Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Q&A with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson

New Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson sat down Wednesday with a handful of reporters at team headquarters in Alameda and answered a wide range of questions. Olson, who replaced the fired Greg Knapp, has had three prior stints as an NFL offensive coordinator, with Tampa Bay, Detroit and St. Louis.

Q: You come in on the heels of a guy who took a lot of heat for everything that went wrong here last year, right or wrong. Is it as easy to say it's the coordinator and scheme or is it the players?

Olson: "I just think it’s the nature of the position as an offensive coordinator in the National Football League. People want to be entertained and people want to see explosive offense. You kind of know that going in when you assume the position or you take on the position as an offensive coordinator. You know people are going to be very critical of you and what you’re trying to accomplish. I go into it knowing that. I know the situation here last year. I’m not naive enough to believe it was all Greg Knapp’s fault. I think the fans out there probably know that as well. Certainly there are some things that I hope I can bring to the table that will allow us to have some success."

Q: How different will your offense look from the offense that was on the field last year?

Olson: "To say how much different, to put a percentage on it, I don’t know how you put a percentage on something like that. I can tell you this - your job as a coach, your job as a coordinator, is to identify the skill set of the players you have, to try and acquire specific skill sets. If you feel like you’re lacking in certain areas, you'll try to acquire that skill set. But the bottom line is in the National Football League, you’ve got players in and out. It’s different now than it was even 10 years ago in terms of how free agency works now. You may not be able to, in the old days of Bill Walsh or even Al Davis with the Raiders, you were able to collect players and keep them on your team for an extended period of time. Those days are somewhat over. So you’ve got to be able to be flexible and be able to adapt your system to the personnel that you have on that team on any given year. So, our job as a coaching staff will be to identify the skill set of the players, who are our best players, what do they do best, and how can we put them in position to be successful and do the things that they do best. So I think probably coming in a year ago, they made the switch to a zone system. I don’t know if you ever want to pigeon hole yourself that way and say, `This is what we do.’ You may not be able to do that based on the set of players that we have. Our job here, again, with this staff is to identify the skills that they have and what they do best and let’s try and tailor our offense to those players' skills, and then who are those best players. Marcel Reece is a different kind of a fullback, so what does he do well and how can we get him involved in some of the matchups that will create problems for defenses? Darren McFadden, initially, maybe a year ago, they weren’t sure about that zone scheme. Now, after a year of having to look at it, hey, maybe he is a downhill runner. So we’ll get back to some of the gap scheme and the things he does well. But what does he do and how do we fit our offense to fit those the players skills? It's no different with the wide receivers. What do they do well? Our tight ends, we’ll have to, whether or not Brandon Myers is re-signed or not, what does the tight end do well? We’ll try to tailor our offense based on the skill set of the players we've acquired."

Q: How closely did you look at the offense from two years ago?

Olson: "We’ve been watching a lot of it since I’ve gotten here. To be honest with you, not until I got here, when we went through and watched last year’s offense and then went back and watched, not the entire season, but all of Darren McFadden’s carries and just wanted to get a feel for Darren McFadden. I think we’re fortune to have (running backs coach) Kelly Skipper here, because he’s a guy that’s been here through a number of different coordinators. I think that helps me in evaluating Darren and kind getting a feel for what his position coach thinks that he does well."

Q: Have you been able to talk to players?

Olson: "A number of them, they’ve dropped by. Contacted a few when we got the job, so I got a chance. Terrelle Pryor has stopped by, and Carson Palmer, and I had Jordan Palmer this past season so I know the Palmers. A couple of players have been in for workouts so I’ve had a chance to meet some of the players."

Q: Able to see playbook yet?

Olson: "No."

Q: You saw this year, specifically, how the league has changed and the offenses have varies with the quarterbacks that do more read-option stuff. How do look at a guy like Terrelle Pryor? What do you that kind of quarterback does for an offense and how it challenges the defense?

