NCF Nation: Kevin Kooyman

Want to unscientifically measure the difference between one year of Larry Scott vs. 26 years of Tom Hansen atop the Pac-10?

Do this: Google "Pac-1o commissioner Larry Scott" then do "Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen."

Yeah: Stunning. Nearly two million hits vs. 105,000.

While some traditionalists -- and the Pac-10 still has plenty of those -- might not believe that's necessarily a good thing, what Scott has done in one year is dramatic: He's made the conference big news. Even when his grand plan for a "Pac-16" fell apart due to a Texas two-step, Scott's bold behind-the-scenes maneuvering was the lead story of an usually busy college football summer.

When the machinations finally ended, the conference added two teams, Colorado and Utah, and everyone now waits to see how Scott will parlay that into a media deal that keeps the conference financially competitive with the SEC, Big Ten and ACC.

But that answer won't come until 2011. The present "next big thing" is this week: A bi-coastal showcase of Pac-10 football coaches and players. And new, aggressive Pac-10 marketing.

Danette Leighton, an Arizona alum and the Pac-10's new -- and first -- chief marketing officer, uses terms like "sizzle" when she talks about how the conference plans to present itself to the media and public.

"It's about presenting Larry Scott's vision," she said.

That vision means elevating the Pac-10's national profile and waging war on the "East Coast bias" -- real or mythical -- by reaching out in order to overcome instead of merely complaining about perceived slights. That vision means putting the Pac-10 in front of a national audience as much as possible, even if much of that audience supports other conferences and is inclined to boo an interloper from the West.

Cheering or booing -- that means folks are paying attention. And those eyeballs, Scott believes, will translate to increased revenue and a better position in the college football pecking order.

As for the new stuff this week ... You can see the new Pac-10 website here when it opens at 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday. And you can pose questions to the coaches and players available during Thursday's media day on the new Pac-10 Twitter page.

The Pac-10 blog will be tagging along to all three destinations (image: Pac-10 blog walking up to Pac-10 coaches, "Hey, are you guys playing cards?"). That means lots of stories and videos over the next few days. So you may want to take a few days off.

Here's the media days itinerary:

Tuesday (New York)

5 p.m. ET: News conference at the Manhattan W Hotel featuring all 10 coaches and the unveiling of new Pac-10 logo and football trailer. Pac-10 QBs will visit Times Square -- where the Pac-10 football video will be playing on the Jumbotron -- and the Empire State Building.
6 p.m.: Private cocktail reception at W's "Whiskey Blue" with TV executives, corporate sponsors, former players and other VIPs.
8 p.m.: Coaches eat dinner with ESPN's "GameDay" crew. Coach spouses will see Broadway musical, "Promises, Promises."

Wednesday (New York, ESPN)

Morning: Coaches will ring the opening bell at NASDAQ and then conduct East Coast media interviews.
11 a.m.: Bus to ESPN offices in Bristol, Conn., where players and coaches will do interviews on all ESPN platforms.
5 p.m.: Charter flight from New York to Los Angeles; check in Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel.

Thursday (at Rose Bowl, all times PT)

9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Coach and player group interview session (field)
9:30 a.m. - Introduction and format - Dave Hirsch
9:35 a.m. - Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott
9:45 a.m. - Paul Wulff & DE Kevin Kooyman, Washington State
10:00 a.m. - Dennis Erickson & PK Thomas Weber, Arizona State
10:15 a.m. - Rick Neuheisel & FS Rahim Moore, UCLA
10:30 a.m. - Steve Sarkisian & LB Mason Foster, Washington
10:45 a.m. - Jeff Tedford & LB Mike Mohamed, California
11:00 a.m. - BREAK
11:15 a.m. - Lane Kiffin & QB Matt Barkley, USC
11:30 a.m. - Jim Harbaugh & FB/LB Owen Marecic, Stanford
11:45 a.m. - Mike Riley & RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
12 noon - Mike Stoops & QB Nick Foles, Arizona
12:15 p.m. - Chip Kelly & DT Brandon Bair, Oregon
12:30 p.m. - Pac-10 video presentation

12:30-2:30: One-on-one coach/player interviews during luncheon.

5:30 p.m.: Reception at the Fox Network Studios: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman host Pac-10 presentation.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Not everything went smoothly during Paul Wulff's first year as Washington State's head coach, starting with a 2-11 finish.

Moreover, he's going to miss the first three days of the Cougars' fall practices because of NCAA sanctions he incurred for violations that happened while he was head coach at Eastern Washington.

 
  AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
  Paul Wulff was 2-11 in his first season at Washington State.

But the Cougars also posted a comeback victory in the Apple Cup, dumping Washington into the basement of the Pac-10, and outdid the Huskies during recruiting.

So there is some positive momentum as he looks toward his second season.

It seemed like a good time to check in with Wulff as he and his staff prepare for spring practices, which start March 26.

First, what's the latest on quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, who's coming back from a knee injury [and a suspension for a February arrest for an underage alcohol offense]?

Paul Wulff: I think he's going to be do everything but the team segments. A lot of individual work and he'll be able to some 7-on-7 drills.

