Pac-12: Washington Huskies
Sports Business Daily has done its annual accounting of bowl gifts, and let's just say there's a reason players like bowl games, beyond another chance to play and win.
The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school, so this is all within the NCAA's complex web of rules.
You'll see "gift suite" over and over. Here's what that is, per SBD:
SportsBusiness Journal’s eighth annual analysis of the gift packages provided to bowl game participants by the committees that host the games reveals that half of those organizations will stage a gift suite or shopping spree in the coming weeks. Gift suites are set up as private events prior to the game in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit.
So what do Pac-12 players get this bowl season. Glad you asked.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Oregon State vs. Boise State)
Tues., Dec. 24, 8 p.m. (ESPN); Honolulu
Gift suite; Oakley sunglasses; Tori Richard aloha shirt, Pro Athletics shorts and performance T-shirt; Ogio backpack; beach towel
AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Arizona vs. Boston College)
Tues., Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN); Shreveport, La.
Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; New Era skull cap; football
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Washington State vs. Colorado State)
Sat., Dec. 21, 2 p.m. (ESPN); Albuquerque, N.M.
Gift suite, portable mobile device charger, 8 GB USB; Oakley Breadbox sunglasses; cap, Oakley Fine Knit beanie; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; Gildan stadium blanket
Fight Hunger Bowl (Washington vs. BYU)
Fri., Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN); San Francisco
Soundmatters wireless portable speaker system; Fossil watch; Maxx HD Wayfarer sunglasses; messenger bag; Macy’s gift card
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (USC vs. Fresno State)
Sat., Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. (ABC); Las Vegas
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; beanie, cap; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; football, Zappos gift card
Hyundai Sun Bowl (UCLA vs. Virginia Tech
Tues., Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS); El Paso, Texas
Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; Top of the World cap, Majestic fleece pullover; Ogio backpack; coin, Helen of Troy hair dryer
National University Holiday Bowl (Arizona State vs. Texas Tech)
Mon., Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN); San Diego
$305 Best Buy gift card; Reactor Meltdown watch; Maui Jim sunglasses; cap
Valero Alamo Bowl (Oregon vs. Texas)
Mon., Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN); San Antonio
iPad Mini with retina display, Apple gift card; Fossil watch; panoramic photo, Schutt mini helmet
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio (Stanford vs. Michigan State)
Wed., Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN); Pasadena, Calif.
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 59Fifty cap; Ogio backpack
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He was passionate in his answers and seemed prepared to tackle any and all questions thrown at him.
Except this one: Are you going to beat Oregon?
“Do we have to start that already?” he quipped to an amused crowd.
Then he paused for about five seconds and offered this: “We’ll be playing hard.”
It might not be the answer diehards had hoped for. After all, 10 straight losses to the Ducks has left even the staunchest of supporters feeling frustrated at the state of the program -- despite its recent trips to the postseason and ascension up the Pac-12 North pecking order.
Then again, what’s he supposed to say? “Hells yeah!” (Of course not, but how cool would that have been?)
But that is the reality of the situation he’s walking into. Washington is a team that is built to win immediately. In some ways, Petersen’s task is tougher than his predecessor’s. Steve Sarkisian took an 0-12 program and built it into a respectable player in the Pac-12 North -- though he was never able to get his team into the elite ranks of the league. For Petersen, there will be no honeymoon. He carries a burden of expectation that Sarkisian failed to meet in his final season.
Petersen’s credentials -- which include two Bear Bryant Coach of the Year awards and a 92-12 record in eight seasons at Boise State -- are nearly flawless.
Though one of those losses came this year in the same stadium he’ll now call home. The Huskies handed Petersen the worst loss of his career, a 38-6 thumping in the season opener. That, he said, was very much on his mind when he decided to accept the Washington job.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m here. I mean that,” Petersen said. “When you walked into this stadium, this beautiful environment, there’s not a better one in college football. And when you pack it with these passionate people in purple, holy smokes. I was very, very irritated to tell you the truth.
“But deep down I really liked it. Cause that’s what college football should be all about. At the end of the day, I can’t wait to win a game in this stadium.”
Petersen laid out his recruiting approach. He smoothly dismissed questions about the makeup of the coaching staff -- which he said hopefully will be finalized within about a week.
