Pac-12 Apostles: Media Day Recap, Interviews with Cam Rising, Dan Lanning, Yogi Roth, Chip Kelly

On this Episode of the Pac-12 Apostles, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden react to the biggest storylines and best quotes to come out of Pac-12 Media Day, including George Kliavkoff’s “shopping” comments about the Big-12. Featuring interviews with Utah QB Cam Rising, UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly, Oregon Head Coach Dan Lanning, and Pac-12 Network star Yogi Roth.

Breakdown:

Intro

-Conference games in L.A. post USC/UCLA exodus? (7:40)

-What can the Pac-12 do to hang on to the rest of its schools? (11:40)

-Impressions of Kyle Whittingham and Utah (17:00)

-Impressions of Dan Lanning and Oregon (19:11)

-George Kliavkoff “shopping” comments about the Big-12 (21:40)

-Impressions of Kalen DeBoer and Washington (29:20)

-Impressions of Karl Dorrell and Colorado (32:20)

-George Wrighster Interview with Utah QB Cam Rising (34:00)

-Impression of Jedd Fisch and Arizona (38:00)

-Impressions of David Shaw and Stanford (42:15)

-Impressions of Herm Edwards and Arizona State (44:40)

-Impressions of Washington State, Cal and Oregon State (49:00)

-George Wrighster Interview with UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly (53:00)

-Impressions of Lincoln Riley and USC (1:03:00)

-George Wrighster Interview with Oregon Head Coach Dan Lanning (1:08:50)

-George Wrighster Interview with Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth (1:14:45)

Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // iHeart

Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?

The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.

Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.

Pujols, Soto, Rodrìguez, and the Continuation of Dominican Baseball Excellence

We need to talk about Albert Pujols and the legacy he’s leaving behind.

On Monday, a 42-year-old Albert Pujols participated in the Home Run derby as an all-star weekend swan song. Earlier this year, Pujols returned to the St. Louis Cardinals on a one-year deal for his final season, and while many people thought Pujols’ inclusion in the derby was a gimmick, he actually advanced to the second round.


In case Pujols time with the star-studded but lowly Angels organization made you forget, this is one of the best baseball players we’ve ever seen.


Albert Pujols is a three-time MVP, two-time World Series champion, two-time golden glove winner, 11-time all-star, is fifth all-time in home runs, tenth all-time in hits, and  third all-time in runs batted in. 

Albert Pujols Introduced as a reserve player in his final All Star game (via MLB.com)


While I’m not like some stuffy baseball gatekeepers who turn their back on the players of the steroid era, it’s definitely worth noting that Pujols accomplished all this in the era of strict PED testing.


What I want to talk about most though is the fact that Pujols has set the stage for Dominican born baseball players to do exactly what he did- stand on the shoulders of giants and ultimately surpass them. Albert Pujols started his first all star game alongside Dominican legends like Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa and Vladimir Guerrero. 


On Monday, it was a pair of young Dominican superstars in Juan Soto and Julio Rodríguez that grabbed the torch from Pujols and showed that the future of baseball is bright. Soto, at just 23 years old, is in the process of captivating the nation with both his play on the field, and a stratospheric contract negotiation with the Washington Nationals that saw him turn down a $440 million contract.


Pujols made sure to let anyone that was listening know that he believes Juan Soto is a future Hall of Famer. Soto’s response? “He’s gonna make me cry.”


Julio Rodríguez, who finished second in the home run derby, but hit over 80 home runs in the contest, was awarded $50,000 more for finishing as runner up ($750,000) than he’ll make on the entire season ($700,000).

The 21-year old Rodríguez said of Pujols, “He’s a legend. It’s amazing that I’m here sharing the stage with him.”


Well Julio, the stage is now yours.  And the next generation of baseball fans, and children in the Dominican Republic, are watching. Time for you and Juan Soto to do what Albert did for you.

Deandre Ayton Didn’t Get What He Wanted, But He Might Have Gotten What He Needs


The Suns and restricted free agent Deandre Ayton came to an agreement on an extension the hard way last week, with Phoenix instantly matching Indiana’s 4-year, 133 million dollar offer to the former #1 overall pick.


