Pac-12 taps into former football stars to boost conference

The Pac-12 is tapping into former football stars such as Brock Huard, Toby Gerhart and Lincoln Kennedy as it explores ways to boosts the conference’s fortunes on the field and off.

The conference announced Monday the formation of the Pac-12 Football Alumni Council.

The group includes more than 20 players and coaches from Pac-12 schools, including some active NFL players such as San Francisco 49ers center Alex Mack (California), Detroit Lions tackle Tyrell Crosby (Oregon), Houston Texans receiver Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) and Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz (Stanford).

Led by Pac-12 Associate Commissioner and former NFL star Merton Hanks, the alumni council already has met twice.

A football think tank of sorts, the council has discussed a wide range of topics from football scheduling and recruiting to brand-building and marketing.

“We just have so many substantive changes that have to happen over the coming months and years ahead, that it would really be negligent if that group did not have a voice in those changes,” Hanks told The Associated Press.

The Pac-12 has not had a team selected to the College Football Playoff since 2016, and it has been shut out of the CFP in six of eight years.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff has stressed since being hired last spring that improving the conference’s football and maximizing CFP selections are his priority.

“Just the interactions I’ve had with him to this point have been very encouraging. I think for others on this council as well. I think they felt that same sense of purpose and urgency,” Huard said.

A former Washington quarterback who currently is calling games as an analyst for Fox Sports, Huard said his interactions with Kliavkoff have been encouraging and helped motivate him and others to get involved.

Huard said the council is more than…

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