PULLMAN, Wash. “”mdash; Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott hears the frustrations of DirecTV subscribers who are still without the Pac-12 Networks, and hopes that the start of basketball season will change the status of the stalemate that the satellite provider and the conference are currently locked in.
“I think it will really be a sea change,” Scott said at halftime of Saturday’s UCLA vs. Washington State game in Pullman, Wash.
Fellow satellite provider Dish Network and several major cable providers carry the Networks, but DirecTV customers have remained in the dark since the Networks launched in mid-August.
Scott is confident that the more certain nature of the conference’s basketball schedule along with the sheer volume of games will help push DirecTV to reach a deal.
“It’s certainly creating some upset,” Scott said. “I think it will create some pressure on DirecTV and there will certainly be a lot of switching going on if they don’t agree to take it soon.”
Washington State’s all-time leading receiver, junior Marquess Wilson, announced he was walking away from the Cougars program shortly before Saturday’s game kicked off. Wilson was suspended by first-year coach Mike Leach on Monday for an unspecified violation of team rules but rumors that he had left the program by choice swirled around Pullman all week.
“The new regime of coaches has preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us,” Wilson said in a statement. “This approach has obviously not been successful, and has put a dark shadow on this program.”
He went on to call Leach and his staff’s techniques “abuse” rather than “tough love.”
Washington State countered during the first half with a statement from athletic director Bill Moos. Moos met with Wilson last week and planned to meet with him again if he was willing to meet certain standards.
“Unfortunately, during times of coaching transitions, departures are not uncommon,” the athletic department’s statement read.
“We have procedures in place that were developed to monitor student-athlete welfare in all of our sports programs. We will continue to follow these procedures and modify them if needed.”
Crosstown Showdown has title implications
USC beat Arizona State at the Coliseum on Saturday, 38-17, distancing itself from a tie for second place in the Pac-12 South with UCLA. Now, the Bruins and Trojans are alone at the top, with the Bruins owning a one-game lead heading into the crosstown rivalry game at the Rose Bowl next weekend.
Should UCLA win Saturday, it would then be two games up on USC and hold the advantage in any tiebreaker scenario, making the season finale against Stanford meaningless as far as the Pac-12 Championship race is concerned.
Should the Trojans win, for the sixth straight time, they would pull into a tie with the Bruins and own the tiebreaker. In that scenario, even a UCLA win over Stanford wouldn’t help as USC’s final regular season game comes against independent Notre Dame.
The winner of the South division gets its ticket punched to the Pac-12 Championship Game held at the school with the best conference record. Oregon is looking to host for the second consecutive year as it has a two-game lead on every other Pac-12 team.
UCLA’s players weren’t interested in discussing USC after their 44-36 win over Washington State on Saturday and said they’ll begin worrying about the Trojans on Monday.
“We have Southern California next week but right now, we’re enjoying this,” said redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley after the win.
No love for Pullman from the “Worldwide Leader”
Saturday’s game was the first to be televised in Pullman by ESPN since 1990. That game was a 30-20 win for UCLA.