Throughout the fall, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has heard a lot about the Colorado football team.
On Thursday night, he got his first chance to watch the Buffaloes in person this season, as he was at Folsom Field for a 20-10 victory against UCLA.
“They’re a very exciting story, not just in our conference, but nationally,” Scott said of the Buffs, who improved to 7-2 overall and lead the Pac-12 South with a 5-1 conference mark. “As I go around the league and talk to our coaches, it’s a program everybody is remarking about and really gives a lot of credit to coach (Mike) MacIntyre and the way he’s developed the program.”
CU had been the worst team in the Pac-12 since joining the league in 2011, finishing last in the South every year. Now, the Buffs are ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press poll, No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches poll and, most importantly, No. 15 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
“I was delighted to see them get a No. 15 ranking in the college football playoff standings,” Scott said. “It shows there’s real national respect for the conference and for the job they’re doing here.”
CU was one of four Pac-12 teams to land on the CFP’s initial Top 25, which was released on Tuesday. Washington (8-0, 5-0) landed at No. 5, Utah (7-2, 4-2) at No. 16 and Washington State (6-2, 5-0) at No. 25.
“I don’t think anyone (from the Pac-12) liked seeing Washington at No. 5, as opposed to No. 4, but Washington is in great shape and it’s still very early in the season,” Scott said. “Having four teams, we’re right up there with any other conference. In general, it’s good, but I always caution people not to put too much stock in these early standings.”
Potentially, a greater concern for the Pac-12 could be in filling all of its bowl slots. The conference has agreements with seven bowls, eight if Washington can get into the national playoff.
Currently, the Pac-12 has just four bowl eligible teams and three sitting on five wins and Cal two wins away.
“I’m not worried about it yet,” Scott said. “But we do have teams beating each other up and you’re always at risk of that.”
Expanding the brand
Scott said “it’s frustrating” that the Pac-12 Network has yet to work out a deal with DirecTV, but said he’s excited about other ways in which the network is growing.
“Generally speaking, it’s a very exciting time to be a content owner,” Scott said. “There’s so many changes happening in the market place. New players coming on board, mergers, a lot of the big tech companies investing and getting involved. If you are a sports property with premium content like we have … I think long term we’re in great shape.”
While there is no deal with DirecTV on the horizon, Scott is pleased about a recent extension with Dish Network, and a deal with Sling TV, which was the first over-the-top provider to add the network.
“There’s been a lot of activity, a lot of positive momentum for us, and there’s more coming,” Scott said. “There’s more discussion happening, especially when it comes to the internet-based options.”
Those internet-based options include Apple TV and Roku, among others.
“I think you’ll see us embrace all of those over time,” he said. “We’re in conversations with all of those companies.”
CU’s 128 yards in penalties on Thursday was its highest single game total since having 140 against Texas on Oct. 10, 2009. … Running back Phillip Lindsay needs just 182 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career.