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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 9, 2008 8:46 PM

Alumni update

Posted by Bob Condotta

With many NFL teams conducting mini-camps right now, time to catch up on some Husky alums:

--- Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes in his Raiders blog that the passes of Marques Tuiasosopo seem to "have a lot more zip'' than during his first stint with the team (it's in a note under the June 5 post). Jones also has a note in the June 9 post about the still-in-flux backup QB spot for the Raiders, speculating that Tuiasosopo appears to have moved ahead of Andrew Walter.

--- Matt Barrows of the Bee writes in his 49ers blog that Dashon Goldson has had a really good off-season and could contend for the starting free safety job this season. However, he says it's more likely Goldson will play as the nickel back this year.

--- Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News writes that Isaiah Stanback will have to fight to make the Cowboys' roster. He writes that Stanback "better be a stud'' on special teams if he wants to make the team, though he concludes that he'll probably squeeze in.

--- Jaguars.com has a good story about Khalif Barnes hoping to repair his image after some off-field trouble.

--- Somebody asked recently about Cody Pickett, who recently signed with Toronto of the CFL, and whether he might be able to still get on an NFL roster for this season. Reading this story makes it sound as if Pickett will have to scratch and claw just to make it in Toronto.

All for now.


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June 9, 2008 3:06 PM

A few words from Tom Hansen

Posted by Bob Condotta

I just got off the phone a little while ago with Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen to confirm the reports that he is retiring.

Hansen did just that, saying his age (he's 70) was the biggest factor he's leaving.

"I don't have the same energy level that I did when I was younger and this is a very demanding job,'' Hansen said, also noting the travel requirements, which have gotten both greater and more difficult in recent years.

Hansen said he announced his retirement now so that the conference will have ample time to find a replacement --- he won't leave office until July 1, 2009.

Hansen said Pac-10 presidents (or CEOs in the conference vernacular to cover schools that have a chancellor or whatever) will form a search committee to bring them candidates, with the presidents making the final choice.

Hansen said he will be able to stay past that date, if needed, to get a new person in place. If a new hire is found earlier, Hansen will stay through July 1, 2009 to help in the transition.

Hansen said one of his major orders of business the next year will be to guide the conference through negotiations for a new BCS TV contract. "I wasn't going to leave while those activities were pending and not have the conference represented by someone with the experience of what has gone on before in the BCS,'' he said.

I used the interview to clarify exactly where the Pac-10 stands with its own TV deals, and get Hansen's response to some of the criticisms of those contracts.

The men's basketball deal with FSN runs through the 2011-12 season, a contract that also includes keeping the conference tournament at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Hansen said ESPN has never really been a viable option "because they have never had available time slots because of their other commitments that would fit our scheduling patterns. And because they didn't have good time slots, they never wanted to make an attractive financial offer. ... They would have given us Monday nights at 9 p.m., but some of our academic heads and presidents were not the least bit interested in that.''

That last comment reiterates a point I made in my earlier post on Hansen --- a lot of these things involve a lot more than him. He's an easy one to blame for some of these things, but if the presidents don't want to do it, it's not going to get done. As he told me at one point today "I don't speak as an individual, but I reflect the institutions' views.''

The basketball tournament remains in LA largely because that's where most of the sponsors for Fox and the Pac-10 are based. Until another city can make the tournament as financially viable, LA is likely where it will remain.

The football TV contracts also run through the 2011-12 academic year (so basically, the 2011 season) and now include 6-8 games a year on ESPN as well as the Saturday night ABC national package.

That means a new commissioner really won't be able to do anything about any of the conference's TV packages until the 2012-13 academic year. Hansen said the conference arranged to have both contracts run out the same year so that they could be negotiated as a package if so desired.

All the contracts for the Pac-10's bowls run through the 2009 season.

I asked Hansen about criticism that the Pac-10 has no Jan. 1 presence other than the Rose Bowl. He said the biggest reason for that is that it cannot be in a bowl that would run opposite the Rose Bowl "and none of the Western bowls will go early enough to get in front of the Rose Bowl. We've talked about it with a couple of our bowls of going that morning, but there are already four games (that morning) so the networks are either already taken or going against three other bowls, so they are not interested in that.''

Hansen pointed out the Pac-10 did have a deal to be part of a three-way rotation with the Cotton Bowl for a while in the 1990s --- that's where the No. 2 team went for a few years --- but that "the conference felt we were better off growing the Holiday Bowl. And ever since we did that, the Holiday Bowl has been sold out and has gone on to be one of the best ones on the West Coast.''

That's basically the conference's strategy now, to try to turn the bowls it is involved with in the West into major games. "We think the Emerald Bowl (in San Francisco) will grow quite a bit in stature,'' he said.

Hansen has also taken some hits for his outspoken stance against a plus-one system or a playoff --- such an idea will need the Pac-10, and consequently the Rose Bowl, to ever work. But again, he's mostly speaking for the conference presidents on that one.

"That's never been mine alone,'' he said, saying his role is to articulate the stance of the presidents as clearly as he can. "The conference presidents are not interested in expanding the post-season. They like and support the bowl system because we get 6-7 (Pac-10) teams a chance to play in the post-season.''

Hansen told the story of the growth of the Oregon Ducks the last 20 years. If there were simply an eight- or 16-team playoff system all along, Oregon might never have become more than it was in the mid-80s. Instead, it parlayed a few minor bowl berths into some bigger success, the kind of thing Hansen thinks wouldn't be possible in a playoff that would likely involve far fewer teams.

