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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.

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.