Jimmy’s Back; Pac-12 Rising; Amazon’s Impressive Debut; Recruiting In$anity; NCAA Fantasy Continues
It was inevitable.
The 49ers tried to force feed us Trey Lance, but the young man was too inexperienced, too inaccurate, and too carelessly utilized to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Running the ball between the tackles a dozen times per game on designed plays, he was never going to get through the entire season in one piece.
Essentially, the 49ers decided to replace Jimmy Garoppolo because he got hurt too much. Then they decided to use Lance in a way that all but guaranteed he was going to get hurt too much.
So the under-rated, under-appreciated Garoppolo came off the bench Sunday after Lance was injured and displayed, once again, what a good pro quarterback looks like.
As we've been saying for the past several years, he is one of the best 10-15 quarterbacks in the league, and he's always taken the 49ers deep into the playoffs.
Not to mention the class he has displayed throughout this team-created quarterback controversy. Witness the joy his teammates showed yesterday when he scored the game-clinching touchdown on a quarterback sneak.
The Niners gave up the farm to draft Lance, a move that may haunt them for years. The one good thing they did was renegotiate Garoppolo's contract and keep him as insurance.
I feel badly for Lance, but the right guy is back under center for the 49ers.
Pac-12 Rising: It’s been awhile since we’ve had some positive news to report about the Pac-12, so we’re going to take advantage of the opportunity.
The embattled conference enjoyed a terrific weekend, scoring a couple of upsets over ranked teams and beating a couple of solid Mountain West opponents. And, finally, the embarrassing Herm Edwards era ended at Arizona State.
Oregon routed No. 12 BYU, 41-20, and Washington humbled No. 11 Michigan State, 39-28. Meanwhile, USC handled Fresno State and Utah had an easy time of it with San Diego State.
A couple of quarterback transfers led the way for Oregon and Washington. Bo Nix, who came to Eugene by way of Auburn, was responsible for five touchdowns, throwing for two and running for three. The Ducks' opening loss to Georgia is looking more like a case of the Bulldogs being from another planet, rather than any major deficiency on Oregon’s part.
Washington QB Michael Penix, Jr., formerly of Indiana, threw for four TDs and 397 yards to lead the Huskies. He’s the real deal.
The Pac-12 now has four teams in the top 25—USC (No. 7), Utah (13), Oregon (15) and Washington (18).
The top four spots in the rankings, of course, are all held by the Big Two. The SEC has No. 1 (Georgia) and 2 (Alabama); the Big Ten has No. 3 (Ohio State) and 4 (Michigan).
Northwest Power Base: The four Pac-12 Northwest schools are a combined 11-1. In addition to Oregon (2-1) and Washington, (3-0), both Oregon State and Washington State are 3-0.
This is the first time since 1915 that the Beavers and Cougars both started 3-0. That was 107 years ago.
Cardinal Concern: The Washington and Oregon victories were bad news for Stanford (1-1), which must face both teams on the road the next two weeks. After that, the Cardinal hosts Oregon State and then travels to Notre Dame.
Another year, another brutal schedule for David Shaw’s club.
Edwards Goes, Amazon Shines: The final pieces of good news for the Pac-12 were off the field.
Edwards was fired after the Sun Devils’ humiliating loss at home to Eastern Michigan. One must wonder if Athletic Director Ray Anderson will be the next to go. He should. The Edwards hiring made no sense, and it represented a classic conflict of interest for Anderson, a former agent who counted Edwards among his clients.
Amazon's Thursday night broadcast of the Chiefs-Chargers game marked the first ever NFL game to be exclusively carried on a streaming platform (as opposed to linear network or cable).
One man who was watching the Amazon telecast with keen interest was Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. Early reports leaking from the Pac-12/ESPN rights fee negotiations have indicated the parties are far apart. "Millions of dollars" according to one source.
Experts agree that the rights should be worth $300 to $400 million per year on ESPN. If they're "millions" apart, either the Pac-12 is floating crazy numbers, or that total represents the difference over five or six years of a prospective agreement.
For Kliavkoff, one way of bridging the gap would be to add Amazon (or Apple, for that matter) as a secondary carrier. The quality of Thursday's production had to ease any concerns he might have had in that regard.
It was a first-class production. The pre-game show was topical and interesting, the graphics throughout were excellent, the camera work and replays were high-quality, and the announce team of Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit was top shelf. I was impressed.
Our wi-fi goes out occasionally in Danville, so we had a few moments where the picture paused with a rotating circle, but that was not a universal problem.
Recruiting Insanity: According to public records obtained by the Athletic, Texas spent over $600,000 on two recruiting weekends in June.
The Longhorns spent nearly $350,000 to host 14 recruits the weekend of June 24. A week earlier, the official visit by No. 1 recruit Arch Manning, the nephew of Super Bowl winners Peyton and Eli Manning, and eight other recruits set coach Steve Sarkisian’s program back $280,000.
The Manning weekend visit included five-star accommodations at the Four Seasons and lavish meals for the players and their families, a photo shoot at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium, a trip to the Top Golf Driving range, and breakfast at Sarkisian’s.
Manning announced his commitment to the Longhorns four days after his recruiting trip. Twelve of the 14 visitors on June 24 have committed to Texas, whose 2023 class currently ranks No. 3 nationally.
In terms of recruiting extravagances, the Longhorns still have a ways to go to catch Georgia, which spent $3,676,858 on recruiting in 2019.
NCAA Grammar: Despite the advent of NIL and the transfer portal, and despite a string of legal losses that cost the organization tens of million of dollars, the NCAA apparently still hasn't given up on the term "student-athlete" or its futile facade trumpeting the importance of academics.
The job description for the next NCAA president is full of references to concepts that have become punch lines amidst today’s all-consuming pursuit of TV dollars.
Here is how the NCAA describes "Our North Star" and the organization’s “sacred principles:”
“Education is who we are, and we are proud of it...The new constitution provides the next President and membership a clear, bright ‘North Star,’ including sacred principles regarding:
1. The Primacy of the Academic Experience
2. Student-Athlete Well Being
3. Integrity & Sportsmanship
4. Institutional Control
5. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
6. Gender Equity
7. Recruiting Standards
8. The Collegiate Student-Athlete Model"
The primary of academics apparently didn’t extend to whoever wrote the job description, which requires that the new leader must be "one who believes in themselves."