Pac-12 notes: Stanford, UW rivalry heats up

UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Stanford faked injuries. (Associated Press)

There may be a new rivalry brewing in the Pac-12 North. The past two years the matchup between Stanford and Washington has been well worth the DVR space. But that rivalry has tipped the scales from “competitive” to “heated” in the aftermath of the Cardinal’s 31-28 victory in Stanford, Calif., on Saturday.

After the game, UW coach Steve Sarkisian accused Stanford defensive line coach – and 21-year UW assistant – Randy Hart of telling players to fake injuries to slow down the Huskies’ hurry-up offense. The game was stopped when star linebacker Shayne Skov and others were seemingly unable to stand, but the Cardinal players then appeared to recover remarkably quickly on the sideline.

Stanford coach David Shaw bristled at the insinuations, going so far as to make an unusual opening statement during Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches’ teleconference to address the matter.

“I don’t care what Steve Sarkisian thinks what he saw, we’ve never done it, we didn’t do it against Oregon so why in the world would we do it against Washington,” Shaw asked.

Shaw’s remarks referenced accusations in 2010 that Stanford was faking injuries to slow down Oregon’s vaunted high-speed offense. Linebacker Chase Thomas appeared to injure his ankle right before the Ducks snapped the ball, but returned to a cascade of boos after sitting out just one play. Shaw was an assistant coach at Stanford at the time.

Shots were fired by Shaw as well, who added, “I believe it’s unprofessional to call out an assistant coach by name in the media. The only defensive line coach that I know of that’s ever instructed players to fake injuries works at Washington, not at Stanford.”

The second remark was an allusion to the one-game suspension that UW defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi served when he was at Cal after telling players to fake injuries to slow down Oregon. The strategy may have had merit as UO – who would lose to Cam Newton and Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game – narrowly won 15-13. That year the Ducks averaged over 46 points per game.

The annual game between the UW and Stanford is already beginning to have serious ramifications in the Pac-12 North. If this week’s verbal sparring is any indication, next year’s contest in Seattle may be worth the full price of admission.

OSU appreciates pipeline

The Columbia River separating Oregon from Washington has been no Rubicon for Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who crosses it again and again to poach high school players from the Evergreen State. Tacoma’s Scott Crichton is the latest in a long line of talented Washington prep players to shun the local schools in favor of the orange and the black.

“Washington has quite a few guys every year and we have thought, at the division one level probably between 26 and 30 a year,” Riley said. “Some of course are going to go to Washington some to Washington State, but we think we can get our share. We can get maybe two or three a year. So we like the close access, maybe sometimes we are closer to a kid than Washington State is if they’re up the I-5 corridor.”

Bruins won’t overlook Cal

With a 4-0 record and No. 11 national ranking, UCLA could be forgiven for not mustering an appropriate joie de vivre at the prospect of facing lowly Cal, whose lone win was a 37-30 knuckle-whitener against Portland State. But the Bruins were beaten 43-17 by the Golden Bears last season, and coach Jim Mora won’t let them forget it.

“Their skill players are outstanding,” Mora said. “As good as we’ve faced to this point. I mean that receiving group is fantastic, the backs are outstanding, the young quarterback is playing very, very well. They are a dangerous group with the ball in their hands. Very impressive.”

Because of that, Mora isn’t concerned that his charges will look past the Golden Bears to games at Stanford and Oregon in the following two weeks. “We don’t operate that way, it’s just part of our culture to focus on the game we’re preparing to play, and then on Saturday the game that we’re playing,” Mora said.

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