The Pac-12 announced Sunday that it has created an 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) television window for this upcoming season in an effort to reduce the number of night games across the conference.

From the news release: "Pac-12 Networks will exclusively broadcast the games in this time slot in place of an evening window throughout the season. The number of 11 a.m. PT games will be determined as the season and television picks progress."

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Do you like or dislike playing a Pac-12 game at 11 a.m. PT?

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Discuss (Total votes: 5,391)

Said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: "... we believe fans -- both in our stadiums and in the television audience -- will benefit.”

Creating an 11 a.m. PT time slot obviously will reduce the number of night games, which many fans have complained about. This past season, more often than not, there were three conference games kicking off at 7 p.m. or later on Saturday. A few Saturdays, there were four.

The advantage with an 11 a.m. kickoff is fewer late games. The disadvantage is an unusually early start time.

That might negatively affect stadium attendance. It certainly will reduce the length of the pregame tailgating experience. And it will be interesting to see how the TV ratings are affected.

The Pac-12 Network might counter that it will be advantageous to show the, say, Utah-Arizona game at 11 a.m. in the future rather than at 7 p.m., when last Oct. 19 it competed with USC at Notre Dame, Washington State-Oregon and Oregon State at California. While SEC, Big Ten and ACC fans might keep their own games on at 2 p.m. ET instead of watching a Pac-12 contest, West Coast fans might be more likely to watch in the morning when there's no other regional game of note.

But what do you think? Are 11 a.m games good or bad for fans and/or Pac-12 business?
There is no simple measure that consistently predicts college football success. The best is pedigree, but even that often fails. Just ask Notre Dame and Texas.

While returning starters -- most particularly a quarterback -- are the easiest way to map out how a team stands in the preseason, there are more than a few folks who believe a veteran offensive line is as meaningful as anything.

No less than the Wall Street Journal put that theory forward in 2009, and it's pretty clear that it's a good thing to have experience returning on the O-line.

Last season, just eight of the 25 teams in the final AP poll ranked among the bottom half out of 126 teams when it came to returning offensive line starts in 2013. While leading the nation with lines with 124 and 123 starts didn't help Texas and Tennessee much a year ago, eight final top-25 teams ranked in the top-30 when it came to offensive line starts, including No. 10 Florida State (national champion), No. 9 Michigan State (Rose Bowl champion), No. 27 Stanford (Pac-12 champion) and No. 3 Duke (nation's most surprising 10-win team).

So let's look at how the Pac-12 stacks up when it comes to returning offense line starts, beginning with the North Division.

Washington

Returning O-line starts: 124

Notes: The Huskies welcome back seven players with starting experience, including five with 20 or more career starts. Three of them -- Dexter Charles, Mike Criste and Micah Hatchie -- earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors last season. The Huskies aren't too worried about things up front.

Oregon

Returning O-line starts: 107

Notes: Ducks center Hroniss Grasu is the only All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 O-lineman returning this fall, which will be his fourth as a starter. He leads the conference with 40 career starts. Tackles Tyler Johnstone and Jake Fisher are two-year starters, but Johnstone is coming back from a knee injury and might not be available early in the season.

California

Returning O-line starts: 51

Notes: The good news is the Golden Bears have eights guys coming back with starting experience. The bad news is the O-line struggled mightily last season, which is one reason why -- other than injuries -- so many guys saw action in 2013. There are high hopes, however, that some of the young guys forced into action, such as then-freshmen Steven Moore, Chris Borrayo, Matt Cochran and Christian Okafor, will take big steps forward.

Oregon State

Returning O-line starts: 42

Notes: The Pac-12 blog doesn't like to confess to surprise, but the Beavers' number here is about 30 less than it would have guessed, even though three starters need to be replaced. The centerpiece, of course, is center Isaac Seumalo, a legitimate All-American candidate after earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season. The junior owns 25 career starts. Sophomore Sean Harlow is next with nine starts last season. Still, five guys have started at least one game, which means the shade of green here isn't so light.