Olson: "Well, obviously, watching the 49ers across the bay and the Seahawks and the Panthers, three teams that come to mind with those type of quarterbacks, I guess. Certainly, if that player is the starter, certainly it's going to create a number of different issues. If he’s just a role player and there’s a package, that creates a set of issues as well. Right now, where we stand at the quarterback position, certainly we’ve got a veteran player in Carson Palmer that really has a unique set of skills himself, much different than Terrelle Pryor's, certainly. We’ll go through, and we’ll let those two compete. We obviously like the ceiling of Terrelle Pryor and where we think he can get to, but his skill set is completely different than Carson’s, so we go forward with the idea, we know what Carson Palmer is. He’s played in the league a number of years. We know what he can do. We don’t really quite yet know what Terrelle Pryor can do at this level but we have a pretty good feeling for what he is athletically, so there will be packages for both of them and we'll allow them to compete and we’ll just be ready in either direction. Again, with this league, in terms of injuries and different scenarios that can happen throughout the league you’ve got to be ready to tailor your offense to whoever that player might be that’s pulling the trigger. We’ll certainly have a package for Terrelle Pryor and we'll be ready to go in that direction if that’s the direction that we see fit."

Q: The quarterback job is open?

Olson: "In visiting with Dennis (Allen) and Reggie (McKenzie), I know Reggie's made the statement that there will always be competition. I think there has to be competition at every position. I don't ever think you hand anyone a position from season to season or year to year. Excited about Carson Palmer. Certainly, again, he's a guy that's got experience and experience at playing at a high level in the National Football League. We'll go forward with the direction that the organization sees fit. If they want competition, we'll have competition. At this point I think they want us to have a real good feel as we watch the tape. You never know what's going to happen in the upcoming month in terms of contracts and whatnot. I'll let you know that when we get to the day that we can get out on the field an start practicing."
Q: Are you open to using two quarterbacks?

Olson: "I just think you have to have a package. My feeling is if when have someone, if you're going to have someone, and he's on your roster. And again, if he's got a unique set up skills that maybe is different or better than some of the other 10 players that you have or 11 players that you have on the field, if he's not playing the quarterback position, does he have a set of skills that might be as good or better than someone else there. So, I just think once we get out and get a chance to see Terrelle, and certainly have seen him in college, and he was an explosive player in college, and I know that. I just think it's important that as a coach you're willing to adapt and be flexible and be able and try to put a player like him, that may be an explosive player, on the field for you."
Q: Who would you count as your influences in terms of offensive football?

Olson: "I've had a number. I've been fortunate, I think. The guy that really to me opened my eyes to the passing game, and specifically the spread passing game, was Dennis Erickson, the first coach that I was a graduate assistant for. And then I went from him to Mike Price. So those were two guys that probably I would say my learning curve went up tremendously. Joe Tiller coached under Price, so Joe hired me at Purdue. At that point we were throwing the ball all over the field. We three 85 times one game at Purdue. So in terms of the passing game, those would be the biggest influences. Once I got in the National Football League, to me, Steve Mariucci brought me in the league, into San Francisco. Coached with him in Detroit. And then really, I felt like, kind of a, not a rebirth, but when I got the opportunity to work with Jon Gruden, it was an eye-opening experience for me. I really took to that and took to him and still remain very close. I think he probably influenced me more than anyone in my years in the NFL."
Q: How much of being open to the quarterbacks is a result of what happened with a Kaepernick? Do you feel like you have to find out if you have your own Kaepernick?

Olson: "We'd like to find that out. What's different about Kaepernick is certainly that they feel great about him in all areas of the game. They feel great about him as a passer. So he's a guy that plays full time. It's not as if they bring him in for a package or a play or two. That's the difference between a Tebow or a wildcat or some of the other things, packages that have kind of hit the National Football League. If you have a guy that can stay there and play 65 plays a game and do those things and also be able to throw the ball from point A to point B accurately, if he possesses those skills as well, then you certainly have something. So that's what we'll have to find out with Terrelle Pryor. We know what kind of an athlete he is. We need to find out what kind of decision maker he is, and we need to find out if he's a guy that can also sit in the pocket and deliver the ball from point A to point B accurately and on time and making the right decisions. That above all else becomes most important. Can he make good decisions and is he accurate as a passer?"
Q: Will you be able to figure that out in minicamps and OTAs or will it take exhibition games and real games?

Olson: "I'd like to, but it's always an ongoing evaluation process. You'll get a feel for a player throughout the OTAs, throughout the June minicamps into training camp and, then obviously, the bottom, even to me preseason is an evaluation tool. There's a big step from preseason to the regular season, as many players will tell you, and even regular season playoffs. But you should have a pretty good idea at that point, we'll have a pretty good idea about what he can and can't do."
Q: What did you see from Pryor when he got the start in the final game?

