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.
Head coach Scottie Montgomery has added a veteran assistant with SEC experience to his East Carolina coaching staff, announcing Wednesday that Don Mahoney has been hired as his new offensive line coach.
From 2013-16, Mahoney served as the line coach for the Tennessee Volunteers. The longtime assistant spent the 2017 season at a Div. II program in West Virginia.
“Don’s wealth of experience and expertise is synonymous with a foundation we need to have in place on the offensive side of the ball here,” a statement from Montgomery said. “His background features a strong association of development and depth, two qualities which are crucial to the growth, balance and success of our unit.”
Prior to his time on Rocky Top, Mahoney was the line coach for three years at Cincinnati (2010-12). He also coached the line during stops at Central Michigan (2007-09) and Tulane (1999-2006).
A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.
Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half. Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.
If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.
As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns. This past season was one marred by various injuries.
Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder. Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games. In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.
Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.
It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.
The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.
“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”
This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.
The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.
Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.
Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.