Chuck Neinas

Neinas: Big 12 to be a 10-team league next year


For those looking for the Big 12’s membership total to match its name, you’re going to have to wait at least another year.  Probably.

In a conference call Tuesday, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told reporters that the Big 12 will be a 10-team conference in 2012 regardless of what Missouri ultimately decides.  Neinas and, presumably, the rest of the conference are operating under the assumption that Missouri, which voted earlier this month to explore its conference options, will be a member of the Big 12 in 2012.

“If Missouri was going to change horses, it wouldn’t be for 2012 anyway,” Neinas said, apparently ignoring the fact that TCU, which will become the Big 12’s 10th member next year, was still slated to be a member of the Big East in 2012 as recently as a week ago.

Neinas added that there’s no timetable the Big 12 has given Mizzou to make a decision on its conference future, although the commissioner hinted that the league would need a decision before the end of the 2011-2012 academic year.  That would make sense as the Big 12 would need to plan for beyond 2012 as soon as possible.

As far as future expansion, Neinas said there’s currently no consensus from the current members on staying at 10 schools or getting back to 12.

If 10 schools for the moment is indeed the tack the Big 12 decides to take, and Missouri opts to remain, that would bode well for the immediate future of the Big East.  Both Louisville and West Virginia have been mentioned as possibilities for an expanded Big 12; if there’s no expanded Big 12, the Big East could perhaps gain more of a solid footing in the collegiate landscape.  Until the next round of conference expansion, of course.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.