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Pac-12 Power Rankings: The conference responds poorly to SB 206

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 28 Arizona State Spring Game Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Power rankings are often all the same, so we’re mixing things up. Each week you’ll get a rundown of 12 or fewer highlights, storylines and anything in between from the Conference of Champions.

Welcome to the bye week edition of the Pac-12 Power Rankings. These have pretty much nothing to do with WSU being on a bye, but there is a lot of off-the-field stuff to talk about, which isn’t always ideal but it’s reality.

Lots of chatter this week on the California legislation that would allow college athletes to profit form their name, image and likeness. We touch on how the Pac-12 responded, plus we look at a weird situation with a recruit in the state of Oregon, another update on USC’s drama, the conference passing on the opportunity to sell its media rights, and much more.

1. The Pac-12 releases a thoughtless statement on the name, image and likeness bill out of California

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, here’s the statement:

”The Pac-12 is disappointed in the passage of SB 206 and believes it will have very significant negative consequences for our student-athletes and broader universities in California. This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.

”Our universities have led important student-athlete reform over the past years, but firmly believe all reforms must treat our student-athletes as students pursuing an education, and not as professional athletes. We will work with our universities to determine next steps and ensure continuing support for our student-athletes.”

How in the world will there be a “negative disparate impact” on female athletes, and how will Olympic sport athletes lose resources? The conference doesn’t say, of course, which tells me it doesn’t know much about the new California law (which won’t be law until 2023, by the way).

Now compare the Pac-12’s statement with Stanford’s:

”Stanford supports the goal of advancing the well-being of college student-athletes, including reform that provides student-athletes with greater flexibility regarding the use of their name, image and likeness. However, we believe true progress can only be achieved when it is undertaken at the national level, with appropriate safeguards against unintended consequences.

”An NCAA working group examining these issues is expected to report its recommendations this fall, and the provisions of SB 206 would not take effect until 2023. We are hopeful and optimistic that the current conflicts between SB 206 and NCAA bylaws will be resolved in a way that provides a rational and consistent national framework. We appreciate the governor’s commitment in his signing message to monitoring these issues and addressing any unintended consequences that arise.

”We stand ready to work with the NCAA, the Pac-12 Conference, California officials and others to move toward reform that supports our student-athletes and ensures that California schools and student-athletes will continue to compete and thrive in national collegiate athletics.”

That, my friends, is how you properly address this issue. Yes, the new law will change the sport. But how? What are the positives and negatives? Nobody knows for sure, which is why the Stanford response is strong.

2. Stadium pundits offer lazy commentary on Mike Leach’s comments

Get ready because here comes a hot take!

Leach’s “fat and entitled” comments will get all the attention, but as Vince Grippi pointed out and Theo Lawson reported, Leach did point the finger at himself.

I get why media outlets like Stadium do what they do. A quick Leach quip goes semi-viral and that’s all they need to make quick comments (kind of like this weekly feature!). But just know that Leach is an equal opportunity finger pointer.

3. Devon Williams was on Oregon State’s roster. Two days later, he was on Oregon’s roster.

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Oregon at Oregon State Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coug fans, you think you’re bummed about Sav’ell Smalls picking UW over WSU, even after he seemed to eliminate UW earlier this summer? We have company in Corvallis.

Wide receiver Devon Williams was with the USC Trojans before becoming dissatisfied and ending up at Oregon State. We know this because he was on the Beavers’ roster a week ago.

Then, after apparently heading back home to California, Williams announces he’s joining the Oregon Ducks. John Canzano of The Oregonian had a good look at the whole thing, and even said some Oregon representatives were surprised to see that Oregon State added Williams to its roster. What wild ride.

4. Perhaps Williams picked Oregon because Oregon State’s commitment to football is lacking

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Oregon State, the news didn’t get any better. Canzano also had a piece last week on the Beavers finances and football program. Basically, the Beavers don’t invest enough to be competitive. I feel WSU fans can relate, though WSU has surely upped its investment in football the past eight years.

