Pac-12 stock report: NCAA wins benefit future schedules, Tinkle’s profile rises, ASU finishes spring, Chun stays put, Stanford’s image pounded

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Commentary on Pac-12 developments on and off the court (and field) …

Rising: Pac-12 basketball schedules.

The NCAA tournament is an ecosystem unto itself, largely detached from the events of the prior four months, which makes satisfactory explanations elusive.

The latest example of the inexplicable is UCLA, the only Pac-12 team still standing.

The Bruins lost four in a row to end the season, were the third-to-last team voted into the field, then found new life, beat the No. 1 and 2 seeds and became only the second team to roll from the First Four into the Final Four.

Fortunately, it’s far easier to quantify the impact of March success:

— The money piece is easy, as we detailed Wednesday: Pac-12 teams will receive millions of dollars over the next six years.

— Postseason wins aid recruiting, albeit indirectly.

Rare is the prospect who picks a school because it advanced to a certain round. But deep runs in the NCAAs generate momentum and raise awareness, which serve as magnets for coaches on the recruiting trail.

— Success also helps with local economics. It boosts fan interest, which leads to increases in ticket sales and donations over the ensuing months.

— Another manifestation of March, often overlooked, is the impact wins have on future non-conference schedules.

A strong performance by the collective enhances the league’s reputation, not only with media and fans but also within the college basketball machinery — thus making it easier to arrange dates against quality opponents.

The higher-profile matchups could come via invitations to participate in so-called Multiple Team Events (MTEs) — the  early-season, neutral-site affairs featuring power conference participants.

Or the upgraded schedules could take the form of better home-and-home series.

(In the algorithms at the heart of college basketball metrics, your opponents’ opponents become part of each resume. The stronger the league, the more attractive each individual member becomes.)

Because so many of the top-100 basketball programs are located in the eastern half of the country, Pac-12 teams often  struggle to find premier games to fill out the November and December schedules.

The more positively the conference is viewed by coaches and MTE organizers around the country, the more likely it is for Pac-12 teams to have quality options.

Quality options make for stronger schedules, which lead to better NET rankings, which improve results on Selection Sunday, which create more opportunities for NCAA success.

And the cycle starts all over.

Falling: Resolution to the commissioner search

We made mention of the situation Tuesday in our look at the job description, but it’s worth a double-down here.

Based on information collected from sources, there are two possible paths:

1) The vetting process moves swiftly, the presidents coalesce around one candidate, and the search concludes in the next 10 days or two weeks. This scenario is considered highly unlikely.

2) The vetting takes time, consensus is elusive, numerous candidates are evaluated and debated, and the process runs into late April and or early May. This scenario is considered highly likely.

Rising: Washington State athletics.

The Cougars had a brief scare earlier this week when reports surfaced that athletic director Pat Chun was interviewing for the vacant position at Kansas.

Order was restored via the Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson, who indicated Chun had not interviewed and would not interview — that he wasn’t, in fact, moving to Lawrence.

Chun’s departure would have been a huge blow: He has been highly effective on multiple fronts (hiring coaches, engagement and fundraising, administrative efficiencies, etc.) during his three years in Pullman.

Our view of the situation is fairly straightforward:

KU would have been a lateral move for Chun, at best, given the school’s twin messes with football (Les Miles fired) and basketball (looming NCAA hammer).

WSU fans should not expect Chun to remain in place indefinitely. The Ohio native with Ohio State ties assuredly will be on the short list of AD vacancies in the Big Ten or ACC.

But at this point, it’s hard to envision an intermediate move. The Cougars have too much momentum and internal alignment for Chun to consider anything but a premier job.

Falling: Stanford athletics

Aside from the success of Tara VanDerveer’s program, which is back in the Final Four for the umpteenth time, the optics have not been stellar for the Cardinal of late.

With Ziaire Williams’ announcement this week that he would follow Oscar da Silva into the NBA Draft — and with other rotation players likely to leave — coach Jerod Haase’s stagnant program possesses a narrow path to the top of the conference.

Meanwhile, the Netflix film ‘Operation Varsity Blues‘ offered an unflattering portrait of the administration, in particular  athletic director Bernard Muir.

And the decision to cut 11 sports — and blame it on money trouble — continues to cloud the skies over campus.

Stanford cares more about its image than any school in the conference.

Lately, that piece has been battered and bruised.

Rising: Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle. Rarely does a head coach experience such a drastic reputation makeover in such a short period of time.

The Beavers were a free throw away from being eliminated in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals and wrapping up another mediocre season, with Tinkle facing a murky future in Corvallis.

A mere three weeks later, he’s one of the tournament’s biggest winners — nationally recognized for his coaching acumen, the beneficiary of an extended contract, and Mr. Good Guy for passing on what amounted to $450,000 in bonuses.

But as Tinkle would undoubtedly be the first to admit: He’s no better a coach today than he was on the morning of the Pac-12 quarterfinals.

Falling: Arizona basketball.

Let’s be clear that we’re referring to the men’s program, because the women are rolling under coach Adia Barnes.

Instead, this commentary is specific to the unprecedented, unfathomable, inexplicable situation with the men.

The season ended four weeks ago, yet president Robert Robbins has not made a decision on Sean Miller’s future — whether to cut ties, grant an extension or let Miller coach into the final year of his contract as a lame duck.

Four weeks ago!

It takes the Hotline that long to get around to cleaning the gutters.

It should not take Arizona one month to make a decision that has been looming for months.

Rising: Arizona State football.

The Sun Devils wrapped up spring practice last weekend — a full spring, as opposed to the abbreviated version in 2020.

They avoided serious injuries to essential personnel and had strong showings at several key position groups.

Now comes a long wait for the most important season of the Herm Edwards era.

The Sun Devils performed well enough on the field and the recruiting trail to generate solid momentum in the early stage of Edwards’ tenure.

But the momentum will fade, if not vanish altogether, if Year Four doesn’t result in a serious push for the South title.

We would have made that case last season, except for COVID — the truncated fall delayed judgment by a year.

At some point, results must meet or exceed expectations. For ASU, that point is 2021.

Falling: Washington basketball.

Another day, another player in the transfer portal.

The Huskies have lost one-two-three-four-FIVE veterans to the portal since the forgettable season ended forgettably.

The group of departed includes guard Marcus Tsohonis (10.4 ppg) and two touted players who never developed, RaeQuan Battle and J’Raan Brooks.

Add the likely exit of top scorer Quade Green, and the Huskies must engage in a complete rebuild after two poor seasons.

That process is underway, with Arizona guard Terrell Brown reportedly transferring to UW.

But coach Mike Hopkins is another four or five impact players away from any reasonable shot at a mid-level finish.


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