Phoenix wanted Deandre Ayton on a four-year extension all along, and despite how dysfunctional the path was to achieving that goal, they got it done. It’s a win for the Phoenix Suns, who are fighting to keep a championship window cracked open while simultaneously negotiating to land Kevin Durant to support Devin Booker and Chris Paul.


In the end, this could be a win for Deandre Ayton too, as he’ll be approaching free agency again at age 27, but it’s only a win for Ayton if he locks in and makes massive strides over the course of his second contract.


Ayton hasn’t always gotten a fair shake from NBA fans, who constantly point out that he was selected ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young, but he has been a good player on what has become a contending team.

Still, you don’t have to be one of the fans that has had Deandre Ayton under a microscope over the last four season to know that there are some massive holes in both his game and his approach that led to a contract standoff with the Suns rather than an automatic offer for a 5-year max rookie deal.


While Ayton has the body and skillset of a dominant 90’s center (in a game that has largely evolved past the need for one), Ayton struggles to hold onto the basketball in traffic, and his lack of physicality is enough to drive both young fans and NBA oldheads insane. Over his four year career, Ayton has only 47 more made free throws than he does turnovers. While Ayton is a solid shot-alterer, he’s averaged less than one blocked shot per game over the last two regular seasons combined.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Ayton’s game is in the area of consistency, both in-game and over the course of a full season. There are very few players that put up more first quarter points per game at the center position, with Ayton ranking 4th last year at 5.9, behind MVP Nikola Jokic (7.8), all-star Karl Anthony-Towns (8.4), and Philadelphia franchise player Joel Embiid (8.5). Ayton’s production falls precipitously once the fourth quarter hits, ranking 19th amongst centers with 3.1 points per game, one spot behind his own 2021-2022 backup JaVale McGee. In addition, while Ayton has averaged a double-double for four consecutive seasons, he actually has more games played without a double-double over the last two seasons (54) than he does games with a double-double (53).

Combine that with his PED suspension, his admission that he stays up most nights playing video games, his public declaration that he “doesn’t like the big man role,” and his reported feud with Suns coach Monty Williams that spilled over onto the court in a game 7 western conference finals blowout loss, and you have some serious questions about whether Deandre Ayton will ever meet his potential.


We know what a dominant center’s attitude and leadership is supposed to look like. We saw it in Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and more (None of whom, by the way, had their best FG% season come anywhere close to Ayton’s career average of 60%). Ayton has natural skills that could put him that same conversation some day, but Ayton has been quoted as saying his NBA goal was to achieve his second contract, and it’s not unreasonable to think that if this money robs him of any motivation to improve, he could be in the same conversation as an Andrew Bynum or Jahlil Okafor instead.


At this point, it’s up to him.

Spencer Webb’s Death is a Tragic Reminder to Appreciate Personal Stories of Student Athletes

We need to talk about Spencer Webb.


Oregon Tight End Spencer Webb passed away at the age of 22 yesterday in what is being ruled a diving accident at Triangle Lake outside of Eugene. 


Spencer Webb’s story was one of incredible perseverance, and if you want to know more about the type of young man he was, I recommend you read John Canzano’s latest piece about the adversity he had to overcome to get where he was. 


Like Spencer Webb, I also played Tight End at Oregon. 


Like Spencer Webb, my college years were spent taking advantage of the incredible natural beauty of the Lakes and rivers outside of Eugene. It helped expand my horizons as a young man from Southern California, and helped mold me into the man I am today. 


I’m devastated that we won’t get to see how Spencer Webb’s time in Eugene helped mold him. 


It’s stories like this that serve as a sobering reminder that these college football empires are built on the backs of young men trying to make their way in the world. 


If we hope to save what made college football one of the world’s greatest spectator events, we can’t get lost in the dizzying business aspects of this sport, like coaching carousels, conference carousels, and mountains of television money.


We need to focus on the people. People like Spencer Webb, who rose up from awful circumstances to give himself endless opportunities. 


Take a moment today to reflect on and appreciate the stories of the young men that make up your favorite college team.


We need to focus our energy on giving these young men their flowers while we still have the chance. We need to let their stories impact and inspire us in the moment. 

Let that sink in.

