Pac-12 Conference

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Wildcats see attendance spike after allowing beer and wine sales at Arizona Stadium in 2018

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Arizona posted a disappointing 5-7 campaign in Kevin Sumlin’s first season in Tucson but Arizona fans still came out and enjoyed themselves thanks, in part, to the school allowing beer and alcohol sales for the first time.

As the Arizona Daily Star reports, attendance for the Wildcats home football games actually ticked up last year an average of 2,804 people while incidents of ejections at the stadium did the same — though were below historic averages.

“We’ve been very pleased with the rollout across the board in Arizona Stadium and McKale,” athletic director Dave Heeke said. “This was really focused around a number of things that we’ve done in the area of fan amenities and food service, and beverage selection was a key component.”

Some 43 people were kicked out of seven home games at UA, which is double the 21 from 2017 but well below the numbers the school reported for seasons when they played in-state rival Arizona State. It seems that Territorial Cup contest was the biggest indicator of above-average ejections in a year though game-by-game data was not given.

“I really haven’t noticed an increase in any type of criminal behavior due to beer and wine sales,” UAPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Shields told the paper. “Obviously from year to year the ejections and different numbers change and they fluctuate, but it’s very hard to pinpoint the reason why those happen.”

The amount of revenue generated by beer and alcohol sales wasn’t detailed by the school but Heeke noted it covered the additional costs on game days and the profit overall wasn’t hugely significant. Still, it seems the atmosphere at Arizona Stadium was still enough to lure fans into their seats despite plenty of late starts and a football team that was largely up-and-down in 2018.

Ex-Ohio State coach Urban Meyer downplays USC rumors: ‘I think I’m done’

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Urban Meyer is not your typical retiree.

He’s not soaking up the Florida sun, watching cable news for hours upon hours nor sitting back to remember the good ol’ days to pass away the time. Instead the now ex-Ohio State head coach is learning a new job not all that different from his old one helping out the Buckeyes athletic department for a cushy six-figures a year.

Despite that though, the talk is still out there that despite triumphantly walking away from the game at the Rose Bowl in January, Meyer will eventually feel the need to scratch the coaching itch down the road. One of the most talked about possibilities is not too far from Pasadena as luck would have it, as rumors linking him to the USC job if/when Clay Helton is fired have been stirred up almost since the moment he had his farewell press conference.

Speaking to the Columbus Dispatch about his new daily life out of football however, the title-winning coach isn’t yet taking the bait when commenting on such talk.

“I learned my lesson long ago,” Meyer told the paper. “All I’m going to say is I believe I’m done (coaching). I think I’m done.”

That’s not exactly a hard no… but it doesn’t exactly sound like a man pining to get back in the game either.

Meyer’s new Fox Sports coworkers Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart have already said they will try to recruit him to lead the Trojans if the position comes open after this season. His still-current boss, OSU athletic director Gene Smith believes Meyer is done but wouldn’t rule it completely out of the question.

Either way, keeping tabs on Meyer’s potential landing spot figure to occupy a fairly decent storyline for much of the coming year just like they did after Bob Stoops suddenly retired from Oklahoma. And nothing the former Buckeyes coach can say will change that.

Jim Delany was highest paid conference commissioner in 2017-18; NCAA president Mark Emmert’s salary climbs to nearly $4 million

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The life of a conference commissioner is not an easy one given the amount of criticism from just about every level but at least they are well compensated for their troubles.

Really well in most cases.

Thanks to the latest round of 2017-18 tax returns from the various Power Five conferences and the NCAA being released, we now have a good picture at how everybody stacks up and business booming has resulted in even larger paychecks for most. Here’s the latest figures for the Power Five and NCAA President Mark Emmert:

  • The Big Ten’s Jim Delany moved into the top spot as the highest paid commissioner thanks to a reported $5.5 million paycheck, per USA Today.
  • Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was not far behind his Rose Bowl counterpart with over $5.2 million in compensation, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
  • Big 12 head honcho Bob Bowlsby was bumped to a total of $4.1 million.
  • ACC commissioner John Swofford took home slightly over $3.5 million.
  • SEC leader Greg Sankey was by far the best bargain of the group, with the most recently appointed commissioner making right around $2 million last year.
  • Emmert’s salary was the biggest mover of the group of power players as Yahoo! Sports notes his take-home pay jumped 60% by going from $2.4 million the previous year to $3.9 million. All told, the NCAA’s public face has seen his salary jump by some $2 million since 2015 alone.

As you all know, the compensation for the student-athletes officially remained at $0 in pay for the same time period.

Mario Cristobal reportedly working on extension with Oregon

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The Oregon Ducks appear to be in good hands under the leadership of head coach Mario Cristobal. After one nine-win season in 2018, Cristobal has Oregon gaining some offseason hype for the first time in a few years, and the school is reportedly looking to tack on some additional time to his current contract.

According to a report from The Oregonian, Oregon is working out a deal for a one-year contract extension for Cristobal. If worked out, the new contract would extend Cristobal’s contract with the Ducks through the end of the 2023 season. A one-year extension may not seem like a lot for a college football coach, but that would give Cristobal job security for the next few recruiting cycles, assuring incoming recruits Cristobal is under contract in Eugene for the foreseeable future. And if things continue to trend in the direction they could potentially are now, it will only be a matter of time before another long-term extension is on the table for discussion. But that can wait another few years at this point.

After taking over for a bowl game at the end of the 2017 season following the abrupt departure of Willie Taggart to Florida State, Cristobal returned to being a full-time head coach for the first time since 2012 at FIU by guiding the Ducks to a 9-4 record in 2018. Cristobal’s first season as head coach of Oregon resulted in a Redbox Bowl victory over Michigan State and saw the Ducks fly as high as No. 12 in the AP poll. The 2019 season is coming with some lofty expectations within the Pac-12 as Oregon is expected to compete for the conference championship with division foe Washington and other contenders such as Utah, Stanford, and Washington State.

Cristobal came to Oregon as an assistant coach under Taggart after previously being an assistant coach for Nick Saban at Alabama. Cristobal was the head coach of FIU from 2007 through 2012, accumulating a record of 27-47 that turned a 1-11 program into one with back-to-back winning seasons, but FIU moved on from Cristobal following a 3-9 season in 2012.

Arizona State has seen 15 players enter transfer portal

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And you thought your team had it bad when it comes to offseason personnel movement.

Dominique Harrison became the latest Arizona State Sun Devils to signal a move from the Pac-12 program, with the cornerback announcing on Twitter that he has decided to enter the NCAA transfer database. “I am thankful for everything Arizona State has provided for me and the memories I made along the way,” Harrison wrote.

As a graduate transfer, the defensive back would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.

Harrison, who came to the desert from the junior college ranks, appeared in five games during his time with the Sun Devils.

The departure of Harrison continues a significant reshaping of Herm Edwards‘ ASU roster.  From the Arizona Republic:

While ASU’s 15 names to hit the transfer portal may seem like a lot, it isn’t an extraordinarily high number. UCLA had 16 depart while Oregon State has 14, Arizona 13 and USC 11.