Olson: "I saw some good things. We saw some good things there. I think it's too early to say what he's going to be based on that limited playing time that he's had. You can see the athletic ability in him. I'd say he's raw. I'd still say he's developing."
Q: Did you look back at his Ohio State tape?

Olson: "I remember when he came out. As a quarterbacks coach, you're always involved in the evaluation phase of those players, and he did a lot of good things in college at Ohio State. But again, it's a different game. There's a lot of players that played very well in college that never have been able to make the transition to the professional game."
Q: You mentioned the unpredictability of the game in terms of contracts. Do you have to be prepared for possibility that someone other than Carson Palmer will be the quarterback?

Olson: "Oh I think always. That's the nature of the beast and that's the nature of the National Football League. I understand that. I think Carson Palmer understands that. He understands that. That to me is the importance of being flexible and being willing to adapt as a coach and be willing to adapt your philosophy as an offensive coach in what you're going to do and how you're planning on attacking people."
Q: What do you see from your wide receivers? There were a lot of dropped passes and miscommunication between the QB and a couple of the guys?

Olson: "Well, one, I could say, it's not a perfect scenario, but it's the NFL, when you're turning over systems, a new system this year, a new system the following year. There will be, to me, as a coach again, you're trying to eliminate any of the miscommunication that's happening, and that will be my job to eliminate any of the miscommunication. I do see, though, obviously a young group of wide receivers that are talented and yet they're still developing. As a group, as an overall group of players, I do see a good skill set in that group overall. And they're all kind of different when you look at them. There's not one that really jumps out or sticks out. They all have their unique set of skills. The one thing that they do, do, is they look tough. They are willing blockers, and that's important. That will be important to me and important to us as a coaching staff, is developing the physical and mental toughness at every position. I like the group overall as a group because they are a young group, they are still developing. They're not a finished product yet but I still see a high ceiling for them much as I do for Terrelle Pryor."
Q: Do you need a No. 1 receiver? No one has taken that job.

Olson: "Certainly you'd like to have someone like that, someone who stands out above the rest. But if not, again I see a solid, solid group overall. Those touches may get spread out amongst that group if you don't have one. That's part of the adaptability as an offensive play-caller or offensive coordinator. If you don't have that guy then let's spread out the touches. If we don't have a guy who is significantly better than everybody else, let's find a way to spread the ball around, which makes it very difficult to defend as well if you're doing it that way. Certainly you'd love to have a Calvin Johnson type guy. If you don't, find a different way to move the football."

Q: How long will it take for your players to grasp this system?

Olson: "Hopefully about four months, which is what you hope. That's how it is. It has to be player friendly. Whatever system you have it has to be player friendly because you don't have a lot of time, you're not given a lot of time in the National Football League. Whatever that system is let's make sure it's something the payers can assimilate and learn very quickly. If they're playing slow, if they're thinking too much, they're going to play slower. That creates problems. If there's indecision or if there's miscommunication, those type of things you try to eliminate as a coaching staff. It's a system that will be player friendly and make it easy on those players."

Q: You were with the Rams when they were putting up the ball quite a bit and then you were with the Jags where they liked to run the ball a lot. So it seems if you're open to tailoring the offense to the talent you have, based on that, how do see this offense looking?

Olson: "We really don't know who we're going to have yet. There's certain positions where we still have some unrestricted free agents. To me right now at this point there's just too much uncertainty. Based on the 11 players that were predominant starters last year and knowing the type of tailback and type of quarterback if you're talking about Carson Palmer as the starter and Darren McFadden as your tailback. To me, Carson is a pocket passer. So you're looking at heavy play action, push the ball down the field that way and you're looking at tailoring some of the gap scheme stuff for Darren McFadden where he's able to hit the ball going downhill. Those two go hand in hand, the downhill gap scheme and the hard sell play action to me fit those players if those are the players we're looking at. We just have to assimilate some of those concepts into what we're doing offensively."

Q: As an offensive coordinator, what kind of weapon can Marcel Reece be?