Making an Athlete (Episode 1): Former NFL TE George Wrighster on Raising QB Sons

Introducing Making an Athlete- a new YouTube Series from George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden at UnafraidShow.com, where we talk to parents, coaches, trainers, and athletes themselves about everything that goes into making an athlete. Here, you’ll find stories of overcoming adversities, roadmaps for success, and lessons from failures on the path toward raising up young athletes.

On the first episode, George Wrighster talks about growing up wanting to play QB, but not having the opportunity that is now afforded to his sons. We get into how race and privilege play a role in the potential for success in a modern athlete, and what his ultimate hopes are as he helps his kids on their athletic journey.

Have a take you’d like us to address? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll read your take on a future Mailbag or Wrighster or Wrong podcast.

1/20/22 Wrighster or Wrong: NFL QB Confidence Rankings, Kirby Smart takes on the NCAA, Journalist vs Truck, Real-Life Cool Runnings

Wrighster1-2-22

On this episode of WRIGHSTER OR WRONG, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden rank the remaining quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs according to their level of confidence in them. Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart told some hard truths about the state of college football, and both George and Ralph discuss the reasons the sport could be headed for disaster if the NCAA doesn’t take proactive action. What do you do when an internet personality that you typically don’t like shares an opinion that you wholeheartedly agree with? A West Virginia reporter is hit by a car while on live TV, and it has the whole internet talking about the way the situation was handled. A journalist asked Wharton business school students what they believed the average salary of working Americans was, and their answers made them seem very out of touch. Jamaica has a bobsled team, so as a Cool Runnings super fan, is George now rooting against America? Finally, Instagram is adding subscription-based content, so who, if anyone, would you pay to subscribe to?

Click any of the following links to listen to Wrighster or Wrong on your preferred Podcast platform

iHeart // Apple Podcasts // Spotify // Stitcher // Radio Public // Google Podcasts

Have a take you’d like us to address? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll read your take on a future Wrighster or Wrong podcast.

Pac-12 Apostles Podcast: Kliavkoff Comments, QB Carousel, Chip Kelly Extended, Kayvon’s “Stigmatism”

thibodeaux klattt

On this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden break down some of conference commissioner George Kliavkoff’s most recent comments, discuss UCLA’s decision to extend Chip Kelly (and ditch DC Jerry Azzinaro), break down the winners and losers of the ongoing QB carousel, try to figure out how Jedd Fisch and Arizona are having so much recruiting success coming off a one-win season, give an update on Arizona State’s NCAA investigation, and give their takes on Kayvon Thibodeaux’s “stigmatism” comments.

Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // iHeart

Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?

The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.

Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.

12/17/21 Wrighster or Wrong: Addressing NIL and Bowl Opt-Out Complaints, George Gives His Urban Meyer “I Told You So”

WoW 12 17 2021

On this episode of WRIGHSTER OR WRONG, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden get into Name Image and Likeness detractors and the NCAA coaches that are publicly whining about Bowl Opt-Outs, and explain why the NCAA, not the players, are the real villain. Also, Urban Meyer has been fired by the Jacksonville Jaguars and George has his “I told you so” locked and loaded.”  

Click any of the following links to listen to Wrighster or Wrong on your preferred Podcast platform

iHeart // Apple Podcasts // Spotify // Stitcher // Radio Public // Google Podcasts

Have a take you’d like us to address? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll read your take on a future Wrighster or Wrong podcast.

Pac-12 Apostles Podcast: Jon Wilner Joins For a Discussion About Dan Lanning, Kalen DeBoer, and Recruiting Results

Dan Lanning

On this episode of the Pac-12 Apostles, Jon Wilner joins George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden to talk about Oregon’s hiring of Dan Lanning and all the drama that surrounded the alumni letter and the reported offer to Justin Wilcox, as well as Washington’s hire of Kalen DeBoer. The Apostles also discuss how the Pac-12 teams are performing so far during the early signing day, from underwhelming showings by Arizona State, Washington and USC, to whether this strong recruiting showing from Stanford can pull them out of a multi-year downward trajectory. 

Apple Podcasts // Spotify // PocketCasts // Google Play // Stitcher // RadioPublic // iHeart

Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?

The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.

Please leave a rating and review of our podcast on iTunes! We record a podcast once a week with emergency episodes when necessary. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football. But we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.

George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.

