It could be a five-way duel for Washington's starting QB job in the spring and summer of 2019. Meanwhile, Stanford's D got hit hard by NFL draft departures.
Pac-12 Stock Report
↑ Rising: Washington’s quarterback depth.
Not even Chris Petersen knows who will start at quarterback when the Huskies take the field on Aug. 31, 2019, for their first season opener of the post-Jake Browning era (against Eastern Washington).
Jacob Eason’s pending return to his homeland after two seasons at Georgia adds another arm to the mix of potential replacements for Browning.
A former 5-star recruit, Eason joins a list that includes four touted underclassmen and incoming recruits.
It could be a five-way duel in the spring and summer of 2019 (unless someone transfers).
The more there are, the tougher the competition, the greater the variety of options, the better the chances of picking the right one.
And we see instances every year (USC in ’16, Arizona in ’17) of coaches picking the wrong one.
↑ Rising: Mark Helfrich.
It’s good to be the former Oregon coach. Not an hour has passed in recent weeks without his name being connected to a coordinator or head coaching vacancy.
Let’s see …
He was a potential candidate for the Arizona’s gig.
Texas supposedly wanted him as its playcaller.
There was the standing offer from Chip Kelly.
Oh, and he had a pretty decent job as an analyst for Fox (and is more than decent, by the way).
Even if none of the opportunities had materialized … even if none of the reports had been true …. the boost to the Helfrich brand was undeniable. (Nothing like having your name in the news, veracity be damned.)
Then came word, early Thursday morning, that the Chicago Bears had hired Helfrich as their offensive coordinator.
He won with the rumors and he won with the reality.
↑ Rising: Arizona’s football search.
The trend line for the Wildcats could change, depending on the outcome of their search. But as the only school currently in the market for a head coach, the attention is plentiful and the opportunities are grand.
But the likelihood of the coaching staff getting the decision correct has increased by an order of magnitude.
It’s worth noting that athletic director Dave Heeke has retained the services of DHR International to assist with the search.
DHR’s point person on such matters is Glenn Sugiyama. Based on his track record, fans should be cautiously optimistic (which is better than anxious or fearful).
Hotline research indicates DHR missed badly in helping place Charlie Weis at Kansas, and I’d hardly describe Sonny Dykes-to-Cal as a winner.
Sugiyama teamed with Stanford for an all-timer (Jim Harbaugh) and led the San Jose State search that landed Mike MacIntyre.
More recently, DHR helped place Jeff Brohm at Purdue, Seth Littrell at North Texas, Jason Candle at Toledo and Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic — four apparent successes.
Sugiyama’s work during the current hiring cycle includes Jonathan Smith at Oregon State and Chad Morris at Arkansas (too early for a verdict on either, obviously).
The Hotline isn’t a big fan of search firms in general, because many have preferred candidates and pay little regard to the specific demands of the vacancy.
None of them get every hire right, and all of them cost a pretty penny (tens of thousands, if not low-six figures).
But if the Wildcats felt a search firm was essential, they could have picked worse than DHR and Sugiyama.
↓ Falling: Andy Enfield.
Up double digits with 21 seconds left on Wednesday night, the USC coach called a needless timeout because he “had some things to say to my team.”
That’s about as accurate as Enfield’s comment that the FBI investigation has had no impact on his team. (Exact words: “Not at all.”)
There’s no question — none, zero, zip — that Enfield was attempting to show up Colorado coach Tad Boyle.
You might recall last weekend, when Boyle unleashed a brutally honest response after beating Arizona.
If you missed it, Boyle said:
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“USC has recruited very, very well. The two most talented teams in our league from top to bottom are USC and Arizona … So, hell yes there’s extra satisfaction.”
Naturally, Enfield responded to that comment during the week, albeit with a prepared statement that began:
“We are disappointed in Tad Boyle’s comments, and what they imply …”
That Enfield offered up no specific reason for the late-game timeout would seem to indicate he had no reason … that he simply wanted to stick the 12-point lead in Boyle’s face.
Boyle reportedly didn’t take too kindly to it, either: “I will say this, that was a very strategic timeout from Andy Enfield and I’m not going to forget about it, and neither will our players.”
So Colorado’s won’t forget Enfield’s timeout, and Enfield won’t forget Boyle’s comments.
The teams meet Feb. 21 in Boulder.
My view: This is a no-win situation for Enfield, because:
1) His assistant coach was charged with bribery.
2) One of his top players (De’Anthony Melton) has been held out all season while USC investigates potential impropriety.
3) Boyle said what many coaches in the Pac-12 are thinking.
4) See No. 1, above. (Boyle has the trump card, and it’s the Federal Bureau of Investigations.)
The situation has a chance to deteriorate, not only with Enfield v Boyle but with every coach not named Andy Enfield or Sean Miller making passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive comments about the two programs under investigation.
Us against them … supposedly clean against allegedly dirty … it could get uncomfortable, perhaps even nasty.
Boyle wasn’t the only Pac-12 coach who, in the immediate aftermath of the FBI arrests, publicly addressed the frequency of cheating in the sport.
Will his comments from last weekend give cover to others? Might others take offense to Enfield’s response?
Commissioner Larry Scott had best be ready to step in at a timeout’s notice.
↓ Falling: Stanford’s defense.
Pac-12 observers might recall the days, not too long ago, in which Stanford’s defense was as stout as any in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The unit’s performance has steadily eroded over the season, to the point that the Cardinal ranked 90th in yards-per-play allowed in 2017.
And here comes the NFL, stripping a vulnerable defense of its three best players: tackle Harrison Phillips, safety Justin Reid and cornerback Quenton Meeks.
(Phillips and Reid were first-team all conference picks; Meeks was second-team.)
Stanford’s fate in ’18 hinges, to a certain extent, on Bryce Love’s return.
If he’s back, the Cardinal will have the talent on offense to win games via the only reasonable route possible: By outscoring its opponents.