Olson: "He's got such a unique set of skills for a fullback. He's a college wide receiver. He'll present some matchup issues. I was pleasantly surprised in watching the tape to see that in a lot of the downhill lead plays where you need a fullback to go in there, would you characterize him as a big thumper type fullback? No. But he did willingly go in and block some of those linebackers on those downhill leads. To me I was pleasantly surprised in seeing that. I was excited about that to be honest with you. Also, again to see him get out of the backfield and to spread out in some of the one-back sets and empty sets and look at the matchups you can get with him was exciting as well. He does have tremendous speed. He has very good hands. He has loose hips. He can run some of those option, choice routes that are matchup nightmares for defensive players."

Q: Would you be open to using Reece as a third-down back?

Olson: "No question. That's the other thing to me, I was excited to see him in that role. He did run the ball well when he was handed the ball from the one back. Obviously he'll have some carries as well from the fullback position. It's nice to know especially from a quarterback standpoint to have somebody like that who is built like he's built and is also intelligent enough to be that third-down back who understands the blitz packages that other teams are doing and to have tremendous hands coming out of the backfield. I was really pleasantly surprised in that part of the game that he could go in and be a third-down back. Not just a plug-in type guy but not only did he do it but he did it well. I was excited to see that."

Q: You were talking about 85 passes in one game at Purdue. Was that with Drew Brees?

Olson: "Right."

Q: What was it like being around him and coaching him?

Olson: "Just a special player. I knew he was special right away, accuracy wise. I'll never forget it was probably the second week of two a days when we elevated him to the No. 2 spot as a true freshman because of his accuracy and what an accurate player he was. Just the intelligence, just the total package from him, overachiever in everything he does within the game of football but also outside he is a special guy. I was just fortunate to have a chance to coach him."

Q: How will you and (offensive line coach ) Tony (Sparano) work together?

Olson: "We've kind of shut the door really this first couple of weeks here. He and I have kind of gone in and shut the door and talked through philosophy and how we're going to call things and what things in his brain as opposed to mine in terms of calling a game and the different ways. We might be running the same plays but they call it differently. So we just wanted to get on the same page in terms of terminology and language. We've been able to do that the last couple weeks. Philosophically speaking I think we're on the same page in terms of what we want to do and how we want to attack people as an offense. I use that term attack. To me I don't want the defense to set the tempo of the game. I want us offensively to be able to set the tempo. He's all about that. I like his mindset. I think we'll work very well together."
Follow Eric Gilmore on Twitter @oregonducks17

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tough road to playoffs could be good for Sharks -- if they survive

The Sharks have traveled the easy route to the playoffs many times before, racking up points faster than LeBron James against the Cavaliers then coasting into the postseason, but they've never reached the Stanley Cup Final.

The Sharks are traveling a tougher path this season, one filled with uncertainty in a wide open Western Conference. If they survive, which is likely but still no sure bet, the Sharks will enter the playoffs a much more battle-tested team after living on the edge for so long.

The Sharks entered Thursday night’s game against Washington in a five-way tie for fourth place in the West with 68 points. After beating the Capitals 3-2, the Sharks are tied for fourth with Nashville with 70 points. But they’re just two points ahead of Anaheim, Dallas, Los Angeles and Calgary, five ahead of Minnesota and six ahead of Chicago.

“Everyone realizes the standings and how tight the West is, and every game’s got a little playoff atmosphere,” said Sharks center Joe Pavelski, who scored the game’s first goal. “You’re trying to get there and you think you make a little ground, but you really don’t make any.”

“We' got to find a way to qualify for that tournament at the end of the year,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “Every inch of ice, every play around the net’s very important to us right now. Defensively we’re keeping teams to two and under a lot of nights, and that’s allowing us an opportunity to win.”

The Sharks went 5-2 on their recent road trip opened a two-game homestand by beating Washington. They’ve won 11 off their past 14 games, and seven of those wins have been by one goal. Playing tight games is becoming a way of life for the Sharks, and that experience could be a huge help in the postseason – if they get there.

“It’s so close, and it’s hard to play when you’re under pressure, but we’ve experienced that a lot this year,” McLellan said. “I’ve been told more than 100 times that it’s going to help us later on, but you never like to be in that situation. I thought we had some poise, some composure, as we did in Nashville the other night. We addressed it after the collapse, if you will, in Florida.”

