A media day can be an interesting thing to attend or it can digress into a couple days of coach and player speak. Coaches know what they want the media to know and the players have been told what to focus on in their interviews. This was certainly the case here in Hollywood, California for the Pac-12 Football Media Days.
State of the Conference
The Pac-12 Media Days in Hollywood began with a “state of the conference” speech from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Will Scott get hammered on the conference’s television contract, Directv, or nine-game schedule?
Larry Scott discussed, with pride, the amount of athletes going to the Rio Olympics from the conference. He also was boastful about the new venture with Twitter which will expand their streaming capabilities and give fans of the Pac-12 something new to use when looking for highlights of their favorite Pac-12 team. There will also be more technology streaming with Facebook Live and putting all 12 conference teams on a conference YouTube channel. It’s obvious that they are taking to technology advances and trying to use it to their advantage to bring in more Pac-12 fans.
With Silicon Valley being physically in the lay of the conference, the Pac-12 should be doing what it is doing with technology. It’s an absolute no-brainer for the conference and for their fans.
Once Larry Scott was finished it was onto the run of coaches for this first day of Pac-12 Football Media Days.
Rich Rodriguez was in the leadoff position and was still in vacation mode when he took the microphone.
“I’d rather still be on vacation for another week than be here. Let’s get this rolling,” Rodriguez quipped.
One of the focuses for Arizona is to keep quarterback Anu Solomon healthy and to get more consistency from him. When asked, Rich Rodriguez agreed.
“Anu is getting better but we need more consistency from him and we are also going to put more responsibility on him this season,” Rodriquez stated.
California Golden Bears
Next up was California head coach Sonny Dykes.
Dykes seemed most pleased with his players raising their grades on the APR of the team than anything. Which, in and of itself, is a great thing to hear from a major college football coach these days.
Dykes mentioned that they have to overcome losing the talented Jared Goff. He mentioned that quarterback position is still open and will continue to be through the first week or two of camp. His staff will make a decision on the position around then.
It might have been kind of tough for Sonny Dykes to follow a gregarious guy in Rich Rodriguez and be the guy before Clayton Helton of USC.
Clay Helton took to the microphone and it seemed like all of the media was upon him. It was like sharks circling their prey.
One thing you get real quick about Helton is that when you listen to him speak, you get a sense that he wants to be on the field playing. I certainly would want to be a young player at USC playing for him.
Being a part of USC means you have to come to work every day because of the amount of talent that is seeping from the program.
“You come to USC to compete. We play in a playoff system world. You’re building your resume when you come to USC.” Helton said.
When asked about the pressures of being at USC, he simply said he will gladly take it.
“If you don’t want the pressure, don’t take the job,” Helton told the hordes of reporters surrounding him.
Like many other conference schools, he is dealing with a quarterback issue between Max Browne and Sam Darnold. According to Helton, it’s a very open competition right now and won’t be decided until the last couple weeks of fall camp.
“Win the day” is the saying at Oregon, but can they win the conference? Can they win their division? Many people believe its Stanford’s conference this year, yet head coach Mark Helfrich doesn’t seem to care.
“We have to worry about watching enough film to have a good practice and game. We don’t worry about rankings. It’s not our focus,” Helfrich explained.
The Ducks have a quarterback battle going on as well. Helfrich still calls it an open competition, however, I still think it’ll be Dakota Prukop winning the starting position.
Washington State Cougars
Mike Leach is probably the most entertaining coach of this day. Usually the coach has some opening remarks for the assembled media, but not Leach.
“If you know me at all, you know I don’t do opening remarks. Let’s get this thing rolling,” Leach said.
He is just a guy who speaks his mind, whether or not the media or fans like it. He doesn’t care.
Leach has quarterback Luke Falk coming back and when asked about what he needs to see out of Falk this year, the answer was simple.
“Consistency. He’s not a guy that has a glaring weakness anywhere, but consistency is needed,” Leach said.
The Cougars will be challenging everybody this year and could even be considered a dark horse in the division. With a talented quarterback and guys at the skill positions who are threats, Leach could lead this team to something special.
“We got to get the quarterback position question resolved. It’ll be an open competition entering fall camp,” Whittingham explained.
Whittingham likes how his team has gradually got better every year they have been in the Pac-12 and he doesn’t expect that to change.
I don’t expect that to change either. If ever there was guy to weather a big change in his football program, it is certainly Kyle Whittingham.