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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.

Houston wants to keep options open rather than focus just on Big 12

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 05:  Cameron Malveaux #94 of the Houston Cougars and Nick Thurman #91 kiss the AAC championship trophy after defeating the Temple Owls 24-13 at TDECU Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
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The University of Houston wants a spot in the Big 12, but it will also look for ways to keep its options open just in case. The Houston Chronicle highlighted the current situation for the Univeristy of Houston as the ongoing Big 12 expansion rumor mill spins, with a few mentions of the Cougars popping up here and there.

“We want Houston to be at the top of that list,” said Hunter Yurachek, Houston’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics. Asked about focusing entirely on the Big 12, Yurachek said “I think that limits us. We have to keep all our options open.”

Aside from potential membership in the Big 12, which appears to be the top goal for Houston, the two other options mentioned by The Houston Chronicle include sticking with the American Athletic Conference and continuing to be a power player in what could be the top non-power conference (with the hope and dream of one day being considered a power conference with a new media deal in the future) or holding out for the Pac-12 in the event the conference wants to set foot in the state of Texas. That last option may be the biggest reach, but a school like Houston would be wise to keep every scenario on the drawing board.

“We’re thinking long term at the University of Houston,” Yurachek explained. “We’re not making these changes for the immediate future. These are investments for anything that can happen in the collegiate landscape, not just any decisions the Big 12 could make in their future meetings.”

If the Big 12 is going to expand, Houston has a good set of pros and cons to consider. Among non-power conference options, Houston is well-positioned for future success in a very attractive media market. Of course, the Big 12 already has a strong presence throughout Texas with the Longhorns. If the purpose is to expand viewership, as seems to be the case with many realignment moves, this is a big drawback for Houston and it is one they cannot overcome. Of course, the Houston market is starting to tune into more SEC football recently with the addition of Texas A&M. Houston could help regain a stronghold for the Big 12 in the Houston market, but then again so could a dominant Texas Longhorns program in all likelihood.

Houston leaders have now reportedly met with leaders at each of the current Big 12 members. It is clear Houston would jump at the opportunity to join the Big 12, just as TCU did after jumping from the Mountain West Conference to the Big East, where the Horned Frogs never played a down before accepting a Big 12 invite.If the Big 12 chooses to expand, which is still no guarantee to happen, Houston has plenty to offer as the program continues to grow.

If the Big 12 chooses to expand, which is still no guarantee to happen, Houston has plenty to offer as the program continues to grow. Whether adding Houston makes sense to the rest of the Big 12 is still up for debate, just as is the possible membership of other options like Cincinnati, UConn, UCF, Memphis and BYU.

Former Texas OL Octavious Bishop joins ‘Horns staff in off-the-field role

Octavious Bishop
Texas athletics
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Former Texas offensive lineman Octavious Bishop has rejoined the program as the Longhorns’ director of student leadership and personal development. The position is a new one, created specifically for Bishop.

Texas’s release announcing his hire says Bishop will work with Charlie Strong and the UT football staff to “provide strategy and implementation of programs to support student-athlete development. Among the program’s goals and objectives will be personal growth, character enhancement, leadership assessment and development, life skills and career preparation.”

“I had an unbelievable conversation with Octavious about what we were looking for in this position and knew right away that he was the man for the job,” Strong said in a statement. “He’s an engaging and energetic person who has a ton of experience working with personal development and has gained so much knowledge in handling all aspects of student-athletes’ lives. I just really loved his passion and all of the ideas he was bringing to the table. On top of that, he’s a Longhorn letterman who overcame a lot of obstacles in his own life. I’m so excited to have him joining our staff.”

Bishop is a former three-year starter at left tackle for the Longhorns, best known as one of the road graders for Ricky Williams‘s NCAA record-breaking 1998 Heisman Trophy campaign. Bishop played professionally for the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons as well as in NFL Europe and the XFL before returning to Texas to finish his social work degree in 2001. He’s since earned his Master’s degree in social work from UT and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Walden University in Minnesota. He has work experience as a social worker and counselor, dealing with marriage, family and addiction counseling and working with students with mental health needs.

“Many of the student-athletes who will attend The University of Texas come from backgrounds similar to my own,” Bishop said. “I have a unique perspective, as a former player and student, that many of them will share. The relationships I’ve established outside of football have played a profound role in my professional and personal development.”