"A plus-one would inevitably grow and become a playoff and the bowls would go away,'' he said. "We think the BCS has made the regular season even better. Now, every game that is played is of interest in every part of the country. In the old days, you didn't hang on all the Big East or ACC games. Now, you'd better because (those results) may put you in a BCS game, or cost you one.''



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June 9, 2008 1:27 PM

Pac-10 announces TV schedule

Posted by Bob Condotta

A busy day at the Pac-10 offices, as along with the news on Tom Hansen (see below) is the release today of the conference's schedule of football games that have been pre-selected for TV.

Here's the full list from the Pac-10 website as well as a release from GoHuskies.com detailing UW's games.

Including games announced earlier, UW is guaranteed to have seven of its 12 games on TV this season.

The UW games selected are:

Aug. 30 --- at Oregon, 7 p.m., FSN
Sept. 6 --- BYU, Noon, FSN
Sept. 13 --- Oklahoma, 4:45 p.m., ESPN
Oct. 18 --- Oregon State, 4 p.m., Versus
Oct. 25 --- Notre Dame, 5 p.m., ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
Nov. 22 --- at Washington State, Noon, FSN
Dec. 6 --- at Cal, either Noon on FSN or 5 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2 (announced six or 12 days prior).

A note of caution, however, that this does NOT mean these are all the UW games that will be on TV this year.

As the Pac-10 release details, other games are now available to be selected either six or 12 days ahead of time as per the conference's TV deals. UW also has its own deal with FSN-Northwest where games not selected in any of the other contracts can be picked up as long as it does not conflict with other conference arrangements.

As you can see, there are lots of spots available for games like the Nov. 1 contest at USC and the Nov. 15 home game against UCLA, each of which seems certain to be selected in a six- or 12-day window.

UW had all 13 games televised last season, the most in school history, and I would suspect that just about every game will end up televised again this season.

UPDATE --- Someone asked what Versus is, so here's a link to their site. Hockey fans know well what Versus is since that's the station the Stanley Cup is on. A number of Pac-10 games were on Versus last season, but no UW games. The Oregon State game will be the first on that network for the Huskies.


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June 9, 2008 12:56 PM

Pac-10 commish Hansen to retire in 2009

Posted by Bob Condotta

News is breaking this afternoon that Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen will retire on July 1, 2009. Here's another report, with quotes from Hansen, from The New York Times. UPDATE --- And here is the official release from the Pac-10.

This is no real surprise as Hansen recently turned 70 and rumors of his imminent retirement have been rampant.

Hansen has been commissioner of the Pac-10 since 1983 and has been a sometimes-controversial figure. Bud Withers of our staff profiled Hansen and the differing thoughts on his tenure in this story last August.

Hansen's detractors often said he was too old-school, too willing to keep to the status quo and unwilling to get creative when it came to things like bowl games and TV contracts. Basketball coaches, in particular, have often grumbled about not having greater exposure on ESPN.

I always gave Hansen some benefit of the doubt on some of these issues since I think the reasons he gives for why the Pac-10 has some inherent challenges in these areas make sense --- most notably, the time and geographical differences that will always make conferences back east more attractive to ESPN. I'm in the minority who doesn't think the FSN deal is so bad, especially for basketball --- you really think ESPN will televise four Pac-10 basketball games back-to-back-to-back-to-back on a Saturday afternoon? It hasn't seemed to hurt the conference become known as one of the strongest in the nation the last few years.

And to Hansen's credit, the conference has tried to be more flexible in recent years when it has come to TV games -- playing more football games on non-Saturdays --- and now has an expanded football presence on ESPN.

Regarding bowl games, I've never really seen anyone give evidence to refute what Hansen has always said was the main issue there --- that since many conference teams don't travel that well (is that you, UCLA?) bowls in the south and east would rather have tie-ins with conferences in those areas. Why would a bowl in Florida really want the No. 5 Pac-10 team as opposed to the No. 5 SEC team?

I also think it's sometimes not realized the power the conference's presidents have on some of these issues. It's not as simple on some of this stuff as Hansen snapping his fingers and getting something changed if the presidents don't want to go along.

Nationally, some view Hansen as an impediment to a college football playoff and will surely be glad he's gone (though again, I think Hansen is often speaking for what the conference's presidents want, and that isn't going to change no matter who is commissioner).

I also always found it a little amusing when people would protest that Hansen is anti-UW since he is a Washington graduate.

That said, I do think there are some things the conference could do to promote itself a little better. And who knows? Maybe a fresh approach will result in some changes in the TV and bowl contracts that the critics will find more pleasing.

And that's the question now --- who will take over for Hansen? I have no idea, though one thing I do know is that there won't be any shortage of good candidates as this will be one of the coveted jobs in college athletics.

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June 9, 2008 8:26 AM

Locker gets three hits, but team loses again

Posted by Bob Condotta

Jake Locker hit three singles for the Bellingham Bells yesterday, but the team lost again to the Everett Merchants to fall to 0-3.

Here's a report from the Bellingham Herald. (And point taken --- I'll try to be more careful with the Locker baseball language from now on).

WILLINGHAM-GOLF UPDATE --- Not sure how Tyrone Willingham did in the Marine Corps Classic over the weekend, but he didn't win it. This story from the Jacksonville Daily News reports on the three winning teams, none of which included Willingham.

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