Thursday night’s game was scoreless until late in the first period when the Sharks turned a John Carlson turnover into a two-on-one rush and a short-handed goal by Pavelski. Patrick Marleau corralled the loose puck near center ice, headed down the left wing then zipped a pass in the middle to Pavelski. Pavelski hammered the puck into the upper right corner of the goal, beating Michel Neuvirth at 18:49.

The Sharks barely had time to celebrate before Washington answered with a power-play goal by Alexander Ovechkin 22 seconds later. Ovechkin took a pass in the high slot from Carlson walked in uncontested and unloaded a shot past Antti Niemi.

After a scoreless second, the Sharks took a 2-1 lead at 4:27 in the third on Ryan Clowe’s goal from point blank range. Clowe parked himself in front of the net, and was in perfect position to capitalize when Kyle Wellwood fired a shot from the left faceoff circle. He knocked the puck down then knocked it past Neuvirth.

Then with just 9:11 left to play, the Sharks made it 3-1 on one of the strangest goals Dany Heatley will ever score. Dan Boyle fired a shot from the high slot that ping-ponged off Pavelski, Washington’s David Steckel, San Jose’s Joe Thornton and finally Heatley on the power play.

“You watch the goals being scored,” McLellan said. “Even 5 on 5, they’re simple goals. You don’t’ see a lot of pretty tic-tac-toe plays. They’re as ugly as ugly can be, and that one was ugly. Get people at the net and throw a little floater in and get lucky, and maybe we need more of that.”

Washington cut the lead to 3-2 with 1:55 remaining on Nicklas Backstrom’s goal, but the Sharks’ and Niemi withstood the Capitals’ final push for another one-goal win.

“We’ve been in that position it seems for the last -- forever,” Boyle said. “Obviously we’ve done a better job lately than we did the first half of the season. It’s pretty tight hockey. It would be nice to get one of those games where we can play with a bigger lead, but it is what it is. It was a huge two points for us. It’s a good win”

Of course in the West, every win will be huge from here on out.

Top 10 reasons why Cal added Presbyterian College to its 2011 football schedule

When word slipped out earlier this week that Cal had scheduled a Sept. 17 football game at AT&T Park against Presbyterian College, I was appropriately stunned. I mean, why would the Bears schedule a game against a Bowl Championship Subdivision team out of the Big South Conference from Clinton, S.C.?

Only Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour and coach Jeff Tedford have that answer, and for now they're not even confirming the news.

So we're left to guess. Here are 10 possible reasons why Cal wound up booking this improbable matchup.

10) ESPN U doesn't have a football team.
9) Methodist College's 2011 schedule was filled.
8) If defending BCS champ Auburn can play Samford, no matchup is too lame.
7) Slippery Rock University demanded a home-and-home.
6) Presbyterian College has a defense even Cal's QBs can pick on.
5) With an expected seating crunch at AT&T, all 1,200 students at Presbyterian can fit in one section.
4) Saint Mary's, Santa Clara and San Francisco dropped football and weren't available.
3) What Cal fan wouldn't want to pay big bucks to watch a team that finished 2-9 last year with losses to Stony Brook, North Greenville and Coastal Carolina?
2) After going bowl-less in 2010, Cal couldn't say no to a tasty non-league creampuff.
1) Old Blues demanded a game against the Blue Hose.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Raiders make a deal with their biggest bully

Raiders coach Hue Jackson has said he wants to "build a bully" in Oakland, and Al Davis just delivered the cornerstone -- defensive tackle Richard Seymour -- for that construction project. Seymour, according to multiple reports, agreed to a new two-year deal worth around $30 million to stay in Oakland.

Seymour is a soft-spoken giant off the field. On the field, he plays as if opposing players just robbed his home and ran over his dog. He's mean, nasty and, truth be told, borderline crazy during games. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found that out during a Week 11 game after throwing a touchdown pass when Seymour smacked him in the face, earning an ejection. Seymour, apparently, didn't like something Roethlisberger said or the fact that he made contact with him while celebrating. Two years ago, Seymour earned a 15-yard penalty when he grabbed Denver offensive tackle Ryan Clardy's dreadlocks and yanked as if he were playing tug-of-war.

Seymour is the physical, intimidating face of a Raiders' defense that made significant strides in 2010. And his value to the team goes far beyond the 5.5 sacks and 48 tackles he posted. With a resume that includes three Super Bowl victories at New England, Seymour has huge respect in the locker room, and he's embraced his role as a leader since coming to the Raiders in a 2009 trade with the Patriots. He's been a role model and inspiration for many players, particularly defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who's coming off a career year that included seven sacks.

