- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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There were two pretty big stories in the Pac-12 Monday -- a bit unusual for this time of the year. Normally there is a down period between national signing day and the start of spring ball.
However, the first story broke early Monday morning that Dennis Erickson had been hired by Utah as co-offensive coordinator. Hours later, former Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney announced he was leaving minor league baseball after just one season to return to the Cardinal backfield.
Two big stories that should have a major impact on Pac-12 football in 2013.
Erickson, as we all know, won a pair of national championships with Miami, has previously coached at three conference schools and is considered one of the top offensive minds in the country. He's now paired with Brian Johnson -- who the Pac-12 blog believes will have an outstanding career. Exactly how this is going to work is still to be determined. But you look at Utah's offensive needs, and it's pretty clear it needs some help.
The Utes ranked last in the league in passing offense, 11th in total offense, ninth in rushing offense and eighth in scoring. The most likely scenario is that Erickson is there to help mentor Johnson -- who walked into a pretty tough situation in his first year -- especially after they lost quarterback Jordan Wynn in the second game of the season. Long term, the Pac-12 blog believes this is going to be a nice addition to Utah -- and a great learning experience for Johnson.
In the North Division, the defending Pac-12 champs might have found its replacement for running back Stepfan Taylor. Gaffney is a phenomenal athlete who should make an immediate impact on the offense. With a stout offensive line and regular carries, he could easily be a 1,000-yard rusher. He provides stability and veteran leadership to the running back corps and is a proven offensive commodity -- something the Cardinal are lacking. One half of the Pac-12 blog believes this is a huge boost for the Cardinal (the other half needed a little convincing, cough, Miller, cough).
So, for your Tuesday poll question: Which is the bigger Pac-12 story, Erickson going to Utah or Gaffney returning to Stanford?