SEC to discuss expanding restriction on transfers

Nick Saban
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A year ago, the SEC adopted a rule banning its member schools from accepting transfers who were disciplined at their previous institution for sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence. The rule came about after Alabama accepted a transfer from Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, whom Mark Richt dismissed after he was arrested for domestic violence, only to see him again be arrested for domestic violence in Tuscaloosa. Chalk that entire episode up as just another way Nick Saban has changed the way the SEC conducts business.

Now the league is considering expanding the ban to other forms of misconduct in advance of its annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla.

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, a student-athlete working group has recommended expanding the rule to “bar transfers who were convicted of, pled guilty or no contest to a serious misconduct felony.”

“The rule that was passed at the last spring meeting was a first step,” SEC associate commissioner for legal affairs and compliance William King told the paper. “I think commissioner (Greg) Sankey made that clear from the beginning that this was a first step and that the conference would revisit the rule.”

The Big 12 and Pac-12 adopted similar rules to mimic the SEC, and it’s likely this policy will only see stronger teeth considering it was his practice of accepting players with violent pasts from other schools that led to Art Briles‘ eventual ouster.

The rule removes the incentive for coaches who fear that dismissing troubled players will only see them on the opposite sideline a season or two later.

SEC schools are expected to conduct background inquiries into all transfers, and a loophole exists for schools to appeal to the conference’s executive committee. Many believe the rule banning transfers will eventually apply to incoming freshmen as well, though that does not appear to be on the table for this year.

Baylor QB Seth Russell responds to Briles firing in Instagram post

Seth Russell
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Baylor quarterback Seth Russell has been on a mission trip with other Bears athletes to Brazil, and he returns from his South American voyage to a much different program than he left behind.

Head coach Art Briles is gone. So, too, are two of Baylor’s top incoming freshmen. More coaches and players may follow.

As QB1, Russell had to address the goings on in Waco one way or another, and did so Saturday in an Instagram post that speaks to the Bears’ crisis without really speaking to it while quoting — who else? — Robert Griffin III.

What an amazing experience these past few weeks have been. I, and 33 other Baylor student-athletes, have spent the last two weeks in Brazil sharing God’s love and pouring into children from Maceio and Rio de Janeiro. Through our sports, we were able to share our faith in hopes of changing lives, not just others, but our own as well. I can’t thank all who helped make this mission trip possible enough. I am forever grateful for my time spent growing with others, and ultimately growing with the Lord.

As we head back to Waco, I can’t help but think of all that has changed since we first left for South America. Although I was in a different hemisphere, the heartache was still immensely present. However, being in the environment I was, the Lord was easily able to remind me of how great He is.
We are broken. We are hurting.
But at the end of the day, we are His. With that gift alone, there is no reason to not overcome through these hard times.

My prayers for Baylor University are that we never forget that we need God as desperately on our best days as we do on our worst. We will overcome. We will become stronger. We will be who God has allowed us to be.

Baylor we are and Baylor we’ll always be, but it’s up to us to define what that means-RGIII

What an amazing experience these past few weeks have been. I, and 33 other Baylor student-athletes, have spent the last two weeks in Brazil sharing God’s love and pouring into children from Maceio and Rio de Janeiro. Through our sports, we were able to share our faith in hopes of changing lives, not just others, but our own as well. I can’t thank all who helped make this mission trip possible enough. I am forever grateful for my time spent growing with others, and ultimately growing with the Lord. As we head back to Waco, I can’t help but think of all that has changed since we first left for South America. Although I was in a different hemisphere, the heartache was still immensely present. However, being in the environment I was, the Lord was easily able to remind me of how great He is. We are broken. We are hurting. But at the end of the day, we are His. With that gift alone, there is no reason to not overcome through these hard times. My prayers for Baylor University are that we never forget that we need God as desperately on our best days as we do on our worst. We will overcome. We will become stronger. We will be who God has allowed us to be. Baylor we are and Baylor we’ll always be, but it’s up to us to define what that means-RGIII

A photo posted by Seth Russell (@sethrussell17) on May 28, 2016 at 7:16am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Russell started Baylor’s first seven games — all wins — before a broken neck bone suffered in a collision against Iowa State ended his season. He completed 119-of-200 passes for 2,104 yards (10.5 yards per attempt) with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing 49 times for 402 yards and six scores.