is a two horse race featuring UCLA and Arizona, UCLA did more to impress between the two. So, one game deep, UCLA is the best team in the Pac-12. But – food for thought – Oregon State is the only 2-0 team? Next subject.

Game of the Weekend: Tough here. There was nothing particularly riveting about this slate of games. No Major-on-Major action or even Major-on-Intriguing-Mid-Major action. Arguably the marquee game was Oregon State hosting New Mexico State which turned into somewhat of a ho hum affair in which Ahmad Starks fulfilled his coaches promise that he could single-handedly replace Jared Cunningham’s scoring. The wee PG dropped 33/5/5, including four steals. But I must award this to someone so I’m going to go ahead and give it to the Pac-12 Conference. The GOtW, in Week One, is awarded based on the fact that there were indeed games. 13-0.

The Big Loser: No one lost and one weekend in I refuse to call anyone a loser. Except, maybe, Colorado football [sad face].

State of the Conference: Here’s a new section stemming from the company line every coach took at Pac-12 Media Day. Sean Miller went so far as to lay out his cheering plan, “I can remember a long time ago when I played, I would always cheer against the teams in our conference because I didn’t want them to do as well as us.  And those days have ended a long time ago.” So Sean’s a fan of the Conference but so is every other coach. They each talked about depth, improvement, etc. It was like they were Larry Scott’s Pac-12 Promotoinal Pinocchios; the Triple P’s. They did well because I gobbled it up, hook-line-and-sinker. But I’ll keep beating the dead horse and remind us all while pinching myself, the actual games are being played now and that’s the true measure of the company improvement line.

Favorite Stat Line: Another new section for the new season, I wanted to take a peak around the league and highlight that which statistically impressed. This week there were a lot of candidates. I’ve already mentioned Ahmad Starks’ 33 point effort and I really liked that the most important piece of Stanford’s success, Dwight Powell, dropped a cool 27 points. Gotta shout out to Colorado’s freshman behemoth, Josh Scott, and his 14/6 while shooting 10/11 from the stripe. Also receiving votes would be the least heralded of UCLA’s freshman class, Jordan Adams, going off for 21/7 in leading the Bruins in New Pauley. Not receiving votes was Josh Smith’s 5/5 or Devon Collier’s 0/1/1 foul out against NMSU. Sigh. No, my favorite stat of the weekend was ASU’s 79 point outing. This is a big year for the Herbivore who’s been cited as the owner of the warmest seat in America. He’s promised a faster offense and in game one, against Who-Really-Cares-U, the Sun Devils scored 79 points – a total they surmounted just twice last year. This energized pace, arguably lead by Jordan Bachynski’s flirtation with a triple-double, sparked the yet-to-be-viral meme, #HustlinHerbs. As I’ll expand in the next section, this is just one game against grossly inferior competition, but the Devils’ pace is something we’re already keeping an eye on and they seem to be taking it seriously.

What We Learned: Absolutely nothing. This opening weekend’s schedule was built to go undefeated. This isn’t synchronized swimming where style counts. It’s basketball, wins and losses. Everyone won and that’s the Week One take away. A few things have piqued my interest but I’m really going to try my darnedest to draw zero conclusions from this weekend. If business was taken care of, then we tip our hats and read up on the next game otherwise we’ll lose our minds (just wait for the YouTuber below). If we do get weird, I’d pick apart the fact that Arizona played like their 2011-12 selves or Devon Collier’s performance or start to call Bachynski, Bogut. Nope. Can’t let that happen. But after that keep it in your pants rant, isn’t it fun to have things to discuss? It’s tangible, it’s there, I can see it and formulate opinions based on fact and not speculation. Fans: We are better than the stock market.

The YouTuber: Does Warcraft make everything funnier? Keep a level head and Roll. Damn. Tide.

Week 10 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

Read it, don’t weep, at ryanrecker.com, along with a bevy of podcast goodies.

This is the finale. The last Weekend Preview we’ll read, the end of the regular season, the close of a forgettable year. But you know what?

It’s March.

