Colorado AD Rick George responds to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: “We don’t need anybody’s empathy” – The Denver Post
Colorado athletic director Rick George responded directly to comments by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who last week said the Buffaloes had his “empathy” after being left without an opponent for the regular-season finale — the third time CU was healthy but without a conference game.
“I appreciate the commissioner’s comments, but we don’t need anybody’s empathy,” George said Monday on a Zoom call with reporters. “We had our eyes wide open …
“We need respect, and we realize we’ve got to earn that.”
The Buffaloes are 4-1 overall and headed to the Alamo Bowl, where they will face former Big 12 rival Texas.
But they were left to wonder what might have been after having three games canceled — each time because of circumstances with their opponent.
They were the only team that played a non-conference game and the only team that was ready to play last weekend but didn’t have an opponent.
Once Washington, the North winner, was unable to participate in the conference championship game because of COVID-19 issues, George pursued the option of Colorado playing USC for the title.
Instead, the conference sent Oregon, the North runner-up, into the game even though Colorado had a better record and was the only ranked team other than USC.
“Did I bring that up? Yes,” George said. “But the conference had protocols in place and decided not to change the protocols.”
He seemed to take exception to Scott’s suggestion that Colorado could have scheduled a non-conference game last weekend, instead of remaining idle.
The Buffaloes were on standby in case the Ducks or USC was unable to play.
“It made no sense to prepare for a third team,” he said.
George, a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, complimented the Big 12, ACC and SEC for completing seasons in which many members played 10 games or more.
“My hat’s off to them,” he said.
He also acknowledged that the Pac-12’s reputation has suffered, noting that only two teams were in the selection committee’s final top-25 rankings: No. 17 USC and No. 25 Oregon.
“Do I think we’ve taken a hit this fall? Absolutely,” he said. “But the fact is that we’ve got to go back and earn that respect.”
George was measured with his comments when asked about the way the Buffaloes were treated by the conference office on multiple issues:
— They were the only team to lose back-to-back games because their opponents were unable to play: First Arizona State (Nov. 21), then USC (Nov. 28).
The second cancellation knocked the Buffaloes out of step with USC in the South tiebreaker process, meaning they would be blocked from winning the division if both teams finished undefeated.
For that reason, Colorado asked to be matched against Washington on Nov. 28. (The Huskies had an opening after the Apple Cup was canceled.)
Instead, the Pac-12 office sent Utah, which was also in need of an opponent, to face Washington.
Without a conference opponent for the second consecutive week, the Buffaloes scheduled San Diego State.
— Once it appeared Washington would be unable to participate in the conference championship, Colorado hoped to be matched against USC for the title.
Instead, the conference stuck with the North vs. South format and sent second-place, two-loss, unranked Oregon.
“We agreed to a set of protocols for the championship game,” George said, “and the conference followed the protocols. Could there have been a change? Yes … We were on standby.”
— Scott said last week on a Zoom call with the media that Colorado had the option to play a non-conference game on Dec. 19 after its scheduled opponent, Oregon, was moved into the championship.
“Obviously, CU chose not to take advantage of that,” Scott said. “But they had the option.”
According to a conference source, the Buffaloes took exception to being blamed by Scott for not scheduling a non-conference opponent given that they were already preparing to play either USC or Oregon in the event one of the teams was unable to participate in the championship.
“It made no sense to prepare for a third team,” George said. “Anybody that knows the game of football knows it’s really difficult to prepare for one, let alone two and potentially three.”
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— Scott also said during the Thursday morning call that the Buffaloes were awaiting to learn whether they would be needed as a substitute team.
Their equipment truck had been driven to southern Utah — halfway between Boulder and Los Angeles — in case they were told their presence was required in the Coliseum.
“We agree that up until today, Colorado needed to be ready to potentially replace USC in the South,’’ Scott said.
“As we’re speaking, I’m supposed to be getting in the results of this morning’s tests, and the PCR tests, that were done. So I expect some time in the next few hours, they’re on or they’re not on.”
However, George said the Buffaloes had been told Wednesday night that they wouldn’t be needed.
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