Sep 18, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) passes to running back Christopher Brooks (34) against the Sacramento State Hornets during the third quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Garbers, Cal open up Pac-12 play vs. Washington

California and Washington would be happy to put their nonconference showings in the rear-view mirror.

The Golden Bears (1-2) and Huskies (1-2) will get a chance to do that this week, as they open Pac-12 Conference play Saturday night in Seattle.

Each team lost its first two games before bouncing back with victories last week. Cal defeated Sacramento State 42-30 and Washington trounced Arkansas State 52-3.

“You never minimize a win,” Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox said. “It’s hard winning in college football, regardless of who you’re playing. … It’s good to get a win. But we all know that we need to be much, much better.”

Chase Garbers threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns to lead Cal, which opened the season with a 22-17 loss to Nevada before suffering a 34-32 defeat at TCU.

“Each and every week we have gotten better,” Garbers said about Cal’s offense. “We have taken steps forward. As the season goes on and weeks go on, we’ll keep taking that next step.”

It’ll have to be a leap against a Huskies defense that ranks among the nation’s best in pass efficiency defense and hasn’t yet allowed a touchdown throw.

After losing their opener 13-7 against Montana, the Huskies traveled to Michigan where they suffered a 31-10 defeat.

The Washington offense finally got untracked last week as Dylan Morris threw for a career-high 367 yards and three TDs.

“It was very exciting to get some results from all the hard work that our team has been putting in,” Washington coach Jimmy Lake said. “Our guys have already gone back to work, and now we’re getting ready to prepare for conference play.”

The Bears and Huskies didn’t meet last season due to coronavirus concerns. In their 2019 meeting in Seattle, lightning caused a 2 1/2-hour delay and the game didn’t finish until 1:23 a.m., with Cal kicking a field goal with eight seconds left to win 20-19.

What does Lake expect from the Golden Bears this time?

“They’re going to be sound on defense. They’re not going to make a lot of mistakes. They’re going to try to get turnovers,” Lake said. “And then on offense, they have a really good running game and they don’t turn the ball over. So that’s going to keep you in every single game.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 19, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; A general view of the Pac-12 conference logo on the field prior to the game between the Utah Utes and the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 not considering expansion ‘at this time’

The Pac-12 is content being a family of 12.

The conference issued a statement Thursday indicating it isn’t looking to expand, dealing a blow to schools in the Big 12 seeking to follow Oklahoma and Texas out of the league and into another conference.

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told The Athletic on Tuesday that conference officials had been considering expansion and would come to a quick decision.

That decision came Thursday.

“Following consultation with our presidents, chancellors and athletic directors, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to not pursue expansion of our membership at this time,” the statement read. “This decision was made following extensive internal discussion and analysis, and is based on the current competitive strength and cohesiveness of our 12 universities. It is also grounded in our confidence in our ability as a conference to best support our student-athletes and to grow and thrive both academically and athletically.”

The Pac-12 agreed Tuesday to form a strategic alliance with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten, with the 41 schools working together on things such as scheduling, legislative issues and concern for student-athletes.

With the pending departure of marquee programs Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 and the eight committed member institutions face an uncertain future.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; ACC commissioner Jim Phillips speaks to the media during the ACC Kickoff at The Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 make conference alliance official

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 cemented their athletics alliance Tuesday, announcing their plan to have 41 universities work together on elements from scheduling to the well-being of student-athletes amid a time of upheaval in college sports.

This summer has seen laws take effect that allow student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness, as well as the departure of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference.

“There is turbulence right now in college athletics. There are things we need to address,” said Kevin Warren, the commissioner of the Big Ten, at a virtual news conference. “We need to have strong leadership. We need to work together.”

Under the deal, the three conferences will increase interconference scheduling among themselves for football and men’s and women’s basketball while honoring existing contracts.

There isn’t a legal contract between the conferences. In effect, it is a gentleman’s agreement between Warren, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and ACC commissioner Jim Phillips.

“There is no signed document, and there doesn’t need to be,” Kliavkoff said. “There is a commitment from three commissioners and 41 presidents and athletics directors.”

Phillips agreed.

