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Pac-12 releases complete 2012 schedule

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With a handful of new, high-profile head coaches — Washington State’s Mike Leach and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez among them — USC coming off a bowl ban; Oregon claiming the conference’s first Rose Bowl title since after the 2008 season; and a historic scheduling agreement with the Big Ten, the future is looking very bright for the Pac-12 in football.

As for the short-term future, the conference released a look at what the 2012 slate will look like.

Highlighted by the Nov. 3 meeting between USC and Oregon — the same day, incidentally, LSU and Alabama square off in a rematch of the rematch of The Rematch — the Pac-12 released the full schedule of each of its members Wednesday, with the 2012 season kicking off Thursday, Aug. 30, with Utah hosting Northern Colorado and ending with the conference championship game Friday, Nov. 30.  And, for the first time in the conference’s history, all games will be nationally televised.

“The one thing we heard loud and clear from fans across the Conference is they want to see their teams play every week,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “Starting in 2012 fans can see all games throughout the country.”

Some notes of interest from the freshly-minted schedule appear below, followed by the complete 2012 league slate after the jump:

  • The conference schedule opens Sept. 15 with USC traveling to Stanford, the only league game that weekend.
  • In the first three weeks of the season, Pac-12 teams will face BcS conference foes such as Oklahoma State (at Arizona), Illinois (at Arizona State), Syracuse (neutral field vs. USC), Nebraska (at UCLA), Wisconsin (at Oregon State) LSU (Washington), Missouri (Arizona State) and Ohio State (Cal).
  • The Big Game between Cal and Stanford will be moved from November to October.  It will be the first time that game has been played during that month.
  • Washington does not open conference play until the fifth weekend, a Thursday night affair with Stanford on Sept. 27.  Additionally, all of the Huskies’ home games will be played at the home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
  • Five of Stanford’s last seven games, including four of six conference contests, will be played on the road.
  • The new schedule will also include eight Thursday and Friday specialty dates.

Thur., Aug. 30
Northern Colorado at Utah

Sat., Sept. 1
Toledo at Arizona
Northern Arizona at Arizona State
Hawai’i at USC
UCLA at Rice
Nevada at California
San Jose State at Stanford
Arkansas State at Oregon
Nicholls State at Oregon State
San Diego State at Washington
Washington State at BYU
Colorado vs. Colorado State (1)

Sat. Sept. 8
Oklahoma State at Arizona
Illinois at Arizona State
Southern Utah at California
USC vs. Syracuse (2)
Nebraska at UCLA
Duke at Stanford
Fresno State at Oregon
Wisconsin at Oregon State
Washington at LSU
Eastern Washington at Washington State
Sacramento State at Colorado
Utah at Utah State

Sat., Sept. 15
South Carolina State at Arizona
Arizona State at Missouri
USC at Stanford
Houston at UCLA
California at Ohio State
Tennessee Tech at Oregon
Portland State at Washington
Washington State at UNLV
Colorado at Fresno State
BYU at Utah

Sat., Sept. 22

Arizona at Oregon
Utah at Arizona State
California at USC
Oregon State at UCLA
Colorado at Washington State

Thur., Sept. 27
Stanford at Washington

Sat., Sept. 29
Oregon State at Arizona
Arizona State at California
UCLA at Colorado
Oregon at Washington State

Thurs., Oct. 4
USC at Utah

Sat., Oct. 6
Arizona at Stanford
UCLA at California
Washington at Oregon
Washington State at Oregon State

Thurs., Oct. 11
Arizona State at Colorado

Sat., Oct. 13
USC at Washington
Utah at UCLA
California at Washington State
Stanford at Notre Dame
Oregon State at BYU

Thurs., Oct. 18
Oregon at Arizona State

Sat., Oct. 20
Washington at Arizona
Colorado at USC
Stanford at California
Utah at Oregon State

Sat., Oct. 27
USC at Arizona
UCLA at Arizona State
California at Utah
Washington State at Stanford
Colorado at Oregon
Oregon State at Washington

