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Pac-12 releases complete 2012 schedule


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
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.

College Football Playoff: What happens if Clemson or Alabama lose?

Ezekiel Elliott

Coming into championship week in college football this week it appears the four-team College Football Playoff is nearly set. Oklahoma, 11-1 and champion of the Big 12, appears to be locked into one of the four available playoff spots with no more games to play. The winner of the Big Ten championship game between undefeated Iowa and 11-1 Michigan State appears to be a playoff qualifier, with the Big Ten champion getting one spot. As long as top-ranked and undefeated Clemson and once-beaten Alabama come through with wins in their respective conference championship games, the field is set. Right?

But what if Clemson loses? What if Alabama loses? Who gets in then?

A Clemson loss would make for a pretty good case for North Carolina. The Tar Heels would be ACC champions with a 12-1 record, capped by the win against Clemson. A 12-1 ACC champion would seem like a very ideal playoff candidate, although aside from the hypothetical Clemson victory, what else is there to show? The ACC Coastal was a relatively weak division this year, although Pittsburgh didn’t have a terrible season and Miami somehow strung together a better season that it seemed might be possible earlier in the year. North Carolina’s biggest hurdle is having played two FCS opponents, which was a result of some scheduling obligations beyond their control forcing them to fill the schedule with an extra game against an FCS opponent. But does it really matter UNC played two FCS schools when they ripped through their division down the stretch and would have beaten Clemson?

Stanford is a rising candidate as well, despite having two losses. If the Cardinal get by USC in the Pac-12 championship game, they will have just the kind of late push needed to sneak into the argument and hope having a Pac-12 championship is what pushes them ahead in the end. A win against Notre Dame helps, but Stanford also lost twice, once to Oregon at home and once on the road at Northwestern. Oregon and Washington State aside, Stanford was fairly dominant in Pac-12 play, but two losses puts them behind the pack depending upon whom you ask.

Then there is Ohio State. The Buckeyes are defending champions, but what happened last year should have absolutely no bearing on what happens this season. The only loss suffered by the Buckeyes came two weeks ago against Michigan State, and it is fair to suggest Ohio State has not exactly been a dominant force all season long. It did, however, score better wins during the regular season than North Carolina will claim (well, besides Clemson under these scenarios), and one of those wins came on the road against one of North Carolina’s division rivals, Virginia Tech. If comparing similar opponents, Ohio State’s performance against the Hokies was also superior to the victory UNC had in Blacksburg. Advantage, Ohio State?

You can make an argument for all three options discussed above,but it is clear one of two things needs to happen to start opening the door for the Cardinal, Tar Heels or Buckeyes. Clemson or Alabama needs to lose. UNC will get a chance to do what they need to do against Clemson, but otherwise folks in Columbus and Palo Alto will be rooting hard for an SEC championship game upset by Florida. The higher-ranked team in the SEC Championship Game has won five straight times and 17 out of 23 seasons.

Senior vote to determine SEC Championship status for suspended Gators WR Demarcus Robinson

Demarcus Robinson

Just hours before kicking off against in-state rival Florida State, Florida announced wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had been suspended for the game for a violation of a unspecified team rule. Now, as the Gators prepare to take on Alabama in this week’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, the status of Robinson has yet to be determined. Florida head coach Jim McElwain says he will leave Robinson’s fate in the hands of his teammates, or at least the seniors.

“I’m going to visit with the seniors. They’ll determine which direction we’ll go,” McElwain said Monday, according to The Gainesville Sun.

“Look, he made a choice, OK. He made a choice,” McElwain said. “You know what, our family needs to make this decision and those guys are the leaders of our family.”

McElwain’s leaving a player’s fate up to the team is certainly not unprecedented. Les Miles of LSU was criticized at length for allowing the fate of players be handled by a team vote. There are pros and cons to allowing such decisions be handled in such a manner, and there may be no right way to go about it. On one hand, a coach allowing players to make these types of decisions may show trust in a team’s leaders, which can be good for morale and establishing trust. On the other hand, it may lead to players having their way and being disgruntled with a coach’s decision if they do not get a say. Of course, McElwian already stepped his foot down for the Florida State game.

Robinson is Florida’s second-leading receiver with 505 yards and two touchdowns this season.

UCF hires Oregon OC Scott Frost to be head coach

Chip Kelly, Scott Frost

Tuesday morning will start with one fewer coaching vacancy to fill. Multiple reports Tuesday morning say UCF will hire Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost to fill its role as head coach of the Knights.

Frost was a part of two national championship teams as a player for Nebraska under Tom Osborne. His coaching career began in 2002 with the Huskers as a graduate assistant and continued as a graduate assistant four years later at Kansas State. After two seasons as an assistant coach with Northern Iowa, Frost joined Chip Kelly’s coaching staff at Oregon as a wide receivers coach. He has worked and played for a number of football-rich minds like Bill Walsh, Osborne, Bill Parcells, Bill Bellichick, Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly. After Kelly left Oregon for the NFL in 2013, Frost was given a promotion to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Mark Helfrich received a promotion to head coach in Eugene. This will be Frost’s first job as a head coach, but he has been a rising name among coordinators and it was only a matter of time before he landed a head coaching job.

Frost will be taking over a UCF program coming off a season with a record of 0-12, but the potential for a quick rebuild is in place with the kind of talent pool UCF can tap into in the state of Florida. Remember, UCF won a Fiesta Bowl just two seasons ago, which is evidence you can win meaningful games with the program. With Frost bringing Oregon’s offensive flair into the state of Florida, UCF could become dangerous quite quickly, and that could easily lead to UCF being a top contender in the Group of Five, if not just the American Athletic Conference.

That Orlando bar may not have to be giving away too many more free beers in 2016, although here’s hoping they come up with a nice little advertising campaign for some Frosty beverages.

UPDATE (9:34 a.m.): UCF has made the official announcement to introduce Frost as its new head coach.

Bud Foster says he is too invested in Virginia Tech to leave Hokies

Bud Foster

For years there was a thought that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster would one day be the successor to longtime head coach Frank Beamer. With Beamer announcing his decision to retire at the end of the season, there was never any word about Foster being handed the keys to the program. Instead, Virginia Tech has found a coach with an offensive identity in the hiring of Justin Fuente from Memphis. Given the way coaching changes can tend to go, nobody would have blamed Foster for being a tad miffed at not getting the job in Blacksburg, but he will remain the defensive coordinator of the Hokies as a key member of Fuente’s new staff. He says he has put in too much work to leave now.

“I’m rooted in here. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this place,” Foster said Monday. “It wasn’t hard. I wouldn’t have stayed here for as long as I’ve had if I didn’t feel like we had the opportunity to win at the highest level. I feel that more than ever right now.”

Fuente being able to keep Foster on the staff is a huge advantage. Foster not only ensures Fuente will have a dependable coach managing the defense, which should remain one of the top defensive units in the ACC as long as he stays put. Keeping Foster on the staff also allows for some tremendous stability during the transition, which can always be key when a coach with no previous ties to the university takes over a program. Foster can help Fuente get acclimated to his new surroundings and also keep valuable recruiting ties alive and well during the change.

Foster acknowledged he would love to one day be a head coach, and that dream will continue, but for now he is more interested in contributing at Virginia Tech.

“I always wanted to be a head coach. This would be a dream job. I’m happy with where I am. I’ll never be bitter. I won’t cry myself to sleep wishing “what-ifs” and they type of thing. My goal is to be the best football coach I can possibly be. I want to help this program be the best football program it can possibly be.”