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CFB notebook: Cal-Stanford game postponed by poor air quality

Sports Xchange
17 Nov 2018, 10:45 GMT+10

The 121st Big Game between northern California archrivals California and Stanford, scheduled for Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on the Cal campus, was postponed because of poor air quality caused by the Camp Fire that continues to burn about 200 miles away.

The Pacific 12 Conference announced the first postponement of the game in 55 years on Friday, about 27 hours before the scheduled kickoff. The 1963 Big Game was postponed a week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"We have been carefully tracking air quality in Berkeley and the Bay Area over the past week, relying on the best data and guidance available to us from medical and environmental experts," Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. "The forecasts we have received show a minimal chance of the improvement necessary to hold the game on Saturday.

"While we would have preferred to play the Big Game on its scheduled date, once we realized that air quality would likely not return to acceptable levels, we made the decision to postpone for the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, game-day staff, students, band and spirit groups, alumni and fans."

The winner of the game receives "The Axe," and Stanford has had possession of the trophy for eight years.

The only years since 1892 in which the game was not played came during World War I (1915-18) and World War II (1943-45).

Tickets issued for the game scheduled for Saturday will be honored Dec. 1 and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

The game will be played one day after the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi's Stadium not far away in Santa Clara, but Cal (6-4, 3-4) and Stanford (6-4, 4-3) are not in contention for the title.

Cal will have a week off before hosting Colorado next week, and Stanford will play UCLA at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena.

--All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver engaged in a heated shouting match with Houston coach Major Applewhite right before halftime of Thursday night's game against Tulane. Oliver, considered a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was enraged and had to be restrained after the coach told him to remove his cold-weather coat.

The reigning Outland Trophy winner was inactive because of a knee injury and, per a team rule, only uniformed players are allowed to wear coats on the sideline. Oliver, who sat out his fourth consecutive game, did not join the team on the sideline in the second half of the 48-17 victory over Tulane and was unavailable for comment after the game.

"Everybody follows the rule; I want everybody to follow the rule," Applewhite said during his postgame media briefing, per the Houston Chronicle. "I asked him to follow the rule. He was upset about it, and I get it. We deal with these types of situations all the time. This is something we're going to learn from and grow from."

Oliver has not played since he suffered a right knee injury against Navy on Oct. 20. He attempted to return against SMU earlier this month but was scratched when he felt discomfort in the knee during pregame warmups. Because Oliver already has committed to enter next year's draft, there has been speculation in Houston that he won't play the rest of the season for fear of injury, but he has dismissed such talk.

--Les Miles, former head coach at LSU and Oklahoma State, is finalizing a contract to become the next head coach at Kansas, Sports Illustrated reported Friday. The long-rumored move by the 65-year-old Miles could be finalized as soon as this weekend, according to the report.

Miles' name surfaced almost as soon as Kansas athletic director Jeff Long fired coach David Beaty early in November. Beaty and Miles spent several years together at Michigan in the 1980s and Long reportedly tried to hire Miles in 2012 when he was athletic director at Arkansas.

Speculation that Miles was headed to Kansas heated up again on Thursday, when LSU announced it had reached a settlement with Miles on a hefty buyout. Instead of paying Miles the $6.5 million it owed him for the next several years, the Tigers instead cut a $1.5 million check to wrap up their financial obligations.

That freed up Miles to take another job without any strings attached.

Miles has experience in the Big 12 Conference, but it has been 14 years since left Oklahoma State after turning the Cowboys' program around and heading to LSU. With the Tigers, Miles had a 114-34 record that included a national championship in 2007 and two Southeastern Conference championships before he was fired in 2016. Kansas has gone 22-88 in the last decade.

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