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Archive for June 10th, 2008

A great day for the future of the Pac-10

Posted by Jeff Nusser on June 10, 2008

Tom Hansen, of “worst commissioner in the country” fame, is going to retire from his post at the top of the Pac-10 at the end of next year. I could not be more ecstatic that the conference can finally now move out of the early ’80s and enter the 21st century with the rest of the BCS.

Hansen takes a lot of pot shots for a lot of things — most notably the hideous television contracts for football and basketball — and almost all of that criticism is fair. But don’t tell him that. In his mind, he’s merely carrying out the wishes of the institution presidents who sign his paycheck.

For example …

“Hansen said ESPN has never really been a viable option ‘because they have never had available time slots because of their other commitments that would fit our scheduling patterns. And because they didn’t have good time slots, they never wanted to make an attractive financial offer. … They would have given us Monday nights at 9 p.m., but some of our academic heads and presidents were not the least bit interested in that.’ ”

What he neglects to mention, of course, is that there’s no room on ESPN for the Pac-10 because when ESPN started becoming a major player in both college football and basketball, Hansen, rather than seeing an opportunity and aggressively pursuing a television contract with a national cable broadcaster, sat on the sidelines while more progressive commissioners passed him by.

In the other parts of the interview with the Times’ Bob Condotta, Hansen goes on to explain why the Pac-10 plays in just one New Year’s Day bowl game: “There are already four games (that morning) so the networks are either already taken or going against three other bowls, so (the presidents) are not interested in that.” Never mind the fact that it seems to be good enough for the other BCS conferences who seem to be thriving despite the morning “competition.” He also said that the presidents love the Holiday Bowl, and the conference’s strategy is to grow its smaller bowls into bigger bowls: “We think the Emerald Bowl (in San Francisco) will grow quite a bit in stature.”

So, let me get this straight: He loves the Holiday Bowl, where our second place team — which more often than not gets shafted from the BCS bowl picture thanks to a chronic lack of exposure — takes on the fourth place team from the Big 12? Or the Sun Bowl, where our third place team takes on the fifth place Big 12 team? Or the Emerald Bowl, where we take on the SEVENTH place ACC team?

Oh, and let’s not forget that Hansen is the one who said the Pac-10 would walk away from the BCS if a plus-one bowl model were ever instituted, because that would lead to an inevitable playoff and the other bowls would either become irrelevant or disappear altogether — pretending in his delusional state that they haven’t already diminished in stature thanks to the current BCS system.

Seriously, folks, this is the guy who has been leading your conference. And I bristle at the notion that he can do little more than just carry out the whims of his presidents, although Bob Condotta seems to sympathize with Hansen.

“That last comment reiterates a point I made in my earlier post on Hansen — a lot of these things involve a lot more than him. He’s an easy one to blame for some of these things, but if the presidents don’t want to do it, it’s not going to get done. As he told me at one point today ‘I don’t speak as an individual, but I reflect the institutions’ views.’ ”

Agreed, Hansen does work for the presidents. But, through athletics, what the institutions want more than anything is to, in no specific order, 1) Make money for their university; and 2) Raise the profile of their universities, which adds to enrollments, donations and grants, resulting in … you guessed it — more money. For the presidents, and for everyone else.

I guarantee, any commissioner that does those two things well will have the support of the Pac-10 presidents. And a strong commissioner who sees himself as more than a shill for the presidents can do those things. But it takes guts. Hansen never had those guts; he viewed himself as someone with little more power than an impotent Bud Selig at the beginning of his Major League Baseball commissioner reign. He was never willing to take a risk, never willing to put his job on the line with a gutsy decision.

There’s something to be said for protecting your job, but don’t play it safe on the one hand and then say you’ve done a great job on the other hand by pointing out that the conference has won 200-plus national championships on your watch and try and take credit for it — as if your “leadership” had jack crap to do with Arizona State’s fastpitch championship. Puh-leeze.

This is designed to be a year-long search, hence the timing of the announcement. And the timing couldn’t have been better. The awful TV contracts for both sports run out at the same time in 2011-12, and while that’s still a few years away, it will give the new commissioner plenty of time to work a new deal that actually will benefit the conference. And bowl affiliations are often reworked from year to year, so there’s plenty of work that can be done there right away.

My greatest fear, though, is that the Pac-10 doesn’t see any need to deviate from what it’s been doing and will hire one of Hansen’s underlings to toe the party line. Here’s to hoping that these presidents are forward-thinking men — stop laughing! — who want to hire someone to take this conference into the future.

Hansen’s right that this is the conference of champions. The fact that it doesn’t get more money or recognition for that is a travesty for which he is directly responsible. Good riddance.

Posted in News | Tagged: , | 16 Comments »

Good weekend for Cougar basketball

Posted by Jeff Nusser on June 10, 2008

A few notes to pass along on this Tuesday, as my busy life is finally permitting me a few minutes to write. (And let me tell you, it feels goooooood to finally write again.)

CASTO APPEARS GOOD TO GO: First, as has been reported elsewhere, recruit DeAngelo Casto apparently has graduated from Ferris H.S. — the final reported hurdle in his odyssey to WSU. As a high school teacher, I can tell you that walking down the aisle doesn’t always necessarily mean everything is kosher, but the S-R’s Vince Grippi says a source tells him it looks like Casto is going to make it.

That’s great news for the Cougs. As we’ve discussed before, Casto brings an element of athleticism to this team that was sorely lacking after the departure of Ivory Clark.

If you’re curious what you’re getting, check out the video (hat tip to Stadium Way). What I want you to notice is that this guy is a work in progress, especially offensively — most of those moves (other than the dunks, which are impressive) aren’t going to have a snowball’s chance in the Pac-10. I wouldn’t expect much more than 10-15 energy, defense and rebounding minutes from him, as his offensive game is far from polished. But he’s a guy with a nose for the ball, and that’s great.

And if he develops as he looks like he could — both physically and skill-wise — the Cougs could have a massive gem on their hands.

TOP-FLIGHT PG ON THE RADAR: Xavier Thames, a 2009 three-star PG recruit (Scout.com) has narrowed his list down to WSU and Iowa State. I’m not surprised the Cougs are drawing interest from a very good point guard, since they’ll have pretty much an immediate opening at the point in 2009-10 with the graduation of Taylor Rochestie.

I’d be pretty shocked if they didn’t go after another ball-handler, as well, given how the most pressing needs for this class are simply point guard and big man thanks to the plethora of 2s and 3s secured in this current recruiting class.

Posted in Around the 'Net, News, Recruiting, Video | Tagged: , , | Comments Off

 
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