Here we go. Lots of college football stuff for USC fans to react to. No need to wait around.
*** As great as the news was this week that three former Trojan players – Mark Carrier, Matt Leinart and Troy Polamalu – are on this year’s College Football Hall of Fame ballot with a former USC assistant, Ken Norton Jr., they’re part of the most star-studded, competitive field we’ve seen. Peyton Manning is there as is Marshall Faulk, Keith Byars, Eric Crouch, Eric Dickerson, Jumbo Elliott, David Fulcher, Kirk Gibson, Tony Gonzalez, Dan Hampton, Raghib Ismail, Ray Lewis, Jim Otis, Jake Plummer, Ron Rivera, Rashaan Salaam, Aaron Taylor, Brian Urlacher, Troy Vincent and Lorenzo White -- along with Steve Spurrier in the coaches category. That’s some competition for this year’s spots . . . Just Sayin’.
*** With the times and TV networks known now for five USC games, we can say this: No team in the nation has more of a chance to make an early impact than the Trojans. Two of the first three games – Alabama and Stanford – are on ABC – both in prime time at 8 p.m. EST -- against Alabama and then against Stanford. The Utah game in Week 5 will get national Friday night exposure at 5 p.m. on FS1 and Fox Deportes and the Thursday night game against Cal at the Coliseum, despite its 10:30 start on the East Coast on ESPN, is a concession to USC fans and LA traffic. We’ll take all those. Only Game 2, where the Pac-12 Network has USC kicking off at 11 a.m. in the Coliseum, is a real problem. More on that below. But what else is new? . . . Just Sayin’.
*** And we’re guessing USC-Alabama makes it for ESPN’s GameDay show as well despite a really tough opening Saturday of games competing for that spot. The only negative for USC-Alabama is the game is not on a college campus. Luckily the biggest challenger – LSU at Wisconsin – is also at an NFL site – Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. But the rest of the day of intersectional play is better than we can ever remember: Clemson at Auburn, UCLA at Texas A&M with Oklahoma-Houston and Georgia-North Carolina also at off-campus sites. For good measure that Labor Day weekend, Notre Dame is at Texas on Sunday and there’s Ole-Miss-Florida State on Monday . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Death wish, anyone? As much as we wouldn’t be all that excited about watching the five Pac-12 walkover football games the opening weekend on the Pac-12 Networks (Utah-Southern Utah, Washington-Rutgers, Oregon-UC-Davis, Arizona State-Northern Arizona and Washington State-Eastern Washington), we do get Pac-12 LA. And we would be watching if we could. But we won’t be able to get those games. They’re only on Pac-12 National, Pac-12 Washington, Pac-12 Oregon, Pac-12 Arizona and Pac-12 Mountain. So what’s the point? For a network that has less than a fifth of the subscribers than its Big Ten and SEC rivals to shut out some of their precious few subscribers from any live programming is insane . . . Just Sayin’.
*** So Week 2 gets a bit better as far as LA exposure. There’s UCLA-UNLV and the USC-Utah State game but for the Trojans, that 11 a.m. start is the earliest in modern USC history at the Coliseum. Yeah, the Pac-12 gave the two mid-afternoon starting slots to two worse games – Washington-Idaho at 2 and Colorado-Idaho State at 2:30. Again, there has to be some self-sabotage going on here. Nothing else explains these decisions . . . Just Sayin’.
*** And then Week 3 shows no live games for the Pac-12 LA Network just for Pac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Washington and Pac-12 Oregon. So another shutout for SoCal even if we subscribe to the Pac-12 Networks. Not a marketing expert here but that seems inexplicably stupid . . . Just Sayin’.
*** One place college football marketing magic is happening right now is Michigan where we just learned that the Wolverines’ highly publicized spring football trip to Orlando’s IMG Academy cost the program just a hair under $350,000 for four days in Florida. No biggie really for a program that just this week finally inked its $173 million Nike deal. And to think, just a couple of years back, USC had a better Nike deal than the Wolverines . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Can’t disagree with the way the Pac-12 is moving up on Athlon’s list of Top 10 Most Shameful College Football Matchups of 2016 with three games making the list – Oregon hosting UC-Davis at No. 10 and Colorado and Oregon State each making it in a tie for No 7 with their hosting of an Idaho State team that lost 80-8 last year to UNLV and is 16-85 since 2006. Thank goodness for the SEC, but of course, with five games in the Top “Shameful” 10 against the likes of Presbyterian, Austin Peay, Northwestern STATE, Delaware State and Chattanooga (not a bad team but on the list because they’re playing Alabama) . . . Just Sayin’.
*** It’s not just USC here that stays inside the family. After “a four-month national search,” Washington elevated the No.2 in the Athletic Department, Jennifer Cohen, to AD with the comment from the president that “her years of experience . . . with direct involvement overseeing football" made the case for the new AD and we're thinking after being in charge during the Steve Sarkisian years and then getting him out of town must have come down as a plus on her resume . . . Just Sayin.
*** Good luck for college conferences negotiating their next major TV deals when you factor in this latest ratings news. ESPN, we’ve just learned, has lost 1.5 million subscribers since February falling to below 90 million for the first time in forever. As recently as 2013, ESPN had 99 million subscribers. FS1 is down almost a million. This is going to be tough going getting more money for that next deal . . . Just Sayin’.
*** And one last lookahead to USC football here and this is thanks to the data analysts at Pro Football Focus. They note of the USC wide receiving corps that JuJu Smith-Schuster returns with an average of 3,39 yards per route run, the seventh-best of all returning receivers in the nation. But then there’s Adoree’ Jackson’s stat file for the player PFF calls “easily the Trojans’ most dynamic receiver” whose limited snaps had him averaging one of the nation’s top numbers – 3.73 yards – per route run and then there’s this: PFF called the 15 missed tackles Adoree’ caused on his 27 receptions “frankly ridiculous.” Indeed . . . Just Sayin’.
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