20 Apr 19
The Mercury News
* The Pac-12 Hotline newsletter is published each Monday-Wednesday-Friday during the college sports season (and twice-a-week in the summer). This edition, from April 19, has been made available in archived form and updated with the latest news from a New York City courthouse …
Arizona coach Sean Miller has seemingly cleared a significant hurdle in his quest for normalcy and job security. By extension, the Pac-12 is that much closer to having one of its marquee programs return to its historical standard.
U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled Friday morning that Miller won’t have to testify next week in a federal corruption trial involving two-bit agent Christian Dawkins and former Adidas consultant Merl Code.
Ramos reserved the right to change his mind but has concluded, at this point, that testimony from Miller and LSU coach Will Wade is immaterial to the charges.
Per law360’s Pete Brush, who covered the pre-trial hearing: “Question of whether Arizona men’s coach Sean Miller paid his players is ‘irrelevant’ to bribery charges.”
The Hotline newsletter was published Friday morning, soon after the initial report from law360. That report indicated the wiretapped conversation between Miller and Dawkins would not be played.
A spokesman for federal prosecutors confirmed the crucial development, telling Yahoo and others that the ruling rendered the wiretap inadmissible.
However, defense attorney Steven Haney later explained to Yahoo that the wiretap wasn’t part of the motion, leaving open the possibility that the controversial conversation will finally become public:
“There’s direct evidence that Sean Miller was paying players,” Haney told Yahoo Sports in a phone interview on Friday. “I said that today, on the record, in court.”
That Miller won’t be called to testify is the second major break for the Wildcats, following the decision by former assistant Book Richardson to plead guilty and avoid a trial that could have produced incriminating evidence against Miller.
If we’re updating the scorecard, Miller has avoided two sinkholes and has two remaining:
The wiretap, and the NCAA.
Bylaw 220.127.116.11 allows the NCAA to hold head coaches accountable for actions of their staff. Ignorance is not a defense, in other words.
It’s difficult to image a scenario by which Miller isn’t sanctioned for Richardson’s transgressions — they have worked closely together for years — and those sanctions could be severe.
Compared to Miller taking the stand in a federal corruption trial in New York City, however, an NCAA investigation probably seems manageable to the Wildcats … at least for the moment. — Jon Wilner
Hot off the Hotline
• What does it say when the top-paid football coach in the Pac-12 doesn’t earn as much as his peer at … Purdue? (Jeff Brohm, who’s 13-13 in West Lafayette, is making more than Chris Petersen.) I’d argue that it’s an example of what Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens calls “drifting out of range” with regards to resource competition.
• The stock report returned this week and took aim at developments at Utah (new stadium), USC (basketball roster), UCLA (scandal and missteps) and the Pac-12’s media strategy. Anyone else notice that the Big 12 took the opposite approach with ESPN? Whereas the Pac-12 rejected an offer from the Worldwide Leader, the Big 12 doubled down.
• Former Stanford All-American Casey Jacobsen joined the Hotline for a podcast discussion on the state of the Pac-12. Jacobsen, now an analyst for Fox Sports and the Pac-12 Networks, focused his comments on the level of coaching and point guard play. His work at Fox provides access to loads of games in the Big Ten and Big East, which he leaned on for perspective. (Enjoy the Pac-12 Hotline podcasts? Get notified of new episodes on iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify and Stitcher.)
ICYMI: The Wednesday newsletter took a different view of diversity in the Pac-12 leadership ranks: When it comes to the ethnic makeup of football coaches and athletic directors, the conference sets the standard in the Power Five. Previous editions of the newsletter are available in archived form using the following hashtag:
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All times Pacific. Spring games on Pac-12 Networks
April 20: Oregon State spring game (11 a.m)
April 20: UCLA spring game (11 a.m.)
April 20: Washington State spring game (1 p.m.)
April 20: Oregon spring game (2 p.m.)
April 21: NBA Draft early-entry deadline
April 22: FBI trial (New York City)
April 25-27: NFL Draft (Nashville)
(Note: The Hotline newsletter includes links to sites that could require a subscription once the number of free views has been reached.)