Washington State

Returning O-line starts: 33

Notes: OT Gunnar Eklund and OG Joe Dahl started every game last season. Though three starters need to be replaced, including center Elliott Bosch, the unit's unquestioned leader, there's a general feeling of optimism because the line should be much bigger than it was the past two years. Still, this will be a young crew next fall.

Stanford

Returning O-line starts: 15

Notes: Stanford lost four starters from one of the nation's best offensive lines in 2013, two of whom were NFL draft picks. The good news is the return of massive LT Andrus Peat to protect QB Kevin Hogan's blindside. A second-team All-Pac-12 performer in 2013, Peat is an almost certain first-round NFL draft pick if he opts to leave after this season. Further good news is the likely four new starters all saw significant action last season, and not just in mop-up duty. The Cardinal has recruited this position so well, there's not that much worry on The Farm about the lack of starting experience.

Pac-12 lunch links

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
2:30
PM ET
Every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.
During the next few weeks, we’re going through Oregon’s roster, position by position, examining what talent was lost to graduation or the NFL and what that leaves the Ducks with in 2014.

We’re well into the defense now, moving through the front seven. Today, we examine the weakside linebackers.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Malone
AP Photo/Andrew ShurtleffOregon linebacker Derrick Malone made 105 tackles last season.
Who was lost after the 2013 season: Brett Bafaro (left the team)

Lost production: None

Who returns in 2014: Redshirt senior Derrick Malone, redshirt junior Rahim Cassell, sophomore Tyrell Robinson, redshirt senior Grant Thompson

Statistics of returning players: 153 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries, 2 interceptions

Outlook: Anyone getting a trend here? “Returning talent that’s also experienced.” I feel as though I’ve written that line for a lot of the position groups, and the weakside linebackers are no different in that regard.

But, like a lot of the other position groups, the great experience doesn’t extend much further than the starter. Malone -- the Ducks’ leading tackler in 2013 -- is going to be an anchor in the middle of the defense, but it’s necessary to keep him healthy because there’s less experience with Cassell, Robinson or Thompson. Cassell registered 32 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack and two quarterback hurries, and Robinson and Thompson combined for 16 tackles.

Look for defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Don Pellum to try to get Cassell some early snaps in the nonconference season. Malone is game-tested and passed with flying colors, so he doesn’t have to prove himself. But it would be nice for everyone to feel as confident in Cassell as they do in Malone, so if Malone needed to rest or were injured, the Ducks wouldn’t miss a beat in the middle of their defense.

Other reviews:

Top Pac-12 recruiters 

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
9:00
AM ET
The Pac-12 recruiter rankings feature a mix of established vets from Oregon and Oregon State who have won numerous recruiting battles but haven’t grabbed the national headlines they’ve deserved and fast-rising assistants at USC and UCLA who can recruit well both in the West and on the national stage.(

Welcome to the Friday mailbag.

Follow the Pac-12 blog on Twitter here.

And you can follow my personal Twitter feed here... if you dare.

To the notes!

Clarence from Cincinnati writes: Ted, The blog is very well run, but I feel you all are very conservative on your predictions and forecasts. What is a prediction of yours for this upcoming season from left field? For me, I see a 6-0 start for Colorado and a bowl win (I am not a Colorado fan). Also, with the conference being so deep and the possibility of another two-loss conference champ being relatively high, do you see a two-loss Pac-12 champ still making the playoff?

Ted Miller: Gemmell, chilling on vacation in an undisclosed, beachside location, just sent a bite of his fish taco skyward toward the Pacific Ocean after reading that I am "very conservative."

So you want some predictions from out of left field?
  • The SEC won't win the national championship for the second consecutive season.
  • That's because Oregon and Heisman Trophy-winning QB Marcus Mariota will go undefeated. As in 15-0.
  • UCLA will not make the College Football Playoff because of two losses to the Ducks.
  • Either Oregon State or Washington State is going to win nine games this season.
  • Seven Pac-12 teams will finish ranked in the final AP poll.
  • By signing day 2015, the Pac-12 will have two new head coaches.
  • At some point, the Pac-12 blog will be wrong.

