Perhaps there is a changing of the guard going on in the Pac-12 North. After years of being dominated by Stanford and Oregon, the past two weeks of college football have not gone well for the Cardinal or the Ducks, with both Washington and Washington State flipping the division in their favor in blowout fashion.
Washington established themselves as the Pac-12 team to beat with dominant authority in the past two weeks. It started with a Friday night blowout of Stanford last week, 44-6, and continued Saturday night with a 70-21 romp at Oregon. Stanford had won nine of the previous 11 meetings between the two schools, and Oregon had been enjoying a wildly successful run of 12 straight wins against the Huskies. If Washington needed to prove they were a legitimate threat out of the Pac-12 by showing what they can do against Stanford and Oregon, then Chris Petersen and his pack of Huskies have passed that test with flying colors. Washington is the team to beat in the Pac-12, and there is no debating that.
Mike Leach continues to pull some tricks as well. Washington State is not to be overlooked just yet. The Cougars, like the Huskies, have also dominated both the Cardinal and Ducks to make some noise in the Pac-12 picture. Washington State had lost eight straight against Stanford, although that included a couple of close calls along the way, like last season’s 30-28 setback in Pullman. That streak came to an end last night as the Cougars racked up 42 points in a dominant 26-point victory in Palo Alto (42-16). That came a week after topping Oregon for a second straight season, which they certainly enjoyed.
Washington and Washington State have outscored Stanford and Oregon in head-to-head matchups 207-76. There has been no question which two teams are the class of the Pac-12 North this season. It is the two schools from Washington this season, which is somewhat odd to suggest given Washington State has been defeated by an FCS school and lost on the road at Boise State. But Washington and Washington State are already the only teams left without a loss in Pac-12 play this season.
There is still a bunch of football to play, but this year’s Apple Cup could be spicy.
The Chargers have left San Diego for Los Angeles and San Diego State is working on figuring out the best possible plan for a long-term football home. For the time being, the Aztecs will continue to call Qualcomm Stadium home. The current lease with the football stadium in San Diego was to expire after the 2018 season, but the university has agreed to tack on two additional years to the lease.
Qualcomm Stadium still continues to be a short-term solution for the Aztecs. The university is hoping to find a suitable plan that will see a brand new football stadium constructed that is more suitable for the program’s fans and perhaps more accommodating. San Diego state is also reportedly open to the idea of sharing a new stadium with a potential Major League Soccer franchise, which typically plays in smaller venues than NFL stadiums.
“There’s a lot of really good football fans in this town that maybe don’t want to drive four or five hours to see a football game when they can see a pretty good product right here at home, and maybe they’ll become fans of our team,” San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said during a news conference on Thursday to announce a new contract extension. “I think that college football has a lot of things to offer that pro football does not.”
Long’s recently extended contract with San Diego state runs through the 2021 season. The hope is Long will be able to coach the Aztecs into a new home stadium in the final year currently under contract.
It seems to happen every now and then, but Alabama is losing a running back to a transfer this spring. Derrick Gore, a redshirt junior, is transferring to Louisiana-Monroe to continue his college football career, as reported by The News-Star.
Gore will be given a better chance to compete for a significant role in ULM’s offense as he gets out from the deep running back stable at Alabama that makes it difficult to get everyone involved. Gore had played a reserve role on offense behind the likes of Derrick Henry, Bo Scarbrough and Kenyan Drake at a position that is generally stacked for the Crimson Tide. Gore did find a role for himself on special teams. Gore blocked a punt against Florida in the SEC Championship Game last December and returned it for a touchdown. He was a walk-on at Alabama.
Gore will be eligible immediately to play for ULM starting this fall and will have two years of eligibility to use with the Warhawks.
Alabama took advantage of a staff opening on its coaching staff this week to promote Mike Locksley to a full-time offensive assistant’s role. Now, his role appears to be a bit more defined. According to a report from Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, Locksley will be taking on the role of co-offensive coordinator.
Locksley has previous offensive coordinator experience, of course. Locksley coached the offense at Maryland and Illinois prior to arriving at Alabama. Feldman reports Locksley turned down “several coaching offers” so he could remain a part of the Alabama coaching staff for the 2017 season.
Locksley was previously added to the Alabama football staff as an analyst. Now he will share the offensive coordinator duties with another recently promoted analyst, Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian was promoted to offensive coordinator in the week leading up to the College Football Playoff national championship game after Nick Saban made the decision to force Lane Kiffin out of the position and send his offensive coordinator to take on the full-time work of being the new head coach of FAU.
Michigan’s spring break trip to conduct spring practices at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida will be its last. An NCAA proposal to ban such trips outside of the college football season passed by a count of 58-22 on Friday.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh caught a lot of criticism for his decision to take Michigan’s spring practices down to Florida over Michigan’s spring break. The move was a bold strategy for Harbaugh and the Michigan program, but it ruffled the feathers of coaches from the ACC and SEC, leading to a move to ban such practice plans in the future. The debate over such a move was debated with similar intensity that satellite camps received, and now we await to see just how Harbuagh will respond, because he is known to chime in when something like this happens.
So no more trips to Florida for Michigan football players over spring break. That means Harbaugh will just have to go to the drawing board to find a new idea to find an edge.