Fri., Nov. 2
Washington at California

Sat., Nov. 3
Arizona at UCLA
Arizona State at Oregon State
Oregon at USC
Stanford at Colorado
Washington State at Utah

Sat., Nov. 10
Colorado at Arizona
Arizona State at USC
UCLA at Washington State
Oregon at California
Oregon State at Stanford
Utah at Washington

Sat., Nov. 17
Arizona at Utah
Washington State at Arizona State
USC at UCLA
California at Oregon State
Stanford at Oregon
Washington at Colorado

Fri., Nov. 23
Arizona State at Arizona
Washington at Washington State
Utah at Colorado

Sat., Nov. 24
Notre Dame at USC
Stanford at UCLA
Oregon at Oregon State

Fri., Nov. 30
Pac-12 Football Championship Game

Neutral Sites
(1) Invesco Field, Denver, Colo.
(2) MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Note: All Washington home games will be played at CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

Big 12 reportedly prefers expansion to be settled before start of season

WVU vs Marshall
Associated Press
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Unlike most goings-on in the conference, it doesn’t appear the Big 12 is going to drag its feet on the biggest issue it’s currently facing.

The Big 12 announced earlier this month that the conference will expand, whether by two teams or four.  Regardless of the final number, CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd, citing three individuals with knowledge of the ongoing process, reported Thursday, the conference “would prefer to wrap up the expansion process before the start of the 2016 football season.” The reasoning for an expedited timeline is simple: the powers-that-be in the league do not want expansion talk and speculation to overshadow actual football.

Such a timeline would also be beneficial for any incoming teams.

If the expansion teams are indeed announced before the season, that conceivably would give the new schools a chance to begin playing in the conference in 2017. For now, the league is in the process of contemplating how it will decide participants for its championship game that has been reinstated for 2017.

“I have not made any comment on time frame and do not plan any such statement,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Dodd in a statement.

It’s believed that any new members for the Big 12 will come from a group that includes teams from both the AAC (Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, UCF, USF) and Mountain West (Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State) as well as football-independent BYU.  More specifically, BYU, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn are considered by some/most observers as the front-runners, with some throwing Cincinnati in as well.

The AAC kicks off its Media Days Monday, and expansion will no doubt dominate the conversation during the two-day event.

FSU, Boise in talks to move 2019 opener to Jacksonville

10 Nov 2001:  The Florida State Seminoles mascot walks down the field during the game against the North Carolina Wolfpack at the Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida. The Wolfpack defeated the Seminoles 34-28.Mandatory Credit:  Andy Lyons /Allsport
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One thing is certain, Florida State loves themselves some neutral-site openers.

Florida State and Boise State are scheduled to open the 2019 season at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.  However, FirstCoastNews.com first reported, the two football programs are actively engaged in ongoing negotiations about moving that game to Jacksonville’s EverBank Field.

“A deal has not been reached but ‘positive discussions continue,” an unnamed official told the website.

FSU has a return game to Boise scheduled for 2020; as of now, the Tallahassee Democrat reports in confirming the initial news, FSU has no intentions of canceling that game.

If the game is moved to Jacksonville, it would give FSU neutral-site openers in four of the next five seasons.  They are already scheduled to open the 2016 season against Ole Miss in Orlando and the 2017 season against Alabama in Atlanta.  Additionally, reports surfaced earlier this week that FSU is closing in on an agreement to open the 2020 season in Atlanta against West Virginia.

FSU would reportedly make in excess of $8 million combined for the 2016 and 2017 openers.  The financial particulars for the 2019 and 2020 openers are unknown at this point.

One potential benefit of this spate of neutral-field games, the Democrat writes, is that it would “give FSU the opportunity to continue renovation efforts of Doak Campbell Stadium while boosting its strength of schedule against non-conference opponents.”

Steve Spurrier named ambassador, consultant for Florida athletics

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Not surprisingly, the Ol’ Ball Coach is coming home again.

