Hansen's Sunday Notebook: Harder than ever to succeed in Pac-12 football - though money helps

This week, the columnist dishes on the Pac-12's embarrassment of riches (both literally and figuratively) in football, a new golf course garnering national attention, Sherry Cervi's continued dominance, a little Bibby playing high school ball and more.

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  • In the brief time since Arizona beat the Oregon Ducks 42-16, Pac-12 football has continued to shift seismically. It’s not what-have-you-done-lately, it’s what-have-you-done-today.

    Cal accepted an $18  million deal to re-name Memorial Stadium; Arizona State paid coach Todd Graham more than $800,000 in bonuses; Colorado regents approved $143 million of football facility improvements; UCLA boosted coach Jim Mora’s salary to almost $3 million a year; Washington then made Chris Petersen the league’s highest-paid coach.

    ESPN analyst Desmond Howard said Petersen “is going to take Washington to another level.”

    That is wildly off-target. The Huskies are going to struggle just to stay the same. Moving up? Who’s going to move down?

    The Pac-12 now has nine franchise-type coaches, maybe 10 once Utah’s Kyle Whittingham has another year or two to recruit Pac-12 level players. Every school has a Big Name Coach except Cal and Colorado. Every school except Colorado, UCLA and ASU have state-of-the-industry facilities, and all will soon begin the bricks-and-mortar process of keeping up.

    It’s mind-blowing to think that 10 years ago, Washington State was coming off of two Rose Bowl appearances, three 10-win seasons and was a powerful face of Pac-10 football.

    Do you know how that happened? It happened because USC hired Pitt retread Paul Hackett to coach the Trojans and because UCLA, hurting financially, hired uninspiring Bob Toledo and then career assistant coach Karl Dorrell to coach the Bruins.

    All were cheap hires.

    It was an era when Cal’s athletic director, Steve Gladstone, had been the school’s crew coach with no background in high finance. It was a time when Stanford counted its pennies and hired Buddy Teevens, whose top qualification was that he coached Tulane. And ultimately, it was period in which Wazzu was fully unprepared to replace Rose Bowl coach Mike Price, choosing to stay in-house and hire Bill Doba, an old-school defensive coach, who blew up the Cougars’ program and put them in a 10-year death spiral.

    The day is long gone that someone with the background of Toledo and Doba would even get an interview to coach a Pac-12 football team.

    Now it’s all flash and cash.

    You won’t see a Pac-12 school hiring a volleyball coach as its AD, as ASU did with Lisa Love eight years ago. You’ll see Colorado hiring Rick George, COO of baseball’s Texas Rangers, to run the school’s athletic affairs.

    When Arizona joined the Pac-10 in 1978, the Oregon schools didn’t have 10 cents to spend. Cal and Stanford were playing in facilities from the Marx Brothers days and bumped along in neutral. UCLA, with no money and no buzz, began a 25-year period under Terry Donahue in which the Bruins never quite got over the hump, or fully tapped into their recruiting resources.

    Now, all these years later, Pac-12 football has become a pseudo-NFL. Every school is all-in. When USC hires Steve Sarkisian and gives him the funds to hire an all-star staff, it barely merits a yawn in Corvallis, Ore., and in Tucson. It’s just another day at the office.

    The Road to the Rose Bowl has always been hugely difficult. Now it’s harder.

  • Tucson’s struggling golf industry is going to get a boost of attention this week when the Scottsdale-based Media Golf Classic moves to Southern Arizona for the first time.

    More than 60 golf writers, bloggers and media sources will be here to help mark Thursday’s opening of course designer Notah Begay’s Sewailo Golf Club at Casino del Sol.

    In the lead-up to the Sewailo opening, reporters from Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Golf Magazine and outlets in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Toronto and Chicago, among other precincts, will play Dell Urich Golf Course, the Gallery Golf Club’s north course, and at the Tubac Golf Resort.

    Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson, arranged for the media blitz of Southern Arizona’s golf properties, which have forever been obscured by the vast Phoenix-area golf and tourism business.

    DeRaad did his homework. The Gallery North is fabulous; Dell Urich is the area’s top muni course; Tubac is a unique setting; and the new Sewailo course is an attention-getter.

  • Marana’s Sherry Cervi won the National Finals Rodeo barrel-racing competition Thursday and Friday in Las Vegas. She earned $18,629 both nights, adding to her WPRA-leading total of $147,417 in the regular season. Cervi is bidding to win her fourth world barrel-racing title; she won in 1995, 1999 and 2010.

  • As Salpointe Catholic won the Division II state football title at Arizona Stadium, it’s large support group, about 10,000 strong, included five original Lancers. Al SchifanoFrank NaughtonMike GeddesDick Sainz and Joe Dimercurio played for Salpointe between 1952 and 1955. The school’s first football season was 1952.

  • Tucson football referees B.J. FogltanceTy DruseTommy DrzazgowskiGlenn Koepnick and Robert Bertagnoli worked the Division III state championship game at Arizona Stadium. It’s a merit-based assignment system at the state playoffs. Druse and Fogltance also were selected to officiate the first WSFL championship game, Scottsdale College vs. Mesa College, a week earlier in Eager.

