Oddsmakers still high on USC’s 2012 title hopes

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Thanks to a 10-win 2011 season that included a road win against then-No. 4 Oregon as well as a plethora of returning talent, USC has been viewed by most observers — including one you may recognize — as a serious contender for the 2012 BcS title.

Less than three months ahead of the start of the new season, degenerates those who make their living wagering on sports are in full agreement with that offseason assessment of the Trojans.

In the latest odds released by Bovada.com, the betting website has the Trojans as the 3/1 favorite to hoist the crystal football at season’s end.  USC is coming off a two-year bowl ban as part of its NCAA sanctions and will be eligible for the postseason — including the second Pac-12 title game — for the first time since after the 2009 season.

Next up after the Trojans in the eyes of bettors are the two participants in last year’s title game at 11/2, defending BcS champion Alabama and LSU.

Oklahoma (10/1); Florida State and Oregon (12/1); Georgia (14/1); Arkansas and Michigan (20/1); and — brace yourselves — Notre Dame and Texas (28/1) round out Bovada’s “Top Ten” (and ties).

As far as conference odds go, Florida State (1/1) is favored over Virginia Tech (3/1) to win the ACC; Oklahoma (1/1) over Texas (4/1) in the Big 12; Michigan (2/1) over Wisconsin (5/2) in the Big Ten; USC (5/8) over Oregon (2/1) in the Pac-12; and Alabama and LSU are co-favorites at 11/5 to claim the SEC crown.

After the jump, you can peruse the entire list of preseason odds for both the BcS title as well as the conference favorites, again courtesy of Bovada.

Odds to win the 2012-2013 BCS National Championship
USC 3/1
Alabama 11/2
LSU 11/2
Oklahoma 10/1
Florida State 12/1
Oregon 12/1
Georgia 14/1
Arkansas 20/1
Michigan 20/1
Notre Dame 28/1
Texas 28/1
Virginia Tech 30/1
West Virginia 30/1
South Carolina 30/1
Clemson 33/1
Nebraska 40/1
Wisconsin 40/1
Florida 50/1
TCU 50/1
Auburn 60/1
Michigan State 60/1
Boise State 65/1
Kansas State 75/1
Miami (Florida) 75/1
Oklahoma State 80/1
Mississippi State 100/1
Missouri 100/1
Texas A&M 100/1
Tennessee 125/1
Cincinnati 150/1
Iowa 150/1
Louisville 150/1
Penn State 150/1
Arizona 200/1
Boston College 200/1
BYU 200/1
California 200/1
Georgia Tech 200/1
Pittsburgh 200/1
Stanford 200/1
UCLA 200/1
Washington 200/1
NC State 250/1
South Florida 250/1
UCLA 250/1
Oregon State 300/1

CONFERENCE ODDS

ACC – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/1
Virginia Tech 3/1
Clemson 5/1
Miami (Florida) 9/1
Georgia Tech 15/1
North Carolina 15/1
Virginia 18/1
NC State 20/1
Wake Forest 35/1
Boston College 50/1
Duke 100/1
Maryland 100/1

ACC Atlantic Division – Odds to Win
Florida State 1/2
Clemson 11/4
NC State 9/1
Wake Forest 16/1
Boston College 22/1
Maryland 30/1

ACC Coastal Division – Odds to Win
Virginia Tech 10/11
Miami (Florida) 9/2
North Carolina 11/2
Georgia Tech 6/1
Virginia 13/2
Duke 30/1

BIG 12 – Odds to Win
Oklahoma 1/1
Texas 4/1
TCU 11/2
West Virginia 11/2
Kansas State 12/1
Oklahoma State 22/1
Texas Tech 30/1
Baylor 40/1
Iowa State 65/1
Kansas 100/1

Big East – Odds to Win
Louisville 9/4
South Florida 7/2
Cincinnati 5/2
Pittsburgh 13/2
Rutgers 13/2
Syracuse 20/1
Temple 20/1
Connecticut 25/1

Big Ten – Odds to Win
Michigan 2/1
Wisconsin 5/2
Nebraska 7/2
Michigan State 15/2
Penn State 12/1
Illinois 20/1
Iowa 20/1
Northwestern 35/1
Purdue 50/1
Indiana 65/1
Minnesota 100/1

Big Ten – Leaders Division Winner (Without Ohio State)
Wisconsin 1/2
Penn State 3/1
Illinois 15/2
Purdue 10/1
Indiana 15/1

Big Ten – Legends Division Winner
Michigan 11/10
Nebraska 9/4
Michigan State 4/1
Iowa 8/1
Northwestern 12/1
Minnesota 40/1

PAC 12 – Odds to Win
USC 5/8
Oregon 2/1
Washington 12/1
California 18/1
Stanford 25/1
Arizona 35/1
Utah 35/1
UCLA 40/1
Arizona State 50/1
Washington State 50/1
Oregon State 60/1
Colorado 100/1

PAC 12 – North Division Winner
Oregon 2/5
Washington 5/1
California 17/2
Stanford 10/1
Washington State 15/1
Oregon State 22/1

PAC 12 – South Division Winner
USC 1/6
Arizona 10/1
Utah 10/1
UCLA 15/1
Arizona State 18/1
Colorado 30/1

SEC – Odds to Win
Alabama 11/5
LSU 11/5
Georgia 11/2
Arkansas 7/1
South Carolina 10/1
Florida 12/1
Auburn 22/1
Mississippi State 30/1
Missouri 35/1
Tennessee 35/1
Texas A&M 40/1
Vanderbilt 60/1
Kentucky 100/1
Mississippi 100/1

SEC – East Division Winner
Georgia 17/10
South Carolina 5/2
Florida 3/1
Missouri 11/1
Tennessee 11/1
Vanderbilt 16/1
Kentucky 25/1

SEC – West Division Winner
Alabama 8/5
LSU 8/5
Arkansas 4/1
Auburn 12/1
Mississippi State 15/1
Texas A&M 20/1
Mississippi 50/1

Ex-UCLA OC helped convince Wilton Speight to transfer to Westwood

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When Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight announced he was going to graduate and transfer to UCLA, many were caught by surprise given that the 6-foot-6 pro-style passer is not your typical fit for Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense. While the new Bruins’ head coach brought up how Sam Bradford and Nick Foles ran his system to convince the quarterback to pick the school for the 2018 season, it was a former assistant at the program who appears to have been just as convincing in bringing the big QB to Westwood.