Last month, Florida announced that it would be naming the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in honor of Steve Spurrier, something the coach considered “to be the biggest, most special honor I have ever received.”  Friday morning, UF announced that Spurrier’s name would continue on in another official capacity, revealing that Spurrier has been named “Ambassador and Consultant for the Florida Gators Athletic Department.”

There’s no official word on his specific duties, although I’m certain being shirtless and holding a Coors and cutting a rug are among them.

Spurrier played at Florida from 1963-66, becoming the first player in Gators history to win the Heisman Trophy. He returned to Gainesville as the Head Ball Coach in 1990, going 122-27-1 in his 12 seasons with eight SEC East titles, six SEC championships, 10 top-10 finishes and a national championship in 1996.

He abruptly retired as the head coach at South Carolina in early October of 2015, finishing his coaching career with a record of 228-89-2 (.718).  In February of this year, it was announced that Spurrier would serve as a special assistant for South Carolina president Harris Pastides and athletic director Ray Tanner.

Below are the pertinent quotes surrounding his latest appointment:

UF ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JEREMY FOLEY
“It’s a great day for the Gator Nation to be able to welcome Coach Spurrier back home. He has served as a tremendous ambassador to the University and the athletic department for 50-plus years and it’s only fitting that at this point in his career, he is back in Gainesville. Being a Gator has always meant so much to Coach Spurrier, but it means just as much to us have him come home.”

UF HEAD COACH JIM MCELWAIN
“I look forward to visiting with him on a lot of occasions and picking his brain on a number of issues. It’s a credit to Jeremy to get him back home where he belongs. More than anything I look forward to actually talking to him and being around him rather than just saying hello to his statue on my way to work every day.”

STEVE SPURRIER
“My wife, Jerri, and I are extremely thrilled to be returning home to our alma mater, and to Gainesville where we met on campus over 50 years ago. I’m very appreciative to Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, Head Coach Jim McElwain and Phil Pharr of Gator Boosters for their role in making this happen.

“I also want to say thanks to the University of South Carolina for allowing me to be their coach from 2005 to 2015. Also a special thanks to all of the Gamecock players, coaches and fans that allowed our teams to set so many school records. I will now pull for South Carolina to win every game but one, just as I did when I pulled for Florida to win every game but one as the Gamecock coach. I will try my best to promote and assist in any way I can to help the Gators to continue to be one of the very best athletic programs in America. I admire what Coach McElwain and his staff accomplished last year. I’m anxious to watch the Gator football team as they strive to be the best in the SEC and the nation in the years ahead.”

UPDATED 11:58 a.m. ET: Both USC and Spurrier have confirmed that the OBC will give up his position as special assistant at the school.

At least one poll ‘means more… maybe, than anything’ to Bob Stoops

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners is soaked with a water cooler by Nila Kasitati #54 of the Oklahoma Sooners after the Sooners beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 58-23 at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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I don’t care where your allegiances lie, this is a pretty damn cool story.

Earlier this week, ESPN‘s Chris Low took a poll of Big 12 and SEC head coaches, 23 in all, and asked them the following question: If you had a son who was an elite football prospect and could play for any coach in America other than yourself, who would be your first choice?

The usual suspects were mentioned, among them: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Miami’s Mark Richt, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. That venerable list received one vote apiece. Then there was Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald with two votes apiece, and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio and Stanford’s David Shaw with three each.

The top vote-getter? Bob Stoops of Oklahoma with five.

In an interview with Guerin Emig of Tulsa World in part regarding this poll specifically, Stoops relayed just how much it meant to him to be that respected by his counterparts.

It means more to me, maybe, than anything,” he said Thursday.

“That my peers, coaches, feel I treat kids the right way,” he said, “I don’t know, hopefully a good role model and mentor to them and coach, as well. It means a great deal to me.”

“I have such respect for all the coaches out there at all levels,” Stoops said. “So yeah, there’s no doubt that that’s very flattering. I’m honored they feel that way.

It’s one thing for a parent outside your profession to say they’d want you to coach/mentor/instruct/oversee/supervise your child. When it’s members of your own profession? As evidenced by the OU coach’s response, it doesn’t get any better or more humbling than that.