The Madness is here and this is why – no matter how bad the early losses to South Dakota State, Loyola Marymount, Wyoming, or Seattle-Pacific sting – we kept watching. For the shots that fall a blink before zero and the names that are called on Sunday afternoon and for that mad Thursday and Friday where a two-hour lunch break is gone in a flash. To rationalize our favorite 12-seed winning it all and to become irrationally lost in a close game and to lose your five bucks in the office pool to Diane in HR who just thought Shaka Smart was cute. For one shining moment.

Yes, this is the greatest of the twelve months for all of those reasons and more.

Get excited. Get rowdy. Get some time off work.

The finale.

TV Complaint: Seventy-five percent of Thursday’s games will not be televised. This is undoubtedly a complainable offense but let’s re-frame it. Life’s better if we can twist things into something a little more bright so I will remind you – as Thursday’s sole televised game is a mega-matchup – that this evening’s broadcast shorcomings will be the last. Indeed this final weekend is the final weekend of regular season Pac-12 basketball (or football or baseball or water polo or gymnastics or underwater basket weaving) that we will ever endure sans the Pac-12 Network. Take a moment to turn this on and celebrate for a moment. No doubt you’ve followed the commentary but I’ll remind you that Larry Scott will be putting every regular season basketball and football game on television. No more hacking networks, radio pirating, or twitter fiending. Your games shall be yours. Rejoice.

Game of the Weekend: No buildup here. Colorado heads to Oregon to play, straight up, for a spot in the top four. We won’t discredit Saturday’s games when the Buffs travel to Corvallis and Ducks host the Utes, but Thursday’s game has major post-season ramifications. Should the Buffs win – their first major road win of the season in the final weekend – they’ll secure themselves the four seed (of course assuming the road sweep which is no easy task) as they would drop the tie-breaker to Arizona. If Dana’s Ducks win, they’ll wind up the three seed as they hold the tie-breaker over the Wildcats. But enough about standings, hypotheticals, and making asses out of ourselves, this is going to be a good one. We’ve outlined what’s at stake so now recall that Boyle’s Boys previously beat the Ducks on a “controversial” foul in the final seconds, sending Oregon home bitter. The rematch is on a bigger stage, with tangible outcomes and is the first big game in March. Doesn’t get any better than this.

Game to Avoid: Every game that doesn’t have top-four implications. Sorry, but if you don’t have a chance to dance then the season’s over. By all means I expect the teams to maintain their competitive spirit and try their best; channel their inner non-Bruin and show up. But that doesn’t mean you have to. Your time is precious and act accordingly. The current TV deal’s swan song will make most of this easy for you but don’t bother logging on to usctrojans.com to take in the USC-WSU game. Ignore the UCLA-WSU or Utah-OSU games, too. Beyond that avoidable triumvirate, every other game has Pac-12 (or bigger) tournament seeding ramifications. Down to the wire.

Something to Prove: A strong showing this weekend could put the Oregon Ducks in the Big Dance. Beating Colorado tonight will nearly guarantee them the third seed and a first round bye. But here’s the deal. Oregon has the second highest RPI (48 vs. Cal’s 37) and dances in six different bracket projections. I won’t spell out their tournament resume but know that these guys are intriguing and dangerous with an impending conference tournament to play. A tournament that could prove deal making – even without running the table – for the Ducks. But don’t mistake intrigue and opportunity for the red carpet. Sweeping the visiting Ski Trippers and making a run through staples is imperative and difficult. It’s a fragile destiny but one that Dana and his Ducks could control. Of course we need to hat tip here to the Buffs as they too have an equal shot to make some noise. If nothing else, Boyle and company can aggressively plant the CU flag on Pac-12 Mountain.

Something to Lose: Once the darlings of the downtrodden conference, California is coming off a semi-surprising loss to Colorado, sits alone in second place and should they lose on Sunday to Stanford – a place they’re 1-3 the last four years – Monty’s Crew could find their way to fourth place (I cannot fully substantiate that claim without extensive tie-breaker research but it’s semi-feasible and highly dramatic). It’s no time to panic in Berkeley but things have undoubtedly been brighter especially considering its felt as if the Bears controlled their destiny much of this season. I really can’t see Cal playing their way out of the Big Dance but the Bears could stand to piece together a nice little closing run. If for no other reason than their own sanity.

