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Who is the last school invited to the Pac-16?
Written by EC Rules   
Sunday, 13 June 2010 12:25

 We've reached the point where it's become clear that the Pac-10 wants to expand to 16 teams. If you believe the various reports around the country it looks like Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State are all leaning West. Texas A&M is leaning East. Things can still get crazy because the real power brokers here are Texas and Oklahoma. They could decide at the last minute to try and build out the Big XII again with a couple new schools, head to another conference (Big Ten, SEC, etc.) or they could close the deal with the Pac-10 and head west and wait for the last spot to be filled in the Pac-16 if Texas A&M heads to the SEC.

 

You can bet that Larry Scott has run all sorts of contingencies for how to fill out the checkerboard that is the expansion of six schools. He locked down his first player early with the University of Colorado. That was a no-brainer. Geographic fit, TV market fit, academic fit, and cultural fit. It made sense to offer early and remove one layer of complexity.

 

Now Mr. Scott appears focused on pitching the business plan to the remaining players in the Big XII that he wants. Before he extends the invitation to join he needs to know that they will accept. If you are to believe the interwebs, the Pac-10 leadership team is on a plane right now External linkregistered to Pat Kilkenney (prominent Oregon booster and former Duck AD) and today they just finished up meeting with Texas A&M and are now flying directly to Lubbock to meet with Texas Tech officials this afternoon. Yesterday, they were in Oklahoma City presumably to meet with Ok State and Univ. Oklahoma in the same city. I would be willing to bet you'll start to see press leaks tonight and tomorrow from various newspapers in Oklahoma and Texas around how those meetings went. The Board of Regents for Oklahoma and Texas meet the middle of this week so it promises to be the most consequential week of expansion talk in decades. It's conceivable that the Sooners and Longhorns could have new conferences by the end of this week. It's also worth noting that Larry Scott is headed to A&M to meet with Texas A&M officials. It seems that A&M is leaning SEC but will that change after learning of the Pac-10 plans in detail?

 

Read on for our thoughts on who has the inside track for the final spot in the Pac-16:

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Is WSU baseball built to last?
Written by OpenToClose   
Tuesday, 08 June 2010 06:27

I'm absolutely ecstatic about the WSU baseball team and their performance that past couple of seasons. Last year, they got it done finishing second in what was a considered a down year for the Pac-10. This year? Well, all they've done is finish third in a year where the conference sent eight of ten teams to the NCAA tournament. The previous best for the Pac-10 was five out of ten teams. Needless to say, the conference has been incredible this season and the Cougs really played well to finish near the top.

 

All the articles I've read this season started to get me thinking about whether or not this sort of quality is something we should come to expect every season. Then I read this quote from a Grippi article in the Spokesman External link, "Not that I wasn’t proud last year, but this year kind of put a stamp on (the program) because I kind of feel like we’re here to stay,” Marbut said of WSU, which has won 12 of its last 15 games. “I felt like we’ve built it right and we built it to last.”

 

That quote and two years of 30+ win seasons had me wondering one thing…..is it true? Has Marbut built something to last?

 

For some odd reason there is nothing on the WSU athletics site covering the 2010 recruiting class for baseball. So, I decided to embark on my own odyssey to see what we having coming into the program next year. Rather than just aggregate articles which are always rosy, I decided to look at Baseball America's player rankings for the upcoming draft. I wanted to see how many players are on the radar of professional teams.

 

Let's take a look:

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The WSU QB recruiting situation
Written by OpenToClose   
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 10:08

One position that is really interesting to follow every year is the quarterback. You usually only see one QB taken every recruiting cycle and it's obviously the most high profile of positions. Traditionally, WSU has always recruited the position well because of the offense we run.

 

In 2009, WSU picked up Jeff Tuel over the Summer before his Senior season. It appears to have paid off as he's already a starter and in position to be a solid performer this season. In 2010, Connor Halliday committed a little bit later than Tuel and he proceeded to have a tremendous Senior season and was widely regarded as the second best QB prospect in the Northwest behind Jake Heaps.

