Thanks to how they finished the 2016 season, USC is getting substantial preseason love heading into the 2017 season. Not surprisingly, that affection continued Wednesday.
At the Pac-12 Media Days Wednesday, 28 of the 52 media members covering the conference picked USC to win the league’s title this season. Another 22 picked reigning champion Washington to defend its title, while there was one vote each for Oregon and Utah.
Both USC and UW received 49 first-place votes when it comes to winning the South and North divisions, respectively. Oregon, Stanford and Washington State received one first-place vote each to win the North Division, while Colorado, UCLA and Utah received the same for the South crown.
Also of note from the opening of media days:
- The Pac-12 Championship Game will remain at Levi’s Stadium through the 2019 season, with an option for 2020 as well. The home of the San Francisco 49ers has been the venue for the conference’s last two title games. New NFL stadiums in Inglewood and Las Vegas will be options beyond that.
- Halftime of games broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15. In an attempt to further shorten the length of games, commercial breaks during those games will be reduced as well. “We are trying to be progressive and experiment with ways to manage the game presentation through a reduction of TV timeouts and some of the 30-second commercial spots,” commissioner Larry Scott said as the league targets three hours as the ideal game time.
- The conference has centralized its replay reviews for all 12 teams this season after experimenting with centralization for two teams in 2016.
What was rumored a few months ago has been confirmed.
In early February, USC announced that an unspecified code of conduct issue had led the football program to indefinitely suspend Matt Boermeester. At the time, reports had an incident involving the placekicker’s ex-girlfriend as the trigger for the suspension, although no details surrounding that situation were released.
Fast-forward to late July, and the school officially confirmed that Boermeester is no longer a Trojan.
“Boermeester… won’t return because of a student code of conduct issue,” the football program wrote in its preseason notes package.
In his first season as USC’s starting kicker last year, Boermeester connected on 75 percent of his 25 field goal attempts and all but one of his 54 point afters. His 46-yard field goal with no time left on the clock pushed USC past Penn State in an epic comeback win in the Rose Bowl.
The 18 field goals on which Boermeester connected in 2016 were one shy of tying the school’s single-season record.
Michael Brown is the only other kicker currently listed on USC’s online roster. Brown has yet to attempt a kick at the collegiate level.
Thanks to off-field events, the Egg Bowl rivalry has ratcheted up a notch or 12 in the last week or so — after ratcheting up several levels the previous months.
Monday, ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach reported that it was a lifelong Mississippi State fan who discovered the infamous call to a number connected to an escort service and led to Hugh Freeze being forcefully ousted at Ole Miss. Two days later, Schlabach is reporting that attorneys representing the university and former coaches accused of wrongdoing are asking the NCAA that it require two Mississippi State football players, Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, to appear at their hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions later this year.
At this point in time, it’s unclear whether either player has received a notice to appear.
Jones, a four-star 2016 signee, has alleged that an Ole Miss booster paid him upwards of $15,000 as an inducement to go to the Rebels before he signed with the rival Bulldogs. “Lewis also accused Rebels boosters and former coaches of arranging for him to receive free transportation, lodging, food and meals and memorabilia and clothing from Rebel Rags, a retail store in Oxford,” Schlabach wrote Wednesday.
The Oxford retailer filed a lawsuit last month against, among others, Jones and Lewis alleging “defamation, slander, conspiracy and commercial disparagement stemming from false statements made to the NCAA.” On at least three occasions, the Bulldog duo spoke to the NCAA and its investigators regarding their allegations made against the rival program.
From Schlabach’s latest report:
The NCAA previously denied Ole Miss lawyers’ requests to interview Jones and Lewis about allegations they made during the NCAA’s investigation of the Rebels. In fact, Lewis’ attorneys stopped the second of three interviews with NCAA investigators after Ole Miss’ lawyers attempted to cross-examine him. Ole Miss wasn’t allowed to have an attorney at his third interview.
Jones and Lewis were provided partial immunity by NCAA investigators before they were interviewed.
The NCAA has accused the Ole Miss football program of 21 violations, 15 of which are the most serious under The Association’s penalty structure. Ole Miss self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season as well as stripped itself of seven scholarships. Additionally, they will forfeit all postseason revenues for the upcoming season, a number in excess of $7 million. It’s expected the NCAA will add to those self-imposed sanctions.
The university received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA back in February, releasing its response to the NOA early last month.
Former Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt and his attorney filed a lawsuit earlier this month as well, alleging that Freeze and other Ole Miss officials engaged in a clandestine smear campaign to pin the NCAA investigation into the Rebels’ football program in large part on Nutt. The lawsuit levied some rather serious allegations, including Freeze allegedly conducting off-the-record conversations with prominent journalists and recruits to falsely spread the narrative that the lion’s share of NCAA recruiting violations occurred under Nutt’s watch.
I have no clue how long this commitment will last, but it’s patently awesome. And spectacular.
Brevin White is a 2018 recruit who 247Sports.com has pegged as a four-star prospect. The same recruiting website rates the California high school product as the No. 11 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 39 player at any position in the state.
White, the younger brother of redshirt sophomore Arizona State quarterback Brady White, currently holds scholarship offers from, among others, Arizona State, Oregon State, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Washington State. Tuesday night, the younger White signal-caller took to Twitter to announce his program of choice, and revealed that he would be playing his college football at… Princeton.
— B.White7 (@BrevinWhite) July 26, 2017
Selfishly, I hope this verbal holds. To see a young man with Power Five options go, at least for now, the Ivy League route is utterly refreshing on multiple levels.
And the fact that the P5s involved have to be borderline beside themselves? Priceless.