He also addressed what role he’ll play as the Huskies prepare to face BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 27 against BYU.
“I certainly will be around for some of the practices,” he said. “I don’t want to be that dark shadow looming over them. These guys have done a great job this season. And I understand as well as anyone how tough it is on these kids, what they’ve been through the last week and a half, to lose their coach. That’s not easy. That’s not fun for anybody. I want to be around here for help and support.
“But this is their team. They need to finish this season off right. And anything I can help them with. But I’m not here to coach this game. Once that is over we’ll jump in and we’ll start to get after it. But I’m really hopeful they go out and play well.”
It’s clear that Petersen knows what he’s getting himself into. He knows that an entire season simply doesn’t boil down to games against Fresno State or Nevada -- depending on the year. But that every week in the nine-game Pac-12 is going to be a grind.
In their first official news conference, a lot of coaches talk about winning conference championships and national championships. Petersen didn’t do that. Instead he talked about the process. And he believes the process that worked in Boise will work in Seattle.
And if it does, beating Oregon won’t be a question. It will simply take care of itself.
BYU Cougars (8-4) vs. Washington Huskies (8-4)
Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. ET, San Francisco (ESPN)
BYU COUGARS BREAKDOWN
After a year of playing all over the country, from Virginia to Houston to Wisconsin to Notre Dame, why not make one more trip? The Cougars finished their third season as an FBS independent with a win over Nevada last week and immediately accepted a bid to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
The Cougars won eight games, six against teams going to bowl games, thanks to a top-25-scoring defense and a potent run game led by quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams, who each surpassed 1,200 rushing yards and combined for 16 touchdowns.
BYU has won its past four bowl games and is bowling in California for a second consecutive season after knocking off San Diego State 23-6 in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl last year. -- Max Olson
WASHINGTON HUSKIES BREAKDOWN
The news that coach Steve Sarkisian was headed to USC was quickly trumped by the hiring of Boise State’s Chris Petersen -- though it will be quarterbacks coach and former UW QB Marques Tuiasosopo who leads the Huskies into the bowl season.
Quarterback Keith Price has looked more like his 2011 self -- mostly because of stability along the offensive line, which has helped the Huskies average 38.5 points per game.
After a midseason skid that saw three straight losses (at Stanford, vs. Oregon and at Arizona State), the Huskies closed the year by winning four of their last five.
Washington’s defense, particularly the secondary, has continued to flourish. At question, however, is who will be calling the defense for the bowl game. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is rumored to be a candidate for the Boise State job, though he also could end up at USC with Sarkisian. Petersen is bringing Pete Kwiatkowski with him from Boise State, so Wilcox and the Washington defense remains in limbo. -- Kevin Gemmell
Under Petersen, Boise State became a household name in college football. Yet he resisted the urge to climb to the next rung. Instead, he took his program to unprecedented heights. Even with this season's 8-4 record, the first year that Petersen failed to win 10 games with the Broncos, his record is 92-12 (.885). That ranks first among FBS head coaches with at least five years on the sidelines.
If Petersen never won another game, he will be glorified in the history of the game for leading Boise State to victories in the Fiesta Bowl in the 2006 and 2009 seasons.
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Washington formally announced the hiring of Chris Petersen away from Boise State on Friday, answering one of the major annual questions in college football: Will Chris Petersen ever leave Boise?
With a list of big-name targets after Steve Sarkisian opted to bolt for USC on Monday, athletic director Scott Woodward moved quickly and decisively. He checked in with UCLA coach Jim Mora, who thought seriously about the job before re-upping with the Bruins. Rumors briefly flew over Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, a Don James disciple. Then two names emerged: Petersen and Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who worked under Sarkisian from 2009 to 2011.
Both would be good hires, but Petersen is the big fish, the guy who spurned many previous overtures because he liked living and coaching in Boise. He has won five conference titles and two BCS bowls while winning 88 percent of his games (92-12) over eight years with the Broncos.
This hiring will create immediate buzz across the country. Huskies fans, many of whom were growing impatient with Sarkisian not challenging Oregon and Stanford in the Pac-12 North Division, probably view themselves as being in a better place today than they were just after finishing the regular season 8-4. They would like to thank USC for poaching their former coach, as well as apparently passing on Petersen in favor of Sarkisian.