• Utah is suddenly without presumptive starting kicker Chayden Johnson. (Quick, somebody call Down Under.) And backup tailback Armand Shyne is headed to Texas Tech.
• The latest USC player to enter the transfer portal is backup quarterback Matt Fink. Seriously, it might be easier if we simply start reporting which Trojans have not entered the portal.
• Few 2019 recruitments were more closely watched across the region than that of safety Asa Turner, who mulled Washington v Notre Dame until the very end. He explained the decision to play for the Huskies this week.
• UCLA was tied for last in the conference in sacks last season. Stands to reason the Bruins’ pass rush is getting plenty of attention this spring.
• Oregon’s spring game Saturdat afternoon is all about … recruiting. Of course it is. “Everything is recruiting,” writes the Register-Guard’s Austin Meek.
• The closer you look at Stanford’s schedule, the tougher it gets. (And it looks tough from afar.)
• Former Arizona State quarterback Jake Plummer is involved in a fascinating business venture: He’s marketing ReadyList Sports, a digital program that helps young football players learn the playbook.
• The primary objective of the Pac-12 Networks? According to president Mark Shuken, it’s to amplify the stories of the student-athletes, not to make money. The Oregonian’s John Canzano isn’t buying: “The problem is the conference has thin credibility with the public. While saying profitability isn’t the goal, it’s simultaneously seeking $750 million in private-equity investment to address the shortage of revenue created by the failing network. So what we have is the conference’s left hand reaching for a pile of money while its right hand is telling us it’s not about money.” Yep, nailed it.
• USC athletic director Lynn Swann chatted at length with Antonio Morales of The Athletic about a variety of topics. “I’m not worried about a legacy,” Swann said. “I’m not worried about ‘Am I putting my mark on USC?’ I’m trying to do the right things and get SC to move forward in a lot of different ways.” (So, um, when does that process start?)
• Gripping story from J. Brady McCollough of the LAT on the Jacksons: John Jackson Jr., the former USC receiver who suffered a stroke in December, and John Jackson III, the current USC receiver who thought he might never speak to his father again. But an incredible type of brain surgery changed everything.
• “The University of Colorado has come closer than most institutions to wrestling with an urgent question: Is running a college football program unconscionable?” That’s the crux of this New York Times deep dive into CTE, with the Buffs as the vehicle for the discussion. Author Michael Powell relies for context on the CU regents who voted against Mel Tucker’s contract. (It should be noted that Boulder is highly proactive on the CTE/concussion research and identification fronts.)
On the Hardwood
• Sounds like Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard is planning to return for next season, unless there’s “a great opportunity at the next level.” (With Pritchard in the lineup, the Ducks would be a preseason favorite even if Kenny Wooten stays in the draft.)
• New Cal coach Mark Fox has finalized his coaching staff. Trent Johnson, the former Pac-12 Coach of the Year at Stanford, will serve as an analyst.
• Mick Cronin has one assistant in place. Actually, Darren Savino will be UCLA’s associate head coach.
• The Seattle portion of Washington’s home-and-home series with Auburn has been delayed.
• Relevant to football and basketball: The push to make graduate transfers a two-year scholarship commitment — thereby slowing down the market — has thankfully been defeated.
A section devoted to content on Pac-12 Olympic sports.
• The seniors on Oregon State’s gymnastics team plan to end their careers on a high note, whether they win the NCAA title this weekend or not.
• Here’s the view of the gymnastics event from the Red Rocks.
• Oh, and UCLA’s the favorite, along with Oklahoma.
• Arizona State’s Olivia Mehaffy won the Pac-12 women’s golf title in a playoff.
• Oregon’s beleaguered softball program has a path to the NCAAs, and it runs through Eugene.
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What’s coming on the Pac-12 Hotline:
• The NFL Draft is late next week. We’ll dig into the top Pac-12 prospects with no regard for mock drafts, rumors and all other types of smoke screens. Also, how does this crop of players compare to those of recent years?
• Pac-12 basketball wish lists for 2020, on a team-by-team basis.
The next newsletter is scheduled for Monday. Like it? Please forward this email to friends (sign up here). If you don’t, or have other feedback, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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