“It’s about trust. We’ve looked each other in the eye and made an agreement,” he said. “Our board chairs have looked each other in the eye. … If that’s what it takes to get something considerable done, then we’ve lost our way.”

Combined, the three conferences have more than 27,000 student-athletes competing on 863 teams in 31 sports.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions athletic director Sandy Barbour prior to the game against the Seton Hall Pirates at the Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State AD says conference alliance is not just about money

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour told the media Saturday the Big Ten considers more than money when making decisions, including its potential alliance with the ACC and Pac-12.

She said the conference “prides” itself on being about more than athletics.

The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are discussing a potential alliance moving forward about many issues regarding college sports. The move is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma’s announcement that they are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

“I’m not trying to downplay the importance of value as it relates to upsizing our revenues — that certainly is important — but that’s not the only reason,” Barbour said. “And I think that there are some reasons around like-mindedness that would be very valuable to the conference.”

The alliance could be announced as early as next week, according to reports on Friday, but the three conferences still have many things to discuss and agree on.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; PAC-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks to the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Report: ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 discussing potential alliance

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are discussing an alliance that will include scheduling and legislation, according to The Athletic.

The report says ACC commissioner Jim Phillips, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff have been talking for multiple weeks.

“I’ve been in frequent and regular contact with all of the other A5 commissioners the last few weeks about the complex issues that are facing the industry,” Kliavkoff told The Athletic. He added, there is “nothing to report on this specific matter at this time.”

There is no timeline for when the alliance could be finalized and announced.

The main aspect of the alliance would be the three conferences voting together as a bloc on major issues.

The alliance is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC.

The Big 12 is not being considered for the alliance. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Kliavkoff met last week.

–Field Level Media

Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA;  Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Big 12, Pac-12 meet to discuss partnership

The Big 12 and Pac-12 commissioners met Tuesday to discuss a range of partnership opportunities, from a scheduling alliance to full-out merger, The Athletic first reported.

Bob Bowlsby of the Big 12 and new Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff met a day after Bowlsby floated potential opportunities at a Texas Senate committee meeting.

“I think there are options for us to partner with other conferences,” Bowlsby said Monday. “There may be opportunity for mergers. There may be opportunities to add members. There may be other opportunities that are currently unforeseen.”

The talks come in the aftermath of Texas and Oklahoma accepting formal invitations to join the SEC beginning in 2025.

The Big 12 is facing a new TV rights deal that could be shaved in half with the exodus of the Longhorns and Sooners.

Kliavkoff, too, said last week he’s doing a lot of listening since taking over as the league’s new commissioner on July 1.

“We’re, on purpose, not reaching out and trying to poach any schools, but my phone has blown up — absolutely blown up over the last five days,” Kliavkoff told ESPN. “And I’ve got lots and lots of calls from probably every school you would imagine and probably a few you’d be surprised by. We’re listening to all inbound inquiries, because it seems like the smart thing to do.”

ESPN also reported Tuesday’s meeting.

–Field Level Media

Oct 19, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; A general view of the Pac-12 conference logo on the field prior to the game between the Utah Utes and the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 mulls forfeits for teams with COVID outbreaks

The Pac-12 Conference is leaning toward a policy that would force teams to forfeit a game if they were unable to play due to an outbreak of COVID-19, new commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday.

Kliavkoff made the comments to ESPN and cited a decision by the NFL earlier in the day. The SEC is also considering forfeits as a way to encourage athletes to get vaccinated.

“I’m leaning towards going back to the pre-COVID rules that had a team that was not able to field enough players to forfeit the game,” Kliavkoff told ESPN. “We read with interest the notes from Commissioner (Roger) Goodell to the NFL teams that they’re going to treat it as a forfeit and financially penalize the team that is unable to play. I don’t know if we end up there or not, but that’s where we’re leaning.”

In 2020, the conference initially canceled the football season before reversing course in October and starting a modified conference-only season in early November.

–Field Level Media

Sep 8, 2018; Stanford, CA, USA; General overall view of the Pac-12 Conference logo on the field during the game between the Southern California Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC-Stanford to kick off Pac-12 conference play in 2021

The Pac-12 is planning for a return to a traditional football season in 2021, releasing its nine-game conference schedule on Tuesday.