Weekend Youtuber: It’s time.

Larry Scott’s Pac-12 Network Will Change Your Life

Larry Scott spent his summer making sure your future Falls, Winters, and Springs were chock full of Pac-12 sports.

Now, this isn’t news but it’s undoubtedly worthy of a reminder, especially as we roll out of the OOC schedule and into Pac-12 play. You see, I live in San Francisco and have not had television access to three of Cal’s ten games and two of Stanford’s nine. Additionally I couldn’t watch an Arizona football game while home for Thanksgiving. These anecdotes also don’t account for games that are aired on obscure networks like MountainWest Sports and Root Sports.

When the Pac-12 Network debuts – August 2012 – fans of the Conference of Champions will have unprecedented access to their favorite teams. By unprecedented, I mean every football and men’s basketball game will be aired. Nationally.

Pause. Let that sink in for a second. Get excited.

Guaranteed 330 games broadcast across four providers (Time Warner Cable, Cox, Bright House, and Comcast). The math puts that at 45 million households or roughly the population of Ukraine. There are continued negotiations with the satellite providers and subsequently more households.

There will be six regional networks – Pac-12 Wash, Ore, NoCal, SoCal, AZ, and Mtn – meant to deliver content specific to those teams. Example: Pac-12 classics. Arizona is heading to Seattle this weekend to battle Gonzaga. What’s that I see on P12-AZ? Oh, it’s a replay of the 2003 Second Round, NCAA double-OT thriller featuring Arizona and Gonzaga. Can you say Friday nights on the couch?

No matter whether you’re in Gainesville, Columbus or Austin you’re going to see every single game that you want to. If you want to watch Utah-Idaho State (this Friday’s match-up), you can! If you want to watch Cal-Presbyterian (a non-broadcast football game), you can! You’ll also get to watch 40 women’s hoops games and select Olympic sports. Pac-on.

Then there’s the monetary aspect. The contract is a $3 billion deal spanning twelve years. Some elementary division shows us that’s at a little more than $20M per school, per year. In layman’s terms: lots.

(Everything you want to know about the deal can be found here. Jon Wilner at Mercury News owns it)

And if you don’t think that’s significant, already without a single television dollar collected, Washington State shelled out 214% more money to new head football coach Mike Leach than newly ousted head coach, Paul Wulf ($11M vs. $3.5M). For a little more perspective, the new deal will pay each school about 285% more annually ($20.8M vs. $5.4M).

Of course these figures are big picture. Finitely, there will be buildup to the large sums with the bulk of the payout on the back end of the 12 year deal. Semantics.

What I’m getting at is, unlike a Ben Howland suspension, the Larry Scott deals will be impactful. From the way your school spends to the games you’ll get to watch, your Pac-12 life is about to drastically change.

The intangible benefit of the increased revenues and national exposure is what this will do to the talent levels secured by Pac-12 schools. Is it any coincidence that the SEC has the best football programs (or at least reputations) while simultaneously holding the richest television contracts? The ACC and hoops? Expect the Pac-12 to shake the low talent stigma and reality, a slight erosion of East Coast Bias (especially if Scott can secure web-based broadcasting like espn3), and a few more trophies on the West Coast.

Increased money, increased eyeballs, increased everything.

And if that’s not enough for you, after recently being let go by CBS, Gus Johnson has joined Fox and subsequently will call Pac-12 football and basketball games. You’ll recall that he did a helluva job with last year’s Pac-10 Championship basketball game (COLD BLOODED) and if you watched this year’s Pac-12 Championship football game, you know he can make anything exciting.

Now, if you can’t get behind the dollars, the air time, and Gus, well then, you’re not a fan, have no business watching even the Olympic sports, should probably find a new hobby, and not call me up.

I’ll be busy watching the game.