But that narrative will shortly shift as well. Words, spin and column inches celebrating Petersen's arrival will eventually give way to actual games. While Petersen is a great hire on paper, he is not a certainty. This is new territory for him. Coaching Boise State in the WAC and then the Mountain West is not the same thing as coaching the Huskies in the Pac-12.
For one, he will no longer be primarily recruiting proverbial diamonds in the rough who are overlooked by major powers and then taking time to develop them. He now must go after elite players who have offers from USC, Stanford, Oregon, Ohio State and Alabama. It's a different type of recruiting with different challenges and different potential pratfalls.
Of course, the biggest difference will be the schedule.
At Boise State, Petersen built a national power by gaining nationwide attention on a near-annual basis with an early-season victory over a marquee AQ conference foe -- Georgia, Oregon, Virginia Tech, etc. -- then running the table through a weak conference. It was a nice formula for non-AQ success, and the magical win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2006 season gave the Broncos national credibility that trickled down through the years.
While there were plenty of naysayers, Boise State earned a spot at the adult table. The general feeling was an undefeated Boise State deserved a shot at the big boys, even if it never was invited to the championship game.
Much deserved credit for that goes to Petersen, who reached many short lists of the nation's best coaches, alongside guys named Nick Saban, Chip Kelly and Urban Meyer.
Petersen, however, will need a new formula in the Pac-12. There are no Wyomings, New Mexicos or Colorado States in his new conference, which is as deep in quality players, coaches and teams as it has ever been.
He has never coached a team that faced a Pac-12 grind of nine conference games. He's never led a team through a back-to-back-to-back slate of Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State, as the Huskies did during a midseason three-game losing streak that turned fans sour.
We know Petersen, 49, is smart. We know he's an offensive innovator. He is the only two-time winner of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award as national coach of the year. He seems to be good at evaluating talent, both with players and assistant coaches.
Nonetheless, we don't know for sure if he has the coaching chops to consistently win at this level. Or win big enough to make himself the long-term answer at Washington, though it's perfectly reasonable to believe he will be. Just recall how things went for the former Boise State head coaches who preceded Petersen in bolting for AQ jobs, Dirk Koetter to Arizona State and Dan Hawkins to Colorado. At the time, both were widely viewed as fantastic hires. Neither succeeded.
To be fair, the only sure things in college football right now are Saban and Meyer.
Speaking of assistant coaches, Petersen's first big recruiting job will be persuading defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to stick around. Wilcox could follow Sarkisian to USC, though his contracted $1 million buyout is pricey, even for the Trojans, or he might end up a head-coaching candidate, starting with the place Petersen just left.
Wilcox was Petersen's defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2009. They could prove a powerful tandem in Montlake.
There also is a not unreasonable Pollyanna side to this. Maybe when Petersen gets an A-list program with A-list facilities and A-list revenue he becomes an even better coach? Maybe he becomes Washington's Nick Saban.
Or maybe he becomes the second coming of Don James.
The Sarkisian hire at USC was met with very tempered expectations -- if that -- by national media, but recruits immediately reacted positively to the news, with many of them saying it was a slam-dunk hire and "Sark" would immediately reap the benefits on the recruiting trail. Petersen moving from Boise State to Washington, meanwhile, is being hailed by media members as perhaps the best hire of all the Pac-12 coaching moves in recent years -- and there have been many -- but, at least early on, many recruits seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach to the hire, although a number are definitely on board with the new coach.
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Boise State's Chris Petersen was named coach at Washington on Friday.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed in Washington's news release announcing the hire, but according to ESPN sources the contract will make Petersen one of the highest-paid coaches in the Pac-12.
"Coach Petersen's success and record are extraordinary, but even more impressive is the man himself," Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said in the statement. "His integrity, work ethic and character make him an outstanding fit and leader of our student-athletes at UW. We are thrilled and proud to call Coach Petersen a Husky."
Petersen met Thursday night with Woodward and senior associate AD Jennifer Cohen in Boise and signed an agreement on terms, ESPN sources said.
Petersen, 49, felt ready to leave because, according to a source, the timing was right for professional and family reasons and because he felt Washington was the right fit.
