2012 will be the real test for Stanford and coach David Shaw. The Cardinal don’t just lose Andrew Luck to the NFL, they lose several other prominent members of Jim Harbaugh‘s now-famous 2008 recruiting class. Lineman David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, as well as receiver Chris Owusu are gone too.
Harbaugh built a program at Stanford based on tough, smash-mouth football. And it worked to perfection. The question is can Stanford keep that edge going forward?
Though the Cardinal operate a run-first offense, the focus will, obviously, be on who replaces Luck. That falls on either Brett Nottingham (who possesses the most Stanford name ever) or Josh Nunes, who is making the QB competition a little closer than some probably expected.
“That competition is still even,” said Shaw Saturday. “I don’t know what the numbers say, I don’t care what the numbers say, today that position was not played well enough for us to win a football game.”
Well, for the record, Nunes went 11-of-29 for 167 yards and two touchdowns; Nottingham 12-of-19 for 118 yards and an interception.
The defense received points for turnovers and stops depending on where each occurred on the field. At one point in the game, the defense had outscored the offense 35-15 before holding on to a 37-29 win.
Some other news and notes from around the Pac-12:
- Washington State is adjusting to life under new coach Mike Leach, who is also coaching his first spring practice/game since 2009 at Texas Tech. Unlike some of the other Pac-12 programs holding spring games, Wazzu’s QB situation is solid with Jeff Tuel, who went 22-of-47 for 200 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The Cougars failed to win under old coach Paul Wulff, but the pieces seem to be place for Leach to take WSU to bowl eligibility in his first year.
- Also in his first spring practice with Arizona is Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s read-option gets an immediate boost from quarterback Matt Scott, but it was Scott’s arm that grabbed the headlines — four touchdowns and 315 yards. In fact, the Wildcats threw it more times (55) than they ran it (43). That probably won’t be the case this season. In other news, safety Adam Hall tore his ACL. It’s his second ACL injury in as many years.
- Colorado enters its second year under Jon Embree, and the Buffaloes hope to dramatically improve on what has been a really awful last few years for a program that, not but a decade ago, was competing for conference championships. Texas transfer Connor Wood could be one of the missing pieces to get the Buffs back on track. Wood was 7-of-10 passing for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- If you’re wondering where USC is in this recap, fear not. A separate post is on its way.
A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.
According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month. Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.
What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.
Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month. An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.
A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue. Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.
Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.
Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday. As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.
As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA. Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.
In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”
The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins. UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.
In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended. UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022. Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.
Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.
Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).
The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.
Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).
Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.
Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.
“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”
Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.
Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.
If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.