Column as I see ’em …
Despite the howls of old-school proponents, the Pacfic-12 Conference’s evolvement into America’s next super conference appears inevitable. Texas and Oklahoma want no part of a crumbling Big 12, and although both bailed out on an invitation to join the Pac-12 last year, commissioner Larry Scott doesn’t hold grudges – at least not when there’s a gazillion dollars at stake.
Questions remain, of course, the most urgent of which is: Who else accompanies the Longhorns and Sooners into the expanded Pac-16?
Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are the presumptive favorites, but the case for a Missouri-Kansas tandem is intriguing.
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As for purists bemoaning the death of tradition? An East-West format actually would be a nod to the way things were on the Pacific Coast: The old Pac-8 reunited in one division, and Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and the two schools to be named later in the other division.
Seven division games – along with two league games against teams from the other division – presents a reasonable schedule that still leaves room for two non-conference opponents.
If it were up to me, the college-sports landscape in 2015 would look something like the college-sports landscape of 1975, when conferences reflected regional identities. If it were up to me, Texas belongs to the Southwest Conference, Oklahoma belongs to the Big Eight, and the Big Ten isn’t an untamed morning-glory weed sprawling from Nebraska to Pennsylvania.
But it’s not up to me.
• Last September, few eyebrows were raised when Washington announced it had reached an agreement to play a home game against Eastern Washington in 2014. But as I was watching the Eagles stand up to the Huskies on Saturday, I thought of Apollo Creed’s words after he survived his first bout against Rocky Balboa.
“No rematch,” grumbled Apollo.
• It’s three years away, and nobody outside a goofy biblical cult makes predictions three years before the fact. But here’s a prediction: Beau Baldwin won’t be on the Eagles’ sideline for the rematch. In 2014, the Tacoma native will be entrenched as head coach of a major football program.
• With apologies to Eastern Washington’s Bo Levi Mitchell, the best player I saw over the weekend was Robert Griffin III, the magnificent Baylor quarterback who threw for 327 yards, ran for another 38 yards and even caught a 15-yard pass during the game-winning scoring drive that concluded a wild 50-48 victory over Texas Christian.
The back of Griffin’s Baylor jersey is stitched “Griffin III.” It ought to read: “Griffin !!!”
• Good call by the Sea-hawks on resisting the services of five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode, cut last week by the Cowboys and signed, on Sunday, by the Ravens. The offensive line’s struggle to achieve cohesion – or, for that matter, to execute a block once in a while – has been the dominant theme of the preseason, but the Seahawks are a team in transition: from old to young, from bloated to hungry.
Gurode is 33. He underwent knee surgery during the offeseason without informing anybody from the Cowboys, then reported to camp overweight.
In the meantime, Dallas realized Phil Costa could give the team the same production, for $405,000 this season, that Gurode would give them for $5.5 million.
• The Mariners released Matt Tuiasosopo the other day. A versatile infielder with some speed and power, Tuiasosopo’s once-promising baseball career stalled this season in Tacoma. More precisely, Tui’s career took a U-turn. While such Rainiers teammates as Carlos Peguero, Greg Halman, Mike Wilson and Michael Saunders enjoyed brief promotions to the big leagues – and Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp and Kyle Seager qualified for more permanent stints – Tuiasosopo seemed to be stranded.
He’s 25, and it’s fair to wonder how much time is left on his baseball-career meter. To be blunt: If an organization in the throes of a youth-movement overhaul doesn’t see your potential, who does?
A nationally recruited high school quarterback at Woodinville, Tuiasosopo was wooed by the likes of Steve Sarkisian, then an assistant to Pete Carroll at USC. Tuiasosopo signed with the Huskies, but chose to pursue pro baseball after the Mariners selected him in the third-round of the 2004 draft.
It’s not too late for Tuiasosopo to change his mind and apply his many-splendored athletic skills toward college football. Former baseball prospect Chris Weinke, another nationally recruited high school quarterback, spent six years in the Blue Jays system as a corner infielder with some pop. And then the quarterback called an audible: He’d enroll atFlorida State, to play football.
Weinke was 28 when he won the Heisman Trophy in 2000. The NFL career that followed wasn’t especially memorable, but it lasted seven years, and when it was time to challenge the real world, he had a college degree.
I wish the best for Matt Tuiasosopo, but I want him to realize there’s a Plan B. Chris Weinke embraced Plan B, and it changed his life.