Petersen has been connected to various openings over the past few years, including those at USC, UCLA and Stanford, but felt this was the best match. The California native has also worked in Idaho and Oregon and recruited those states as well as Washington.
The Huskies zeroed in on Petersen from the outset.
Once Woodward set quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo in place as interim coach, he turned his attention toward Petersen. A representative of Petersen's said the meeting Thursday night in Boise was "not an interview."
"Representatives from both sides spent all day Thursday working out the agreement," the source said.
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Washington athletic director Scott Woodward announced the decision following an afternoon team meeting. Tuiasosopo was Washington's quarterbacks coach this past season and met with Woodward earlier in the day, when he was offered the interim job.
"I'm humbled and so honored," Tuiasosopo said in an announcement from the school. "It's a great, incredible honor to lead my alma mater in a bowl game. We still have a lot to play for this season. I am excited to go out and get a ninth win."
Tuiasosopo, 34, was a star quarterback at Washington from 1997 to 2000, leading the Huskies to a Rose Bowl title after the 2000 season.
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Several junior college prospects made immediate impacts in the Pac-12 this season, including Jaelen Strong at Arizona State, Steven Nelson at Oregon State and Vince Mayle at Washington State. The 2014 crop of junior college standouts will undoubtedly reveal a number of instant-impact players in the conference. Looking at the ESPN JC 50, five prospects stand out as important targets for conference teams.
1. DT Alfonso Hampton (Chula Vista, Calif./Southwestern College): The No. 10 overall prospect and No. 3 defensive tackle is only just tapping into his potential, as this is only his second year playing football. Hampton won't be a mid-year enrollee, so a number of schools are waiting to offer until they are sure that he will be academically ready to leave next spring. Arizona State, Oregon and USC have expressed interest and it wouldn't be surprising to see that interest turn to offers in the coming weeks.
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Lane Kiffin only became USC's coach in 2010 because Steve Sarkisian didn't want to leave Washington. "It wasn't the time," he told me.
On Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, however, the time was right, as USC hired Sarkisian to replace Kiffin, two good friends who coached the Trojans' offense together under Pete Carroll.
It's an interesting and perhaps surprising hire. It will receive a mixed reaction.
More than a few Washington fans, while grateful that Sarkisian led the Huskies back from a long-term tailspin that crashed and burned with an 0-12 season in 2008, were growing impatient. The program hadn't taken the proverbial next step, hadn't yet made a move against the Oregon-Stanford hegemony in the Pac-12's North Division. The Huskies went 7-6 three years in a row and only gained a Sarkisian-high eighth win Friday with a victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup regular-season finale.
So more than a few Washington fans will receive the news with: "Good riddance."
That such sentiments, arguably emotional and unreasonable, exist, and Sarkisian was fully aware of them, is probably part of the reason he deemed it time to leave Washington.
So Sarkisian's Huskies critics get their wish: a new coach.
The search could be concluded quickly if athletic director Scott Woodward opts to promote defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who almost certainly will follow Sarkisian to USC if Washington doesn't hire him. Wilcox is a true up-and-comer, a young but proven coach who built quality defenses at Boise State, Tennessee and Washington.
Of course, there is a big-fish candidate the Huskies might make a run at: UCLA coach Jim Mora. He played for Don James at Washington and has long been a favorite among more than a few boosters who wanted to hire him previously, when Mora was in the NFL.
For one, Mora has beaten USC twice in a row, including a 35-14 blowout Saturday. Second, it would send a bad message about the pecking order in Los Angeles, no matter the recent results, if USC hired away the Washington coach, and then Washington hired away the UCLA coach. Do the transitive property on that one.
Another big-fish name that will pop up: Boise State's Chris Petersen. While his name has been attached to every major coaching vacancy since Petersen started working magic for the Broncos -- including USC, UCLA and Washington before it hired Sarkisian -- there might be some legitimacy in his candidacy for the Huskies.
Boise State slipped decidedly in the national pecking order this fall, going 8-4, which included a loss to Washington. With the advent of the four-team playoff in 2014, Boise State might find itself outside looking in among the national powers even more than it did under the BCS system. If Petersen was ever going to leave Boise State, this might be the time. While he didn't seem like a good fit for the hurly-burly of Los Angeles, laid-back Seattle might be more to his liking.