Locking up Seymour for two more years was a huge move for Davis. Not only did he keep retain his defense's biggest bully, but he also freed up the franchise tag, which he can now use on one of his other free agents -- tight end Zach Miller is a likely target.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Giants' Linceum looking more like his freakish self in latest start

Earlier this month, it looked as if the Giants’ Tim Lincecum might need a new nickname. The Freak’s fastball was hovering around a very un-freakish 90 mph. Almost everyone in the big leagues – freaks and non-freaks alike -- can hit 90 on the radar gun.

Some wondered if Lincecum had a dead arm or if sadly, at just 26, the two-time NL Cy Young award winner had lost the sizzling fastball that, combined with his small stature – just 5-foot-11 and 170-pounds with his pockets filled with rocks -- made him so unusual.

But when Lincecum took the mound Tuesday at Houston, he started pumping 94 mph fastballs, one after the other, at the Astros in the early innings. He even hit 95 on the radar gun.

Giants fans can breathe a bit easier. Lincecum’s latest start showed that his loss of velocity likely has more to do with mechanics than arm issues. He still has work to do on that mechanical front, but in the early going Tuesday, Lincecum got into a groove, and his fastball had some of its old electricity. If he could do that one day, he can certainly do it again.

I loved the fact that catcher Bengie Molina kept calling for a heavy dose of fastballs. Too often this year, Molina and Lincecum have fallen too deeply in love with his change-up and curveball. Granted, they’re great pitches, and they’ve helped him rack up many of his best-in-baseball 113 strikeouts, but it’s Lincecum’s fastball that sets the tone and sets the stage for his off-speed pitches.

When it comes to the fastball, it’s a matter of use it or lose it. Lincecum’s far too young to become overly reliant on off-speed pitches. He’s got to keep pumping fastballs and get back to being The Freak. Tuesday’s start was a great sign.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Warriors' Cohan putting finishing touches on his tarnished legacy as team owner

Warriors owner Chris Cohan put the for-sale sign up months ago. Apparently, he’s having a fire sale before he turns the team over to a yet-to-be-determined new owner.

On Monday, the Warriors traded down 10 spots in the second round with Portland – swapping the 34th overall pick for the 44th – and pocketed $2 million in the deal.

Then on Wednesday they shipped small forward Corey Maggette and that second-round pick to Milwaukee for guard Charlie Bell and center Dan Gadzuric.

That was a great deal – for the Bucks.

Maggette averaged 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season. For his career, his numbers are 16.6, 5.1 and 2.2.

Bell’s career numbers? Try 8.9 points per game, 2.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds. Gadzuric has averaged 4.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Then there’s the fact that Maggette was the Warriors’ only legitimate small forward. Of course Cohan could care less. He’s got one foot out the door and faces bigger problems from the IRS, which is after more of his money.

Warriors fans can only hope Cohan doesn’t order GM Larry Riley to trade Monta Ellis for two re-treads and a vault-full of cash before he sells the team.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pac-10's plans thankfully go up in smoke

The Pac-10’s plans to mega-expand to 16 teams imploded this week, and I’d say that’s cause for celebration.

It’s been sickening to watch the Pac-10 join what’s become an insane pursuit by conferences throughout the nation of television money at the expense of tradition and geographical reality.

Nothing says “Pacific” like Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Thankfully, those teams turned down the Pac-10’s invitation, most likely because they figured they could make more money if they stuck together and saved the Big 12. There are few if any saints in this ongoing story.

The Pac-10 has already added Colorado, and there’s apparently a good chance it will add Utah. That would give them 12 teams, the minimum required to break into two divisions and hold a Pac-10 football championship game. And yes, that’s another decision driven by the pursuit of TV dollars. But at what cost?

The Pac-10’s oh-so-fair round-robin football format is dead. That format produced truly legitimate champions because every team played every other team each season. Now, some teams will have easier schedules than others and, most likely, one division will turn out to be easier than the other – which is one of the problems Big-12 football has faced.

You have to wonder when this mad scramble will end. Are conferences going to continually raid each other, year after year, and continually re-align?

Who knows? Maybe one day Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, North Carolina and Duke will be part of the Pac-24 Southeast.