  • I thought Pac-12 football coaches blew it when selecting UCLA linebacker Myles Jack as the Pac-12’s offensive freshman of the year. (He was also the defensive freshman of the year.) On offense, Jack played in just four games, gaining 267 yards. That’s not enough. Arizona freshman Nate Phillips caught 42 passes for 503 yards and seven touchdowns, including eight for 97 yards and two touchdowns against Jack’s UCLA. Phillips was superior over the year, no contest. He also returned nine punts. I would also have chosen ASU kicker Zane Gonzalez over Jack; Gonzalez made 22 of 25 field-goal attempts, including 18 straight heading into Saturday night’s game against Stanford.

  • Former Arizona All-Pac-10 linebacker Marcus Bell, a star of Dick Tomey’s 1998 team that finished 12-1, had a breakout year as a coach. Bell led Eager Round Valley High School to a 12-2 record and the state Division V championship game against Yuma Catholic last week.

  • When South Dakota State beat NAU in a FCS playoff game last week in Flagstaff, Sabino High grad Dallas Brown, a starting defensive back, had five tackles against the Lumberjacks. He is a redshirt freshman.

  • Sad to learn that Bobby Felix died Nov. 25. The longtime Tucson orthodontist was a regular on UA basketball road trips during the Lute Olson years, one of the key figures in Tucson sports history. Felix was an original member of the Tucson Conquistadores, helping the operation of more than 25 PGA Tour events. He was also president of the Towncats, the former booster group of UA athletics. Felix sat behind press row at McKale Center, in the third row, since the arena opened in 1973. He was 91. He would always tell me: “Someday, I’m going to write a book about what I’ve seen all these years in Tucson sports.” When I didn’t see Felix at the season opener, against Cal Poly, I knew something was seriously wrong.

  • Here’s a basketball prospect to keep in mind: Michael Bibby, son of UA Final Four star Mike Bibby, scored 31 points and had eight rebounds, nine assists and five steals in his sophomore season opener for Phoenix Shadow Mountain High School. Much like his father, Michael can score from anywhere. He made five three-pointers in the game.

  • Tucson High grad Jeremy Harden,who helped Pima College finish seventh in the NJCAA basketball finals in 2010, is now an assistant director of basketball operations at Boise State. Harden, who was the head coach at Immaculate Heart High School for two seasons after leaving Pima, earned a degree at Arizona and then spent a year as assistant coach at Eastern Oregon University.

  • In her first college volleyball season, Cal’s Maddy Kerr made the All-Pac-12 freshman first team. She is the daughter of Steve Kerr. Maddy is a defensive specialist, a “digger,” in volleyball terms.

  • Former Tucson Toros/Sidewinders/Padres general manager Mike Feder will be making the last of about 30 annual visits to MLB’s annual winter meetings this week in Orlando, Fla. Feder will receive the Presidential Citation at Monday’s opening session. It is an award, given by Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner, annually presented for exemplary service in the game. What’s more, Feder will be honored in Florida as the Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year. It’s not that Feder has completed his baseball work; he has been hired as a consultant by the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas to, among other things, coordinate that team’s travel for the 2014 PCL season.

  • Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, a Cienega High School grad who helped Arizona win the 2012 College World Series, is in Cincinnati this weekend to be honored as the Cincinnati Reds’ Minor League Player of the Year. Mejias-Brean hit .305 with 82 RBIs for two Class A teams. Mejias-Brean joined Reds stars Joey Votto and Aroldis Chapman at the club’s annual “Redsfest” for autograph and photograph sessions with fans.

  • The National High School Baseball Coaches Association staged its annual convention this weekend at the DoubleTree hotel on Alvernon Way. Among other items at the three-day event, Desert Christian High School outfielder/pitcher Zach Malis was named to the 2013 All-Region first team by the NHSBCA. Well-deserved. Malis hit .515 and had 62 RBIs — he did not strike out in 123 plate appearances — for the Division IV state champions. UA pitching coach Shaun Cole was a guest speaker at Friday’s pitching clinic and Tucson High baseball coach Oscar Romero was honored for 30 years of coaching service.

  • My Heisman Trophy ballot is due today and I’m going to vote Ka’Deem Carey third. It might sound like a homer pick, but I don’t think it is.

    When the Pac-12 released its all-conference teams last week, no Arizona offensive lineman received any votes. Not even honorable mention. That’s crazy.

    Arizona’s other all-star running backs all ran behind all-conference blockers. Trung Canidate had Yusuf Scott and Edwin Mulitalo. Ontiwaun Carter had Warner Smith. David Adams had Joe Tofflemire and Vance Johnson had Jeff Kiewel.

    Because Arizona was also breaking in a new quarterback, one who had difficulty stretching the field, and because the Wildcats started two freshmen wide receivers, sometimes three, it meant Carey was the focus of every opposing defensive scheme.

    And yet he still ran for more than 100 yards in every game, paying a physical toll for every yard, operating as a moving target.

    Carey isn’t likely to finish in the top five of the Heisman voting, no UA player has ever come close, but if he isn’t in the top 10, it’ll be a shame.

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