Another current coach whose name is sure to come up is Tim DeRuyter, who has done a fantastic job rebuilding Fresno State. The Bulldogs went 9-4 his first season and are 10-1 this year, and was seen as a likely BCS buster from a non-AQ conference before they lost to San Jose State on Friday.
Another intriguing possibility is Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. The former Idaho quarterback was Sarkisian's offensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011 before being lured away by Nick Saban in 2012. He was highly thought of even before he spent two years under Saban -- a pair of seasons where he's been privy to Saban's celebrated "The Process."
There is no lack of strong possibilities for the Huskies.
Many Washington fans will be disappointed about Sarkisian leaving. A vocal minority will celebrate it.
The bad news for sportswriters? USC and Washington don't play again until 2015, so the emotions won't be as raw when the programs clash for the first time, with Sarkisian adorned in cardinal and gold instead of purple.
The USC Trojans once again will dip into the past, as former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian accepted an offer to take over the same position at USC, according to ESPN's Joe Schad. Sarkisian was an assistant coach with the Trojans from 2001-03, and then again from 2005-08.
Born in Torrance, Calif., and having attended West Torrance High School and El Camino Junior College, Sarkisian is very familiar with Southern California, and he recruited it well for both USC and Washington. Now, coming back home, the thought from coaches and recruits alike is that he will hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.
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No. 1: A victory would make the Huskies 8-4, thereby ending a streak of three consecutive 7-6 seasons that provided mocking fodder for Washington's rivals and Sarkisian's critics.
No. 2: He can vanquish the memory of the epic collapse in last season's Apple Cup, when the Cougars overcame an 18-point deficit and won in overtime.
Sarkisian is fully aware of the stakes, for him and his team. Eclipsing the 7-win mark?
"I think it’s big because it’s on paper," he said. "You can say, ‘They improved because the number says they improved.’ I think it’s big for the veterans on this team -- the seniors and juniors -- for them to walk off the field Friday after the Apple Cup. If we can get to that eighth win, they know they improved this program."
And about that 2012 Apple Cup? Sarkisian called the fourth quarter, his team suddenly plagued by turnovers and penalties, "a comedy of errors."
"It still leaves a bad taste in our mouths -- I can tell you that," Sarkisian said.
On the visiting side of the field at Husky Stadium on Friday, there will be a team that already has hit a notable benchmark -- winning a sixth game and becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2006 -- one that has a much different feeling about the decisive fourth quarter of the 2012 Apple Cup. What the Huskies see as a collapse, the Cougars view as an assertion of will, one that provided solace for a disappointing debut for coach Mike Leach.
"I thought it did energize our offseason," Leach said. "It was a win over a quality opponent. I was telling our players, I think it most definitely revealed some of the potential that we have."
Leach, however, didn't see some definitive moment of transformation with his team. He sees more of a sometimes painful accumulation over the past two seasons that is starting to pay off.
"I think we're a young team and we've just steadily improved," Leach said. "The think I'm most happy with is no body gave up or flinched. Everybody just kept working."
The linger questions over this game is the health of Washington quarterback Keith Price, who missed the Huskies' win over Oregon State last weekend due to a shoulder injury. He's throwing again but is decidedly questionable. Sarkisian said it was "very clear" that Price isn't close to 100 percent. If he can't go, Cyler Miles will make his second consecutive start.
Miles played well at Oregon State, though he was helped by 530 yards rushing and an "Olé" effort from the Beavers.
"I thought he looked like a Pac-12 quarterback," Sarkisian said. "It didn’t look new to him; he just looked comfortable."
While the stakes aren't of national interest and the game won't affect the Pac-12 race, it's been 11 years since both teams arrived at the Apple Cup with winning records. Both programs are trying to become nationally relevant again, and the rivals certainly appears closer to being so than in recent years. That's a good thing for both schools, according to Sarkisian.
"The better the two teams are performing, the better the environment for the game, and I’m hoping in the near future this game is deciding who is playing for the Pac-12 Championship," he said. "I think our fans -- theirs and ours -- deserve that."
Of course, while sharing a nationally relevant stage is something both programs aspire to, they certainly don't want to yield top billing on the marquee.