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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Hotline mailbags: the future of football divisions, Kliavkoff’s key moves, WSU’s defense, OSU debut, Colorado’s “nightmare” and more

Hotline mailbags: the future of football divisions, Kliavkoff's key moves, WSU's defense, OSU debut, Colorado's "nightmare" and more

The Hotline Mailbag is published every Friday. Send questions to [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter: @WilnerHotline. Due to the volume – and in some cases, the need for research – not all questions will be answered in the week of submission. thanks for understanding.

Some questions have been edited for clarity and brevity.


Is the Pac-12 going to get rid of divisions and just take on the two best teams once they move to an eight-game conference schedule? — @Charlie Vidal

Yes, if the Pac-12 makes a series with the Big Ten (and possibly the ACC) through a coalition partnership, an eight-game conference schedule is inevitable.

The process would be simple: The Jettisons add a conference game, a game against the Big Ten, and remove the divisions. that’s all there is to it.

(Alliance games will be spread throughout the season, perhaps in a way that ensures one game each week.)

But keep this in mind: The Pac-12 can eliminate splits. Whether it schedules alliance games or not. The preferred strategy depends on the outcome of the college football playoff expansion.

If the result is a 12-team event that does not include an automatic berth for the Power Five champion, the Pac-12 must scrap the divisions no matter what.

The last thing he wants is a 7-5 division winner with no chance of reaching CFP, upsetting the 10-2 division winner and suffocating the conference’s best candidate.

If you eliminate divisions and match the two best teams, the upset doesn’t eliminate your CFP chances – in theory, the winner would be enough to qualify.

The issue matters less if the CFP settle on an eight-team model that includes automatic bids for the conference champions. In that scenario, even the five-lost Pac-12 team would receive the bid.

Toss the various playoff formats into a skillet with a choice of alliances and models for the Pac-12’s schedule, and the stew can get confusing.

So here’s the easiest way to figure out the various calculations: The Pac-12 will settle on the structure that gives it the best chance of reaching the playoffs each year.

It was not like this before.

This matter is progressing.


What do you think is the best thing Commissioner George Klewkopf can do for the convention over the next three months? — @dun1870gc

Allow me to offer three reactions, each involving a different spectrum:

1. Kliavkoff’s best move so far has been to defend the Pac-12’s home field – to keep the conference from being raided by the Big Ten or ACC.

In our view, Kliavkoff saw the alliance as a defensive mechanism first and foremost. By joining the Big Ten and ACC presidents into a partnership, they greatly reduced the likelihood of schools poaching from the Pac-12 (ie USC).

There are a lot of potential benefits to an alliance, but they are secondary to the stability it provides.

2. Although it will not make headlines, Kliavkoff’s priority over the next three months is to maintain and strengthen the internal alignment.

The Pac-12 was a fragmented unit for many years under Larry Scott. The leadership change created a means of rebuilding trust between the conference office and campuses.

To maximize its strategic position on multiple fronts (CFP expansion, NIL, NCAA governance, media rights, etc.), the Pac-12 needs to move all together, thanks to the collective and trusting of Kliwakoff’s leadership. Committed to.

Alignment has improved significantly, but it should continue.

3. In terms of tangible policies or results, the Kliavkoff’s No. 1 short-term goal is to ensure that playoff expansion serves the best interests of the Pac-12.

This means either a 12-team format similar to that proposed or an eight-team model that includes automatic bids for the Power Five champions.

One scenario the Pac-12 doesn’t want is in direct opposition to the SEC’s preference: an eight-team event with no automatic bidding.

My guess is that the CFP situation will be resolved in early 2022.


Can you think of a plausible sequence of events that would result in Lane Kiffin getting a USC job? (Full disclosure: I’m not a USC fan.) — @keithdennis

I was extremely skeptical of Kiffin’s candidacy before Ole Miss was kicked out of the fray by Alabama. Now, I just can’t imagine a plausible scenario.

Kiffin and Steve Sarkeesian are both instructive cases for USC: they might be viable candidates today if they hadn’t already (unsuccessfully) served as head coach of USC. (And if Sarkeesian doesn’t already have a high-profile job.)

The school cannot make the same mistake again. It cannot hire a coach who needs time to grow professionally and/or personally. It has to pick someone ready to win at a high level on the first day.


