Pac-12 commissioner: USC and UCLA made a ‘short-term financial’ decision they ‘already regret’

LOS ANGELES — It’s been about a month since news broke that USC and UCLA were rushing to the Big Ten, and disappointment and anger toward the two Los Angeles schools inside the Pac-12 have not diminished much, if at all.

“It’s clear that UCLA and USC made a decision for short-term financial gain at the expense of their student-athletes,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said. Athleticism Friday. “It’s 100% clear to me. It’s really unfortunate, and I think they already regret it, given the pushback they’ve received from almost every corner of their communities. I think they will regret it more over time.

Kliavkoff was at the start of his first vacation since taking over as commissioner a year ago when the news broke. He was in Montana, driving to Idaho, in an area without much cell reception when he received several text messages from his deputy commissioner.

“The surprising part, to me, is that the Pac-12 has a mission that relates to the health and well-being of its student-athletes, and that’s a decision that I believe goes directly against the health and well-being of student-athletes. This is the surprise to me.

A Pac-12 athletic director said Athleticism Friday that the most surprising aspect of the move was to UCLA, as it is a public school connected to California-Berkeley, and the Bruins’ move was torn apart by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The University of California board of trustees ordered a review of how the decision unfolded.

“I wasn’t shocked because I’ve been in this business long enough, but I was surprised because I had come to terms with the idea that UCLA couldn’t part ways with Cal because of all this. regent stuff,” said another Pac-12 AD. Athleticism. “They are governed by the same group, and it does not make sense for the same supervisory board to want one to the detriment, at the expense of the other. This goes against their responsibility. That’s really where the surprise happened.

“Look at all the work Oklahoma and Texas had to do when, 12 years ago, the Pac-12 tried to attack them. But it was always Oklahoma State and Texas Tech that paired them up, and that ‘ quit. So obviously they had learned their lessons, and whatever work they had to do behind the scenes to fix it, they did. UCLA obviously didn’t work because it shouldn’t be a political question at this point. It will be interesting to see what happens at this hearing.

Kliavkoff also didn’t hold back his feelings for Big 12 leadership following what he said were numerous overtures to try to poach the Pac-12 programs he says were passed on to him. by the administrators of his league.

“I’ve tried to focus on things that move the conference forward, and I’ve tried to spend as little time as possible responding to fake news and nonsense that has come out of other conferences in an attempt to destabilize us. , ” he said.

Asked about his relationship with Brett Yormark, Kliavkoff said he and the new Big 12 commissioner have spoken a few times over the past month. “I told him that I believe college athletics is healthier when we have a healthy, vibrant Big 12 and a healthy, vibrant Pac-12. Having those votes in the CFP (College Football Playoff) room is valuable. We have these conversations, and then people at his conference go out of their way to try to destabilize our conference. I keep reminding him of that, and it’s a repeating pattern.

Kliavkoff declined to go into detail about Yormark’s response to this, other than adding, “It would be in the best interests of college athletics if both conferences are strong. I know for a fact that we are going to be strong, and I think if he does the right things, we will be fine.

around the league

Cameron Ward could be the guy: There are plenty of promising transfer quarterbacks in the Pac-12 this year, but the player with the most hype by far is USC’s Caleb Williams, transfer from Oklahoma. But Washington State’s new offensive coordinator Eric Morris said he thinks his guy, Cameron Ward, can be the best quarterback in the league.

“They’ll see soon enough,” Morris said of people who might be unaware of the Word Incarnate transfer. “This kid has some special stuff. I have met some great ones. I know what it looks like. It’s going to be fun for the world to see this kid come to life.

Ward said Friday that this hearing made him feel good.

“A guy like Coach Morris shooting a zero-star kid from small town Texas and taking me all the way to Pullman, Washington, that’s crazy,” he said. “Just having him in my corner, knowing that he trusts me and believes in me to make this system work is something I live for every day, and I’m just willing to prove myself.”

He chose Washington State over Ole Miss, Indiana and West Virginia. Ward, who threw for FCS’s best 47 touchdowns and nearly 4,700 yards at Incarnate Word, said he was especially proud to have once been a zero-star prospect. “I do it because I knew in my mind that I was still a five star. I felt like I could still compete with those guys, but the situation I was in, in high school, playing in a heavy Wing-T attack – probably kicked the ball on a normal Friday night seven or eight times. Not really a lot of film there. … But everything happens for a reason.

Utah has many reasons to be optimistic: Cameron Rising was a first-team All-Pac-12 last season, posting a 20-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and rushing for 499 yards and six touchdowns for the conference champions, which is expected to be repeated by media reports. of the league.

rising says Athleticism that he didn’t have full arm strength last season, after major shoulder surgery, but now has that “extra punch” to deliver the ball. He said he was probably around 80% last year. “I didn’t really feel comfortable throwing a deep ball at times. I felt like I had to really muscle up to make those throws, but now I feel like I have the confidence to let it rip.

The player prepared for an escape: Stanford’s EJ Smith, son of legendary Emmitt Smith, rushed for just 133 yards last season, but the 6-foot, 213-pound junior was Kyu Blu Kelly and Tanner McKee named Stanford’s most ready player for a season in small groups.

“He’s going to have an amazing year,” McKee predicted. “He is so versatile. Can run routes, great passing pro, is really patient, great vision, really hits the holeshot, can make people miss in space. He is the total package. We are so excited for him.

Stanford could use the boost. Last season, the Cardinal ranked last in the Pac-12 in rushing, with less than 87 rushing yards per game. It was the third time in the last four seasons that Stanford, once the most physical team in the league, finished in the bottom two in the race.

Watch out for the Beavers running backs: Jonathan Smith had a few gifted running backs during his four seasons at Oregon State. Two seasons ago, Jermar Jefferson led the Pac-12 in rushing. Last season, BJ Baylor did it. Deshaun Fenwick, who rushed for 127 yards against Washington State last season, returns. But keep an eye out for freshman Damien Martinez, a 5-foot-11, 228-pound, three-star freshman from Texas. Smith isn’t one to gush, but he’s excited about Martinez’s physique and how quickly he picked things up in the spring.

Is that you, ASU? : Arizona State, coming off an offseason with major personnel changes stemming from a recruiting scandal that sparked an ongoing NCAA investigation, has had as much roster rotation as can be. be any team in the country. Embattled head coach Herm Edwards noted the Sun Devils have 43 new players. It should be noted that last season Utah State had 44 newcomers and went from one season to one win at a Mountain West title. Edwards said he has a target date for when he will have a better idea of ​​the type of team he has.

(Photo by George Kliavkoff, left, Pac-12 Senior Associate Commissioner Merton Hanks, center, and Stanford AD Bernard Muir: Kirby Lee/USA Today)


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