clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pac-12 Media Day, the Other Guys Edition

We had the chance to talk to 11 coaches not named Sonny, and 22 players not in swanky Cal polos. Here are a couple highlights from our time in Burbank fraternizing with the enemy.

Rich Rodriguez for President
Rich Rodriguez for President
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Media Day 1

Commissioner Larry Scott

  • Rob Hwang - A lot of great things were said about the conference as a whole. With the conference entering its 100th Anniversary since its inception in 1915, Larry Scott seemed to emphasize the history and pride of being the PAC-12. The presentation and statistics about awards, championships, exemplary athletes was interesting to say the least. The most important information he gave was about athletes being covered more for medical and athletes can come back to finish their 4-year degrees on fully covered scholarships. Lastly, the additional spotters for concussions in football will go a big way in preventing repeat head injuries.
  • Solomon Kim - Scott's praises aside, those PAC-12 highlight videos got me PUMPED. I'm talking chills - and it's 90 degrees outside. But in all seriousness, Scott seems to be really excited about the conference this year, emphasizing an increased national respect for its strength as amongst the best if not THE best in the nation. The four main reforms Rob mentions above are a big deal depending on how they are implemented, especially the reforms that should better protect the players' ability to take advantage of their educational opportunities.

Arizona State: HC Todd Graham, WB Mike Bercovici, DB Jordan Simone

  • Rob Hwang - Todd Graham was probably the funniest press conference on the first day. When asked about his cowboy boots, he proceeded to stand up to show all the media gathered around his table. accentuating the fact that he had a picture of Sparky embroidered on the back. Mike Bercovici was very well spoken and poised. I had a great interview asking him about ASU football and his growth from last year's Jael Mary. When asked about his relationship with roommate DJ Foster and DJ's transition to WR, Mike answered plain and simple. "DJ is a football player. He loves the sport. He thinks of it less of transition and more just a focus on receiving."

Oregon State: HC Gary Andersen, RB Storm Barrs-Woods, CB Larry Scott

  • Rob Hwang - Storm Barrs-Woods was a great interviewee. He talked about why he made his name change (To honor his mother who raised him as a single parent). Storm also talked about his transition to becoming a feature back after splitting the carries evenly with Terron Ward last season. He said "I prepped every game last year as if I was the lead back, even with Ward. I was the lead guy my freshman year but injuries hit. I'll always have the mentality that I'm the guy. With that type of mentality you can never run short." Storm was also very proud of the fact that he had graduated from college, and held his degree to higher importance than his football pedigree. To see such a talented guy value his education more than his achievements on the football field was great to hear.

UCLA: HC Jim Mora, C Jake Brendel, LB Deon Hollins

  • Rob Hwang - Being that the event was held in Burbank, there was never a doubt that the most popular press conferences would include the LA schools. And when UCLA came around there were already reporters huddled around the players table to talk to Jake Brendel and Deon Hollins. I was a bit let down because initially the defensive player was scheduled to be DB Fabian Moreau, and I wanted to ask about that group of defensive backs. So we went to listen to Coach Mora. very well-spoken guy knew what he wanted to talk about didn't talk about a lot of other things. The most asked question was about Josh Rosen and how the QB competition would play out. To put it simply, he said that there would be no deadline like he did with Brett and Kevin and that he would let it play out.

Washington: HC Chris Petersen, RB Deontae Cooper, LB Travis Feeney

  • Rob Hwang - I had the opportunity to go up and listen to Coach Petersen talk and Deontae Cooper as well. First with Coach Petersen, the vast majority of his presser was about the QB battle and also his return to Boise. He's in a weird spot because he goes and plays Boise against guys that he recruited, then he plays USC later and all his players are playing against Coach Sarkesian who recruited them. But when talking about Boise, Coach simply said that it wasn't an issue, because at the end of the day he's worried about his team and their result. Deontae Cooper also had some great things to say about Coach Petersen and year 2 in that system. The biggest question mark being the QB spot, he said that the team is ready for whomever to take the reigns. And in terms of RBs that any of them would be ready and that they would basically play the hot hand to give differences different looks throughout the season.

Stanford: HC David Shaw, LT Kyle Murphy, LB Blake Martinez

  • Rob Hwang - Ugh. Blegh. I wasn't looking forward to this part of Day 1, but it came. And it hurt. Coach Shaw had the longest opening remarks out of all the coaches. There were yawns, people left to use the bathroom or to grab snacks...oops, that was all me. But the most hurtful moment came when Shaw seemed to realize my Cal hat sitting 10 rows in front and proceeded to mention the name: Brennan. Scarlett. Who happened to be their first 5th-year transfer. Who happened to play at cal. Who happens to look "healthy enough to start camp in some way, shape or form." Cruel and unusual punishment I tell you. But back to the football and journalistic integrity. Coach Shaw was mostly asked about the departure of Ty Montgomerey and who would be filling in the big play factor of his team, and it seems to be that Chris McCaffrey is the guy. The Cardinals are returning most of their starters and will be a pretty decent squad this upcoming year, but that's not to say they have their question marks and Coach shaw's first REAL recruited team is going to have to start playing up to the standard set by their previous coach.

