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Men of the Hour: Hanks, Bart, Pence, Yaz, Wiseman, McCaffrey

This column often has been critical of Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott—deservedly so—but Scott deserves kudos for last week’s hire of former San Francisco 49er Merton Hanks as the league’s new Senior Associate Commissioner for Football Operations.

Hanks gives the conference exactly what it needs—a seasoned, respected voice on all things football.

Scott’s background is in tennis. Deputy commissioner Jamie Zaninovich is a basketball guy. Recently departed General Counsel Woodie Dixon was the man who achieved 15 minutes of fame for interfering with a football officiating review. The need for a knowledgeable football presence in the conference office was glaring and obvious.

Hanks played nine years in the NFL, eight with the 49ers, and earned All-Pro honors three

times. He did some work in broadcasting, then spent 11 years in the NFL office, working his way up to Vice-President for Football Operations and Compliance. For the past four years, he’s served as Sr. Associate Commissioner of Conference USA.

At the Pac-12, Hanks will be responsible for managing football scheduling, officiating, the replay command center, game operations, the Pac-12 Football Championship and bowl relationships. He will also serve as the primary contact for Pac-12 athletic directors and football coaches, bowl partners and NCAA administrators on football matters.

Excellent move, Mr. Commissioner.

More Cuts: Last week Hanks’ alma mater, the University of Iowa, announced it is discontinuing men's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming and diving, and men's tennis at the conclusion of the year.

These are very sad times for the Hawkeyes’ athletic department. Those cuts are muscle and bone.

Unfortunately, there will be more cuts to come at other schools around the country as a result of COVID and football season cancellations.

As we’ve written on many occasions, a better alternative would be to cut administrative positions, reduce inflated coaches’ salaries, and halt the football arms race.

Bart Ascending: It’s very early, but Giants’ rookie Joey Bart has the look of a future superstar. He may well supplant Buster Posey as the face of the franchise.

Pence Adieu: A fond goodbye to Giants’ outfielder Hunter Pence, an integral part of two World Series championship teams. And a real class act.

Yaz Question: How could Mike Yastrzemski not make it to the major leagues until he was almost 29 years old? The man can play.

Warriors Draft: The locals ended up with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. I agree with my old friend, Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins. There shouldn’t be any drama. Center James Wiseman fills a need and has tremendous upside. If Wiseman is not taken with the first pick, the Warriors should do some backflips, pop some champagne corks, and grab him instantly.

Fantasy Recommendation: I’ve decided to retire from fantasy football, but if you’ve got the No. 1 pick in your league, there can be no doubt or hesitation: Carolina Panther running back Christian McCaffrey, the former Stanford All-American, is your man.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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