Stock report: Utah’s budget update, Oregon’s coordinator search, Arizona on the brink, QBs arrive in Washington and more

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Commentary on Pac-12 developments …

Rising: Utah’s budget outlook

Encouraging news surfaced this week in Salt Lake City, where athletic director Mark Harlan expects a somewhat  diminished budget hit.

Instead of a pandemic-created shortfall in the $50 million to $60 million range for the current fiscal year, the revision calls for a $35 million deficit.

The Utes can thank football TV revenue for the reduction (approximately $5 million per broadcast, split equally among the members).

Their situation still isn’t good, but it’s not as bad as feared.

No two athletic departments handle their finances in exactly the same manner, so we’re hesitant to draw conference-wide conclusions based on Utah’s revision.

However, it’s not unreasonable to believe the downward revision at Utah is indicative of situations unfolding on other campuses.

Extrapolating from Harlan’s estimates, the total mitigation could approach $200 million across the conference, all of it rooted in the decision to play an abbreviated football season.

That’s hundreds, if not thousands of jobs saved, potentially.

To be clear: We aren’t judging the decision to play based solely on the dollars saved.

As with everything related to COVID, the calculation is complicated.

That said, the economics cannot be ignored entirely.

Falling: Oregon football.

For the third consecutive year, the Ducks must replace a coordinator.

In 2019, they hired Andy Avalos to run the defense, replacing Jim Leavitt.

In 2020, they brought in Joe Moorhead to oversee the offense after Marcus Arroyo left.

Now, Avalos is off to Boise State — as the head coach — and the Ducks are once again in search mode.

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It’s a significant loss: Avalos was one of the top defensive coordinators in the conference. His work was central to Oregon’s 2019 conference title and Rose Bowl win.

The Ducks have the cash to find a capable replacement, as they showed a year ago when agreeing to pay Moorhead just under $1 million per year.

But continuity matters, and head coach Mario Cristobal must determine whether the Ducks are better off with another newcomer, or by promoting from within.

The latest name to surface, Zach Arnett, worked for mastermind Rocky Long at San Diego State and spent the 2020 season running Mike Leach’s defense at Mississippi State.

That alone makes Arnett an intriguing candidate.

For all his focus on offense, Leach has a history of making shrewd hires on defense.

Rising: Washington state quarterback depth

We used the lowercase ‘s’ because both Washington teams have increased their numbers in the quarterback room.

Let’s start in Pullman, where freshman Jayden de Laura won the job in 2020 over returnees Cam Cooper and Gunner Cruz.

Whether both backups stick around remains to be seen — we presume at least one will depart — but coach Nick Rolovich has fortified his depth with the addition of senior Jarrett Guarantano, a coveted transfer from Tennessee.

Guarantano not only adds maturity but the experience of having played against the best.

This season, he threw multiple touchdown passes against both Alabama and Georgia.

At worst, Guarantano is a solid Plan B, in case de Laura is injured or erratic.

At best, he replicates the success of another former …read more

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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