 

It now looks as if our QB situation is finally healthy with two scholarship players 1-2 on the depth chart and with an incoming freshmen likely to redshirt. Of course, that's provided we don't have the disastrous offensive line performance of the past two years in which we see players continually injured because of sacks.

 

So, that brings us to 2011. What quarterback is at the top of our wish list today?

 

Let's take a look:

 

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The Evergreen Showdown: WSU vs. Oregon at Qwest?
Written by EC Rules   
Sunday, 30 May 2010 18:37

(Second editorial note: Cougfan dropped a blurb here External link with Moos comments on WSU v. Oregon at Qwest. It pretty much syncs up with what we've been hearing. To add some color, WSU and First and Goal have a solid framework for the game and how it would work. Oregon is quite aware of it and some of the details. They are just waiting for an AD to really start to close on the idea. Also, we noted below that 2011 is the "earliest humanly possible" date and it's still in the mix as a possibility. It was the first time we'd heard him say that Oregon State is a consideration as well. Awesome idea. We are big fans of either scenario but the Beavers would be potentially more compelling year in and year out if the finances could work the same.)

 

(Editorial note: Thanks to CougCenter for linking this article. One point of clarification. I note "next year" as the possible timing. That's not clear enough. It would NOT be "this year" as in 2010. Earliest humanly possible scenario would be 2011.....that's what I meant by next year. Also, a good note from Nuss highlighting that this is not us "breaking" news for you. It's a very likely scenario we are hearing quite a lot the past few weeks and fun for all of us to discuss.)

 

Things are beginning to solidify around the Seattle game and it's looking like the Northwest is could get it's own version of the Red River Shootout. It would probably be more appropriate to call it similar to The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. It is the Cougs after all and it's looking like it won't be primary rivals playing each other like you see when Texas vs. Oklahoma meet in Dallas.

How does the idea of WSU versus Oregon annually meeting up in Seattle strike you? Imagine a scenario where half of the Qwest field stands are covered in green while the other half is covered in crimson. Imagine a packed house of 70,000 crazed fans playing a game of verbal seesaw every single play. Imagine bars in Pioneer Square split down the middle going back and forth between the Oregon fight song and the WSU fight song. It could be an absolutely amazing fan experience that only a few lucky schools get to experience. It's far from a done deal but we're comfortable writing about WSU v. Oregon in Seattle as very likely to happen and possibly as soon as next season.

Let's look at why this makes sense:

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The Oregon Ducks serve as a model and warning for WSU
Written by OpenToClose   
Saturday, 29 May 2010 19:39

I came across this NY Times article External linka while back and I've been marinating on it thinking about WSU's current plight. Take a read as it's a fantastic article that runs through the current situation at Oregon. We are FAR from having to address this sort of identity question at WSU. After all, we are appallingly behind in facilities and we probably have a decade of work before we get to the point of Oregon….if we ever do.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about the concept of "culture change" at WSU. I've listened to Moos enough since he's been hired and talked to enough internal people to understand that this is a central topic Moos wants to address. The idea is to bring a championship mindset to the athletic department and the football program. He believes that a football only facility will be the literal, physical, and symbolic embodiment of that mindset. He knows that there will have to be some staff changes that go along with it and that will help as well.

I'm all for it. I believe we are reaching a flash point with the university leadership, faculty, alums, students, and the conference that performance and financial support for WSU Athletics must climb higher or we face dire consequences. We are just waiting for that spark and I believe that is what Bill Moos will provide. I think you are going to see fundamental changes in our scheduling, hiring, and facilities that are going to require our fans to turn into stakeholders (donors) at some level.

However, I can't help but notice that as we go on this ride we need to be cognizant of the downside. It's obvious to me that the torrent of issues at Oregon External linkhave arisen after Bill Moos left. Is it because he provided the proper balance between university and sports? Is it simply timing and there was nothing that Moos did differently to keep the program from exploding into the symbol for college football entitlement? What plans will he have in place to assure that balance is maintained at WSU?

Honestly, I can't wait to have this problem. I just hope we handle it better than Oregon has over the past couple of seasons.

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