If I told you to go to September that Oregon State would be halfway through the season and control its destiny for the Pac-12 title, would you slap me? Also, if Oregon clashes against Cal, do you see Mario Cristóbal being forced to make changes to QB? — @PMLovesSports

Second question first: It may depend on the availability of Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

Clearly, Anthony Browne was out of sync at Stanford, and Moorhead’s absence (for a disease not related to COVID) is the most likely explanation.

If Moorhead returns and Brown struggles, a change may be in order. However, the Ducks will be leaving for Pasadena next week. Do they want new player Ty Thompson’s debut against UCLA’s aggressive, complicated defense?

As far as the first question is concerned: Yes, I would have slapped you silly, then ended you with a WWE move off the top ropes.

Despite the specifics (one loss, two losses; 1st place; 2nd place;, etc.) the Beavers have exceeded our expectations. In fact, I would argue they would be 5-1, not 4-2, if they had introduced Chance Nolan in the opener at Purdue.

But here’s the most notable aspect of his game so far (besides winning at the LA Coliseum for the first time in 61 years):

The Beavers (4-2/2-1) are locked out this week, then play Utah, Cal and Colorado in succession, meaning they could very well close out a bowl berth. until the first weekend of November.

In that case, I may need to slap myself in a silly way.


As a Colorado fan, why should I have any hope that this 15-year nightmare will ever end? — @henryhuidekoper

I’m not sure you should, although it depends on your definition of nightmare.

Colorado is a tougher place to win consistently, closer to Arizona State and Washington State in that regard than the likes of ASU, UCLA and Utah.

Lack of talent, especially on skill positions (i.e. speed), is a major constraint in the state. The Buffaloes must rely on several-hour flights to reach their primary recruiting pool in Dallas and Los Angeles.

And apparently, they whispered back-to-back hires with Dan Hawkins and John Embry, which pushed the program back years.

It’s hard to scrape with the Mike McIntyre era, as much of it was spent cleaning up the Hawkins/Embry mess. In addition, they won a division title.

And Mel Tucker’s situation was very unfortunate—a shrewd fare that ended in a way no one had imagined.

Is Carl Dorrell the answer to the long haul? It’s too early to know. Last season produced an upside-down surprise; There seems to be an atmosphere of despair this season.

But about this, we are sure:

There is not much scope for disturbances in the roster in CU. Regression comes quickly, and progress can be slow.

– It is unlikely that Buffalo will reach the point of being a consistent contender in the South, where the upside is 10 wins and the downside is six or seven wins.

The most realistic approach – that is, with the right head coach – will produce cycles in which the Buffaloes win four or five games a year, then six or seven, then eight or nine.

The hotline plans to take full stock of the program in late 2022, which seems like a reasonable timeline for Dorell.


Is the Defense of Washington State Real? The secondary is looking great so far, until Drake London is defended. — @SirCharles_OG

No one looks as good as Drake defending London. He is one of the best receivers in the country and a matchup nightmare for any secondary.

But you are spot on: WSU’s defense is real. While not a flagship unit, it is clearly in the top half of the convention and probably the top third as well.

Cougar has speed and playmates on every level.

If either side of the melee has achieved less in Pullman, it is an offense.

(What of the USC game? We would argue that the root cause of the collapse was WSU’s inability to keep the ball to itself after Jaden De Laura was injured. The defense had poor field conditions, no margin for error and little was relaxing.)

Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert has done a great job. He is on our short list of top coordinators in the conference during the first half of the session.

By the way, that list is dominated by defensive coordinators. With few exceptions, the offensive side has been a wasteland.


It’s from the Future: With Washington’s most recent disappointing loss to UCLA, where the run defense was sabotaged and unimaginable offense sparked, (Athletic Director Jen) Cohen is watching what keeps him from delivering an ultimatum to Jimmy Lake. stopping? — @LiveInHothAK

It is surprising to me that Washington fans believe a major coaching change may be necessary or realistic at this point in Lake’s tenure.

She’s been at work for a season and a half and won the division title in his first. If not for COVID, the Huskies would have played USC for the conference championship.

Yes, they are struggling with recruitment. Yes, crime has decreased. But the school is a long, long way from the point of not returning with the lake. I mean, years away (except for an off-the-field offense from his side).

This does not mean that staff changes will not be necessary this off-season. Unless the offense improves dramatically, for example, Lake should consider hiring a new playcaller.

But problems can be solved without change at the top, which would be disruptive, counter-productive and extremely premature.


Who won the men’s basketball game between Oregon and Oregon State this year? — @erecasner

The hotline isn’t convinced the Beavers can keep up their NCAA momentum.

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