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Pac-12 Networks president denies schools were promised revenues like Big Ten, SEC ventures

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Ask any Pac-12 fan what their biggest source of frustration is right now and more likely than not ‘Pac-12 Networks‘ will be at, or near, the top of their list.

That can at times be the same response given by the league’s athletic directors as revenues from the venture fall further and further behind rivals like the uber-successful Big Ten Network and SEC Network. With those two leagues pushing conference payouts over the $50 million mark as soon as next year, the Pac-12 appears in danger of slipping further and further behind on the finance front.

Speaking to industry publication CableMax this weekPac-12 Networks’ outgoing president Lydia Murphy-Stephans understands that the balance sheet isn’t quite the same out West but parity with the two other conference networks was never something that was promised to schools when the channels were formed several years ago.

“There is a gap between what Pac-12 Networks delivers and the Big Ten Network and the SEC Network,” said Murphy-Stephans in a Q&A with the magazine. “What has to be factored in is the revenue specifically from Pac-12 Networks is only one part of the overall revenue each university receives from the Pac-12. I understand there is frustration, though no athletic director or administrator was ever told the Pac-12 Networks would deliver the same or more revenue than what its peer conferences are currently getting from their networks.

“I don’t think it’s fair in any way to call out Pac-12 Networks as the source of the deficiency the universities or maybe those particular athletic directors or administrators are citing.”

Not exactly the kind of comments that will thrill some around the Pac-12 when it comes time to pay for facility upgrades or to give a coach a raise but probably pretty on the nose as to what was said back when realignment was getting hot and heavy around the country. Murphy-Stephans is leaving her post in the not too distant future so it’s not like she will have to massage some of these comments with Pac-12 administrators like her boss Larry Scott will likely have to do in the coming days.

USC QB Sam Darnold remains prohibitive Heisman favorite according to latest odds

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Spring practice is over and most transfers have been completed in college football which means we have a pretty good idea of how teams will look heading into the fall.

As a result, the folks over at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook decided to update their latest Heisman Trophy odds and not surprisingly kept USC quarterback Sam Darnold as the prohibitive favorite for the award heading into the summer.

Interestingly, Darnold saw the gap widen a bit between himself and Oklahoma signal-caller Baker Mayfield according to the latest odds from the sports book. The latter moved up to 8/1 odds to win the sport’s most prestigious award, tying him with last year’s winner in Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

In fact, just about everybody’s odds on the preseason list went up relative to their standing in April. The lone exception was Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham, who made a big move from 50/1 to win the award to 20/1. It certainly seems that comes as a result of high praise of the Baylor transfer coming out of the Tigers’ spring practice this year and the expectation he will be the starter for Gus Malzahn and company going forward.

Despite the latest moves in Vegas though, Stidham and a host of others are still chasing the heavily-favored Darnold to win the Heisman as the Trojans’ see expectations in 2017 ratchet up even further.

Rain-fueled delay will keep LA Rams in USC’s Coliseum home for 2019, too

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One college football team will have some professional company for a little longer than expected.

In making the move from St. Louis back to Los Angeles, the Rams used USC’s home, the iconic (United?) Coliseum, as its home for the 2017 season. As their $2.6 billion new stadium in Inglewood, which they’ll share with the Chargers, had not been scheduled to open until 2019, the NFL team will spend the next two seasons at the home of the Trojans as well.

That stay has been extended as, according to the Los Angeles Times, construction delays in the building of the stadium will push the opening back to 2020, meaning the Rams will spend the 2019 season in the Coliseum as well. And the reason for the delay? An inordinate amount of rain, with over 15 inches of the wet stuff falling from November, when construction began, and February. That total is more than double the average amount for those times of the year.

From the Times:

The continuing rains really knocked us for a loop,” Bob Aylesworth, principal in charge for the Turner/AECOM Hunt joint venture that is building the stadium, told The Times. “It was a very unforgiving two months for the project. And speaking from a building perspective, it really couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

The weather brought work on the project to a standstill for two months earlier this year. The rain fell at a crucial stage of construction when work centered on digging the enormous hole — 5 million cubic yards of dirt were excavated — in which the stadium will sit. At times, the site looked like a lake, with water standing 12 to 15 feet deep.

The Rams lease with USC and the Coliseum carried an option for the NFL team to play in the stadium, just in case delays such as this pushed the project behind schedule.

USC reportedly sells naming rights to L.A. Coliseum to United Airlines

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Fly the friendly skies… to USC football? That’s apparently the case as one of college football’s most historic venues is going corporate.

Sports Business Journal is reporting that USC and the Los Angeles Coliseum have entered into a 15-year naming rights agreement worth a whopping $70 million with United Airlines. It’s unclear what the name of the new venue will be (or if the field at the site is what is being named) going forward in the wake of this but SBJ notes that officials involved have stressed in the past that ‘Memorial Coliseum’ will remain no matter who the sponsor is.

The deal is understandable on both sides even if Trojans supporters can’t be happy about seeing the corporate influence on the venerable stadium pop up. The Coliseum is undergoing a reported $270 million renovation in various stages that is expected to be completed in time for USC’s 2019 home opener. The city is a large hub for the airline and United CEO is apparently a USC alum as well.

That’s not the only news at the site either, as Thursday also brought word that the Los Angeles Rams would remain a tenant at the Coliseum for another year — through 2020 — as the result of construction delays at their new stadium in Inglewood.

With the additional year of revenues from the Rams and the new sponsorship agreement, USC appears well on their way to paying for those significant renovation costs that are quickly approaching.

Lane Kiffin reportedly offers another 7th grade quarterback

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No matter how many passes he winds up catching, David Sills will always have a place in college football history. Way back in the prehistoric era of 2010, Sills received a scholarship offer as a seventh grade quarterback by then-USC head coach Lane Kiffin.

Sills, of course, did not become USC’s next great quarterback. He signed with West Virginia out of Wilmington, Del., and caught seven catches from 131 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2015, then threw for 1,636 yards and 15 touchdowns as a quarterback at El Camino College in 2016. Sills is now back at West Virginia and once again listed as a wide receiver, a perfectly fine player at the highest level of college football (which, lest we forget, is still better than 99.9 percent of us slobs could ever say) but not at all what Kiffin’s offer suggested he would one day become.

Similarly, Kiffin’s career is now what we thought it would be way back then. He’s now the head coach at Florida Atlantic — and he’s still reportedly offering seventh grade quarterbacks.

According to a Facebook post from Fox Sports’s Bruce Feldman, has offered seventh grade quarterback Kaden Martin. Standing 5-foot-11 and checking in at 175 pounds, Martin stars for Adams Middle School in Redondo Beach, Calif. And unlike Sills, there’s a complicating factor that may have led to this offer — Martin is the son of former Tennessee quarterback and current USC assistant Tee Martin.

Call me crazy, but I think the likelihood of Kaden Martin leading a Lane Kiffin-led Florida Atlantic team to the 2026 Conference USA championship are lower than that of Sills fulfilling his destiny as the next Matt Leinart.