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Pac-12 commish Larry Scott open to College Football Playoff expansion, but nothing imminent

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Week 4 was yet another weekend of the Pac-12 cannibalizing itself on the football field as the conference’s highest ranked team lost (No. 10 Utah to USC on Friday), No. 24 Arizona State fell at home to a Colorado squad without its best player and the only undefeated team left out West is now the rather surprising story of Cal, which emerged from Oxford with a win at an SEC program.

Given the strength of the elite teams at the top of the other Power Five conferences right now, one would hardly be surprised if the Pac-12 missed out on the College Football Playoff yet again as a result of everything that’s happened the past month. While that’s not a driving force in the league possibly seeking changes to the postseason structure in the sport, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has apparently softened his stance on expansion beyond four teams in the Playoff — telling the San Jose Mercury News that conversations are being had over increasing the CFP’s size while noting that the bottom line is his conference simply has to play better regardless.

“I don’t care if it’s four teams, six teams, eight teams or 12 teams, if we’re not elite and winning regularly, I don’t think that really changes fundamentally the overall, because we’ll be compared to our peers, and we need to do better compared to our peers,” Scott said. “I’ve started conversations with my peers that make up the management committee of the College Football Playoff. I don’t think there’s anything imminent. We’ve got contracts through 2026 with ESPN. That doesn’t mean something couldn’t happen earlier, but there are some significant impediments…

“I’m engaged in those conversations. I’m open to the fact that there could be a better mousetrap, even though the move from the BCS to the playoff has been really good overall.”

Scott said just this summer that it’s still too early for the playoff expansion talk but it seems pressure from the league’s fans, AD’s and coaches to make the annual postseason event is only growing stronger. There are few conferences who would benefit more from the move beyond four slots than the Pac-12 but the folks out West have been somewhat resistant to leading the charge for change.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s about to change.

Anthony Gordon’s nine TD passes not enough as UCLA erases 32-point deficit, stuns Wazzu in 67-63 come-from-behind win

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Gardner Minshew was the talk of the NFL last week but, as he returned to Pullman for the first time, the quarterback watched as one of his records fell in one of the wildest #Pac12AfterDark affairs you’ve ever seen, an epic 67-63 UCLA win over his alma mater Washington State.

First, as to the record: Anthony Gordon, in his fourth career start, tossed his seventh touchdown on the night to give No. 18 Washington State a 49-17 lead over UCLA with 6:52 left in the third quarter; with 10:08 left in the fourth quarter, Gordon hit Easop Winston from 33 yards out for his eighth touchdown pass of the night.

That eighth passing touchdown broke the Wazzu record of seven set by Minshew in 2018.  Gordon went on to add a ninth scoring toss to pad his newly-minted record.

A funny thing happened between those seventh and eighth touchdown passes, though, as the Bruins scored four straight touchdowns of their own and, with a two-point conversion mixed in, cut what was once a 32-point lead down to three at 49-46; immediately after Gordon’s eighth touchdown pass, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson‘s three-yard touchdown run with just over eight minutes remaining in the game cut Wazzu’s lead back to three at 56-53; with 7:31 remaining, Kyle Phillips returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown to give the Bruins their first lead of the game at 60-56.

Gordon’s ninth touchdown of the night — the FBS record single-game record is 11 by Houston’s David Klingler in 1990 — came with 6:11 left and gave the Cougars the lead back at 63-60.  With a chance to tie the game with under three minutes remaining, the Bruins eschewed what would’ve been a 35-yard field goal attempt and came up short on a 4th & 5 to hand the ball back to the Cougars.

But wait, the Bruins weren’t done.

With 2:27 left in the fourth, and following a replay booth review, UCLA got the ball back on a Cougars fumble at the WSU 26-yard line.  Four plays later, Thompson-Robinson’s fifth touchdown pass of the game, this one from 15 yards out to Demetric Felton, put the Bruins up 67-63 with 1:07 remaining.

On Wazzu’s first play from scrimmage on the ensuing possession, Gordon’s fumble was recovered by the Bruins to seal the win.