I know. That last one is nuts.


Matthew from Tempe, Ariz., writes: I'm a huge ASU fan, and student at ASU. I'm only 19 years old but I attended my first ASU game at two months old and I've witnessed 20 seasons. I read your articles and I love what you have to say, but I'm just curious about your response to Todd Graham's nephew. I think it's an interesting article, but I just wonder if you and other analysts are downplaying what Todd Graham has done. I see here you say he inherited much more talent than Rich Rod, but I don't know if I agree with that. I think he inherited an undersized defense and he built it into what it has become. He took Will Sutton, who was a head case on and off the field, and straightened him out. I remember flashes of Sutton during his freshman year, but he just couldn't figure out his head, and I think Graham deserves credit there. I also think Graham has recruited juco players, size, speed, and defense, where Rich Rod has recruited very few defensive players (according to the ESPN recruiting services). As such a big fan of ASU, U of A hasn't had offensive problems over the past few years, they just don't play defense and to be honest, I was scratching my head when U of A went with Rich Rod because his defense was so pathetic at Michigan. I think both coaches have done a great job at their positions, but I don't understand why ESPN is so anti-Todd Graham and ASU.

Ted Miller: I stand by what I wrote last week. Most objective observers would agree that Todd Graham inherited more talent at Arizona State than Rich Rodriguez inherited at Arizona.

That doesn't take anything away from how well Graham coached his players. In fact, you could make the argument that Graham coached his team better overall, and he deserves a tip of the cap for going 2-0 against Rodriguez. You could even argue that he's recruited better, though two years doesn't define a coach as a recruiter.

That said, if you were scratching your head when Arizona hired Rodriguez, well, I have a hard time believing that. It was a home run hire, period. There were a variety of reasons he didn't do well at Michigan -- a significant portion of those being out of his hands -- but the chief one, at least to me, was his not convincing his West Virginia defensive coordinator, Jeff Casteel, to follow him to Ann Arbor.

To support this point, let's consider the Arizona and Arizona State defenses last year. The Wildcats yielded fewer points per game (24.2 vs. 26.6) and yards per play (5.3 vs. 5.5) than the Sun Devils, despite having zero first-team or second-team All-Pac-12 performers on that side of the ball. The Sun Devils had six.

Yes, Arizona State played a much tougher schedule, particularly on the nonconference side of things. But the Wildcats held Oregon to a season-low 16 points.

I agree with this: Both coaches have done a great job (so far). It will be interesting to see how things stack up in the next five years, but both schools should enjoy their growing Pac-12 and national relevance.

Graham probably will never win over all his critics, and that includes fans, media and carping competing coaches. He's a fast-talking guy who's moved around a lot and has a reputation as being hard to work for.

But what I've realized in the past two years is he's one of the most authentic coaches out there. I actually "get along" with some coaches better, but I also know they, on occasion, are working me over. Graham, on the other hand, is always working me over. He's 100 percent consistent.

Graham's garrulousness that sometimes makes him seem like a used-car salesman? That's who he is. It's not an act. He's like that off the record. He's like that with a recruit's family. He's like that when he eats lunch with his assistant coaches. He's never low-key. He's always working, always competing. He is a driven, hungry son of a gun. My impression is he genuinely means what he says -- at least more than most coaches do -- and that includes trying to do things right, on the field and off.

Observing that Graham inherited more talent than Rodriguez isn't a tweak on Graham. It's just an observation that I believe is supported by substantial evidence.