Colorado: HC Mike MacIntyre, OT Stephane Nembot, OLB Kenneth Olugbode

  • Rob Hwang - Colorado was an interesting press conference to say the least. Not a lot of people were interested and even if they were they only stood around for a few questions and then went back to their seats. Colorado has a tough schedule to start the year. First game is at Hawaii on a thursday night and when asked about it, Coach MacIntyre did not seem too stressed. "We'll fly out tuesday, play them on thursday, and we come back and land at noon on Friday. Well, we have time to recover before the next week. It's not like you play saturday night and land sunday at noon, and you're trying to get ready to go Monday. So I think the way we have it scheduled will be beneficial to us." But for me the biggest shock was that no one asked him a single question about Sefo Liufau. Not a single question about the starting QB.

Media Day 2

Arizona: HC Rich Rodriguez, WR David Richards, S Will Parks

  • Solomon Kim - Did you all know it was the 100th anniversary of the Pac-12? Well Rich Rodriguez knew and he made sure we did as well. Rodriguez was easily the funniest interviewee of the entire event and surprisingly savvy when it comes to pop culture, referencing Spongebob Squarepants, the Lion King, and Dumb and Dumber. (Please refer to Coach Rodriguez' full transcript for a gold mine of comedy) There was no false flattery in his talk. He told it as it is with unabashed irreverence toward media etiquette and I LOVED it. On to football. Rodriguez actually gave us little to work with in terms of expectations for Arizona football. After a gruelling spring and summer, he can confidently say that Anu Solomon is "a little bigger, little faster, little stronger," and, "he can throw pretty good." If that wasn't clear enough, Solomon got even better since his 3,800 yard, 28 touchdown season. A lot of focus was given to Scooby Wright, and rightfully so - both Jared and Hardy said they'd take him if they could steal any player in the Pac-12.

USC: HC Steve Sarkisian, QB Cody Kessler, LB Su’a Cravens

  • Solomon Kim - Down in Southern California, USC happens to be a pretty well known university (go figure) so it makes sense that Coach Sarkisian was immediately mobbed by local media armed with mics, offering bits of their souls for chance to speak with him. I took one look at the swarm, opted out, and got a nicely organized transcript free of charge - soul intact. Sarkisian's focus seemed to be on winning championships. That is the goal. Not much was said about Cody Kessler since I think everyone is expecting another fantastic season from him. Sarkisian mentioned that the defense is coming back stronger with significant experience under its belt and Adoree Jackson setting the tone in the secondary. A large chunk of the talk was about the 2015 recruiting class which gave Sarkisian the ideal opportunity to initiate some USC chest thumping - "rich history" this, "11 National Championships, six Heisman trophies," that. Bleh.

Oregon: HC Mark Helfrich, RB Royce Freeman, LB Rodney Hardrick

  • Solomon Kim - I honestly can't say much about Oregon's talk since I was outside ogling the Pac-12 Championship trophy. A lot of the talk focused on the Oregon offensive scheme for the year, particularly the quarterback situation with the departure of Marcus Mariota. Helfrich touched on the possibility of using a two quarterback system, but is confident that whoever steps in has all the protection and weapons he needs to be successful. He expects Royce Freeman to step up as a leader and produce heavily on the offensive side of the ball. On a side note, Freeman is HUGE. In terms of weaknesses, it seems that the Ducks secondary has the biggest issues after losing the most guys there. However, Helfrich believes the only thing they lack is experience.

Washington State: HC Mike Leach, OLM Joe Dahl, LB Jeremiah Allison

  • Solomon Kim - Washington State head coach, Mike Leach, has been described as a "National Treasure," and, "the gift that keeps on giving." When he isn't using the new Wazzu training facility's state of the art underwater treadmill to pretend he's walking on water, Leach is giving expert dating advice or writing yet another book - perhaps on his adventures in Hogwarts as a, "Huffle-something." He is...the most interesting man in the Pac-12. On to business. Nothing much was asked, let alone said about football. He did give a few words on Connor Halliday leaving the program, but no real reason why, and had praise for Luke Falk stepping up to fill the gap. He mentioned the advantage of having fourteen starters returning and the impact such experience entails. It seems more were interested in the legend that is Mike Leach than the team he coaches.

Utah: HC Kyle Whittingham, RB Devontae Booker, LB Jared Norris

  • Solomon Kim - Coach Whittingham is looking to build off of a team that is now made up completely of guys recruited to play in the Pac-12. Besides Devontae Booker, Utah is looking at its offensive line to really step up and make an impact. The Utah defense will probably pack a punch as well if they're all built anything like Jared Norris. The guy is almost built as broad as he is tall - and he's 6'2". We had a chance to talk to Booker more extensively and he is amazingly down to earth. He shared a hilarious anecdote involving an old beat up car breaking down five minutes down the road. I can't help but respect Booker's character, making a huge impact in his first season as a JUCO transfer and working hard to finish his degree to be a good example to his young son.