In addition to his nine touchdown passes, Gordon threw for 570 yards.  This was Gordon’s fourth career start, all coming this season; he’s thrown for at least 400 in each one of those.

Thompson-Robinson also threw for a career-high 507 yards while accounting for seven total touchdowns — five passing, two rushing.

Three current FBS players, all Aussie kickers/punters, are age 30 or over

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While it seems like the quarterback position in college football is trending younger and younger these days, kicking specialists at a couple of schools are trending in the opposite direction.

Seniors Wade Lees and Dane Roy are punters at UCLA and Houston, respectively.  Junior James Stefanou (pictured), meanwhile, is a kicker at Colorado.

All three were born in Australia, with Stefanou and Lees hailing from Melbourne while Roy is from Bunyip, about 50 miles southeast of the state of Victoria’s capital.  All three came to the United States after training at ProKick Australia, and all three are also married.

What else do they have in common?  They’re all significantly older than your average students.  They’re also much older than your average medical school students as each individual in the kicking trio is at least 30 years old, as captured Thursday night by our own Bryan Fischer.

Lees, who transferred to UCLA from Maryland this offseason, and Roy are in their final seasons of eligibility, but Stefanou has another year he can use.  With an April 15th birthday, Stefanou will be 33 years old when the 2020 season kicks off.

Despite that “advanced” age, Stefanou won’t be the oldest player ever at the FBS level as that honor belongs to Tim Frisby, who walked on at South Carolina in 2004 at the age of 39 and played for both Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier.  In 2005, at the age of 40, Frisby, a former U.S. Army Ranger who had served in the first Gulf War as well as Kosovo, caught one pass for nine yards.

In 2016, Joe Thomas Sr. became the oldest player ever at the Div. 1 level when he suited up for FCS South Carolina State.

In 2011, 61-year-old Alan Moore kicked an extra point in an NAIA game to become the oldest player in the history of college football at any level.  Four years before that, 59-year-old Mike Flynt suited up and played for Div. III Sul Ross State.

Documents show UCLA AD Dan Guerrero will retire in June of 2020

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Given the development earlier this month, this is certainly an interesting twist in the UCLA-USC rivalry.

Sept. 9, it was confirmed that Lynn Swann had “resigned” as the athletic director at USC.  Exactly 10 days later, it’s being reported that Dan Guerrero will step down from his post as UCLA’s athletic director next summer.

Specifically, Guerrero will retire on June 30, 2020.  Guerrero’s contract currently runs through Dec. 31 of this year, with the university system’s regents approving Thursday to extend it out to his retirement date.

The 67-year-old Guerrero — he’ll be 68 on his retirement date — has served in his current post since April of 2002.  His most recent high-profile hire, head football coach Chip Kelly, hasn’t remotely matched the post-addition fanfare as the Bruins have posted a 3-12 record in one-plus season under Kelly.  That includes an 0-3 start to the 2019 season that already has fans of the program talking about how much it would cost to buy Kelly out.

Chip Kelly won’t make QB change despite UCLA offensive woes

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Chip Kelly revolutionized college football back when he was at Oregon, becoming so successful that not one but three NFL teams tried or succeeded in hiring him.

Kelly’s return to the sidelines in the college game however… could be going better. UCLA was blown out of the water on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl by No. 5 Oklahoma and the Bruins offense is actually among the worst in all of FBS.

They’re dead last in yards per play, second to last in total offense and No. 127 in scoring offense. Oh and sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is No. 99 nationally in passer rating.

Despite those numbers, it appears Kelly isn’t contemplating a new face behind center as the team moves into Pac-12 play.

“We didn’t,” Kelly said when asked by the LA Times whether he thought of making a change at quarterback on Saturday. “…we felt confident in Dorian.”

To be fair, Thompson-Robinson did seem a little improved against the Sooners than he did in his first two starts of 2019 against Cincinnati and San Diego State. But those numbers speak for themselves with road trips to Washington State and Arizona coming up for the 0-3 side from Westwood.