Corey from the Netherlands writes: As a Ducks fan, one of the stories of this year is how Byron Marshall responds to some serious competition from Thomas Tyner. Everyone seems ready to give the job to Tyner based on talent alone, and the situation got me thinking about Alabama in 2009, with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Of course, Ingram held off the more talented Richardson to win the Heisman Trophy that year, albeit with rather mundane numbers for a Heisman winner. I doubt Marshall nor Tyner will end up on anyone's Heisman list (we have a much better candidate!), but I have this feeling that both will be over 1,000 yards on the season, with Marshall in the top 2-3 in the conference, Tyner top 10. What do you think?

Ted Miller: A Ducks fan in the Netherlands. Hmm. I hear Amsterdam is beautiful this time of year.

What do I think? Byron Marshall/Thomas Tyner or Thomas Tyner/Byron Marshall -- it doesn't matter. It's a great luxury for run-first teams to have two capable backs. The competition will make both of them better and more hungry for touches. As long as one or the other doesn't whine about his role, things should be fine.

As for who's 1A and who's 1B, I have no idea. That's a question that will be resolved in preseason practices. If I were guessing, I'd predict that Marshall will trot out with the first-team offense against South Dakota on Aug. 30, but it will be up to him to hold on to his perch as the first option.

The goal should be for the pair to combine for 2,300 to 2,700 yards, not unlike the production of LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner in 2010 and 2011. It's notable that Barner didn't hit 1,000 yards while playing behind James, so that benchmark isn't terribly important -- overall production is.


Jeff from San Diego writes: Ted... As a Trojan who has attended games since the John McKay era, in the words of the immortal Marv Goux, "UCLA is a boil to be lanced before playing Notre Dame." Beating UCLA is all well and good, but there is NOTHING better than beating Notre Dame -- the GREATEST nonconference rivalry in CFB. The history, the Heismans, the NCs...Yes, beating UCLA is required, but NOTHING compares to Notre Dame for a true Trojan!

Ted Miller: Maybe, but I do think context matters.

The present context is UCLA rising as a national power after having beaten the Trojans two years in a row. While USC has also lost two in a row to Notre Dame, the Bruins' recently elevated status in the context of the crosstown rivalry seems more notable, at least from a media perspective.

I'm sure some "true" Trojans value wins over Notre Dame more, though I suspect many of these are of an older generation. I'd also wager that plenty of "true" Trojans would, if forced to make a call, prefer beating UCLA this season compared to Notre Dame.

Another change in context: Sharing the South Division in the Pac-12. While the Notre Dame game is the "GREATEST nonconference rivalry in CFB," losing to UCLA has even more ramifications in a divisional format compared to the old Pac-10 format.


Jim from Goleta, Calif., writes: The term "blue-chip recruit" seems to be thrown around in both football and basketball recruiting and seems to mean a can't-miss guy that everyone is fighting over. Where did this term come from? Is it so ubiquitous that I am the only one who dosn't know where it came from?

Ted Miller: Blue chips, traditionally, are high-value poker chips. That's why the term was then applied to stocks, with a "blue chip stock" being stock in a large and profitable company that was a long-time industry leader.

The terms were almost immediately adopted when recruiting coverage began and gained wide acceptance and use in the 1980s and 1990s, though I couldn't figure out who first used the term "blue chip" to describe a prospect. There was a publication called "Blue Chip" magazine in the 1970s, and you can read about the early days of recruiting coverage here.


Zach from Seattle writes: I love the Pac-12 blog, and have been following it since I was a student at UW. The stories I enjoy most are usually the in-depth ones that cover a single theme with a focus on each school per story (example, the current "Key Stretch" series). However, the depth of the analyses you run usually restrict you to produce one story on each school per day. The blog usually tackles these stories in alphabetical order by school name. For fans of schools starting with a U or a W, that means we usually need to wait for a week or two to hear about a story regarding our school after cycling through the other 10-11 stories in the same vein from other schools. I can't help but feel that as writers, you feel that a story inevitably stales out by the 12th time you write it. My suggestion is that you not reduce the depth/quality of these stories but try to randomize/shuffle/invert the order you report these stories occasionally to let the Utahs, USCs, UCLAs, UWs and WSUs of the conference get some exposure to the fresh news that UA and ASU currently enjoy on a weekly basis. Seems like an easy fix, yes? Keep up the excellent work.