Chin up, Beaver fans. It’s possible to overachieve, relative to your location and resources.

5. The Pac-12 quietly turned down the opportunity to sell its media rights to an investment firm

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 29 Kent State at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was big news when the Pac-12 announced it would explore selling its media rights for a quick infusion of cash. It was quieter news when Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reported that the conference, after doing its homework and receiving interest, punted.

Good move or bad move? Good, I say. As Wilner’s article mentions, selling your media rights is entering into a business partnership, and those business partnerships should be with a media company, not an investment firm. A better partner would be ESPN or Fox, which is what the conference should have done back in 2012.

The conference is clearly betting on itself when its media rights come up for renewal. A lot can happen between then and now, but it’s quite the gamble.

6. In on-the-field news, let’s check in on USC!

The Trojans went to Seattle and lost. USC alum Keyshawn Johnson then tweeted this:

Tune in next week!

7. The Pac-12 couldn’t make it to October with an undefeated team. Is the College Football Playoff still in reach?

Oregon v Stanford


A one-loss team has a shot, and right now the best bets are Oregon, Utah and Washington. Oregon’s one loss is to Auburn, who checks in at no. 7 in the AP poll and is undefeated. As far as losses go, that one is a “good” loss for the Ducks right now. Oregon still has to go to Washington on Oct. 19, and that should be a loser-out game.

Utah’s loss isn’t nearly as “good,” especially with USC tumbling again. Utah also must go to UW, but should the Utes reach the Pac-12 Championship Game with just the loss to USC on its resume, it could make things interesting. It could be a rematch with UW. Utah doesn’t play Oregon during the regular season, so any Ute-Ducks matchup will come in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

UW’s one loss isn’t as “good” as Oregon’s either, and as we mentioned, the Huskies still have to beat Oregon and Utah. Both games are at home, which is an advantage.

The Pac-12 tends to eat itself, but as long as one team eats everybody else, there’s still a shot at the Playoff.

8. This Isaiah Hodgins touchdown catch is impressive

Remember, he is a former WSU commit.

9. Stanford survives at Oregon State

NCAA Football: Stanford at Oregon State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanford Cardinal were three- or four-point favorites (depending on where you looked) heading into a road game at Oregon State. My, how times have changed. Early on, the Cardinal looked like a newer, better team than we’ve seen this season. But it allowed Oregon State to get back into the game and needed a field goal with one second left to survive. Vegas always knows.

The Cardinal were without starting quarterback K.J. Costello again, leaving David Mills to start in his place. The Cardinal got the win, but like we asked ourselves last week, will they make a bowl game, or will they be playing the role of spoiler?

10. Cal is suddenly in trouble, thanks to a loss at home to Arizona State and an injured Chase Garbers

NCAA Football: Arizona State at California Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Garbers, who has improved big time from last year (there was no way he’d get worse), went down late in the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils. Devin Modster came in relief but it wasn’t enough to remain unbeaten. Cal was the darling of the Pac-12 and the conference’s last undefeated team. Now? Well, the Bears are underdogs at Oregon, which may have been the case regardless of whether Garbers got hurt. But should Garbers be out longer—and it looks like he will be—the Bears might not be so darling anymore.

Unrelated, but interesting: Cal won’t leave the state of California for its last three games of the regular season (vs. USC, at Stanford, at UCLA).

Pac-12 Game of the Week

None. There are no interesting games this week. There are only four games:

  • Arizona at Colorado
  • Cal at Oregon
  • Oregon State at UCLA
  • Washington at Stanford

I suppose Cal at Oregon is somewhat interesting, but Garbers being out took some of the shine off of that one. The Cal defense vs. Justin Herbert is kind of intriguing.

Arizona at Colorado might find its way to my television. Both teams are 3-1.

Take your pick. Have fun this weekend.