That would be Jedd Fisch, who was Speight’s coach in Ann Arbor for two years before he left to take the offensive coordinator job with the Bruins when Jim Mora was still in charge last season. The veteran coach returned to the NFL as an assistant with the Los Angeles Rams shortly after Kelly was hired but he reconnected with his old pupil to give him an honest assessment of how he’d fit in with a school sporting a different shade of blue.

“As a coach, you can kind of sniff out the B.S.,” Speight told the LA Times, “and he was able to do that and say, ‘Look, you’re getting what you see at UCLA and I think it’s the right fit,’ and I couldn’t have agreed more.”

Speight will join a very competitive race to be the starter for the opener against Cincinnati when fall camp rolls around. Devon Modster is the incumbent having gotten experience last year when Josh Rosen was held out of several games while incoming freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson is considered the future at the position and figures to see early playing time.

It remains to be seen just how good UCLA will be in their first season with Kelly in charge but the head coach will certainly have a variety of options to choose from at the most important position on the field this year.

Proposed California amendment would cap coaches salaries at $200,000

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Some states do everything they can to help out athletics programs in their borders, that is something that California has never really been accused of doing. A state-wide travel ban has already caused some ripples with regards to scheduling for some teams and it seems lawmakers in Sacramento are back with a new constitutional amendment that could hamper schools ability to pay their coaches.

UCLA student paper The Daily Bruin passes along news that a new constitutional amendment was announced last week “that aims to restrict the University of California’s autonomy by reducing staff salaries, the length of regents’ terms and the authority of the UC president.” That first item is the biggest to take note of, which would institute a cap on non-faculty salaries to $200,000 per year — something that would affect everybody from coaches to the athletic director and everybody in between.

The University of California (UC) system most notably includes Pac-12 schools like UCLA and Cal, which means coaches like Chip Kelly and Justin Wilcox could be affected. To take Kelly as an example, he signed a five-year contract worth a total of $23.3 million when he was hired by the Bruins this offseason.

Head football coaches salaries are not typically paid completely by a school directly however, so there is some wiggle room should this amendment wind up passing. Often a separate athletics organization will foot most of the bill using funds raised from donors while other outside companies sometimes also get involved. Things might be a little more interesting when it comes to assistant’s salaries or non-football/men’s basketball head coaches and support staffers however, who could fall under the purview of the cap.

In other words, some creative accounting practices might have to be implemented by schools like UCLA or Cal or else they’ll be at a significant disadvantage compared to their private school peers like USC or Stanford as well as conference rivals like Arizona or Oregon.

It’s far from certain the amendment will pass given that it requires a two-thirds vote in the state legislature as well as passing muster on a state-wide ballot measure during a general election. We don’t typically see college coaches wade too far into political waters but, in this case, they might be forced to because its one that directly affects their wallets.

Arkansas moving back to natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in 2019

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It’s a new era at Arkansas with Chad Morris and a new athletic director in charge and not even the turf will be spared from seeing changes.

Per the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the school will be moving to a natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium instead of replacing their current artificial turf again as it nears the end of its lifespan.

“Let me say my preference is I love natural grass,” Morris told the paper a few months ago. “That’s just me. Maybe that’s just the high school coach in me.

“Worrying about what the next surface out here looks like is irrelevant to me. I just want to get through a practice and get better today. But I prefer, I’m a natural grass type of guy. I love being on a grass field. There’s nothing better than that in college football, or football period.”

Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek confirmed this weekend that the change was being made in Fayetteville after the 2018 season concludes. The current turf was put in back in the Bobby Petrino era in 2009 and will need to be replaced after a decade or so of heavy use.

This will not be the end of Razorbacks playing on turf however, as they will not only see the stuff for games at neutral sites and at other SEC opponents but also when they make their annual trek to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock — which had turf installed a dozen years ago.

West Virginia President on old Big 12 expansion craze: ‘Little bit messy’

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E. Gordon Gee is one of college athletics’ most recognizable figures, which isn’t exactly what you typically say about school leaders like him. The West Virginia President known for his trademark bow tie (and who has never shied away from an interview or a quip he didn’t like) is on the cusp of his first set of spring meetings in the conference as the new chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News about a range of issues around the league prior to meeting in Dallas, Gee seems to have come around on conference expansion from a few years ago and thinks it not only could have been handled better, but it probably shouldn’t be done in the first place because being the smallest Power Five league has its advantages too.

“I’m not certain it was the best way to do it,” Gee told the paper. “It was a little bit messy — and I was part of the mess.

“Intimacy gives us an opportunity to do something that a lot of other places can’t do… We’ll play to our strengths. We’re small, but we can be very aggressive in positioning ourselves uniquely.”

I’m sure the folks at places like Houston and BYU would agree the entire process was messy but will certainly disagree with Gee about the Big 12 sticking with just 10 members. It certainly sounds as though the issue has been put to bed for the foreseeable future but if the merry-go-round gets going once again, at least we know that the process everybody goes through will be a lot different.