Ted Miller: Now Zach, we've done plenty of features in reverse alphabetical order.

Such as this. And this.

If we did a random shuffle, many fans would go ballistic. And I'd probably lose my place.

I will also say that no feature ever -- EVER -- grows stale for me. We commit to each story with 100 percent of our focus and passion whether that team starts with an A or a Z.

That's the Pac-12 blog guarantee.


Dave from Kabul, AFG writes: "Life is full of great joys...," you wrote, but I feel the need to remind you that one of them is ROFL-ing with glee over the newly posted worst-case scenario for a hated Pac-12 rival. Granted, people may have had trouble grasping the concept of the column, and I can see the trouble balancing the over-the-top fantasy with an actual best/worst case limits prediction. Still, if this column does go softly into that good night, where else shall I find such Hugo Award-caliber flights of fancy regarding these august programs I've come to know and love, respect and despise? A Husky Fever Believer.

Ted Miller: I truly appreciate the notes about the likely end of the Best-case/Worst-case stories.

I just don't think I have it in me this season. These pieces have grown more monstrous every year, and the idea of a reduction in scope or length is as unappealing as trying to top last year's efforts.

It's not just the time commitment, either. I don't want to seem melodramatic or whiny here, but my chief worry over the years when doing these is letting a team down. Basically, I've had one day to come up with something, and I'd be in a panic in the middle of the night when I thought my piece for Team X was crap.

Again, not to be whiny, but I wrote one last year for a middle-of-the-pack team -- 1,600 words -- decided it was stupid and then completely rewrote it, finishing it in the wee hours of the morning. Still didn't like it.

I've got a week off coming up, and I've told myself to look at some options but, as noted, it feels as if the well has run dry.
This week on the Oregon blog, the Ducks' position-by-position review continued. This week, we examined the offensive and defensive lines, as well as the drop end and the strong side linebackers.

These positions were a mixed bag when discussing what the Ducks will be able to expect in 2014. Oregon returns all five OL starters and Tony Washington at drop end. The experience of these groups is going to be extremely evident this fall. The offensive line put on more than 100 pounds of weight and should be able to protect Marcus Mariota better than it did last season, while Washington -- the team’s leader in tackles for a loss and sacks in 2013 -- is looking to have an even bigger season for Oregon in his redshirt senior year.

The other two positions, on the other hand, are the exact opposite. The Ducks lost their top three defensive linemen from a season ago, as well as starting strongside linebacker Boseko Lokombo. With how much Oregon struggled against the run in 2013, this inexperience at such key positions would probably be something to get nervous about, but all four of these positions actually looked pretty good in the Ducks’ spring game.

For a more in-depth breakdown, check out the reviews here:

Pac-12's lunch links

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6
2:30
PM ET
Happy Friday!
During the next few weeks, we’re going to go through Oregon’s roster, position by position, examining what talent was lost to graduation or the NFL and what that leaves the Ducks with in 2014.

We’re into the defense now, moving through the front seven. Today, we examine the middle linebackers.

Who was lost after the 2013 season: No one

Lost production: None

Who returns in 2014: Redshirt junior Rodney Hardrick, junior Joe Walker, redshirt freshman Danny Mattingly, redshirt senior Isaac Ava

Statistics of returning players: 109 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 1 interception

Outlook: Very, very good. This spot is pretty similar to the weakside linebackers in that the starter is extremely experienced and the second stringer has enough experience that he gives fans the idea that he could be “the guy” when the starter leaves. In this case, Hardrick -- the sixth-leading tackler in 2013 -- is going to be just fine in the middle of the linebackers. In fact, there might not be a better inside combo than Hardrick and weakside linebacker Derrick Malone in the entire Pac-12.