Ralph Amsden is a sportswriter and podcaster. He is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State University Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. Wyoming born, Arizona raised, and now based in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and four kids, Amsden made his mark in Arizona sports media through investigative reporting, and being one of the first people to leverage social media and the podcast medium to grow his platform. In addition to his podcasts, he is the Content Director for UnafraidShow.com. Ralph might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but whether the topic is food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.

The Oregon Coaching Search Showed Twitter Spaces Could Be The Future Of College Football Communities- But Is That A Good Thing?

Twitter Spaces

The University of Oregon fan base took the “Twitter Spaces” feature to new heights this past weekend, and gave the college football world a preview of an environment in which super fans, current and former players, their family members, and school administrators all bypass media gatekeepers and broadcast rightsholders to hold an open discourse.

In the process of University of Oregon looking to hire a football coach to replace the recently departed Mario Cristobal, the fan-led audio platform commanded a continuous audience of thousands as rumors, reports, leaks, confirmations and conflicts played out in real time.

Aside from the spectacle of Dan Lanning’s brother participating in the Spaces prior to the confirmation of his hiring, you had Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens address the community post-hire, program legends and former NFL first round picks Joey Harrington and Akili Smith attempting to explain the leaked letter in which they requested the interview/hiring of Cal Head Coach and Oregon alum Justin Wilcox, and even our very own George Wrighster going head to head with Akili Smith on whether or not Mario Cristobal elevated the state of the program while national college football reporters from around the country looked on:

The novelty and excitement of Oregon’s coaching search becoming a community event set a new standard for how fans, players, and school representatives can participate and collaborate throughout the process. Like with any new technology, there are drawbacks. There was certainly an elevated buzz around the program because of the popularity of this Twitter Spaces event, but there was also a Real Housewives of Eugene-level barrage of drama, conflict, and frustration from the traditionalist swarth of fans whose primary desire is to see program harmony and a unified front, all walking in lockstep to create an attractive façade for potential recruits. For them, the Spaces might have been just a little too real.

For media, the initial reaction to the uniqueness of the Oregon Twitter Spaces had to be that this is a content goldmine. Representatives from Sports Illustrated, 24/7, ESPN, Rivals, On3, as well as many independent blogs and podcasts all either participated, or were live-tweeting notable moments from the event. Some fans even screen recorded some of the more notable moments, such as Athletic Director Rob Mullen’s appearance, and uploaded it to YouTube for posterity:

But the question for established media, as well as for the fan bases that will undoubtedly attempt to springboard off of what the Oregon community did here, and even for the programs themselves, is whether or not Twitter Spaces ultimately proves to be a net positive.

The role of media has traditionally been to play the line cook that provides palatable information for the consuming public with the ingredients served up for them by (or taken unwittingly from) the athletic departments themselves. Over time, schools have learned that with their abundant resources, they can provide these morsels in the most prepackaged and attractive manner for the consumers, often using both technology and former members of the media (that prefer stability to autonomy) to craft narratives that reflect positively upon the program’s efforts. The entire direction of collegiate sports media has been moving in the direction of “polished and pretty,” as well as “top-down control” and the real-time nature of Twitter Spaces is anything but that.

When you have fans that can goad cherished alumni into public spats, or family members of players that can publicly voice frustration with issues of scheme or personality that cause schools to have to publicly address those frustrations, much like with other forms of social media, the level of access may prove to be more of a burden than a boost.

I’m of the opinion that people can be trusted to consume information directly from the source rather than exist on rumors, innuendo, or spin fed by athletic departments to message board operators in exchange for program access. Then again I’m not managing a hundred million dollar business in the era of the transfer portal, whose success and continuity is partially dependent on the massaging of late-teenage egos. “Controlling the message” has never been more important, but in the era of Twitter Spaces, it has never been trickier. A fan with a large following, and a strong opinion on who should or should not start at quarterback, now has the ability to tempt parents and alumni to weigh in on a debate that everyone has access to, potentially in moments of extreme emotion, with the touch of a button.

It’s both an exhilarating and exhausting proposition.

While the Oregon Twitter Spaces of this past weekend was a watershed moment in college football coaching carousel history, its future might prove to bring more volatility than value. Either way, I’ll be listening.