UCLA will kick off the nonconference slate against Hawaii at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 28. The Bruins’ crosstown rival, Southern California, will play host to Stanford in the first conference game of the season on Sept. 11.

USC will play at Washington State on Sept. 18 before the full conference slate of games begins on Sept. 25 in Week 4.

The Pac-12 schedule includes traditional rivalry games over the final two weeks of the season: Washington-Washington State, USC-UCLA, Arizona-Arizona State, Cal-Stanford and Oregon-Oregon State. The conference championship game is scheduled to be played on Dec. 3 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for the first time.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott attends the Pac-12 Conference championship game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott set to exit June 30

After an 11-year run as Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott will leave his post on June 30.

The conference announced Tuesday that Scott, the governing executive committee and school presidents reached a mutual agreement not to pursue a new contract. Scott had been under contract until June 2022, but he will exit a year early after aiding in the transition to his successor.

Executive committee chairman Michael Schill, the University of Oregon president, as well as committee members Kirk H. Schulz, Washington State University president; and Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington; will begin the search for a new commissioner.

Schill said in a statement, “We appreciate Larry’s pioneering efforts in growing the conference by adding new competitive university programs and accelerating the Pac-12 to television network parity with the other conferences. At one point, our television agreement was the most lucrative in the nation and the debut of the Pac-12 Network helped deliver our championship brand to US and global markets on traditional and digital platforms.

“That said, the intercollegiate athletics marketplace doesn’t remain static and now is a good time to bring in a new leader who will help us develop our go-forward strategy.”

Scott said in a statement, “I was in pro sports for 20 years, I’ve now been in college athletics for more than 10 years, and now is a great time in my life to pursue other exciting opportunities. This moment, when college athletics are moving in a new direction and with the Conference soon commencing the next round of media negotiations, it seems the right time to make a change.

“It is important that the conference be able to put in place the person who will negotiate and carry out that next agreement.

“Based on the recent robust valuation and marketplace interest we’ve received from traditional and nontraditional media organizations, I am confident the conference is well-positioned for continued success. I appreciate the support of the Pac-12 member institutions and a very talented staff, with whom it has been my privilege to work.”

According to multiple media reports, the Pac-12’s television contracts with ESPN and Fox will expire after the 2023-24 season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Pasadena, California, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Clay Helton watches from the sidelines wearing a face mask in the first half against the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC latest Pac-12 team to pass on bowl season

Southern California became the latest college football team to opt out of the upcoming bowl season in a decision that came following a recommendation from the program’s medical staff.

A number of Pac-12 Conference teams already have opted out of potential bowl games, citing concerns over the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The state of California currently has strict stay-at-home orders in place.

Players, coaches and athletic director Mike Bohn also participated in the decision to take a pass on an upcoming bowl game, the school announced. The USC men’s basketball program already is in a 14-day quarantine because of a positive COVID-19 test.

“They did everything we asked of them to abide by the challenging guidelines they had to follow to stay safe and well, whether it was daily testing or keeping distant from family and friends or training in less-than-ideal ways,” USC head coach Clay Helton said in a statement. “It has not been easy, and it is hard for anyone outside the program to understand how immensely difficult these past few months have been for them.”

USC was 5-0 during the pandemic-shortened season before falling to Oregon 31-24 in Friday night’s Pac-12 Conference championship game at Los Angeles. The Trojans were No. 13 in the College Football Playoff rankings and weren’t likely to have earned a top-four spot even if they won Friday’s game.

“We are a student-athlete-centered athletics program; thus we fully support the decision to opt out of a bowl game this year,” Bohn said in a statement. “The physical and mental health and the safety of our student-athletes is paramount, and this season has been unimaginably taxing on our players in particular. This will allow them to be with their families who they haven’t seen for a long time and begin preparing for their spring semester academics.”

Utah and Washington announced Friday they would not accept bowl-game bids. Washington’s COVID-19 issues forced it out of the Pac-12 championship game, giving Oregon its chance to face USC on Friday.

Multiple programs have referenced the strict isolation rules that have been in place for athletes since the summer as one reason for deciding to pass on one more football game.

Stanford, UCLA and Washington State had already announced they would skip out on bowl season even if they qualified for an extra game.

-Field Level Media