So he's been reinstated from suspension?

PW: Yes. He had a lot of things to do, but yeah.

Let's put a cap on the 2008 season: First, what went right?

PW: After we played USC [on Oct. 18] we had a bye week, and I think our team changed a lot from a personality standpoint. We grew a lot. I know we didn't play well next against Stanford for a number of reasons, but really after that our team just played better football. We grew a lot. We played much more competitively against Arizona State and then Washington and Hawaii. We just played better. We tried not to compare ourselves against anyone else, we just compared ourselves to ourselves. And we improved as a football team down the stretch.

And what was the root of the struggles?

PW: It was a combination of things. It really wasn't one thing. I think as coaches, we demanded and changed so much of what these players were asked to do, from what they were accustomed to doing, on and off the field. I think there was a natural -- not an intentional resistance -- but just a little bit of what you would say is a culture shock to the system. I think that was part of the issue, in addition to trying to replace some key parts. We lost a four-year starter at quarterback [Alex Brink], we lost a couple of receivers and a tight end who had opportunities in the NFL. It was tough to replace all that experience. And then the injuries on the offensive side of the ball -- the quarterback situation. On defense it was similar, losing both safeties, some defensive tackles, we just couldn't overcome that. Our offense then put even more pressure on our defense. I know before our offense at Washington State has always been very successful. A lot of times that goes hand-in-hand with your relieving your defense, and we weren't able to do that last year.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

My assumption is your tailgate blueprints have been finalized as well as all the pie charts, spreadsheets and PowerPoint demonstrations. If not: For shame.

  • At Arizona, it was recognition day -- starting to work against Idaho's offense and defense. Greg Hansen: If you win it they will come. Nic Grigsby is the starter at TB, but there's more quality depth than in the past.
  • Arizona State's first offense looked pretty good in its final scrimmage Thursday. Said QB Rudy Carpenter to the Arizona Republic of the suspect OL: "The offensive line did an awesome job tonight. They've been doing a great job all camp. If they continue to do that, I think we can be pretty good." Bad news is the WR Chris McGaha is still sitting out with a toe injury. The defense benefits from the return of DT Saia Falahola, who appears to have won a starting job. East Valley Tribune list of freshmen who likely will play: wide receiver Gerell Robinson, running back Ryan Bass, guard Zach Schlink, defensive end Lawrence Guy, linebackers Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee, cornerback Josh Jordan, safety Clint Floyd. Oh, and the Sun Devils expect to eclipse 50,000 season ticket sales, the most in at least two decades.
  • California coach Jeff Tedford picked sophomore Kevin Riley as the Bears starting QB over senior Nate Longshore. Riley started slowly but surged late. Also, note at the bottom says that "walk-on freshman David Seawright had won the kicking job over senior Jordan Kay." Some perspective on the QB decision from Jon Wilner and Jonathan Okanes. List of other freshmen and newcomers who could play from SF Chronicle: receivers Verran Tucker and Marvin Jones, defensive tackle Kendrick Payne, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, tight end Anthony Miller and safety Bryant Nnabuife and likely DBs Marc Anthony and Josh Hill.
  • The extent of Oregon QB Nate Costa's new knee injury is unknown and it will likely not be until late Sunday or Monday before everything clears up because the team orthopedic surgeon -- who repaired the same knee last fall -- is out of town.
  • My guess is this will fire up Oregon State fans: Hit this link and click the bottom left image for the Beavers intro video (thanks to Building the Dam).
  • The Bootleg has set up a nice Game Day site for the Stanford-Oregon State game that gets things rolling next Thursday.
  • The UCLA defense will not have to carry the offense. Hmm. We shall see. It appears OLB John Hale has held off a challenge from touted freshman Akeem Ayers. More info on UCLA frosh who will not redshirt. One of those is safety Rahim Moore. And attention now turns to a mysterious Tennessee team.
  • USC's final scrimmage was "efficient" -- neither QB Aaron Corp nor Mitch Mustain committed a turnover and no one got hurt. It also appears that Corp and Mustain were competing for the backup role and that Mark Sanchez, two weeks after dislocating his knee cap, will be full-go for Virginia preparations on Monday. Corp may have an edge as the backup. More than a few folks have wondered: What about unheralded QB Garrett Green, who's played consistently well. More scrimmage standouts -- note that Mustain played well, so this whole backup QB decision is going to be close. An injury update -- and get this -- it's good news. And a big-picture look as the Trojans turn their attention to game prep.
  • Interesting story on Sanchez and his embrace of his Mexican heritage and how that seems to bother some folks.
  • Whatever happened to Washington's Jordan White-Frisbee? He may end up being a key piece on the Huskies O-line. Lots of depth-chart questions remain for the Huskies, but that's probably by design. Molly Yanity is guessing that freshman Chris Polk might prevail at TB. More on All-Pac-10 center Juan Garcia, who's recovery from a severe foot injury.
  • No question who Washington State's best player is: WR Brandon Gibson. But the Cougars breakout player may be DE Kevin Kooyman.

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