Walker, meanwhile, accounted for 37 tackles last season, including three tackles for loss and two sacks. So, like weakside linebacker Rahim Cassell, it’s very possible we’ll be seeing a lot of Walker in the nonconference schedule as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Don Pellum gets his two-deep ready for the Pac-12 competition.

With Pellum coordinating the entire defense this season, it’ll be interesting to see what exactly he draws up for the group as a whole and how much the linebackers are involved in different blitz schemes and attacks. It might have naturally happened since the linebackers are the most experienced position on the defensive side of the ball for the Ducks, but the fact that their position group coach is now also directing the defense might make that even more possible.

Other spring position reviews:

Pac-12's lunch links

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
2:30
PM ET
And the piano sounds like a carnival. And the microphone smells like a beer.
During the next few weeks, we’re going to go through Oregon’s roster, position by position, examining what talent was lost to graduation or the NFL and what that leaves the Ducks with in 2014.

We’re into the defense now, moving through the front seven. Today, we examine the strongside linebackers.

Who was lost after the 2013 season: Boseko Lokombo (graduation)

Lost production: 63 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries, 1 interception

Who returns in 2014: redshirt junior Tyson Coleman, redshirt sophomore Oshay Dunmore, sophomore Torrodney Prevot, redshirt senior Mike Garrity, sophomore Johnny Ragin III, incoming freshman Justin Hollins, incoming freshman Jimmie Swain IV

Statistics of returning players: 45 tackles, 3 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry

Outlook: This will be one of the biggest question marks going into the season. Replacing Lokombo is no easy task, and while there are plenty of options, it’s still a hole in the defense that needs major attention. Coleman didn’t play in the spring game, which gave more game reps to Dunmore and Prevot, but the competition still seems to be pretty wide open.

The biggest question is how the Ducks will replace the quarterback pressure that Lokombo alone provided last season -- he led the team with seven quarterback hurries while also recording three sacks. But with the group the Ducks have now, it seems unlikely that just one of these guys will be able to produce what he did.

The linebackers, as a whole, should be better than they were a season ago, but the key to how much better they can be is how much the strongside position can produce. If Coleman or Prevot can step in and really provide the pressure on quarterbacks that the Ducks need, then this could be a very scary group.

Other spring position reviews:

video

The No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country is now back on the recruiting board, as Blake Barnett announced Wednesday evening via Twitter that he was stepping away from his verbal commitment to Notre Dame.


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The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
During the next few weeks, we’re going to go through Oregon’s roster, position by position, examining what talent was lost to graduation or the NFL and what that leaves the Ducks with in 2014.

Yesterday we looked at the defensive line, and today we’re checking out the Ducks’ hybrid drop end-linebacker.

Who was lost after the 2013 season: None

[+] EnlargeTony Washington
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesTony Washington should again be a feared pass-rusher, but depth behind him is a concern.
Lost production: None

Who’s back in 2014: redshirt senior Tony Washington, redshirt junior Christian French, redshirt sophomore Cody Carriger, redshirt junior Ryan McCandless, redshirt freshman Ivan Faulhaber

Statistics of returning players: 72 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries, 4 forced fumbles

Outlook: Oregon should be fine at the drop end position. Washington is back, a season after he led the Ducks in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (7.5). He will be a guy Oregon consistently relies on for quarterback pressure, and expect him to more than deliver.

The drop end, like so many of the other positions, boasts major talent at the starting position and then (pun intended) drops off a bit through the reserves. French and Carriger have taken limited snaps, but look for them to get some game action early in the schedule before the Ducks begin relying on Washington almost exclusively.

With the defensive line's added size and the improvement it showed this spring, there are certainly a few early signs that the D-line will be able to handle opposing offensive lines better in 2014 than it did in 2013. If that's the case, look for defensive coordinator Don Pellum to dial up a few creative blitz schemes to use the experience and talent of Washington, as well as the rest of his linebackers, to get to opposing quarterbacks.

Other spring position reviews:

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